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B-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card

An update to the Japanese mobile phone situation

06 May, 2013 by

Some time ago we looked at the Japanese SIM card rental options and deduced that if you’re visiting for a short holiday, the best thing to do would be to stick with your local carrier’s roaming plan. The situation’s changed quite a bit since then and many of the previous SIM card options are now defunct, though the previous conclusion still stands. However for those staying for a longer duration or who require internet access on the go, B-Mobile’s prepaid data cards provide an excellent alternative.

Following the rise of smart phones in Japan, B-Mobile began marketing their local 3G  enabled prepaid data SIM cards between the end of 2010 and 2011. For roughly 3,000 yen, B-Mobile’s data cards offer a month’s worth of data usage. They tap onto the existing NTT DoCoMo networks to provide speedy mobile internet access to just about any part of Japan. Recognizing the demand for data cards by foreigners visiting Japan, B-Mobile have also released special “Visitor Sim” cards last year though I wouldn’t recommend them for reasons explained below.

B-Mobile offers a wide range of different prepaid cards for sale off the shelf at most major electronic shops in Japan like Yodobashi Camera or Bic Camera. Their data cards are available in standard, Micro and Nano sized SIMs (at least for the newer SIMs). Do make sure that you get the correctly labelled package, otherwise you’d have to find some means to cut the card to the desired size.

It is important to note that all of the B-Mobile SIMs are data-only, giving you mobile internet access in Japan, but no traditional phone time or SMS. You can see the full range of B-Mobile products here, however only a few are relevant to travellers, their classic U300 and 1GB Fixed cards and their rebranded equivalents targeted at tourists.

b mobile u300 B Mobile Prepaid SIM Card

U300. 1 month of unlimited data capped at 300kbps.

U300

The first data SIM card that was offered by B-Mobile is the U300. U300 in this case stands for Unlimited 300 as the U300 data card gives users unlimited data access for a month, which is capped at 300kbps. There are also additional limits to the U300 card in that it does not allow for Voice Over IP services like Skype or LINE or streaming videos. Sustained streaming have been disabled in the card.

The U300 card is the cheapest at 2,980 yen. Given these limitations though, there is little point for unlimited data access, but if you find yourself in Japan without any other forms of internet access this may be attractive to some visitors. The lack of phone calls may be overcoming by using a messaging application.

Since the U300 is considered an older product, you may have a little bit of trouble finding it at out of the way electronic stores. Sometimes it is not displayed prominently either, leading some to believe that they are not available in stores. In the case that you do not see it displayed, some have had luck asking the sales staff at the electronic stores as they may be tucked away with the rest of the less sellable stocks.

b mobile1gb fixed B Mobile Prepaid SIM Card

1GB Fixed. 1gb of uncapped data usable over a month.

1GB Fixed

The second data card introduced and the one that should interest most visitors is the B-Mobile 1GB Fixed data SIM. It costs slightly more at 3,480 yen but removes the restrictions on VoIP and streaming services. The access speed is also not capped at 300kbps, allowing for lightning fast 3G and 4G LTE access. Our experience with the 1GB Fixed card speeds was very satisfactory. Being Japan, we found the internet access to be much faster than any equivalent Singapore connections, even while traveling on the train, in the middle of the countryside. The downside to this is that data access is capped at 1GB.

With VoIP, one can use services like Skype or LINE to replace the occasional call in Japan. The 1GB data limit is sufficient for a couple hours of total calls and just about as much messaging or surfing you’d ned for a month. If you’re on holiday in Japan and using anything more than that, chances are you’re not enjoying the trip to its fullest.

Note: The one and biggest downside to the above two SIM Cards is that they were only created with the local user in mind and were meant to supplement existing lines. In order to begin using the B-Mobile data SIMs you will need to dial up a toll-free number and enter the product code into the automated systems with normal Japanese cellphone.

If you have access to a friend in Japan who can do this for you, then this is a minor issue. Picking up the U300 or a 1GB data card directly from an electronic store is the cheapest option, since you can forgo any extra shipping charges. However in our last trip, we found it extremely difficult to get anyone to help. I have heard stories where the shop assistants at certain electronic retailers would help tourists to activate their cards, but this is not the norm. In fact with the new B-Mobile Visitor cards, I might suspect some have been told not to.

