A New Era of Cheap Smartphones Arrives! The “Astonishing Price Destruction” Happening Under the Surface
Rakuten, 3 major companies, and others are getting cheaper and cheaper by using "Dual SIM" and "Sub-brands"!
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC)-led effort to reduce cell phone rates is entering its final phase. Last year, Rakuten Mobile and au launched price plans that start at zero yen. NURO Mobile” and “au”, which provide services by renting lines from major cell phone companies, have also begun to offer plans with prices starting at zero yen. MVNOs (virtual Mobile communications carriers and low-cost SIM providers have also launched price plans that cost less than 1,000 yen.
Of course, this extremely low price has its disadvantages. In the case of Rakuten Mobile, for example, the signal coverage area is narrow, so there is a risk of not being able to use the service in rural areas or inside buildings. However, after understanding the disadvantages of each plan, there are tricks to minimize the disadvantages and maximize the advantages to suit each individual’s lifestyle. The key is “dual SIM. Cell phone writer Masahiro Sano explains.
These days, you can insert and use two SIM cards in one phone. In other words, one phone can use the signals of two cell phone companies. With the ‘iPhone,’ you can use the XS/X R and later devices support it, but most users don’t know it.”
One thing that cannot be overlooked when discussing dual-SIM is the existence of “Rakuten Mobile. By using a dedicated app, users can make unlimited phone calls for 0 yen, and up to 1GB of data communication is free. A similar plan from Docomo, the cheapest of the three major carriers, costs only 7.00 yen per month (including tax). Considering that the cost is ¥315, it is inexpensive. Cell phone journalist Junya Ishino tells the story.
The easiest way to use dual SIM is to drop your current carrier’s rate plan to the lowest grade and use it with Rakuten. Basically, you use Rakuten’s line and switch to your carrier’s line only in areas not covered by Rakuten. In this way, the disadvantages are minimized and the rates are lowered.
Those who do not use much data communication, such as those who do not use video services, can also use smartphones at even more unbeatable rates. The aforementioned Mr. Sano says.
We use MVNOs. For example, the “Reasonably Simple 290″ service offered by Japan Communications Inc. allows you to use 1GB for 290 yen/month. If you use both Japan Communications and Rakuten, you can get unlimited calls and up to 2GB for only 290 yen per month. Data communication is available. With NURO Mobile, you can use up to 6 GB for 990 yen/month when used with Rakuten. NURO Mobile” offers 3GB of data once every three months. You can also get a good value for your money because you get the amount of money you pay for.
However, there is a caveat to the dual SIM. The biggest problem is that some handsets will not be able to make emergency calls such as 119 when a data-only SIM is inserted. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications discloses on its website the handsets that have this problem, so please be careful when purchasing one.
In other cases, depending on the handset, the customer may have to go through the SIM unlocking procedure himself.
Many people may be reluctant to use dual SIM because of the hassle involved. For such people, Mr. Sano recommends switching to a “sub-brand” of a major carrier.
Sub-brands are low-priced services offered by major carriers to compete with MVNOs. For example, if you are an au subscriber, you can use UQ Mobile, and if you are a Softbank subscriber, you can use Y! The equivalent is Y-mobile. 3 The price of 3GB is about 2,000 yen, which is much cheaper than in the past. Further discounts are available when combined with a family discount or electricity bill payment.
The greatest feature of this service is that it can be used at your existing “au” or “SoftBank” store, and there is no fee for switching. OCN Mobile ONE” is a sub-brand of “docomo”. It offers a 550 yen/month plan, and support is available at docomo Shops.
Mr. Ishino also notes the “online-only brands” developed by the major carriers for online applications only. The advantage is that customers can use the major carriers at a discount instead of having to go to a physical store to get service.
“au’s ‘povo2.0’ is currently running a campaign called ‘#Gigakatsu,'” said Ishino. If you go to a participating store and pay with ‘au PAY’, you will receive data allowances. For example, at “Lawson”, you can get 300MB for purchases over 500 yen. I buy a pack of cigarettes every day, so that alone adds up to about 9 GB per month, which is quite a bargain!
Mr. Sano also makes use of “online-only brands.
Softbank’s “LINEMO” plan is available in all plans. Unlimited LINE usage is included. I recommend it for business people who make LINE video calls and exchange large files.”
The “new era of low-cost smartphones” has already begun.
From the March 18, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Yoshio Tsunoda/Afro (1st, 4th) Sankei Shimbun (2nd) Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun/ Kyodo News Images (3rd)