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SoftBank and the iPhone 5

September 16th, 2012

So, I reserved an iPhone 5, but I may pull back at the last moment. One issue: they are upping the data plan fees for the LTE network, from about 4500 yen a month to about 5500 yen a month. Another issue: they made very clear that the details of the plan are not yet set. Their basic fees, what speed the LTE network will function at, what coverage is like, whether tethering is allowed, etc. I’ll have to decide when they have the phone ready for me.

Despite what the guy said above area coverage not being set, SoftBank does have an interactive map set up.

SoftBank also plans to throttle if your use is too high, but the rep I spoke to would not specify what the trigger would be or what the lowered data rate could be.

I have to say, though, the panoramic feature is beginning to look a lot better to me; I do use the camera quite a bit, and want to get bigger images like the pano feature can give. And despite not desperately needing the map feature, I look forward a lot to playing with it. Not yet clear yet is whether it, or Siri, will function well here in Japan.

Does anyone know if email and text messaging is data-plan-dependent? Sachi doesn’t use data otherwise, and so for her, the data plan probably is an unnecessary expense. Disturbingly, however, the guy at SoftBank said that she can’t quit the data plan even though her contract has expired—she’d have to leave SoftBank entirely. Which to me, makes no sense—they seem to be saying, go to a competitor—which is what she may do! I’ll call up for an English rep on that though, it doesn’t sound right.

Alas, I got one of those obsequious reps who refused to use simple language for clarity, and had zero ability to clarify beyond rather technical language. He spent 15 minutes trying to explain the two different data plans—one that has a flat rate, and one that starts at a lower rate for minimal use but goes higher than the flat rate if you exceed a certain amount of data per month. That would have been dead simple to explain with minimal language, and yet the guy could not bring himself to simplify his vocabulary.

If, for example, I were an English-speaking rep talking to someone with minimal English ability, I could say, “This plan: use no data, or use a lot of data, price is always the same. This plan: use no data, you get this price; use more data you pay more; use this much data or more, you pay this rate.” Simple as pie. The rep I got, however, never left the level of, “With the flat-rate plan, the data usage doesn’t matter, you always maintain the same level of fees…” and so on, you get the picture. He consistently used a level of vocabulary which made it next to impossible for me to understand. I had to puzzle out the meaning by looking at the literature, after which I would explain it in simple Japanese which he should have used, after which he would sigh in relief and confirm, yes, that’s what I have been unable to express in the last five minutes.

Maybe it’s Japan’s homogenous culture leading to lack of experience in dealing with language differences that makes it impossible for people here to simplify their vocabulary, or perhaps the corporate training forbids exiting teineigo, the polite mode of speech. To me, it’s just hard to understand why these people can’t shift gears.

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  1. matthew
    September 16th, 2012 at 19:16 | #1


    I went to my local SB shop on saturday morn to reserve my iPhone5. My girlfriend went with me. She speaks no english. So it was funny when we sat down and the clerk is trying to talk/look/weave back and forth between the two of us. My GF was reading a magazine and gave the clerk no attention.

    This kind of thing has happened before. It is hilarious when the japanese person speaks to my GF and then my gf says the exact same thing to me in japanese again. LOL. After that, they start talking to me directly.

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