Switching back from Y-Mobile to SoftBank
A note about switching back from Y-Mobile to SoftBank, which I did yesterday. SoftBank is a major cell phone carrier in Japan, and Y-Mobile is an inexpensive sub-carrier I have been using.
(There were some dumb SoftBank shop staff mistakes which ended up costing me unexpected hours in the store and 3 visits in all, including one today. It had to do with incorrect sim cards being set by the staff. I won’t go into all that now.)
Originally I switched to Y-Mobile over a year ago because if you use a small-to-middling amount of cellular data, and don’t get much voicemail, it’s much cheaper per month than SoftBank’s MeriHari plan. If you do use lot of cellular data then SoftBank’s MeriHari unlimited data can be a better bargain. And if you get a lot of voicemails then SoftBank might be better because Y-Mobile charges every 30 seconds you are checking voicemail and SoftBank doesn’t charge for that. I had stopped using voicemail altogether with Y-Mobile.
Anyway, the main reason I did this was because of my planned U.S. trip next month. I needed a way to have unlimited calling and unlimited data (including tethering to my MBP) on my iPhone and iPad in the U.S. SoftBank has an unbeatable option included at no charge: アメリカ放題 (America Houdai) = America Unlimited. SoftBank owns several major U.S. carriers (I can’t keep track of them all with mergers – it used to be just Sprint).
I’ve tested it in the past and it works well. And it’s true unlimited data. There are no bandwidth limits imposed after a certain amount. I compared with U.S. offerings, like T-Mobile, and couldn’t find anything that compared.
There was no carrier switching service charge to rejoin SoftBank.
Plus there’s nothing to do before my trip in preparation. I turn off the phone before takeoff and turn it on when I land and that’s it. The phone (and iPad) just work in the U.S.
It’s also convenient for keeping in touch with people back in Japan because my Japan cell phone number stays active. I can make and receive calls to and from Japan at no extra charge.
Note: Since U.S. calls you make will look like you are calling from a Japan phone number it’s best to use your cellular data and make use of a VoIP app with a U.S. number for that. I have one (TextNow) so I also have a U.S. number for calls and texting, even when in Japan.
A curious note: For some reason the SoftBank shop offered me a brand new 5G-compatible Android phone for just 1 yen when signing up. I can’t think of what I’ll do with it and it’s just sitting in a box right now. Maybe I’ll find a use for it later. There were no strings attached, no minimum contract commitment or anything like that. The photo shows me paying my one yen for the Android phone.
And finally a very weird note. One thing I did miss from SoftBank, which Y-Mobile doesn’t offer, is the iPhone’s Visual Voicemail feature. Not all carriers offer that. Instead of calling in to listen for new messages, your voicemails display in a list inside the regular Phone app, with the caller’s name, when it was made, the length, and you can click play to listen to any of the voicemails.
The weird thing was that as soon as SoftBank put the proper sim card in my iPhone 13 Pro all of my previous visual voicemails were there, going back to 2019! That’s even though I haven’t been a SoftBank customer for over a year now, and my iPhone then was an older iPhone 7.
Where were they all this time? I had assumed they were just on my old iPhone and were wiped out when I switched to Y-Mobile. But SoftBank obviously kept them for me somewhere. Interesting. And a bit weird. Maybe also a bit creepy. But sort of cool I thought.
Anyway, there is no time commitment, so after my U.S. trip I’ll probably switch back to Y-Mobile in a few months to save money. But for the trip it’s very convenient, and the net cost is no more than a less useful U.S. carrier plan.
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