It goes without saying that we needed a good way to get online during this trip. Getting around, double-checking hotel reservations, and of course posting here all need at least a semi-reliable internet connection. After using a couple £15 burner phones on our UK trip a few years back, we opted to rent iPhones this time around. Best. Idea. Evar.
We started the process of unlocking our existing phones, which should’ve worked fine with Japanese SIM cards. But the first step there for simplicity was combining our phone accounts, and that got forgotten in all the other trip prep. So we found a place online and got a couple iPhone 5s(es?) set to be ready when we landed.
Pickup was at the post office in Narita airport – just show your passport. Each came in a case with charger and cable. Also included is a return envelope. Just dump the cases with everything in, and drop in any post office box. Reasonable calling and texting rates are included, as well as the all-important part – unlimited data.
The best part’s probably the easy access to everything we’re used to having on our iOS devices. Login to the App Store and pull down whatever you need. Sync dropbox if you feel like it. Treat it like your primary phone.
The only major snag so far was Stephanie’s email. Bit of advice if you go this route – temporarily disable your two-factor auth if you don’t know your gmail password. Since her usual phone couldn’t get texts without getting on a Japanese network (and potentially costing us a lot) we were stymied for a bit. Finally tracked down AT&T’s international rates, disabled all auto-download activity on her phone, and took it off airplane mode. Left it that way long enough to get the Gmail auth text, then put it back on wifi only. Problem solved.
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