Getting the SIM card to work without the help of a Japanese friend is much more troublesome. B-Mobile offers a hotline that can be accessed by landline, however to deter tourists from using this SIM activating your card this way now costs an additional 2,500 yen.

One possible solution is to get the B-Mobile data SIMs through local resellers. There are people living in Japan who have taken the opportunity to sell pre-activated B-Mobile cards albeit at a heavily marked up price. This should only be considered if you’re planning to stay in Japan for more than 14 days. Getting a reseller to activate the card and then ship it to you not only costs more, but you’d also be losing at least one day of data access in the process.

b mobile visitor 550x135 B Mobile Prepaid SIM Card

Visitor SIMs. More expensive, less days.

Visitor SIM 14-days Prepaid and Visitor SIM 1GB Prepaid

The Visitor SIM 14-days Prepaid and Visitor SIM 1GB Prepaid cards are the two B-Mobiles SIM cards targeted toward tourists and they follow the typical Japanese practice of taking foreigners for suckers.

If you’re visiting the B-Mobile website in anything other Japanese, these will be the only two cards that are displayed to visitors. Both cards are identical to the the regular U300 and 1GB Fixed cards respectively, with the exception that data access is capped to only 14 days, rather than the usual month.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the visitor SIMs also cost more than their Japanese counterparts at 3,980 yen each.

However, if you’re only planning to stay in Japan for a maximum of 14 days and want to do without the hassle of getting the SIM card activated yourself, the Visitor SIM 1GB Prepaid is still a viable alternative as the prices for the visitor cards are inclusive of delivery charges to your hotel when ordered online. All the cards come pre-activated so you can place an order in advance and have it delivered on the day in which you arrive at a hotel for maximum convenience. Airport pickups are also available but cost an additional 210 yen more.

Edit: The B-Mobile link above shows which SIM cards are available in which sizes, but for clarity do take note that only the newer Vistor cards are available as Nano size SIMs. The local versions of the U300 and 1GB Fixed are available in standard and micro sizes only.



Chad

Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.
  • Shaun

    I bought a b-mobile sim and wished I hadn’t. Connection to their network (NTT DoCoMo 3G) has been so intermittent it’s been next to useless. I’ve only used 80Mb of my 1Gb in 4 days. The ‘help’ desk is only open from 7am-11am local time and refuse to help me as my exact phone/model was not on their list. Choose one of the other options so as “So-Net” or arrange an overseas data package with your current provider.

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      I would strongly advise against purchasing if your phone model is not among those on the list. However I’ve never had trouble with connection except when in remote corners like Nagasaki. If you don’t mind, for the sake of other readers, would you mind sharing where were you trying to connect from?

  • Kim

    Hi there, my iphone 5 model is A1429 from singapore. Wonder it is compatible to use with the 1GB visitor SIM card as you mentioned.

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Unless something had changed since I last tested, I would advise against getting it for the iPhone 5 since it doesn’t allow VPN configuration.

  • Chai yueh mei

    I have a TP link 3G mobile wifi S2520. Would the visitor SIM work as a personal hotspot on this device?

  • Diana

    Hi, I am going to Japan soon, and my phone is iphone 5s. I want to use visitor phone, but I am not sure for the points: my ios is 7.1.2, which is a bit higher than their tested, although I checked that there is no frequency related update…and I will need to install their apn setting, also the tested iphone is japan version and mine is singapore (asia pacific) one. Do you know if it will work? Thanks

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Unfortunately, the last time I tried, I couldn’t get the B-Mobile SIM to work with iPhone 5s with iOS 7. There seems to be a problem with their APN setting file and the iPhone 5 does not allow for manual VPN input.

  • Jasmine

    Hi,

    I am using Iphon4 and is iOS7.0.6.
    I will like to ask am I able to use the 14 days Prepaid card from the B-Mobile?

  • Paula Kamioka

    I saw this 1gb visitor can be used on iphone 4s ios 7.0.4 or older version.
    But what about this 1gb 30 days? And if it does work, where can i buy it?

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Yes. You can get it online from the bmobile store to deliver to your hotel or at any major electronic stores within Japan.

