English

FP3 work in Japan?

Hi, I am wondering whether Fairphone will work in Japan. I am visiting the UK over Christmas and can order a FF3 (my iphone 6s is now 4 years old and repeatedly malfunctioning) but I am worried about whether FF3 will work inside Japan and also if I have problems with the phone, I am hoping to repair it but seems there are a few defective models out there. If I’d have to send it back for a replacement or indeed fixing, that would be pretty tough.

There doesn’t seem to be any “fair” type phones in Japan so was really hoping to purchase FF3.

Have you checked the frequencies/bands and compared them to your Japanese carrier?
You find the bands here:


(see: Tech specs -> Network).
There is one website for checking such things; but they do not yet list the Fairphone 3:
https://willmyphonework.net
You might check that page frequently or contact them to add the FP3 to their list.

I have no idea, how many defective phones are out there from the first FP3s; and if the problems are serious ?
Unfortunately - as Fairphone does not ship outside Europe and has no servicepoints overseas - you will have to take the risk, regarding repairs or warranty.
For modules and accessories, there is at least Vireo who is shipping worldwide, but that will of course always take time and tax and customs.
And there is one more point to be aware of. Ordering batteries might be difficult, as they are considered hazardous goods, when they are shipped alone / outside a device.

2 Likes

Not officially, you’re on your own.

Japan ain’t in this list

So I had to manually verify.

4G (LTE)

Type - Cat. 13
MIMO - 4x2
2CA Carrier Aggregation
VoLTE + VoWiFi
Bands - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 20, 26
Max download speed 300Mbps
Max upload speed 150Mbps

3G (HSPA+)

HSDPA - Cat 24
HSUPA - Cat 6
Frequencies - 800, 850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 Mhz
Max download speed 42Mbps
Max upload speed 5.76Mbps

2G (GMS, GPRS, EDGE)

Type - Cat. 33
Frequencies - 850, 900, 1800, 1900 Mhz

I’ll focus on LTE (didn’t check the other info)

It seems that used by Japanese ISPs are 11 (Au, SoftBank), 18 (Au), 19 (NTT Docomo). None of these are supported by FP3. However, according to the source 1, 3, and 7 are supported in whole Asia (I did not verify this elsewhere). Which suggests to me that “low MHz” [in this case] 800 MHz bands won’t work, but 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz will. Due to the way Hz works these are higher bandwidth, but shorter range. Which suggests to me that you may indeed get into reception issues where your current Japanese LTE smartphone would continue to work. Whether 2G or 3G still works I did not verify.

You can also verify via your specific ISP via this website:

https://www.frequencycheck.com/countries/japan

Don’t see this post as a definite answer but rather a diving board.

(PS: My experience with Japanese shipments from Japan (imported at least a Sharp Zaurus and a HHKB) is that they are very honest about import duties.)

1 Like

Thank you so much for looking that up for me. Honestly I really don’t understand the technical aspects but this is what i’ve been fearing. I guess it’s probably best to give it a miss if I want a functioning phone. Its important to me as I have family back in the UK i’d need to contact and Japan is earthquake prone so I need one that will receive alerts too. My current phone really is on its last legs, so now what to do? Get a secondhand phone that will probably last 2 years max or get a brand new non ethical phone :frowning: Gosh really wish Fair Phone worked :sob:

1 Like

It does seem to work, but not optimally. How good it works, we don’t know until someone tried (and then it is one use case, in some areas; not whole Japan). You’re of course free to be or not be a guinea pig. :slight_smile:

Yeah but I live in Japan so say it works fine in Tokyo but not up in the northern cities where I live, it would be a complete waste :sob: also, it wouldn’t be so bad if I just travelled to Japan every now and again but I guess I need it to work pretty well and I’d definitely need it to receive emergency alerts (not sure how they work exactly but they come up automatically when we get an earthquake or flooding, landslide etc).

I’m going to do some more research. The provider I have uses band 1 also but something about 2100hz is in brackets next to it. Not exactly sure what that means…

They essentially mean the same thing.

The brackets just describe that the mentioned band (band 1 in this case) is operated on 2100 Hz. Sometimes, the frequencies are advertised (as people search for those), and other times the band numbers (which is less technical but also less descriptive) are mentioned instead.

An analogy would be:

Hello (Konnichiwa). (in Japan)

Konnichiwa is more complex, but Japanese people understand it very well. Hello is more simple. You probably get away with it throughout the world, but it is not Japanese.

Which one is better, is subjective, and circumstantial :slight_smile:

Seems like this is the bands. Apparently band 1 has great coverage but I can only find maps for my area that talk about “LTE” as a whole rather than separate bands.

