• Using an Ubigi eSIM in Japan



    Not today, Bell!

    I'm back from 9 days in Tokyo, and can report great success with a pair of Ubigi eSIMs, installed on an unlocked Pixel 4a and 6a.

    I set up both phones before we left, and switched the APN info right before we took off from Toronto. When we landed, my girlfriend's 4a connected almost immediately, and my 6a quickly followed after a restart. By the time our plane reached its arrival gate we were both good to go.

    One added perk that I didn't realize about eSIMs is that you can use them simultaneously with your home network. Since incoming texts are free even while roaming, I was able to see a message from a family member and respond by email using the much cheaper data provided by Ubigi.



    Some random speed tests conducted during my trip. Service was 4G rather than 5G but speeds were perfectly fine, even for real-time navigation. The few low numbers above were almost all recorded at Narita Airport.



    Our 10 GB each turned out to be plenty for 9 days abroad. We did connect our phones to the hotel's WiFi but probably didn't need to.

    I chose Ubigi for this trip based on recommendations from reddit. For other destinations you can consult the esimdb and get the best/cheapest data for where you want to go. Another perk of eSIMs is that you can install multiple profiles (depending on your device), even if only one can be active at a time.

    My brother's family also visited Japan earlier this year, and paid their provider's "roam like home" rate of $16 CAD per device per day almost ten times what we paid per device with an eSIM. It was pretty great to not be ripped off by a Canadian carrier for once!

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    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Using an Ubigi eSIM in Japan started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Treatz's Avatar
      Treatz -
      Interesting:

      have you tried / used Airalo in Japan?
      any good?
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      I've heard good things about Airalo, just not for Japan specifically. Apparently they use the AU network while Ubigi uses NTT DoCoMo.
    1. kordian's Avatar
      kordian -
      When you were in Japan, via UBIGI eSIM, was your IP address in Japan, or were you routed through a 3rd party roaming partner in another country, thus increasing the latency? Often, these eSIM providers are routing you through some far away countries, thus increasing latencies... eg: Airalo SIMs are typically based in Europe, but provide service in USA over the Atlantic.
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      Good question, but I don't have a good answer for you. I do recall that ping times were higher than usual, so it's certainly possible. The service was still very usable, though!
    1. kordian's Avatar
      kordian -
      Is anyone aware of a good esim app similar to Airalo or Ubigi or Dent, but which would give you a US based SIM, without roaming and therefore with good ping times? All of the ones I've tried give you a European or Asian SIM card, which roams in USA and performance is lower than a local eSim from a local provider.
    1. PaulCrawhorne's Avatar
      PaulCrawhorne -
      Nothing performs better nor is cheaper than a local SIM for data.
    1. PaulCrawhorne's Avatar
      PaulCrawhorne -
      For T&T use a Ultra Mobile PAYGO $3/mo via WiFi calling over that local data or wifi
    1. kordian's Avatar
      kordian -
      Not quite true - there is one area where a regional or roaming eSIM performs better than a local eSIM ... and that is in the fact that typically a roaming SIM can connect to mulitple local networks and will find the strongest network to connect to, while a local SIM will be stuck on just one network. If you're in an area where that one network is not working well, you're stuck, while with a roaming SIM, you can just switch to another network. This is great to have the best possible coverage, as a tourist and never be stranded with no signal.
    1. PaulCrawhorne's Avatar
      PaulCrawhorne -
      Such issues are more likely a phone mismatch on RF bands unless buying local devices.

      Most international roaming agreements are with only one operator per country.

      And local SIMs are usually so much cheaper, carrying several and swapping is a better solution for high GB use cases.
    1. kordian's Avatar
      kordian -
      I disagree... most of the eSIM deals whether from AIRALO, UBIGI, NOMAD, KEEPGO, DENT, etc do have more than 1 network in most countries, eg in USA, many give you access to ATT+TMO and in Canada, often, you get all 3 - Rogers,Bell,Telus. In the UK, you can get EE+3 or O2+3 or a combination of quite a few, in many European countries. This is actually the beauty of those eSIM sites like AIRALO or KEEPGO, where you can get a roaming eSIM that works across many European countries and gives you multiple networks in each country.

      In fact, most of these eSIM companies are based in Europe (eg: Estonia, Poland, etc) and so the roaming is pretty local to Europe and if you're in Europe, you get decent latency. So I would actually say that if you're travelling to Europe, a local SIM is not always the best option, but something like AIRALO or KEEPGO may be a better option, to give you an easy eSIM you can install before you arrive, and you have access to multiple networks and never have issues with reception and since they're EU based already, latency is decent.

      Of course, for pure speed, you'd go with a local SIM Card, but you have the inconvenience of having to find, purchase and activate it, sometimes needing to provide the passport/ID and paying with local currency, and you are only going to be stuck on one network and who knows if it's the best network in the area you're in... with eSIM, you have more flexibility.
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