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They took their time. It’s only for the first day of pre-ordering that au/KDDI and SoftBank are releasing the price information for their iPhone 4S.


The newcomer first. au/KDDI is accepting pre-orders at brick and mortar shops from today, even if I’ve gotten a few reports of points of sale being not ready at all for this last-minute release. Take a look at its new iPhone page to learn more.

It offers the iPhone with a two year contract. The basic plan will cost you JPY 780/month.

au/KDDI overview:
Contract: 24 months
16GB: JPY 0 /month*
32GB: JPY 430 /month*
64GB: JPY 860 /month*
Plan: JPY 980/780 /month
Web services: JPY 315 /month
Data: max. JPY 4,980 /month
* after discounts

The accompanying data plan is unlimited and costs up to JPY 4,980 per month (the data packet price is not detailed). An included free wifi plan is announced, but no details are available as of yet.

The iPhone 4S is “free” —as in fully subsidized— for its 16GB version and will respectively cost JPY 10,320 and 20,640 for the 32 and 64GB versions, the cost being accrued during the 24 month period.

A more expensive plan with free calls to other au/KDDI customers from 1am to 9pm and free texts to those same ones without 24/7 will cost you JPY 980/month (outside of the aforementioned period, texts costs JPY 3.15 and a call is priced at JPY 21 per 30 second segment).

au/KDDI is touting the number portability by offering you JPY 10,000 if you become a subscriber until the end of January 2012. That means that the iPhone 4S 32GB would cost only JYP 320 instead of JYP 10,320 overall, and the 64GB would come down to JPY 10,640 only.

This is clearly to lure SoftBank customers, but it also applies if you’re on NTT DoCoMo. We’ll see how that works out.

No word about tethering, I wouldn’t bet anything on it though. Unlocked iPhones 4S from au/KDDI are highly improbable: Apple hints that unlocked 4S will only be the GSM versions —or those activated by a GSM provider. In Japan, Softbank.

It is also uncertain if the pricing will hold or if it’s only part of the launch campaign (the data pricing might rise up to JPY 5,000+/month next February).

Asiajin mentioned earlier that KDDI is planning to expand the iPhone 4S point of sale network from a current 1,200 locations to 5,000 at the end of October.


SoftBank is also accepting pre-orders as of today.

At the time of this writing, the price structure remains the same as before. Two year contract, JPY 980 for its White Plan, to which you have to add the S! Basic Pack at JPY 315 per month (basically the mobile email service). Full run-down on its iPhone page (SoftBank has the pricing in English).

SoftBank overview:
Contract: 24 months
16GB: JPY 0 /month*
32GB: JPY 480 /month*
64GB: JPY 880 /month*
Plan: JPY 980 /month
Web services: JPY 315 /month
Data: max. JPY 4,410 /month
* after discounts

The data plan is still unlimited, with a minimum monthly fee of JPY 1,029 and a max of JPY 4.410 per month —the data packet being priced at JPY 0.084. Remember that tethering is not supported.

SoftBank will still sell the iPhone 4. For “free”. As will the iPhone 4S 16GB. Free with the discount: you pay the device JPY 1,920 per month (1,680 for the 4) but get a similar discount for the 24 months of the contract.

Only if you buy the 4S 32GB will you get a discount of JPY 1,920/month while having to pay for it JPY 2,400 month —or an actual monthly payment of JPY 480. Same discount for the 64GB version, but a monthly JPY 2,800 —a difference of 880.

Complicated enough? Basically, all in all, without the extra services you can get, the iPhone 4 and the 4S 16GB will cost you JPY 5,705/month, the 32GB JPY 6,185 and the 32GB JPY 6,585. None of those are unlocked.

Something eludes me in this strategy: why on Earth would you take the iPhone 4 8GB instead of the iPhone 4S 16GB?

Maybe it’s that SoftBank just had to price the 4S like au/KDDI.

If you’re a 3G or 3GS owner with SoftBank, you’re eligible for free upgrade plans during the launch campaign that runs from October 14 to November 30.

In the same blitz against au/KDDI, SoftBank is promoting a limited offer for all current or new iPhone subscribers: a “free” iPad 3G data plan. It allows you to get data for your Apple tablet at the low price of JPY 315/month, no subscription fee. First 100MB are free and then you get charged JPY 0.0525 per data packet to a maximum of JPY 4,980/month.

The comparison

Gigazine has made the comparison for us (thankfully since it’s a bit tricky). It’s all in the graph below. It doesn’t include the promotions I’ve mentioned here (like that JPY 10,000 cash back from au/KDDI), assumes you’re going to reach the upper threshold of the data plan (remember that we don’t know how much KDDI charges per packet of data) and it only compares the similar plans for convenience: Simple Plan Z from KDDI (at JPY 980/month that includes free calls/texts) and SoftBank’s White Plan (also at JPY 980/month with some free calls/texts too) but gives an interesting overview. According to it, au/KDDI is actually more expensive. I’ll let you be the judge of it.


The real difference is in the data plan. I can bet SoftBank will react shortly.


One thing is for sure, competition is good. Let the price war begin —because, really, it hasn’t started yet.

UPDATE: excellent au/KDDI price chart translation on SBS’s website (thanks to @serkantoto), I also totally agree about the theoretical data speeds comparison —as I had stated earlier.
Steve Nagata has more details on SoftBank’s iPad offer (thanks @hirokotabuchi).
Steve also argues that the SoftBank iPhone 4 could be directed at people who could be ineligible for a 2 year contract. Makes sense.
Note that Apple Stores are not taking pre-orders, they will start to sell the handsets on October 14, 8 am on a first-come first-serve basis.

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