How to Unlock a Smartphone From SoftBank, au, docomo

smartphones

If you are reading this article, you are possibly considering switching from your current mobile carrier to another company. When you buy a smartphone in Japan, the phone is usually SIM locked to the carrier you purchased the phone from (SoftBank, au, docomo, etc.). If you put in a SIM card of another company into your smartphone that is SIM locked, you will not be able to make calls or transmit/receive data. The solution you are looking for is to unlock your smartphone!

For example, if you insert a SoftBank SIM card into an iPhone you bought at docomo, you cannot use the phone if there is a SIM lock on the smartphone. To use the smartphone, you will need to unlock the SIM lock and make the phone SIM-free.

Japanese mobile carriers have used this SIM lock system to keep their users from easily switching to other companies. However, in 2015, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan made it mandatory for Japanese mobile carriers to unlock a smartphone’s SIM lock because of the inconvenience placed on customers.

Therefore, a law was passed from May 1, 2015, that phones sold would be required to be easily SIM unlocked or sold SIM-free.

However, the procedure to unlock a smartphone is quite complicated. The unlocking procedure differs depending on the method the smartphone was purchased (new or used), the carrier you have a contract with, payment method, etc.

In this article, we will explain how to unlock a smartphone from the three major Japanese mobile companies (SoftBank, au, docomo).

*The SIM unlock procedure can be performed only by the carrier you purchased your smartphone from. If you would like to unlock the SIM of an iPhone purchased at docomo, you will need to do the procedure with docomo.

 

How to unlock a smartphone from SoftBank

1. Conditions for unlocking the SIM lock

① If you currently have a SoftBank contract

  • Apply and complete the procedure through My SoftBank (Free)
  • Apply and complete the procedure at a SoftBank Shop (3,000 JPY)

You can apply and complete the procedure through either of the above. It is recommended that you complete the procedure online through My SoftBank since it is free.

② If you do not currently have a contract (canceled, used smartphone purchased somewhere else, given by someone, etc.)

  • Apply and complete the procedure at a SoftBank Shop(3,000 JPY)ONLY

Unlocking via My SoftBank online is not possible.
Also, 101 days or more need to have passed since the product was purchased and paid in full. If you do not know the purchase date of your phone or purchase method, you can check this information at a SoftBank shop.

 

2. My SoftBank Unlock Method

① Check IMEI (serial number) and make a copy of this or make note of it (You will need this later!)

  • iPhone/iPad

You can check for this on the “Information” screen

Settings -> General -> Information

OR

Enter *#06# in the phone application, the IMEI (serial number) will be displayed as a 15-digit number

  • Smartphone(Android, etc.)

Enter *#06# in the phone application, the IMEI (serial number) will be displayed as a 15-digit number

 

② Log in to My SoftBank

 

③At the top right area of the top page, select Menu -> Contract/Option Management -> Option [メニュー => 契約・オプション管理 => オプション]

unlock softbank 1 → unlock softbank 2 → unlock softbank 3

 

④ Scroll down and select SIM unlock procedure [SIMロック解除手続き]

unlock softbank 4

 

⑤ Enter the IMEI number that you wrote down earlier and click Next [次へ]

unlock softbank 5

 

⑥ Select Proceed with Unlocking [解除手続きする]

unlock softbank 6

 

⑦ Unlock procedure complete!

unlock softbank 7

*The message “SIM unlock is not finished yet” [SIMロック解除はまだ完了しておりません] is displayed, but the SIM unlock procedure is completed.

*In the case of Android smartphones, an unlock code [解除コード] will be issued. Please write down this unlock code as it is required when inserting a SIM card from another carrier into your smartphone.

*You can check if the SIM lock was unlocked by dialing [157]

 

How to unlock a smartphone from au

1. Conditions for unlocking the SIM lock

① If you currently have a contract with au

  • Apply and complete the procedure through My au (Free)
  • Apply and complete the procedure at an au Shop (3,000 JPY)

You can apply and complete the procedure through either of the above.