2 Likes

So I found some information that Band 26 contains band 18 or something like that so basically 26 will also work on 18. I don’t understand it fully but since FF3 uses band 26, if I switch providers to AU I should be covered by band 1 and 26. I wonder if that will be enough? I’ve looked at the AU coverage maps within Japan for 26/18 and it seems pretty much everywhere so I think i’m willing to risk it for the sake of an ethical phone. I hope I am not one of the unfortunate ones with a defective phone though :sweat_smile:

I guess i’ll buy it in December and let you all know in January if it works or not :sweat_smile:

3 Likes

The plot thickens…apparently band 19 is also a subset of band 26, meaning also the NTT which I am currently on should also work plus they also have band 3. So I guess what i’ll do is try my current sim and then if not switch to the other provider.

Wow this has been a rollercoaster of emotions :sweat_smile:

2 Likes

Hi,
Just to say, I took my Fairphone 2 to Japan last year and with a wifi pocket router was able to make and receive calls on Whatsapp FB messenger etc. totally clearly. I didn’t try actual phonecalls. J

2 Likes

I did not and do not know if you can just substitute a band if the (M/G)Hz is the same. I thought you could not but I’m not sure.

Please do remember the available frequencies don’t say everything. It also matters how good the coverage is, and where you (mostly) reside. For example, for me it is important I have coverage during my commute. In my previous commute I always had a part with no reception, and even though my provider nowadays has lower coverage than competitors (they used to be the best but we are still talking >90% of country) other providers have the same issue.

It could mean, that with your current provider (NTT), for example, they provide 2 high bandwidth frequencies which work very well for your use case. If you can afford the effort involved (time to test, possible effort to resell, money loss if fails) I recommend you try with your current provider (NTT) to see if it is suffice (you’d have band 1 and 3, so you don’t have the lower speed but higher coverage 700/800/900 bands), and if that does not work try Au indeed (as you’d have a lower frequency provided band 18 can use band 26).

Either way, thanks for going forth, and do report your findings :slight_smile: it is a way to contribute to the community be it other people in Japan or travelers or people considering going on a business trip etc etc.

2 Likes

Sorry I linked wrong Wikipedia earlier. (I won’t edit post as it might be confusing.)

The correct link is:

It does contain information about Japan.

I didn’t find it because I did Ctrl+F Japan.

1 Like

It was the information in Japanese that alerted me to the band being the same, but I also checked in English on Wikipedia:-

Link to wiki article:-
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTE_frequency_bands

2 Likes

Also I think i’m going to be the guinea pig. Its a good cause. I’ll try sell it if it doesn’t work, id feel awful getting another brand without at least trying the FF.

3 Likes

When you posted about band 26 covering bands 18 and 19, I wanted to check and landed on the same page.
From that list, it in fact seems, that your estimation is correct.
It is not just the identical frequency, but it seems that in Japan the band 26 is split in 18 (lower) and 19 (upper) band. Uplink, downlink, duplex spacing and channel bandwidths all confirm this, not to mention that they are labled as subsets of band 26.

Still there is one point, that seems to be important. I is concerning the table “Deployment by region”:
While band 18 is said to work in “Japan (au)” and band 19 “Japan (NTT Docomo)” it is for band 26 “Japan (au)” only - via Multi Frequency Band Indicator (MFBI). NTT Docomo does not seem to have that MFBI.

So, according to the wiki-page, the FP3 will work with Au on band 18, not on band 19 with NTT docomo.
Insofar @JeroenH seems to be correct in general, that the “Subset”-thing alone is not enough.

And thx from me as well, if you wanna go forth giving it a try.

2 Likes

I got one more thing to add which might clarify a few things (or make it worse). It is not the Hz alone. On a certain spectrum, a certain protocol is spoken. The mentioned Hz is an approx; in fact it is a range. Now, say you got a (hypothetical) protocol called Cyantooth which is speaking on 2415 Hz (in fact, it is a range, but in this very situation it is 2415). If you then have a receiver which is able to receive 2415 Hz, but which cannot comprehend the Cyantooth protocol on the hardware level, what is going to happen with that data? AFAIK, your “computer” cannot use it; it is discarded. Which is the whole reason of SDR becoming more common, but that is not included on a smartphone. So what happens is that there are a bunch of transceivers, say A, B, and C, which each are able to transceive a bunch of ranges (say A can do 2400-2500, B can do 800-900, C can do 2100-2200). However, they must also speak the protocol on their chip, or the content is useless. Do I understand it correct, and have I explained it correct, or does anyone have anything to add to this?

1 Like

Jeroen that definitely didn’t make things clearer for me haha. But I think potentially it can work on AU :crossed_fingers: but i’m already using NTT docomo so I’ll check that as well and at least then I can confirm whether or not FF3 works on either. Hopefully it does work on NTT docomo as thats the provider that is touted at visitors/tourists if they want to use their own phone here in Japan. They say to get a visitor sim. Haha

Remember it isn’t a question of whether the smartphone will work or not. Based on the information above, the smartphone will work. The question is, will the reception be good enough for your situation (where you live, commute, work, etc)?

If AU is the provider which tourists go for, that is indeed likely to work :slight_smile: you got dual SIM as well, which is nice.

It is entirely possible sticking with NTT for time being, is “good enough”, and that you may consider switching to AU at some point.

1 Like