**Communication with your family and friends while on Okinawa is a very important topic. Most of the major Okinawa cell phone companies ( AU, Soft-Bank, Docomo) are have offices on base now and they are standing by to offer you 2 year contract plans. This is not so bad lately since Iphones can now be unlocked, but many people still find their rotation date out of sync with their contracts and are left paying fees or asking others to carry on their contracts for them. So before you jump into a contract please weigh your options.Think about how many devices your family will need, How much talk time will be used inside and outside of your family, and how much data will each device need.
Seems like more and more people are using their U.S cell phone with international plans here in Okinawa as well. I think some will even offer you a Japanese number as well, which is huge if you need to connect with locals. You can also get a contract with smaller companies , like Y mobile or UQ, that use major cell phone towers for lower monthly prices, though they usually also make you sign a contract as well.
The latest has been an emergence of sim cards which use these same local Japanese towers. You can also use your unlocked U.S devices , like iPhone and Android, and they also come with data plans. Our favorite is Mobal since they offer a plan which has 7 gbs of LTE (fast) data with a phone line that is free to users on the same network. So if your family all have Mobal sims you can talk for free, and if you don’t need the data you can turn off the data plan and pay 1100 per month for the phone line. If you choose to use the data it will cost 6000 yen per month, but since our readers are long term we negotiated to let us use their students/teachers plan which cuts the cost to 4500 yen per month. (USE CODE OKIHAI).
Mobal does charge 29 yen per min to call Japanese phones outside of their network, but all incoming calls are free. With so many apps these days like Line, Voxer, and FB messenger I can see how one could easily manage to not use so many outgoing mins. **
Back in August of 2007 we asked our readers what cell phones and companies they used here on Okinawa, and up until the summer of 2010 we had responders chiming in to ask questions and providing answers. But I don’t think I’m too far off when I say the information in that post is now past its prime. Obsolete. In need of some updating.
That’s where you come in. Tell us, please, about your experiences with cell phones on Okinawa. What company do you use: SoftBank, AU, Docomo – and what do you like/dislike about it? Do you have a monthly plan or do you buy pay-per-use phone cards? Are you addicted to your does-everything-but-the-dishes smartphone or is that good old flip phone still working for you? (And if it’s the former, you know that we have a mobile version of our site available for your reading pleasure, right?)
Thanks for helping us out!
Note: The comments in the post linked to above have been closed in an effort to begin a new conversation here.