After a few days of field testing iOS 11.2.6 Apple Pay Suica on iPhone X, the results are in.
The Short Story
iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Express Transit performance on all versions of iOS 11 sucks compared to iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3. It’s unfortunate that Apple’s premium iPhone sucks where it should be stellar: the Japanese market exclusive Apple Pay Suica is Apple’s single most important endorsement for using Apple Pay in Japan.
The Long Story
iOS 11.2.6 has not improved Apple Pay Suica Express Transit performance compared to 11.2.5. Error flicker and full read errors are still a problem though better than the awful Apple Pay Suica bugs of iOS 11.2.
I still think that iPhone X battery optimization is interfering with Suica Express Transit. Compared to the iPhone 7 iOS 10.3.x golden standard, iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Express Transit gate response is sluggish at best, error prone most of the time, store reader performance on UT1-Neo readers and vending machines is a 2 read~3 read crapshoot every time.
The most frustrating thing about iPhone X Apple Pay Suica error flicker is this: there is no way for Japanese customers to confirm or debug the issue at the Genius Bar or with Apple Tech support. The issue can only be confirmed at the nearest JR East station transit gate. Japanese iPhone X customers who contact Apple tech support are told that the error flicker issue does not exist or that a video of it proves nothing. It’s exactly the response that infuriates iPhone X users who experience Suica Express Transit gate errors everyday.
Error flicker does exist. If you are experiencing the issue please contact Apple support or enter a report on Apple Bug Reporter if you have a developer account.
Update 1: a reader contacted me after reading this post. He took his iPhone X to the Apple Store Genius Bar in Tokyo and explained the Suica Express Transit error flicker / full error problems he is experiencing. Apple staff is aware of the inferior iPhone X Apple Pay Suica performance issues compared to iPhone 7 / 8 but there is nothing they can do about it.
Update 2: another reader writes that iPhone X Apple Pay Suica vending machine purchases are “practically impossible.”
Update 3: Reader report that iPhone X Suica worked without any problems on iOS 11.0.1 ~ 11.0.3. Suica errors started only after updating to iOS 11.1 and above.
Update 4: The iPhone X Suica problem may be a NFC hardware flaw. Details here.