Why iPhone X disappeared from Apple’s Using Suica in Japan page

Apple Using Suica in Japan page
The September 21 update to Apple’s Using Suica on iPhone or Apple Watch in Japan omits any mention of iPhone X.

After careful examination of Apple’s recently updated Using Suica in Japan page I find the new device profile wording very strange: iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus and later. Why no iPhone X or later? It was there before. Why Apple, why? Could it be that the iPhone X NFC hardware problem is a profound embarrassment? And that iPhone X Suica problems seem endless?

Bingo, we have a winner.

Update: a longtime reader reached out saying I had gone a little too far: dropping iPhone X from the lineup is just simplifying things, nothing more. He’s right. I was angry from reading too many Japanese tweets about the new iOS 12 iPhone X Suica issues. Anger is never a productive mood to write from. There are many hard working people at Apple who do their best to help customers. There are many Japanese iPhone X customers who need that help. I hope it can all come to a happy and productive conclusion for everyone.

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iOS 12 update woes: one step back after one step forward for iPhone X Suica users

Poor iPhone X Suica users. No sooner did they finally fix iPhone X Suica hardware problems by getting a Revision B iPhone exchange when the iOS 12 update set them back. Here we go again.

This time it really is software with iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Express Card sometimes unresponsive and Apple Pay demanding a Passcode/Face ID unlock at transit gates, or just good old error flicker. Users with Rev-B iPhone X devices say they didn’t have these problems with iOS 11.4.1.

This kind of thing has happened before: the Apple Pay Japan debut iOS 10.1 release for iPhone 7 had transit gate teething problems and the iOS 11.1 Apple Pay Cash debut release made life miserable for all Apple Pay Suica users regardless of iPhone model.

After dealing with Suica hardware problems for so long iPhone X users are very sensitive and, understandably, easily upset given that Apple knows about the iPhone X Suica problem but refuses to acknowledge it publicly, putting users through the Apple Support runaround game. I suspect iPhone 8 users are experiencing the same iOS 12 Suica issues but are less vocal about it.

This kind of Suica, “iOS loves me, iOS loves me not” version by version game is a consequence of Apple requiring iOS to operate Suica on pre-A12 Bionic devices. As my iPhone XS review makes clear, essential Suica operations run on A12 Bionic without iOS. This makes iPhone XS and iPhone XR Apple Pay Suica ‘bulletproof’ to any given iOS version. It just works, even when the battery runs down.

As one Japanese user complained on Twitter last night, “Is this (iOS 12 Suica) problem just an Apple ploy to get us to upgrade to iPhone XS?”

That’s not exactly the sound of a satisfied Apple customer eager to upgrade to a new iPhone. This years iPhone launch day was very quiet in Japan. Apple had better get cracking on fixing problems here if they value Japanese customers and want to keep them. These days Apple seems to take Japan completely for granted.

Dear Apple, this is not how you should treat iPhone X customers

1️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide
2️⃣ iPhone X Suica問題Q&A交換ガイド (Japanese)
3️⃣ Apple Denial and iPhone X Users
4️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Index


Word about Revision B iPhone X is slowly getting around in Japan. Appreciative readers taking the iPhone X replacement challenge are saying things like, “now that I have a iPhone X that works right I’ll stick with it for another year and forgo upgrading to iPhone XS.”

Good choice but that’s not exactly what I call customer satisfaction. Apple really needs to issue a proper exchange program or their reputation and iPhone market share in Japan will go down the drain. There’s darker side appearing too: I’m seeing more Japanese tweets of iPhone X NFC suddenly failing dramatically. I’ll keep tabs and report new developments. I hope this is not going to be yet another bad turn in an already ugly drama.

If we are seeing failed logic boards for iPhone 8 and iPhone X within the first year after manufacture, I’m seriously thinking we could be seeing the downside of Tim Cook’s long term ‘put all the supply chain and manufacturing eggs in the China basket’ strategy. That era might be ending. It might be time to spread the risk, the supply chain and manufacturing.

iPhone X NFC debacle a golden opportunity for Pixel 3 in Japan

Pixel 3
Pixel 3 leaks have been many from Android Police

Apple pre-order weekend for iPhone XS/XS Max and Apple Watch Series 4 is winding down. There was far less excitement this year in Japan than before. Ming-Chi Kuo is already trimming his iPhone XS exceptions. The local Docomo shop backed this up. The desk clerk said, “We’ve got iPhone pre-orders but it had been quiet this year.”

