Japan SIM Card iPhone Guide: Staying Connected in Japan

japan sim card iphone

*Updated on March 21st, 2024.

Your airplane ticket is booked, your itinerary is planned, and your mind is already on vacation that means it’s time to travel to Japan! There is so much to experience in Japan, but often those experiences can be missed simply because your iPhone can’t get access to the internet during your trip. Luckily, it’s now quite easy to stay connected in Japan, but you need to know which device works with your iPhone. Find out whether your should rent a Japan SIM Card or a Portable WiFi Router with our Japan SIM Card iPhone Guide!

Will my iPhone work in Japan?

The simple answer is “Yes it can with the right device!” What we think of as a “working iPhone” is staying connected to the internet, which allows you to have access to interactive maps, translators, train schedules, restaurant finders, travel agencies, social media, e-mail, Skype, and so on.

What Do I need to know about using my iPhone in Japan?

WiFi in Japan for iPhones: Portable Routers vs. Data SIM Cards/eSIM

For a very affordable price your iPhone can have reliable WiFi access throughout your trip to Japan without the need to search for free hotspots. For iPhones, there are two devices that you can consider: a Portable WiFi Router and a Data SIM Card/eSIM.

Each has their own pros and cons, with Data SIM Cards being the preferred choice for iPhones since they don’t require recharging or the need carry an additional device. With that being said, you do need to check if a Japan SIM Card will work with your iPhone.

In addition, nowadays many providers have started to sell eSIM, which are embedded SIMs that save you the hassle of changing the SIM card in your phone.  They are innovative in their beneficial aspects such as the importing of the SIM with the QR code and the easy switching between networks. If you want to save the hassle of changing your SIMs or recharging your portable Wi-Fi, we recommend getting an eSIM!

Japan SIM Cards: Changing APN Settings

You’ve decided that a Japan SIM Card is the best choice but before going into detail on how to check if your iPhone is compatible with a Japan SIM Card, you need to ask yourself if you’re comfortable with changing your iPhone Settings. The reason is because using a Japan SIM Card requires that you are comfortable with changing your iPhone APN settings. If the idea of changing your iPhone settings sounds too confusing or too scary, then you can simply choose to use a Portable WiFi Router instead, which requires no setup out of the box just turn it on and connect to the WiFi signal. Again, the downside of a WiFi Router over a SIM Card is that you have to carry another device with you that requires recharging. If you would like to know the steps required to change your iPhone APN settings, you can visit our APN instruction page for more information.

Japan SIM Card: iPhone Compatibility

Japan has some strict rules when it comes to providing Internet access to foreign iPhones. We won’t go into the details on why, but just know that when you get off the airplane in Japan, your iPhone won’t work. Renting a Japan SIM Card will fix this problem. To know if your iPhone is compatible with a SIM Card Rental, you need to check if it meets these requirements.

  1. Your iPhone is unlocked
  2. Your iPhone is 4G/LTE

Is your iPhone locked or unlocked?

Unlocking an iPhone is not something most users can do, so you are required to contact your service provider to request for your iPhone to be unlocked. If you got your iPhone through a contract and you’re currently still in it, then your iPhone is probably locked. If you paid full price for your iPhone or you’re no longer under a contract, then it’s quite possible that your iPhone is unlocked. It is very important that if you want to use a SIM Card in Japan, but your iPhone is locked, that you have your service provider at home unlock it before you leave for Japan. This because Japanese SIM rental companies are not able to unlock your iPhone once you arrive in Japan And remember, if your service provider at home says that they won’t unlock your iPhone, you can still get great WiFi access using a Portable WiFi Router.

What is your iPhone network generation (4G/LTE)?

My iPhone is 4G/LTE

For 4G and LTE network, Sakura Mobile Japan SIM Cards will work with iPhones. These networks can access the two primary radio frequency bands used in Japan (as well as supplemental radio frequency bands used to boost the speed of Band 1).

  • Band 1 (2100Mhz): This radio frequency band is used in Japan’s city areas.
  • Band 19 (800Mhz): This radio frequency band is used in Japan’s countryside.

What model is your iPhone?

If your iPhone model is later than 6 (Ex. iPhone 6,7,8,9,X…15), they can access the two main radio frequencies, Band 1 and Band 19. So if your iPhone model is 6 or newer, you can reliably access coverage using a Japan SIM Card in both the cities and countryside!

If your iPhone model is 5 or older, there may be a chance they won’t be able to connect to both band frequencies. For example, iPhone 5 can only get signal for Band 1, which is used for Japan’s city areas. This means that if you are traveling in the countryside with an iPhone 5, you will likely lose your signal. So if you have an iPhone 5 or older, we suggest renting a Portable WiFi Router as your primary method for connecting to the Internet or at least renting the router as a backup for when your SIM Card signal weakens.

Japan SIM Card iPhone Summary

If your iPhone is compatible with a Sakura Mobile Japan SIM Card/eSIM-congratulations! You’ll be able to fully enjoy the beauty and wonders of Japan with your trusty iPhone by your side. And if your iPhone is not compatible, don’t worry; you still can still easily access the internet and all of your apps with a Sakura Mobile Portable WiFi Router. Whichever you choose, know that you can stay connected while in Japan!


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