Apple Pay Suica Inbound #7: No Foreign Transaction Fees

Apple Watch Suica

A reader comment after using Apple Pay Suica on his iPhone X:

My trip is half over, and we’ve found Suica to be a huge advantage over the old method of converting currency when we use our “no foreign transaction fee” card  to recharge it. So we use it heavily every day.

Since I live in Japan this important Apple Pay Suica advantage never crossed my mind. There are lots of “No Foreign Transaction Fee” credit cards available in America. As long as they work with Apple Pay they are good to work for Suica Recharge. As long as you have a Global FeliCa model iPhone or Apple Watch you are good to add Suica. For the purchases you make with Suica kiss foreign transaction fees goodbye.

Unfortunately for inbound Android users the recent rollout of Google Pay Suica does not let them into the Global FeliCa smartphone party.


iOS 11.4.1 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Suica Problem

The bad news: iOS 11.4.1 does not fix the iPhone X Suica Problem. Given that the problem has being going on since iPhone X day one despite many iOS updates, this is expected and more proof that it’s a hardware issue. Some users tweet that 11.4.1 seems a little better but over time I think it will average out to the same old story.

The good news: another Revision B iPhone X golden unit has appeared after a user exchanged his iPhone X Suica problem unit. @osamumoro’s exchanged iPhone X unit was manufactured on iPhone X 2018 production week 24 (June).

It would be great if the Revision B iPhone X theory turns out to be true with production ramping up so that iPhone X Suica problem units can be reliably swapped out for good ones.

iPhone X Suica Problem As Opportunity

Sony founder Akio Morita, Steve Jobs’s model hero, had a unique approach with technical problems and product repair centers. Back in the day Sony maintained a large domestic walk-in repair center network in Japan. I repaired my first Sony FireWire digital video camera at one.

Technicians not only fixed customer Sony products they also evaluated the broken parts and feed the information back to the product engineers and designers. But it didn’t stop there. Sony repair technicians also listened to how customers used Sony products and what features they wanted to have.

In short Akio Morita’s Sony used repair centers as an important part of product development. Morita’s successors dropped the practice and Sony’s product development quality declined because of it.

Apple has an opportunity with the iPhone X Suica problem. They could communicate with customers while fixing the problem, find out how they use NFC on iPhone, what they like, what they want to work better. Japanese iPhone X customers could be a great resource that could help Apple build a much better iPhone NFC experience.

Instead we have silence and confused users like this one who doesn’t like the way Suica works on iPhone X and wants to switch to a Galaxy smartphone.

What a wasted opportunity.

iPhone X Suica Problem Unit? Do Not Install iOS 12 Public Beta

The public beta should be dropping soon and I’m traveling the next few weeks without connections so this public announcement is going out now: if you have an iPhone X Suica Problem unit do not install the iOS 12 public beta. Leave beta testing to developers and fools.

The current iOS 12 developer beta 2 is wreaking havoc on iPhone X Suica problem units with users reporting much higher error rates everywhere, transit gates, cash registers, vending machines, you name it. Stick with the iOS 11.4 devil you know: at least you have a 50% chance of getting through the transit gate without an error. Wait until the official release and then some. You’ll be happy you did.

Huawei Joins the FeliCa Android Party but Only in Japan

HUAWEI P20 Pro FeliCa only works on the Docomo carrier locked versionDespite the Google Pay Japan flop, Huawei made good on its promise to deliver a FeliCa capable Android smartphone for the Japanese market in 2018. The HUAWEI P20 delivers it via a Docomo carrier locked UIM card that incorporates the FeliCa Secure Element. The same approach used in Hong Kong for Octopus Mobile but not Smart Octopus for Samsung Pay.

Google Pay Suica will be the same mess on HUAWEI that it is on all other Android smartphones, and of course there is no joining the FeliCa party for inbound visitors. After all Android has yet to come up with an answer to the Global FeliCa iPhone.

I’m unsure how well any HUAWEI FeliCa device will be received by Japanese customers in light of the weird remarks that HUAWEI’s Jeff Wang made last February. We live in the age of supply chain risk so make your device choices carefully.