【2021 Version】Comparison of Short-term Prepaid SIM

photo by mroach

Now we can’t live without smartphones. Once there was a time that your phone didn’t work in other countries, but smartphones work borderless nowadays. If you want use your phone in Japan, you just need to change a SIM and there you go, your phone starts working. Also, there are so many types of SIM card available from retail shops all over Japan, but for tourists, getting SIM at a flying-in airport is the most convenient. So, what SIM is best suit you when you travel Japan? Here is the comparison.

 

Smartphones commonly used in Japan

To use your overseas model device with a prepaid SIM card in Japan, your device must be SIM-free. But some SIM-free devices bought in overseas may not work in Japan as they are not suitable to Japanese communications standards. The followings are examples of smartphones commonly used in Japan that can also be purchased worldwide. 

  • Apple iPhone
  • Samsung GALAXY(Global Model)
  • Sony Xperia(Global Model)
  • HUAWEI nova(Global Model)

 It is a good idea to enquire your mobile phone carrier in your country whether your phone is suitable to use in Japan. If your model is unfit to Japanese standards, don’t be sad; all you need is a rental portable Wi-Fi router.

 

Things to Consider When Choosing a Prepaid SIM

Duration

Prepaid SIM is typically designed in order for convenience of tourists, then the validity periods tend to be short. A SIM card with the shortest period is valid for 7 days. The longer a validity period is, the larger data supply is given and the higher the price becomes. It is recommended to purchase a SIM card that covers the entire period of your stay in Japan.

Data Recharge

Some SIM plans are data-rechargeable and others are not. Also, there are SIMs that extend validity periods when recharged while other rechargeable SIMs wouldn’t allow validity period extensions. If you are staying in Japan for a short period of time and will use data a lot, purchase a data-rechargeable one. By the way, you need to recharge your prepaid SIM before you run out of data, otherwise you need to connect to Wi-Fi to recharge.

Data Capacity

The most important thing when choosing a prepaid SIM is data capacity. Most SIMs come with fixed data size to be used throughout validity period, but some SIMs have capped daily data usage. Data supply of prepaid SIMs is limited except for SIMs that allow unlimited data usage. It is recommended to use a prepaid SIM with a combination with public Wi-Fi.

Plans

Most of prepaid SIMs are data only, but there are few plans that come with both data and calling. Normally, data and calling plans are more expensive than data only plans. These are suitable for people who want to make phone calls from your mobile phone.

Where to purchase

Prepaid SIM are available from many shops across Japan such as stores in international airports, convenience stores, tourist information centers and home electronics stores. For tourists, the best place to purchase a prepaid SIM would be shops in airports.

 

What you can do with 1GB of data

To choose the right plan for your travel, it is important to know what you can do with your mobile phone with 1GB data. 

  • YouTube: 320 min (low quality), 90 min (high quality)
  • SMS (300 characters): Approximately 205,000 messages
  • News website top page: Approximately 3,400 pages
  • Google Maps (enlarging an area within Tokyo): Approximately 1400 times
  • Skype: Approximately 1,400 min (Voice)/ Approximately 160 minutes (Video chat)
  • FaceTime (Video Calling): Approximately 420 min

*The above is an estimate and may change depending on the environment.

 

Comparison of SIM Cards Available for Purchase at the Airport

SIM

Duration

Price

Data

Service

Recharge

SIM
Size

Airport

BIGLOBE
NINJA SIM

30days

¥4900

3GB

Data

¥2000/1GB
(30days
extension)

Universal

Haneda/Kansai/
Chubu

30days

 ¥7700

7GB

Unari-kun SIM

7days

¥4073

Unlimited

Data

×

Universal

Narita

15days

¥5601

30days

¥6619

 Unlimited Japan
Prepaid SIM

7days

 ¥4073

Unlimited

Data

×

Universal

Haneda/Kansai 

15days

¥5601

30days

¥6619

Prepaid SIM
for Travel

31days

About
¥2680

3GB

Data

¥1,650/500MB
(30days extension)

Universal

Softbank counter
in each airport

JAPAN
TRAVEL SIM

30days

¥2700

1GB

Data
Call

¥1500/500MB
¥3000/2GB
(NO extension)

