iOS 11.3 Update Does Not Fix The iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Error Problem

iPhone X has been on sale for almost 6 months but the iPhone X Suica error problem still plagues Japanese users. Unfortunately the latest iOS 11.3 Update does not fix the problem.

The iPhone X Suica problem is an issue that causes transit gate errors when using Suica Express Transit on iPhone X. Errors occur with any transit gate or any reader device. Overall iPhone X Suica transit gate performance is sluggish. iPhone 8 / 8 Plus and Apple Watch Series 3 are free of the Suica problem and work reliably. It’s not clear what the cause of the problem is: iOS 11 software or a iPhone X NFC related hardware flaw.

There are 2 basic error patterns:

  • Error Flicker: the transit gate flashes an error but the gate opens and the error instantly clears automatically without a reread.
  • Full Error: the transit gate flashes an error and the gate stays closed, the error does not clear automatically forcing the user to try again. The second read is always successful.
  • In all gate error cases the iPhone X shows Done and a checkmark on the display
  • Error Ratios: approximately 1 in 3 gate transits is an error flicker, 1 in 7 gate transits is a full error but some iPhone X users experience higher error ratios.

This video shows regular Suica Express Transit performance, Suica error flicker and a full error:

Timeline
iOS 11.1 (October 31): The first signs of trouble came from Japanese iOS 11.1 beta testers who complained that Apple Pay Suica Express Transit was slow or unusable. The official iOS 11.1 release on iPhone X was unreliable from the start: Suica Express Transit performance was so poor that JR East issued a Apple Pay Suica system notice on November 8 just 5 days after the iPhone X launch.

iOS 11.2 (December 2): The Apple Pay Cash release broke Apple Pay Suica and Apple Pay Suica notifications stopped working. Sluggish Suica performance and frequent iPhone X Suica Express Transit gate errors became a real problem.

iOS 11.2.5~11.4 (January 23~May 29): the Apple Pay Suica notification bug was fixed in iOS 11.2.5 unfortunately Express Transit error problems and Suica sluggishness were not and continue to be an ongoing performance issue with iOS 11.4.

The problem has some similarities to the one experienced on Xperia Z5 Android devices. Complaints on Twitter and Japanese blog sites the past few months have been constant. Japanese iPhone X customers who experience it regularly on their daily commute are frustrated with Apple’s lack of action:

Summary
The iPhone X Suica problem is irritating especially at rush hour packed station gates. The more Apple Pay Suica is part of your daily transit routine the more frustrating the iPhone X Suica problem will be. Occasional transit users won’t notice it as much.

Suica Express Transit works most of the time. Transit gate error flicker clears automatically. When you experience the full error that does not clear automatically simply wait for the gate reader to reset and try again, or go through another gate. The second try is always successful.

Apple needs to fix iPhone X Suica Express Transit issues that have plagued users since iPhone X went on sale.

Recent developments are here.

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