It is recommended that you complete the procedure online through My au since it is free.

 

② If you do not currently have a contract (canceled, used smartphone purchased somewhere else, given by someone, etc.)

  • Apply and complete the procedure at an au shop (3,000 JPY) ONLY

Unlocking via My au online is not possible.
Also, 101 days or more need to have passed since the product was purchased and paid in full. If you do not know the purchase date of your phone or purchase method, you can check this information at an au shop.

 

2. My au Unlock Method

① From the au website, select SIM unlock procedure [SIMロック解除のお手続き]

 

② Click the SIM unlock procedure [SIMロック解除のお手続き]

unlock au 1

 

③ When the screen changes to the login page, use your My au account information to log in

unlock au 2

 

④ Scroll down the page and check whether the device can be unlocked or not

unlock au 3

 

⑤ If the device can be SIM unlocked, select the checkbox in the upper left corner

unlock au 6

 

⑥ Scroll down further and click Next

 

⑦ Select the reason for cancellation and click Apply with this information [この内容で申し込む]

unlock au 5

 

⑧ Unlock procedure complete!

*In the case of Android smartphones, an unlock code [解除コード] will be issued.

*Depending on the model of your smartphone, the final procedures may differ. Please refer to the au site for using non-au SIM cards with your unlocked phone.

 

How to unlock a smartphone from docomo

1. Conditions for unlocking the SIM lock

  • Apply and complete the procedure through My docomo (Free)
  • Apply and complete the procedure at a docomo shop (3,000 JPY)

You can apply and complete the procedure through either of the above.

It is recommended that you complete the procedure online through My docomo since it is free.

101 days or more need to have passed since the product was purchased and paid in full. If you do not know the purchase date of your phone or purchase method, you can check this information at a docomo shop.

 

2. My docomo Unlock Method

① Check IMEI (serial number) and make a copy of this or make a note of it

  • iPhone/iPad

You can check for this on the “Information” screen

Settings -> General -> Information

OR

Enter *#06# in the phone application, the IMEI (serial number) will be displayed as a 15-digit number

  • Smartphone(Android, etc.)

Enter *#06# in the phone application, the IMEI (serial number) will be displayed as a 15-digit number

 

② Access docomo -> SIM unlock page [SIMロック解除] and click Go to procedure site [お手続きサイトへ]

unlock docomo 1

 

③ Log in to My docomo

unlock docomo 3

 

④ Go to Contract details/procedures [契約内容・手続き] -> Scroll down and open the tab SIM Unlock [SIM解除] -> Proceed with the procedure [お手続きをする]

unlock docomo 3 → unlock docomo 4

 

⑤ Select the type of device you wish to unlock and input the IMEI number of the device you wrote down earlier

Choose Phone and input IMEI

 

⑥ Check Apply for SIM unlock [SIMロック解除を申し込む] and Agree to SIM unlock [SIMロック解除の注意事項に同意する]

unlock docomo 5

 

⑦ Select the recipient of the confirmation email and click Next [次へ]

unlock docomo 6

 

⑧ Select Complete procedure [手続きを完了する]

unlock docomo 7

 

⑨ Unlock procedure complete!

unlock docomo 8

*In the case of Android smartphones, a SIM unlock code [SIMロック解除コード] will be issued. Please write down this unlock code and enter it in when asked to.

 

Final Words

What did you think? Were you able to successfully unlock your smartphone? Although we try to keep the contents of this article as up to date as possible, the actual SIM-unlock screens and process may be different from this article. If you have any questions during the actual procedure, please contact your mobile carrier.

As a mobile carrier specializing in foreigners, Sakura Mobile provides cheap and high-quality communication services. We provide customer support in English, so do not be afraid to contact us if you have any problems! Voice + Data SIM plans start from 2,980 JPY/month. We offer many other plans as well!

If you have any questions about our services, please feel free to contact us here.

 

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