Journey made in August & October, 2019.
Data could be very expensive in Japan. You will realized it if you want to get an internet access for more than a week : If buying a sim card in South East Asia only cost 3$, here it can be a brain-teaser if you are “on a budget” ! In fact, sim card cost a lot, even more if you want to add some credit for call or text, public wifi is everywhere in cities but frequently limited or you have to pay for, and we don’t talk about international roaming which ridiculously expensive… So, how to stay connected at a low price ? Which solution to get your mail, social network, run your GPS when you are out of town ? After compared many options and traveled across all country from north to south, we tell you more about the best solution we have found : the pocket wifi !
WHAT YOU WILL FIND ON THIS POST
→ Features and global operation of the Pocket Wifi (purchase, return, start-up…)
→ Service provider we chose
→ Pricing comparison of other companies.
→ Our feedback about our partner E-Connect who allowed us to try generously they Pocket Wifi service during more than a month.
“Pocket Wifi”, what is it ?
Real pocket router, this box as huge as a credit card got a sim card inside which you have to connect via wifi to get your secured network. Basically : it’s a tiny wireless « internet modem » , who fit in your pocket that you can bring everywhere.
Small, light, easy to use, pocket Wi-Fi is especially useful to connect multiple devices : smartphone, tablet, computer … It’s a big advantage regarding sim card whose using is more personal : here, with only one subscription, it’s all your family or friends who can get benefits (up to 10 devices according to providers) !
To resume, Pocket Wifi it’s: a box > 4G connection > for several devices. Your own Wifi that you carry wherever you want.
Purchase and use : how it works ?
Many providers offer this service. For their reputation, their reliability and their prices (cheapest we have found), we chose E-connect. It’s their functioning we describe in this post, be aware it can vary with an other company.
1/ Order, pay : few clicks and it’s done !
Advantage of this system ? Simplicity. All the process is done online. Once your option chose, you decide the date and pick-up place. Your Pocket Wifi will wait for you in a parcel at the place / date you have just chosen. Parcel can be grab at any post office, airport, your hostel or AirBnb. For your convenience and availability reasons, we advise you to order at least a week before your arrival, even if some providers assure delivery on the same-day or the next day.
We grabbed our Pocket Wifi at the post office in the Narita international airport on presentation of our passport. Opération duration : 3mn.
Inside the parcel (or rather the huge envelope) we found :
- A Pocket Wifi
- A external battery
- A cable type B / C
- 1 Protection case
- 1 Storage case
- 1 Return prepaid envelope
- 1 Form with all instruction (how to switch on, check date, return…)
Note : all of this items are include with E-connect, but some providers don’t include external battery or case for free.
Getting started is easy. Once switched one, you just need to connect your phone or other nomad device to the right Wifi signal via the password. The router allows you to watch your data usage all along your trip.
2/ How to return : pack it, and it’s done ! (Almost).
Once your journey ended, you will need to give back your Pocket Wifi. Nothing could be more simple : put the router all items in the return prepaid envelope and drop it in any post office or mailbox (you will find one in all airport).
Which company is right for you ? Comparison.
As we said, it our choice went on E-Connect . Our criteria were simple. Reliability and price. This provider has emerged quickly from our research and after detailed comparison seems to be clearly advantageous for those reasons :
- Competitive price.
- Possibility to choose between few monthly subscription which really suits to our needs , things are not doing many companies.
- Utilisation of the 4G SOFTBANK network, which cover 99% of the territory, and without daily limit.
- External battery include in our location, some companies will charge for it.
- Their reputation :
- Based since 2011, quoted in newspaper like N-Y times or Forbes.
- Member of J.N.T.O (Japan national tourism organisation)
- Excellent satisfaction rate with 3000 reviews
- It’s already good, isn’t it ?
Here is a comparison options / prices of some different providers.
Comparison (euro) done on the basis of a 30 days rental in October 2019 with a pick up at a post office.
|Options / Price||Network||External battery include|
|E-connect||25 GB -> 75e |
50GB -> 96e
2GB / day -> 105e
|Ninja Wi-Fi||1GB / Day -> 216e |
|Japan wireless||Unlimited -> 132e||Softbank||Yes|
|Sushi Wi-Fi||Unlimited -> 122e||Softbank||Yes|
|Keikaku||Unlimited -> 175e||Softbank||No|
NOTE : E-connect and other companies do some discount frequently, according to your rental period and duration.
To conclude : Our feeback .
We tested the Pocket Wifi during 47 days in all Japan form north to south, in the cities or countryside and in remote places which we can even remember where it was in the map. After one month in a van and 2 weeks city-trip, we can say the Pocket was really essential for many situations : find a place to sleep, good coffee, pint petrol station, guide us on the road or even hikes, translate traffic signs or all kind of informations, check the forecast, make fun with local people with ” Google traduction “, take the metro in Tokyo… But also communicate with our family, workon our computer inside the van on the day and watch movies on night.
We got network almost everywhere , sometimes even in the mountains, with our smartphone or computer the router didn’t get any problem. If one time it disconnect itself, open it remove the sim card and put it back (it happened twice). The only small weakness would be the autonomy : hard for the battery to keep on all day with a huge utilisation, but the external battery freely given beat this inconvenience. About E-Connect customer service, hard to find a reproach : the team is nice, easely reachable by mail and especially very reactive. They always answered to all our questions.
Finally, about data option : we got the 50GB pack for both of us , 25GB/month/pers. It’s fully enough for a ” normal use ” (GPS, internet research, social network…) et it was perfect for us because we needed to work on our social media / blog. If you are alone, two or three with a reasonable usage, 25GB could be enough and you will get the best price and quality : up to your to evaluate your needs about data !
You can order the Poket Wifi online in few clicks on their website, which is really intuitive :
So, everything is clear about connection and 4G now ? 😉
Delphine & Maxime.
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