Thanks to Mr Gerrit on Facebook, I was able to simulate the kind of costs I can expect to pay should I go the Docomo route using this bill simulation tool (Japanese only) which allows you to pick a phone and change some options for the plan you’ll sign up for. I’d recommend going through their English page of charges first to get an idea of what the options available are. I’m going to run through the options on the page a little for the benefit of those who may not understand Japanese.
You can click through the image for a larger version. According to this simulation, I can expect to pay ¥7,360/mth if I choose to pay for the phone in monthly installments over a 2-year period. Brief translations/descriptions of what’s in each step will follow. Feel free to comment and correct me if I’m not explaining them well; the following is just my own interpretation.
- Choose a different phone
- New Sign-Up or Recontract
- How you pay for the phone – over 24 months or in 1 lump sum upfront
- Provider: sp-mode – this seems to be a basic service that you have no choice but to sign up for
- Xi Talk 24 (Type Xi Ninen + Xi Kake-hodai) or Type Xi Ninen (without Xi Kake-hodai) – click through the links to the English pages; they’re pretty self-explanatory but Xi Ninen seems like yet another basic service you don’t have a choice but to get, and the Xi Kake-hodai gives you unlimited calls to fellow Docomo subscribers, so you’ll still be charged for calls to subscribers of other mobile carriers (au, Softbank, etc) at a rate of ¥20.50/30 sec if I’m not wrong
- Data Service: Xi Pake-Hodai Flat or Xi Pake-Hodai Light – Flat offers 7GB of data every month while Light offers 3GB. Based on my own usage at home, I don’t expect myself to use a whole lot of data on the go so I picked Light. There’s only a different of ¥1,050 so if you think you’re going to need that extra amount of data, go ahead and pick Flat; for me, that will up the cost for me to ¥8,410/mth.
- Monthly Support – Goodness knows what kind of support I’ll be paying for but there doesn’t seem to be a way out of this option
Edit: Apparently this Monthly Support isn’t what you pay but a discount they give you, so it effectively cuts ¥2,835 off the bill every month. Awesome! I’ve also read about some shops that give ~¥20,000 cashback when you pay for the phone upfront, but I’m doing more research on where those shops are located. With luck, the bill could be much lower than this!
If I choose to pay for the phone upfront (Samsung GALAXY S4 SC-04E – ¥83,160), my monthly bill will amount to ¥3,895/mth. In case you think it may be cheaper to do it one way or the other, just do the math and you’ll see that what you pay for at the end of the day is the same astronomical amount. There are a bunch of discounts linked on the website but I’m not too clear on the terms and conditions, and how they’re applied so I won’t go there.
Next, I’ll try to piece together what the monthly cost of using a smartphone on the au-KDDI network is like. I’m sure it’ll be full of mistakes, but I can’t find a similar bill simulator so it’s just what I can understand from their list of charges available. I can’t find the cost of any of the available phones so let’s just leave that out for now; I don’t expect the phones to be significantly cheaper than they are at Docomo though, and just in case anyone’s wondering I’ll be gunning for the HTC J One if I get on the au-KDDI network.
- Basic charge: ¥1,961/mth – don’t be fooled by the Everybody Discount, they seem to be for long-term customers (think > 2 years)
- Calling: Choose between au Flat Calling 24 (¥980/mth) and Wide Calling 24 (¥980/mth) – Flat Calling offers free domestic calls to au mobile phones at a monthly flat rate, while offers 50% discount on domestic calls to anywhere in Japan so you pay ¥980/mth plus a calling rate of ¥10.5/30 sec
- LTE Connection Charge: ¥315/mth
- LTE Flat: ¥5,985/mth for 7GB of data
- Monthly Discount for purchasing a smartphone over 24 months: – ¥2,000/mth
- Cost to Tether: ¥525/mth – neither Docomo nor Softbank charge for tethering within a 2-year contract, but there also appears to be a running promotion for free tethering right now, so I’ll leave this cost out for now
- Total charge per month: ¥7,241/mth
I’m assuming this calculation of the total cost per month includes the cost of the phone, but since I can’t get any figures for that, I can’t say this for sure.
As I linked in my previous post, Softbank has their plans laid out all nicely in a table, so from the main table (disregarding the discounts they applied there which may not be applicable to us) the plan will cost about ¥6,755/mth. If you add on unlimited domestic calling, it’ll be ¥7,255/mth. If you decide to get the iPhone 5, getting the 32GB version will bump the cost (on top of unlimited domestic calling) to ¥7,685/mth and the 64GB will bump it to ¥8,115/mth.
Assuming the most expensive options, i.e. 7GB data/mth, unlimited domestic calling, most expensive phone, the cost will be as follows for the 3 carriers I’ve listed above. I make no claims to the accuracy of the figures given, especially for the au-KDDI plan since I can’t find out how they factor in the cost of the phone.
- Docomo with the Samsung GALAXY S4 SC-04E: ¥8,410/mth
- au-KDDI (with/without no phone cost?): ¥7,241/mth
- Softbank with the iPhone 5 (64GB): ¥8,115/mth
Docomo appears to be the most expensive, followed by Softbank, but of course all these figures depend on which phone you decide to get, and the choices you pick for parts of the plan for which you actually have options. Picking the cheaper 3GB option under Docomo will cut my bill quite a bit to ¥7,360/mth so I think I’ll probably go for this, barring situations and arrangements outside my control.