iPhone 7 – The iPhone for Japan – Opening Weekend

Strongest iPhone Pre-Order Ever
iPhone 7 opening weekend is winding down and the Japanese press is reporting the strongest ever iPhone upgrade demand. Docomo president Kazuhiro Yoshikawa said pre-order demand was beating 6S rates, KDDI president Takashi Tanaka called it unprecedented and largest pre-order ever.

The exceptional demand comes from Apple delivering two key features long requested by Japanese customers: FeliCa (NFC-F) support and water resistance. FeliCa Apple Pay won’t arrive until late October but Twitter has been buzzing with Japanese user comments celebrating ‘I can finally do it all on one phone.’ For these holdouts iPhone 7 FeliCa support removes the last reason to hold onto Japanese feature phones or Android.

FeliCa Hardware Details
Teardowns from iFixIt and Chipworks confirm iPhone 7 phones around the world use the same NFC chip. As I suspected earlier, FeliCa NFC is turned on via software only for iPhone 7 phones sold in Japan. They also have the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) required FeliCa related mark on the back. No teardowns for Apple Watch Series 2 in Japan have appeared yet but the situation is undoubtably the same.

This confirmation makes JR East vice chairman Masaki Ogata’s earlier “inbound” customer support comments at the Apple event all the more interesting. Apple can turn FeliCa on for all “inbound” iPhone 7 users if regulatory details can be worked out with MIC (with some help from JR East).

One last Japan focused iPhone 7 feature is 1.5 GHz support for Docomo (band 21), and KDDI au/SoftBank (band 11). 1.5 GHz support allows Japanese carriers to offer faster carrier aggregation service for iPhone 7 customers.

Update: Most recent Apple Pay Japan details here