Universal

Narita/Haneda/
Shin Chitose

3months

¥4150

2GB

Kansai/Fukuoka/
Melbourne/Sydney

AnyFone
JAPAN

3days

¥6400

Unlimited

Data

x

Universal

Narita/Haneda/
Kansai/Chubu

5days

¥7400

7days

¥7700

10days

¥8250

15days

¥8800

30days

¥5610

3GB

¥9790

Unlimited

90days

¥7150

10GB

 

¥4167

2.4GB

60days

¥5093

3.2GB

U-mobile
Prepaid

7days

About
2000

200MB/day

Data

×

micro
nano

Hakodate/Narita/
Haneda/Fukuoka/
Kansai/Saga/
Toyama/Kumamoto

15days

About
¥3000

U-mobile
Prepaid irodori 

7days

 ¥2500

2GB 

Data

x   

Universal

Hakodate/Narita/
Haneda/Fukuoka/
Kansai/Saga/
Toyama/Kumamoto

 7days

 ¥5000

 Unlimited

 15days

 ¥4000

3.5GB 

Wi-Ho!
Prepaid SIM

7days

¥3800

2GB 

Data

¥1980/1GB
(NO extension)

nano

Narita/Haneda/
Kansai/Shin Chitose/
Fukuoka

30days

¥5500

5GB 

Wi-Ho!
Prepaid SIM

7days

¥4980

Unlimited

Data

×

Universal

Narita/Haneda/
Kansai/
Shin Chitose/
Fukuoka

15days

¥5980

30days

¥6980

JAPAN PREPAID
SIM

7days

¥2400

1GB

Data 

Universal

Narita/Haneda/
Kansai/
Shin Chitose/
Fukuoka

¥2800

3GB

¥4000

Unlimited

15days

¥3500

3GB

¥5300

10GB

¥6800

Unlimited

30days

¥9800

Unlimited 

 JAPAN PREPAID
SIM

15days 

\5000

1GB

Data
Call 

x 

nano 

Narita/Haneda/
Chubu/Kansai/Shin Chitose/Fukuoka  

\7000

3GB

※Actual price varies by store.

 

Summary

If you want to use large size of data

If you use large volume of data, a plan with unlimited data use such as Unari-kun SIM, Unlimited Japan Prepaid SIM or JAPAN PREPAID SIM is best for you. Validity period can be selected from 7days, 15days and 30days that is adequate to cover a short trip up to one month. These are most suitable for those who want to enjoy data consuming activities such as watching movies or playing games without worrying about data capacity.

If you want to top up data

Among all rechargeable SIMs, BIGLOBE NINJA SIM is the most cost-efficient with 30days validity and only 2000yen/GB recharging cost in addition to 31days extension. On the other hand, Prepaid SIM for Travel offers 31days plan with 3GB which is similar to BIGLOBE NINJA. Recharging cost of this SIM is 1500yen/500MB while the price of the SIM itself is only 2,680yen. This plan is for those who don’t use lots of data but want to have recharge option just in case. Note that there are rechargeable SIM with NO validity extension.

If you want to keep the costs low

U-mobile Prepaid is the best SIM for those who want to cut down the travel costs as little as possible. There are 7days, 15days and 30days plans with 200MB per day. If free Wi-Fi is available in your accommodation and you are happy to use public Wi-Fi while you go out, 200MB is plenty to just look up on online map or quickly search about your destinations. Also, U-mobile prepaid SIMs can be purchased from vending machines in airports.

If you think the quality of service is important

While most prepaid SIMs come with only data plans, JAPAN TRAVEL SIM and JAPAN PREPAID SIM offer plans with both data and call. Wi-Ho!Prepaid SIM does not have call service, but comes with multi-language customer service as well as both capped data plan and unlimited data plan. This will be a great help for foreign tourists who do not speak Japanese.

 


Related Article:
【2021 Version】The Best MVNOs for Working Holidays
【2021 Version】Stay Connected! A Guide to Japan’s Free Wi-Fi Spots


 

 

あきらことほ

Writer

あきらことほ Kotoho Akira

Living outside Japan for a good many years, I often rediscover nice little things about this country every time I return here. I would be more than happy if this column may help you find your "nice little things about Japan"!

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