Following up on the runaway success of the Pocket Wifi D25HW mobile router, EMobile has just announced a new device,the Pocket Wifi S.

Dubbed “S” for Simple and Smart, the new Pocket Wifi is not just a portable wireless router, but is also a fully functional smartphone running Android 2.2.

The Pocket Wifi S, or S31HW, seems to be a pretty pedestrian Android device with a 2.9 inch touchscreen, 512MB memory with a microSD memory slot.

What makes it interesting is that it will be able to share its HSPA 7.2Mbps down/5.8Mbps up connection wirelessly with up to five devices.  While docomo introduced this function about a year ago, the tethering speed was limited to paltry PHS speeds and data was only provided on a pricey PC plan.  EMobile is offering unlimited data on the phone, plus anything tethered to it for the low monthly cost of 4,280 yen.  To top it off, the Pocket Wifi S will retail for 19, 800! That’s about half of the cost of the last generation D25HW Pocket Wifi.

The Pocket wifi will be available in Japan in January of 2011 in three colors .

Press release (Japanese)

[* Updated: Local news agencies now reporting iPad 3G will be SIM locked in Japan. Read below for details]

It’s P-Day in Japan.  That’s “P” for Pre-order I mean.

As of today you can pre-order your shiny new iPad.  But remember, no iPads will hit the street until May 28 in Japan.  As I am writing this, I am even hearing reports of  people lining up in front of shops to be the first to put their names down.

If you want to know what it will cost you, check out our price breakdown post, but besides price, what else do you need to know?  Well, to start with;

Where can I pre-order an iPad?

The iPad can be pre-ordered in person at the following locations.

You can also pre-order the iPad online at the Apple Online Store.  But note that you can only pre-order the Wi-Fi only model online.  You must stop by in person to pre-order a wi-fi+3G model.  Also, there is no in-store pickup option in Japan like there was in the US, so if you order online you have to have your iPad shipped to a location somewhere.

What do I need to pre-order an iPad wi-fi+3G?

Sure, it’s just a pre-order, and not an actual contract at this point, but don’t forget your documentation if you want to reserve your iPad 3G.  Here’s what you will need.

ONE of the following forms of identification.

  1. Drivers License
  2. Japanese Passport
  3. National Health Insurance Card + Proof of local residency
  4. National Health Insurance Card + Credit Card
  5. National Health Insurance Card + Student ID card with Photo
  6. Disability certificate
  7. Foreign passport + Foreign resident identification card

In addition for the iPad, the only method of payment allowed for the iPad plan is credit card payment.  So it looks like automatic bank withdrawal and convenience store payment are not acceptable.

Micro-SIM and SIM lock

There have been plenty of rumors floating around the intertubes over the last few days, but here’s is what has been officially announced regarding the iPad SIM cards.

According to Apple Japan’s website, the iPad is not SIM locked.

“The iPad wi-fi+3G can be used with a micro-SIM card provided with an iPad compatible data plan”.  On international usage, “To use a local data plan while roaming, use a micro-SIM with iPad data service.  For international roaming service, please check with your domestic service carrier”.

Now, we still do not have practical verification.  That will come when we actually have reports of people plugging in different SIM cards.  Also keep in mind that Apple can change the wording on their site any time before the actual launch day, but take this as a positive sign that the Japanese iPad will remain SIM-lock free.

Also note, that Apple has stated that the iPhone SIM and the iPad micro-SIM can not be swapped.  Well, certainly they are different sizes, so they can’t easily be exchanged, but they go as far as to say that you must be on an iPad compatible plan, so even filing down you iPhone SIM to fit into the micro-SIM slot might not be enough to get your iPad working (and would certainly violate you users agreement).

UPDATE #2: Impress Watch and ITMedia are now both reporting that all iPad wi-fi+3G models sold in Japan will be SIM locked.  This contradicts information on Apple’s own webpage, but according to ITMedia, an official statement from Apple confirms that “Due to Apple’s partnership with Softbank with the iPhone 3G and 3GS, the only network that all iPads sold in Japan will be able to access is Softbank”.  As of this update, Apple’s webpage has still not been updated and continues to state that the iPad can be used with any micro-SIM card that has an iPad data plan.

Docomo has reportedly expressed regret that their plans to offer a micro-SIM compatible with the iPad are not going to work.

In addition, Impress notes that customers who buy iPad 3G models overseas will not be able to make a contract for due to the fact that imported models are not certified to operate in Japan.