Reading Japanese reactions on Twitter it’s easy to see that many are waiting to see what Japanese market support Google announces at the Pixel 3 October 9 event. If Pixel 3 comes with Global FeliCa support like iPhone does, the Google Pay Japan flop withstanding, Japanese iPhone X users disgusted by the iPhone X NFC debacle will gladly take switch.

If there is one thing I have learned after 30 years here is that Japanese are very unattached to things. When something better comes along they coolly size the situation and take it. A lot of Japanese in the blog sphere are saying Apple iPhone has peaked out in Japan. If that turns out to be true in the months ahead, Apple has nobody to blame but themselves.

iPhone X Suica Problem Index

1️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide
2️⃣ iPhone X Suica問題Q&A交換ガイド (Japanese)
3️⃣ Apple Internal Doc and iPhone X Users
4️⃣ iPhone X Suica Problem Index

iPhone X Suica problem coverage on this site is a journey of discovery and messy posts strung out over a year. I have rearranged posts to clean up the narrative, otherwise somebody coming to the problem for the first time might land on confusing and contradictory information.

iPhone X Suica Problem Narrative

Identifying the disease (June 2018)
The iPhone X Suica Golden Boy
iPhone X Suica Problem a Design Flaw?
Testing the Revision B iPhone X Theory
iPhone X Suica Problem As Opportunity

Finding the cure (July 2018)
Solving the iPhone X Suica Problem: Take the Replacement Challenge
Replace Your iPhone X: the Suica Problem is Everybody’s NFC Problem
iPhone X Users Outside of Japan Don’t Realize They Have NFC Problems

Confirmation (August 2018)
Revision B iPhone X Production Tally Update
You’re Holding It Wrong
iPhone 8 Logic Board Replacement Program: Next Up iPhone X
The Revision B iPhone X

Apple denial (September 2018)
Apple Internal Support Doc Acknowledges iPhone X NFC Issue
Apple Internal Acknowledgment of iPhone X NFC Issue and what it means
Apple Event 2018 and Apple Values
iPhone X Reached 63 Million Units Driving Apple’s “Revenue Super Cycle”

Posts Redirected to iPhone X Suica Problem Q&A Exchange Guide
(Observing symptoms without finding the cause or cure)

November 2017
iPhone X and Apple Pay Suica Store Reader Errors

December 2017
iOS 11.2 Update and Apple Pay Suica Issues

iOS 11.2 Suica Notification Bug
iOS 11.2.5 Beta Fixes Apple Pay Suica Notifications
iOS 11.2.5 Beta 1 Report: Apple Pay Suica Performance
iOS 11.2.5 Beta 2 Update and Apple Pay Suica Maintenance Downtime

January 2018
iOS 11.2.5 Arriving January 18?
iOS 11.2.5 Official Release Due This Week
iOS 11.2.5 Update Recommended for Apple Pay Suica Users
Rating Apple Pay Suica Performance in iOS 11.2.5
iOS 11.2.5 and Apple Pay Suica Error Flicker

February 2018
iOS 11.2.5 Apple Pay Suica Error Flicker in Action
iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Problem and Battery Optimization
iOS 11.2.6 Update
iOS 11.2.6 Apple Pay Suica Still Sucks on iPhone X

March 2018
Apple Pay Suica Error Flicker Fix
Apple Pay Suica Express Transit Error Flicker on iOS 11.3 beta
iOS 11.3 Update Does Not Fix The iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Error Problem
iPhone X Suica Problem

April 2018
Exchanging iPhone X: Week 1 “You’re Holding It Wrong”
Exchanging iPhone X: Week 2 “Show Us Your iPhone”
Exchanging iPhone X: Week 3 “Exchange Does Not Fix iPhone X Suica Problem”
iOS 11.4 Beta Does Not Fix The iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Error Problem
Transit Gate Error Mapping for iPhone X
The Aha Moment
iPhone X Suica Transit Gate Error Mapping #2

May 2018
iOS 11.4 Beta 3 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Error Problem
iOS 11.4 Beta 4 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Apple Pay Suica Error Problem
No iPhone X Suica Fix in iOS 11.4 Update

June 2018
iOS 11.4.1 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Suica Problem

July 2018
iOS 12 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Suica Problem
Tracking the iPhone X Suica Problem
iOS 12 Beta 2 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Suica Problem
iPhone X Suica Problem: Quick Conclusions
iPhone X Suica Problem Unit? Do Not Install iOS 12 Public Beta

Other Site Coverage of iPhone X Suica Problem

-Michael Tsai Blog has an excellent digest of the iPhone X Suica Problem
-AppleInsider Mikey Campbell covered initial reports but not recent developments
Reddit…you know what that means