Why are phone shops offering iPhones for practically free? Is this a scam?
As far as I know, there is no official explanation given by mobile carriers or any phone shop. However, many people are guessing that phone shops are desperate to fulfill sales targets set by carriers and also Apple, or to clear stock. So in order to attract new customers, phone shops are offering iPhone SEs at a low low price of ¥1.
Until when does this promotion last?
This promotion has been going on since late September 2021 and there has been no signs of slowing down. However, you might want to act soon if you're interested as there is no end date announced by any of the phone shops.
Is this deal offered everywhere?
Not all phone shops offer this deal. You will need to lookout for phone shops with posters advertising the deal.
Are all carriers offering the same deal?
All carriers are offering this deal. However, the deal may vary between shops (i.e. ¥10 instead of ¥1).
Why is there no official information from the carrier's website about this promotion?
Phone shops in Japan are just agents acting on behalf of the carriers (think of them as franchises). This promotion is offered by the phone shops themselves, not under the instructions of the carriers, hence the promotions are not listed on the official websites. This is also why the promotions vary between phone shops.
Help me, I can't find any shops offering this promotion!
It's a open secret that Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara has this deal every weekend so you may try your luck there. Due to its popularity, it is quite crowded so I recommend looking for a phone shop nearby if possible.
Are all storage options available?
As far as I know, only 64GB and 128GB models are on sale. Prices for both models may differ between shops. Also some shops may only offer only one of them. Be sure to check the storage options before committing.
Will I be tied to any contracts?
No, the purchase is not bound to any 2 year contract. You are free to cancel the contract anytime without any additional fees. However, you might be blacklisted if you cancel the contract too early so be sure to keep that in mind.
Can I MNP to another carrier immediately after getting the iPhone?
Since the phone itself is not tied to the phone plan, you are free to transfer to another carrier anytime. However, you might be blacklisted if you cancel the contract too early so be sure to keep that in mind.
Can I choose not to do MNP and just get the iPhone only?
Technically yes, but you would need to add ¥22,000 on top of the phone price (¥22,000 is the discount offer by carriers for customers doing MNP). Also, phone shop staff are quite pushy so you might want to brace yourselves for their pushy sales tactics.
How long does it take to get the iPhone?
For us, the time taken from entering the shop until we exited the shop was around 3 hours. Granted we walked in without any reservations, and also we bumped into some technical difficulties so it took longer than usual. However, we recommend that you set aside at least 3 hours too in case of any technical difficulties like we've experienced.
Do I need to use any Japanese when purchasing the iPhone?
You'll probably need a good amount of Japanese to navigate through the complicated paperwork. I recommend bringing a friend along to help translate if you're not confident enough to handle it by yourself.
I want the latest and greatest iPhone. Is there any other promotions available?
Recently, carriers have been offering the iPhone 12 mini (64GB/128GB) for ¥1 as well, with a catch that you'll need to return the phone after 24 months.
You mentioned you had difficulties signing up with OCN Mobile One. Could you explain what happened in detail?
Originally the phone plan we were using is a docomo-powered MVNO. Apparently because of that, it is not considered an MNP if we switched to OCN Mobile One. If we choose to proceed we would need to pay ¥22,001. Hence, we chose to sign up for Giga Lite first and switch to ahamo later to keep costs low.
Aren't phone plans from the big carriers expensive?
Compared to MVNOs, phone plans are pretty expensive but you can get around this by first signing up to the cheapest plan that they offer then immediately switching to their online-only plans (LINEMO, ahamo, or povo) to keep monthly costs low. You could also transfer out as soon as you get the iPhone, but risk being blacklisted by mobile carriers.
What happens when you get blacklisted by carriers?
You won't be able to sign up for new plans with the carrier. If you get blacklisted by one carrier, you can still sign up with other carriers as the blacklist is not shared between carriers. Also, the blacklist will expire after a certain amount of time. If you're not planning to sign up with the same carrier for some time, you could try to transfer out to a different carrier as soon as you get the iPhone.
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