This is very disappointing news, and you will certainly be hearing more, both on this website and others, leading up to the May 28 launch of the iPad in Japan.

UPDATE: The discussion on twitter regarding the locked status of the iPad is quite lively now.  Information coming from the Apple camp implies that the iPad is unlocked, however inquiries to Softbank have been coming back that the iPad will be locked to Softbank only.  Is the Apple website just an unedited translation or is Softbank trying to play up their launch exclusivity. We may not know until May 28 so buyer beware.

Softbank exclusivity

In the MetPod Podcast yesterday, Softbank Store General Manager Mihoko Kasuga stated that Softbank has an exclusive for the iPad launch in Japan.  While this doesn’t restrict other carriers from coming out with compatible micro-SIM cards and plans, it does look like at the very least, we won’t see them on May 28.

While it’s only a matter of time until micro-SIM cards start to appear in Japanese handsets, the iPad will be the first device in Japan that uses them.  I would bet that the iPhone 4G will be the second, so there is certainly no rush by Japanese carriers to support the format.

For now at least, Softbank has the only horse in town, but you can bet EMobile is salivating with at the number of Pocket wi-fi’s they will be able to sell with the iPad wi-fi.

Accessorize your iPad

Bring out the bling!  While Amazon Japan has been flooded with 3rd party iPad accessories for a while now, but now we have the official add-ons.  On the Apple online store, along with the iPad, you can also pre-order the iPad case, dock, keyboard dock, camera connection kit, vga adapter, and 10 watt usb power adapter.

So what are you waiting for?  If you are in line right now to pre-order or will be signing up, make sure to check out our iPad forum and discuss the iPad with your fellow iPad peers.

Thanks to @TokyoDan for the pic!

Follow our complete iPad landing in Japan coverage

After what seems like an eternity, Softbank returns to mobile data with the C01HW PocketWifi portable internet router.

Yeah, looks kind of familiar doesn’t it?  It is in fact basically the same as the Huawei D25HW released several months ago by EMobile.

I’m quite happy to see a new offering from Softbank in the data only range, particularly as this may give hints to pricing plans of other data only devices *cough* *iPad* *cough*

Pricing also looks attractive with a minimum monthly charge of 1,000 yen and a maximum of 4,980 yen.  EMobile’s current unlimited data plan tops out at a maximum charge of 5,380 yen.

No info yet on actual device pricing, but I can hope that it is cheaper than EMobile’s extremely high price (The same device is available in Europe for about half the cost).  The C01HW Pocket Wifi will be available in late March.

Press Release: http://www.softbankmobile.co.jp/ja/news/press/2010/20100318_01/

The Huawei D25HW Pocket WiFi device will be released by E Mobile in Japan on November 18th.
Similar to the Novatel MiFi device, the Pocket WiFi is both a cellular modem and portable wireless router, allowing you to set up a wireless hotspot anywhere that E Mobile provides cellular access.

The device offers up to 7.2 Mbps downloads and up to 5.8 uploads. The device itself appears to be compatible with both 1.7mghz and and 2.1ghz 3G HSPA networks meaning that we could start seeing it appear in new markets soon.

The device appears to be smaller than the MiFi and the total package is much smaller than the CradlePoint PHS300 + USB modem solution that I have been using. Add to that a battery life of up to 4 hours and charging from USB and the device becomes pretty interesting.

Also, similar to the GSM version of the MiFi, the D25HW has a memory card slot, adding what I would assume is a microNAS solution. I’m pretty impressed with the specs, but not so impressive is the price.

With a 2 year contract, the device will go for 5,980 yen, but cash price for the device without signing a contract bumps it up to 39,580. Much more expensive than MiFi or Cradlepoint.

The range of Windows Mobile devices continues to expand in Japan with the announcement of the HTC Dual Diamond S22H from Emobile.

It comes of course with wifi, bluetooth, camera, SDHC card slot and black or white flashy design characteristic of the latest HTC devices.

The real differentitor of this device is the addition of a 10-key keyboard in addition to the slide out QWERTY keyboard. It’s a non-touch screen device running Windows Mobile Standard 6.1.

Input options on mobile devices including soft 10-key, hard 10-key, Blackberry style front face hard QWERTY, slide out QWERTY and soft QWERTY. No one configuration or combination of configurations suit everyone, so it’s great to see users having choice.

As an aside, I’m currently testing out a X05HT HTC Touch Professional due out from Softbank soon and will send out a review in the not too distant future.

Press release: Japanese. Hopefully they’ll have the English up here soon.