iPhone 3G now free with contract in Japan

If you wanted any better proof of how strange and insidious the cellular industry's "contract debt" business model is, know that the iPhone is now effectively free of charge in Japan, so long as you agree to a 2 year service contract. Even then, however, life is relatively easy: the monthly plan is a mere $45. [SoftBank via Crunchgear]

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8 Responses to iPhone 3G now free with contract in Japan

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s $45 per month for a data plan. You can get the 8GB iPhone for free on a voice plan only for as little as $10 per month.

    See the table on this page:

  2. Anonymous says:

    In the philippines, we also have service contracts like that but we also have legal unlocked cellphones that work on any network and we also have quasi-legal to illegal cellphone unlocking services. If your service contract entitles you to own the phone itself after the contract ends, you can just sign up again for a new contract with a new phone while retaining your phone number and pass the old phone to poorer relatives who will then have the phone unlocked so they can use any cellular carrier they want.

    In my case i just bought an unlocked cellphone and i transferred my old sim card onto it. I use prepaid cellphone cards. Whenever i run out of load, i can buy a new card anywhere. A us$ 6.25 card gives me around 350 text messages and since i rarely use voice, this can last me a month or two.


  3. Daemon says:

    Not surprising. It’s slaughtered by local phones in terms of features, and costs far, far more per month.

    Japanese cellphones can be used to buy things somewhat like a debit-card, have high quality video recording capability and have integrated TV reception. They’re also substantially less expensive. Most people are willing to admit their interfaces need work though.

    Seriously, north americans REALLY need to stop thinking the electronics they produce is advanced.

  4. bmjames says:


    The iPhone 3G has been free in the UK on 18-month £45 contracts for ages.

  5. bluemadonna says:

    WTF? $240 total for an iphone? Isn’t that way less than what they go for on ebay?

  6. Vash Aurion says:

    Just more evidence to how Americans get gauged by the oligopoly that are the cell phone companies.

  7. BastardNamban says:

    @ #2- No doubt there, on the American gouging.


    Japanese cell carriers (DoCoMo, Au, Softbank) up the price of the phone into the contract itself, or at least it was last year when I got my phone & contract. You get the cheap plan, but you have to pay it every month for 2 years. Well, duh. But here’s the thing- if you have to cancel, for whatever reason, before 2 years is up- they charge you for the remaining months of unpaid contracted base plan amounts. My friend who works for them described it this way. Technically, they can thus “charge” you for the phone if you try to leave early OR SWITCH PHONES. Why would this matter? Because if you don’t insure your phone for 1 time small fee repair, and you break it, they treat you like you cancelled your service, and charge you the remaining contract’s months as a fee- thus, until your contract is up, you technically are renting their phone, and they WILL make you pay for it if you try to leave or have an accident 1 time without their monthly insurance too. I know this because the man who signed me up became a great personal friend, and has helped me navigate their ridiculous terms he hates too!

    Be careful what you sign up for- I have to cancel, because I’m leaving Japan- and they are going to charge me over 300$ for my remainder on a supposed “free” model flip phone. I’ve had it a year & a half.

    The Japanese get screwed just as bad, we just don’t know it. That cheapo phone they give you as “free” actually has a cost- if you are unlucky enough to find out!

  8. remmelt says:

    Sure, it’s like that in the Netherlands as well and probably in most of Europe. I just received an iPhone free with a two year contract. No simlock either, it’s an Italian phone.

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