since when did phones become attached to our hips? puberty? college? being cell phone & key-less for the past few days has been an odd feeling. everytime we left our room i felt like i was leaving something behind.
so off we went to get phones! luckily we didn’t need to walk far as there is a soft bank counter right at the end of the food court @ the nex.
there are 3 cell phone companies here in japan: softbank, domco & au.
when we checked into the Navy Lodge we received a bunch of paperwork, it was mainly junk that met the trash but in the midst was a small slip from Soft Bank about a free iPhone. not being a believer i dismissed it & said this has got to be a scam. sure enough it wasn’t. it was for a free 16GB iPhone 4s with a 2 year contract. FREE? iPhone. rarely are those 2 used in the same sentence.
as soon as you can grasp your head around the exchange rate of yen to USD things will be much easier but until you have that “lightbulb & singing harmonious angel moment” download a currency app. you will thank me!
tip #18  download the free iCurrency app for your iPhone. if you don’t have an iPhone yet, go ahead & download the app into iTunes, as you’ll have an iPhone once you arrive here. downloading it in advance along with other free apps will save you time. after using them on your new phone you can always delete them if you wish.
we went with soft bank simply for convenience as they are located on base & although the employees are Japanese they speak English.
you will have a 2 year contract, however there isn’t a military clause to break your contract when you get orders. typically after the 2 year contract, people pay monthly for their last remaining year.
initially their cell phone contracts were hard for me to understand for many reasons.
their plans are: white plan, double white, white plan, family discount 24.
you don’t have minutes like you do with plans in the states, you have free calling times from 0100-2100. long gone are minutes, 300, 600, 900, unlimited. but those minutes are only free if you call another soft bank cell phone.
so you’re going to need to ask people you meet who their cell phone is with. chances are they’ll have soft bank, but to be safe ask & add a note under their contact info of who their carrier is.
my husband and i are on the same contract so i can always call him for free. i’m trying to make this easy to understand.
if i need to make a call after 2100 but before 0100 i get charged 21 yen/30 sec including tax. so depending on the yen to usd exchange rate a 8 minute phone call at 2230 might cost me about $4.08. it doesn’t seem like a lot at first but it can be very expensive if you don’t plan accordingly.
since my husband will be deploying it was important that the data on his phone {internet & skype} can be used when in different countries. he will be able to use data but will not be able to make phone calls as it can rack up to thousands of dollars & they inform you of this when you get your contract.
if they see your bill is getting too high due to calls from overseas they will temporarily put a stop on the line so you can’t make any more calls. this is simply a way to save you from having the largest cell phone bill of your life!
the process of getting a cell phone is as follows:
* decide what plan you want
* pick your phone
* set up the contract. a family plan only has to be in one person’s name & all you need is a photo id, credit card & either your PSC box # or the sponsor’s unit address
{since my husband will be deployed we put our account in my name as this will prevent me from needing to bring in a POA if i need to discuss our bill. if my husband has any questions about our phones i will need to be present with him or he will need a valid POA where i’ve granted him access}
*  pick your phone number & set your pin’s
* wait an hour for them to test your phone & voila you have a cell phone!!

testing out my iPhones camera

tip #19  before you leave the US call your cell phone company & suspend your service for time you’ll be gone. this a free service provided to military families & t-mobile allowed us to keep our numbers for the entire time we’re here in japan.

tip #20  make the last 4 digits of your japanese cell phone number the same as your American cell phone number. if it’s available all options will pop up with either a 080 or 090 prefix. we both went with 080’s to simplify things. if the last 4 of your american number aren’t available try inverting the numbers as that’s what my husband did.

insurance must be added when the account is set up. it can be removed at anytime but it can’t be added back on. soft bank generally replaces iPhones rather than repairing them which leaves you responsible for only 15% of the cost of a new phone as opposed to 100%.

currently soft bank has both the iPhone 4 & 4s in both black & white in 16 GB, 32 GB & 64 GB. you’ll get to pick your color & GB size. keep in mind the larger the GB the more you’ll pay out of pocket. they were taking orders for the iPhone 5 & take about a week to come in but it will increase your monthly bill.

other phones include the color life 3, aqua style, pantone 5 & dell streak pro

we went with the iPhone 4s 32 GB in white & black. i’m not going to tell you what upgrading to a 32 GB cost us because you’ll truly hate me. ok, ok i’ll tell you.

the upgrade is factored into our monthly bill & costs an additional $5 each month. over the next 2 years we’ll pay $240, which is the equivalent of 48 venti white peppermint mocha’s from Starbucks. don’t deny that you drink Starbucks.

to protect our new phones we bought screen covers from soft bank {they come in a 2 pack} which my husband was able attach without any bubbles! i’m so horrible at it. cell phone screen cover is going to be the next new degree i tell you, right after master toy installation.

soft bank has a decent assortment of cell phone cases most for about $28 or $32 & most are the rubber plastic kind, not hard cases.

our temporary ifrogz covers

since i planned on ordering otterbox’s from amazon {i’m telling you this blog is going to be become a promotional for!} we bought temporary ifrogz covers from the nex for about $8-10 a pop. i wouldn’t recommend them for long term use as they offer minimal coverage but it it was enough protection till our otterboxes arrived!

love our covers! can you guess which one is mine?

my cover

his cover

while our defender otterbox’s do make our phones bulkier it’s a small price to pay to keep them protected from 2 toddlers who feel the need to constantly grab them!

super saver shipping was very quick as our cases arrived about 9 days after i placed the order. getting 2 for the price of 1 was even sweeter!

tip #21 set up a free account with amazon {just your shipping, billing & credit card information} & see what you might need to order

you don’t need a prime membership since you can’t get 2 day shipping to an FPO address but if you have a prime membership & ship things to family or friends in the US it would still be beneficial.

now if i could only use my beautiful iPhone to call family & friends in the US.

and get used to japanese numbers.