Now that Apple Pay Suica Inbound is happening it’s interesting to see how people from abroad use and react to it. Some people worry a lot about iPhone dying on route before reaching the end station, a topic that Japanese users don’t mention much.
It is true that you do not want iPhone to die before reaching your Apple Pay Suica transit end point. Fortunately there are 2 easy things to do when your iPhone or Apple Watch battery runs low on route to get you through the final station gate.
1) Put iPhone in Airplane Mode, Apple Pay Suica works perfectly well without network access but few people realize this.
2) Power down iPhone until you reach your final station, when you get there power up and unlock iPhone just before going through the gate.
Some sites offer advice that could be misleading. Kevin Chen’s Creating a new Suica to use in Apple Pay is a decent explanation but suggests carrying a spare plastic Suica in case iPhone dies:
This could be inconvenient if your phone dies but you still need to take the subway home. To get the best of both worlds, keep your physical card active and generate a new Suica just for Apple Pay.
A backup plastic Suica for a complete start to finish trip is one thing, but some people will inevitably misinterpret that to mean either completing a transit with a backup plastic Suica or using it to pay whole fare if iPhone dies on route. You cannot do either one.
If the worst happens and iPhone really dies on route you must do 2 things:
1) Pay whole fare in cash, and only cash, at the end point.
2) Once your iPhone is charged take it to the nearest station and ask the station attendant to reset Suica (clear the last transit information) so you can use it again.
With Suica coin lockers Suica acts as the electronic key in addition to payment so you must use the same Suica to unlock the coin locker. JR East says to call the help number listed above the Suica coin locker reader in case you run into any problems and need assistance.
Last but not least if the worst happens and iPhone dies, keep calm and be respectful with the station attendants. That way you’ll get the best help they can offer.
More battery strategies and advice here.