iPhone X and Apple Pay Suica Store Reader Errors (U)


Update: Apple released the iOS 11.2.5 Update on January 23, I recommend it for all Apple Pay Suica iPhone X users.

My iPhone X experience has been a very positive one that I hope to write about soon, but those finicky UT1-Neo NFC store readers are extremely finicky and error prone with iPhone X. Suddenly there are some irate Japanese tweets about Apple Pay Suica NFC reader errors, what’s going on?

JR East issued a notice via Suica App on November 8: “Issues to be careful of when using Apple Pay Suica for store purchases.” The notice points out 2 kinds of NFC reader errors:

  1. The NFC reader requests Touch ID/Face ID authentication even though your Apple Pay Suica is set for Express Transit. This happens most with vending machine purchases. Open Wallet, select Suica, authenticate and then purchase.
  2. Slow transaction-errors-repeat reads. Keep your iPhone position on the reader still until either the NFC reader beeps a completed transaction sound or the store clerk says the transaction is complete.

If JR East needs to issue a notice it means there are more than a few users experiencing problems. My own experience at Ueshima Coffee shops is that UT1-Neo readers take 2~3 attempts for a successful transaction. The iPhone 7 optimum position doesn’t work anymore.

As the JR East notice says keep iPhone in place until the transaction is done. UT1-Neo readers in other stores are behaving a little better.

It’s not clear what the issue is. iOS 11.1 Apple Pay Suica was a smooth ride on my iPhone 7 but on iPhone X it’s a problem with slower older NFC readers. Convenience stores and large store chains use the latest Panasonic and NEC NFC readers and work fine.

I suspect Apple needs to fine tune the NFC chipset performance on iPhone 8 and iPhone X to be a little more patient with older slower NFC readers along with adjustments on the store POS side as well.