Updated to include Apple retail store pre-orders.
Well, not quite. But all has been revealed and if you want to be the first to get an iPhone 4 on your block, read on.
Cutting it very close, the final details of the iPhone 4 launch in Japan have been revealed including dates, times and prices. A few interesting tidbits in there to boot.
To start with, only the black iPhone 4 will be available at launch. While there are plans to also sell the white version, no date information has been released by Softbank.
Pre-orders for an iPhone 4, slated to go on sale in Japan on June 24, will begin at all Softbank carrier stores, Apple Japan retail stores as well as the online store at 5PM on June 15.
Note that in order to pre-order an iPhone 4, you will need to have your papers in order.
ONE of the following forms of identification.
- Drivers License
- Japanese Passport
- National Health Insurance Card + Proof of local residency
- National Health Insurance Card + Credit Card
- National Health Insurance Card + Student ID card with Photo
- Disability certificate
- Foreign passport + Foreign resident identification card
Payment can be made with credit card or through automatic bank withdrawal.
Now how much is it going to cost? Here’s where things get a bit more confusing. Get out your slide rules kids.
It appears that Softbank is no longer subsidizing the cost of the handset directly (similar to the iPad rollout in Japan). So you will have the option of paying 57,600 yen for the 32GB model or 46,080 yen for the 16GB model, either cash up front, or in 24 payments of 2,400 yen/1,920 yen.
What! You say. That’s outrageous. at around $624 USD for the 32GB model and $500 USD for the 16GB, this more than doubles the US price of $299/$199. Well, hold on. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
While there is no subsidy attached to the phone itself, Softbank is offering two years of discounted programs. So let’s take a look at the data plans.
You will have a choice of the Value program or the basic Program. The Value program has Unlimited data for 4,410 yen per month, while the Basic program has a scaled data plan that starts at 1,029 yen a month and maxes out at 4,410 with unlimited bandwidth. The difference in the plans is pretty minor. With raw data costs in Japan at ridiculous rates, the scaled plan seems pretty crazy. 1,029 yen is for no usage at all. By the time you have put a dozen or so megabytes (yes, MB, not GB) through your phone in a month you have already reached the maximum charge of 4,410 yen. So it will only save you money if you don’t use the 3G data at all. Now the subsidy is linked to your data charge instead of the phone.
For the Value plan, a monthly subsidy of 1,920 yen is deducted from your bill for the first 24 months of your plan. If you choose the Basic plan, the discount drops to 1,440 yen. Seriously, just get the Value plan. So while there is technically no subsidy on the phone, the plan does contain the same 1,920 yen discount we saw with the iPhone 3GS and 3G launches. If you do the math (which I am loath to do) you come us with some very happy numbers indeed.
A two year commitment for a 32GB iPhone 4 will cost you 57,600 yen but return 46,080 yen in discounts bringing a total difference of 11,530 yen or around $125 USD. A 16GB iPhone 4 will cost 46,080 yen with 46,080 yen discount or a whopping 0 yen!
For a full breakdown of your monthly charges including a cheap voice plan, you can take a look at this set of tables from Softbank. Top table is Value program with Basic program on the bottom. Pink shows monthly bill including basic voice plan and charges.
So there you have it. You could say that Japan is getting the iPhone 4 at a bargain price, just saddled with a relatively pricey data plan.
There are of course still a number of unanswered questions (many of which I am not optimistic about) such as SIM locks, tethering, and upgrades for current owners of iPhone 3G and 3Gs, but it’s a pretty happy start.