【2020 Version】Comparison of Short-term Prepaid SIM

photo by mroach

A smartphone is one of must-have items when traveling abroad. You can easily look up whatever you need to know on your phone within a few minutes. In fact, there are so many foreign tourists tapping on their smartphones to search something on Japanese streets. Yes, smartphones are super handy, only if it is connected to the internet. While public Wi-Fi services in Japan have been significantly improved, there is nothing more convenient than your own phone. If you want a stable internet connection all the time in Japan, consider getting a prepaid SIM. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased at main international airports in Japan, so that you can change SIMs in your smartphone and start using it immediately after your arrival in Japan.

 

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

\4,900

3GB

Data

\2,000/1GB
(+31days)

Standard
micro
nano 

Narita/Haneda/

Kansai/

Chubu/Shin-Chitose

30days

 \7,700

7GB

Unari-kun SIM

7days

\4,073

Unlimited

Data

×

Standard
micro
nano

Narita

15days

\5,601

30days

\6,619

TRE SIM

30days

\2,647

2GB

Data

×

Standard
micro
nano

Narita/Haneda/

Kansai

\4,582

6GB

 Unlimited Japan
Prepaid SIM

7days

 \4,073

Unlimited

 Data

×

Standard
micro
nano 

Haneda/

Kansai

15days

\5,601

30days

\6,619

Prepaid SIM
for Travel

31days

\2,680

3GB

Data

\1,650/500MB(+31days)

Standard
micro
nano

Narita/Haneda/

Chubu/Kansai/

Shin-Chitose

JAPAN
TRAVEL SIM

30days

\2,700

1GB

Data

Call

\1,500/500MB
\3,000/2GB
(Duration is not extended)

Standard
micro
nano

Narita/Haneda/

Shin-Chitose

3months

\4,150

2GB

Kansai/
Fukuoka/

Melbourne/
Sydney

AnyFone
JAPAN

3days

\6,400

Unlimited

Data

x

Standard
micro
nano

Narita/Haneda/

Chubu/Kansai

5days

\7,400

7days

\7,700

10days

\8,250

15days

\8,800

30days

\5,610

3GB

\9,790

Unlimited

90days

\7,150

10GB

Prepaid
LTE SIM

10days

10days

\2,315

2.1GB

Data

\2,838/1GB

Standard
micro
nano

Narita/Haneda/

Kansai/

Shin-Chitose/Sendai/

Toyama/Naha

\3,704

Unlimited

30days

\3,241

1.2GB

\4,167

2.4GB

60days

\5,093

3.2GB

Prepaid SIM
for JAPAN

7days

\2,980

100MB/日

Data

×

Standard
micro
nano

Narita/Haneda/

Kansai/Chubu/

Komatsu/

Kagoshima/

Fukuoka/Naha

14days

\3,500

U-mobile
プリペイド

7days

\2,376

200MB/日

Data

×

micro
nano

Hakodate/Narita/

Haneda/Fukuoka/

Kansai/Saga/

Toyama/

Kumamoto

15days

\3,456

U-mobile
プリペイド irodori 

7days

\2,500

2GB 

Data

x   

Standard
micro
nano

Hakodate/Narita/

Haneda/Fukuoka/

Kansai/Saga/

Toyama/

Kumamoto

 7days

 \5,000

 Unlimited

 15days

\4,000

3.5GB 

Wi-Ho!
Prepaid SIM

7days

\3,454

2GB 

Data

\1,980/1GB

(Duration is not extended)

nano

Narita/Haneda/

Kansai/Shin-Chitose/

Fukuoka

30days

\5,000

5GB 

Wi-Ho!
Prepaid SIM

15days

\5,000

1GB 

Data

Call

×

nano

Narita/Haneda/

Kansai/Shin-Chitose/

Fukuoka

\6,818

3GB

JAPAN PREPAID
SIM

7days

\2,400

1GB

Data 

Standard
micro
nano

Narita/Haneda/

Chubu/Kansai/

Shin-Chitose/Fukuoka

\2,800

3GB

\3,800

Unlimited

15days

\3,500

3GB

\5,800

10GB

\6,800

Unlimited

30days

 \9,800

Unlimited

 JAPAN PREPAID
SIM

15days

\5,000

1GB

Data

Call 

x 

nano 

Narita/Haneda/

Chubu/Kansai/

Shin-Chitose/Fukuoka 

\7,000

3GB

※Actual price varies by store.

 

Summary

If you want to use large size of data

If you are a data user, a plan with unlimited data use such as Unari-kun SIMUnlimited Japan Prepaid SIM、Prepaid LTE 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.

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.

If you want to keep the costs low

U-mobile 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.

If you think the quality of service is important 

While most of prepaid SIM come with only data plans, Wi-Ho!Prepaid SIM, JAPAN TRAVEL SIM and JAPAN PREPAID SIM offer plans with both data and call. In addition, Wi-Ho!Prepaid SIM comes with 10minutes free call and multi-language customer service. This will be a great help for foreign tourists who do not speak Japanese.

 


Related Article:
【2020 Version】The Best MVNOs for Working Holidays
【2020 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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