  • Hh

    Hi, if I were to use it for whatsapp, wechat, google map,surfing website &Facebook, which card would you recommend? The 1GB or 14days prepaid?

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      In most cases I would recommend getting one of the 1GB versions, since they are faster. Unless you expect to exceed the limit.

  • yuki

    hi,so if i purchase this,i don’t need to unlock or activate it myself right?14days is also cap in 1GB?Thanks

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      The 30 day ones need to be activated but the visitor 14 day versions come unlocked. You need to select the day you would like them to be delivered and your 14 days starts from that day. The faster blue one is capped at 1GB whereas the green one is slower but has no cap.

  • curious

    Hi, will the b-mobile visitors sim work with Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE?

  • Elyn

    Hi,

    seems like samsung note II is not on the list and I would like to get the 1GB visitor. Will it work?

  • Traveller2013

    I am in Japan right now using the 1GB visitor sim. Although advertised as “perfect for Skype” my experience so far is that during the day and evening the data rate is way too low to support Skype. It is great browsing, but only useful for Skype in the middle of the night.

  • Sweet Musci

    Great article. Very helpful!

    I need a nano SIM that can get LTE speeds. I have a few questions after reviewing b-mobile’s website.

    – Does the 1GB Visitor SIM connect to LTE networks?
    – Is the 1GB Fixed available yet in nano-SIM size?

    – If the answer to both is no, is it easy to find a store that will cut the 1GB FIxed to nano-SIM size?

    Thanks!

  • Tiffany

    Hi, do they have prepaid card for 4G?

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Hi Tiffany. The cards have access to LTE. I’m not sure if LTE meets the requirements to be the official 4G standard yet but it is being branded as so in most countries.

  • yorica

    Hi
    I bought the b mobile 1gb data sim via amazon but it wouldn’t work in my windows phone (nokia lumia 800).
    I’m I right in thinking there is a very limit amount of phones these sims will work in?
    BTW – amazon refunded me

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Officially, the cards only support iOS and Android devices. I’m not familiar with Windows devices. Did you enter the APN settings when using it on your Windows Phone? If you did and it still didn’t work then I would think indeed it would not work with it.

  • christopherjacques

    What would you recommend for a resident who doesn’t want to sign a long term contract?

    I’ve been using a SoftBank prepaid with my unlocked iPhone, and then paying 5000 for a UA WiMAX wifi mobile hotspot.

    It’s expensive!

    Is there any option to use a sim card in my iPhone for both phone and data?

  • Sasha

    Hi! Your posts on navigating/surviving Japan are extremely useful! Thank you. However, I have the same question as the user BML. If I were to purchase a 1GB visitor SIM, will I be able to “personal hotspot” my friend? We are both iPhones users.

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Yes you can. The card does not block tethering in any way, so as long as your hardware is able to support it you can tether through hotspots/bluetooth/usb etc.

  • BML

    Thanks for the very helpful information! Do you know if these SIM cards will allow Personal Hotspots on the phone installed with this card? Would like to share the internet with multiple devices. Thanks.

  • titi

    In Yodobashi it is clearly stated in english that the staff is not allowed to activate the sim card for you, if you take the japanese one. And that you need to do it with bmobile as the said price. But it is not complicated to have it activated…just put on your biggest smile and go ask the clerck / concierge at your hotel. I did this several times and never were disapointed..

  • TXH

    Do you have to return the card after it expires?

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      No you don’t have to.

  • Gray

    Would ya happen to know if an S3 can be supported? I couldn’t find it on the website – or at any rate it wasn’t in their list, but that list is supposed to be ‘abridged’.

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Yes it is. I managed to get the 1GB Fixed to work on a friend’s S3 last year.

  • Jaa

    I am using iphone5 and I need to get the 30days version of nano sim because im going to be in Japan for 2 months. I saw that you said they are available in yodobashi and bic camera but i went to bic camera today and they said there is no nano sim available. I checked the yodobashi’s website and there isnt any either only the micro sim. Do you know where can i find those?

    • http://www.supermerlion.com Supermerlion

      Unfortunately, the older SIMs are only available in up to Micro size. Only the new Visitor SIMs come in Nano size. One option would be to cut an existing SIM to the smaller size if you have access to the tools.