As user reports trickle in it’s becoming clear that iPhone X units produced before April 2018 have a NFC hardware issue. iPhone X Apple Pay Suica users have been complaining about it since iPhone X went on sale. Why aren’t iPhone X users outside of Japan complaining about it? It’s all about NFC environment, experience and expectations.
NFC Infrastructure and Experiences
The Japanese NFC transit and payments infrastructure has a long unique history. It’s fast, modern and high performance. Japanese NFC mobile payments and e-money with Suica smart cards started in 2004, Mobile Suica for feature phones followed in 2006 and took off from there. FeliCa based systems like Suica have very fast transaction rated speeds of 200 milliseconds (ms) but are usually faster in service. The point is: Japanese iPhone X users have vast experience and expectations of how high performance NFC should work.
Unfortunately the United States does not have a high performance NFC FeliCa or MIFARE stored value based transit and payments infrastructure on a large transit network the size of Tokyo or Hong Kong. Most Americans don’t have the experience of a Suica or Octopus (transit + e-money) or Oyster smartcard (transit only) to compare Apple Pay with and don’t understand what they are missing: American iPhone X users have zero experience with high performance NFC therefore no expectations of how NFC should work.
NFC Use and Expectations
Apple Pay Suica commuters are super power users who immediately understand that something is wrong with iPhone X Suica: the dreaded iPhone X Suica problem. On a daily commute there are at least 4 gate transits, usually more, plus Suica purchases for lunch, snacks, coffee, etc. Apple Pay Suica commuter plans are limited to the JR East rail network however, so this limits the number of Apple Pay Suica iPhone X super power users to Tokyo.
There are no iPhone X commuter super power users in America. EMV contactless is a slower, lower performance payment technology that was developed for cash registers, not for rapid transit gates but it is the only Apple Pay experience most Americans have. The slow, antiquated American cash register infrastructure is connected with slow, low performance EMV contactless readers. Customer expectations are nonexistent so iPhone X users never realize that reader errors with Apple Pay are not caused by the reader, they are caused by iPhone X. Users have a iPhone X NFC problem but don’t know it.
In my last post I wrote,
Put it this way: with an iPhone X made before April 2018 the second read is always successful, with a Revision B iPhone X the first read is always successful. Which one do you want?
There is one more question that you need to ask yourself: if you didn’t know that your iPhone X device has a NFC problem, is it a problem for you?
If the answer is yes to both questions carefully observe your iPhone X NFC performance, check your iPhone X manufacture date and exchange your iPhone X if it was manufactured before April 2018. An exchange guide is here.