Pros and Cons of eSIM and Recommended Japan eSIM

For travelers visiting Japan, having reliable internet connection is a must. Are Japanese SIM cards user-friendly? Which is preferable, physical Japanese SIM cards or Japanese eSIM cards? What exactly is a Japanese eSIM? These might be some questions on your mind. When you're in Japan, sticking to your home country's SIM card can rack up hefty roaming fees, while buying a physical Japanese SIM card at the airport demands time and energy. Hence, getting an eSIM in Japan is a highly recommended alternative. If you're unfamiliar with Japanese eSIM, it's crucial to grasp its pros and cons, as well as the ideal scenarios for its usage in Japan.

What is eSIM? How does it differ from regular SIM cards?

eSIM stands for embedded SIM, a virtual SIM card that's integrated into your device. Unlike traditional SIM cards that need to be physically swapped when changing carriers, eSIMs provide a virtual pathway for switching carriers seamlessly. You simply reconnect to the new carrier's network, download the new eSIM in seconds, and you're good to go. No physical cards, just pure convenience!

Picture this: You arrive at a Japanese airport without worrying about finding a SIM card slot. With a simple setup, your phone roams freely on Japanese networks. Plus, you don't even have to remove your home country's SIM card, ensuring you can still receive international calls.

Check out the most recommended Japan eSIM

Category Mobile Wi-Fi Prepaid SIM Card (eSIM)
Communication Speed and Stability Utilizes major carriers, ensuring fast speeds and stable connectivity. Prepaid SIM Cards (eSIM) from MVNOs may have slower speeds but pose no issues with smartphones. For activities like online business meetings, opting for Mobile Wi-Fi is advisable. Offers fast communication speeds and maintains stability even with multiple connected devices. Speeds may be inferior to Mobile Wi-Fi, but for smartphone usage, it remains problem-free.
Data Capacity Often provides ample data capacity, with options exceeding 100GB. Generally offers smaller data capacities due to a short-term usage assumption. Recently, options with around 50GB capacity have become available.
Usage Period Suitable for short-term to long-term stays. Typically designed for a usage period of around 30 days.
Installation Method No installation required Physical chip inserted into devices such as phones Installation via QR code scanning
Price Relatively high Moderate Relatively low, better cost-performance ratio

How to Use eSIM? A Quick Guide to Japanese eSIM

Once you've purchased eSIM, you'll receive a QR code. Some will be emailed to you, others can be accessed directly from MyPage, and some may require you to visit a specific website and enter your order number to obtain it. This QR code is what you'll use to install eSIM on your device—simply scan it, and eSIM will be installed.

For detailed eSIM setup instructions, you can visit this page.
eSIM Setup Instructions

Recommended Japanese eSIM

We highly recommend CDJapan Rental's eSIM plans. Here's a comparison with other companies' eSIM plans.
Feel free to compare and choose the eSIM that best suits your needs.
eSIM Provider Main Network Coverage Price Range Speed Limitations eSIM Setup
CDJapan Rental NTT docomo
(Japan's largest and most stable network)
30GB (8 days) ¥3200
50GB (16 days) ¥3900
50GB (31 days) ¥4900
Speed reduced to 200kbps after exceeding data limit QR code displayed on MyPage
Company A in Japan KDDI/AU Unlimited data
From ¥950 to ¥5000
Daily usage limits despite being an unlimited plan. Speeds reduced to 256Kbps after daily usage of 0.5G/1G/2G. QR code sent via email
Company B in Taiwan NTT docomo 10GB (30 days) ¥6000
30GB (30 days) ¥8500
50GB (30 days) ¥14000
eSIM becomes unusable after exceeding data limit. QR code displayed on MyPage

Benefits of Using eSIM When Traveling to Japan

Potential Drawbacks of Japanese eSIMs

Some phone models may not support eSIM.

Due to its recent emergence, some older phone models might not support eSIMs. For instance, iPhones released before the iPhone XR (pre-2018 models) likely don't support eSIMs. Similarly, some Android phones, especially those before the Google Pixel 4, may not support eSIMs either.

Additionally, even some newer phones manufactured in certain countries or regions may not support eSIMs.

Also, if your phone is SIM locked, you won't be able to use eSIMs (and probably not physical SIM cards either, in which case you might consider Japanese pocket WiFi Rental).

How to check if your phone (iOS device) supports eSIM:
      Open your dial pad.
      Dial *#06#
If your screen displays an "EID barcode (or text)," your phone supports eSIM. Please note, finding this number might be tricky on some phones. Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the screen. The EID number may also appear as "EID 2".

If your phone doesn't support eSIMs, you can consider purchasing a prepaid Japanese SIM card (with large data/unlimited data) or opting for Japanese pocket WiFi rental services.

eSIMs can't be deleted and reinstalled after activation.

Once activated, eSIMs can't be removed or reinstalled at will.

Unlike traditional physical SIM cards that can be easily swapped, eSIMs are digitally embedded in the device. This means once you've activated an eSIM on a device, you can't reinstall the same eSIM after deletion. This might be considered a drawback compared to traditional physical SIM cards. Therefore, before activating an eSIM, ensure the chosen carrier and plan suit your needs to avoid inconvenience later on.

It's not just Japanese eSIMs that have this limitation; eSIMs in most countries have similar restrictions.

eSIMs can't be swapped between different devices repeatedly.

Typically, eSIMs are tied to specific devices and can't be easily moved between different devices like traditional SIM cards.

Once you've activated an eSIM on a device, it remains bound to that device and can't be transferred freely to another. This restriction is in place for security and authorization purposes, ensuring eSIMs are used only on authorized devices, thus enhancing communication security.

eSIMs need to be activated within a certain timeframe after purchase.

Unlike traditional physical SIM cards, some eSIM plans may set a specific validity period, requiring users to complete the activation process within a certain timeframe after purchase. This is because of the virtual nature of eSIMs; carriers may set this limit to manage resources and ensure users activate services promptly.

eSIM does not support returns.

Once eSIM is activated, it is bound to the device and cannot be reused on another device even if removed. Therefore, once eSIM is sold, no returns will be accepted for any reason. Before purchasing an eSIM, please ensure that your device supports eSIM and that the eSIM package (such as validity period and data allowance) meets your needs.

Understanding the pros and cons of Japanese eSIMs and their usage scenarios in Japan is crucial before your trip. While eSIMs bring convenience and flexibility, they also come with limitations and challenges that require careful consideration. By carefully evaluating and selecting the right eSIM plan for yourself, you can make your travels more enjoyable and hassle-free.

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