Apple Pay Suica Inbound Battery Strategies

Apple Watch Suica

Google Pay doesn’t do Inbound and Apple Pay Suica remains the only digital wallet choice for inbound visitors to Japan who have a Global FeliCa iPhone or Apple Watch. One of the worries visitors have is iPhone battery life when using Apple Pay Suica. Apple Pay Suica works perfectly well in Airplane Mode without a network connection, a great battery saver tip in a pinch.

Inbound travelers have different needs however and traveling offline most of the time isn’t an option if you need GPS, online maps with transit routing or want to find a great place for lunch on the run. The danger of iPhone running out of battery mid transit is a possibility when your attention is distracted while out and about living plug to plug. Run out of juice in the middle of a Apple Pay Suica transit and you will end up paying full fare in cash at the exit transit gate. Some blogs say that you can pay with a backup plastic Suica but the official JR East position is strictly cash only.

If you are doing it all on iPhone while visiting Japan a good battery case/bank is highly recommend. There are other strategies too, they all basically boil down to dividing trip duties between 2 devices.

  • Apple Watch: if you have Apple Watch Series 3 you can transfer your Suica card from iPhone to Apple Watch with the Watch app. Offloading Suica to Apple Watch allows you to keep Apple Watch in Airplane Mode for Suica transit and use iPhone online for maps and transit without dead battery worries. The only time Apple Pay Suica needs a network connection is when recharging Suica with an Apple Pay credit card.
  • iPad: if you have a cellular model iPad buy a data travel SIM in Japan and use iPad as your main GPS map and transit tool on the road. If you have a Apple SIM iPad you can also buy a data plan on the go. It might not be the cheapest option but Apple SIM is convenient.

Any Android device will also make a good offload roaming device freeing up iPhone for Apple Pay Suica use while maximizing battery life. And remember if you do run into the 10% battery life warning mid transit, don’t panic. Simply turn the Apple Pay Suica device off, and turn it back on when you reach your destination transit gate.


iOS 12 Does Not Fix The iPhone X Suica Problem

iOS 12 does not fix iPhone X Suica problem

Well this is depressing, after all those dashed iOS 11 update hopes iOS 12 beta 1 does not fix the long running iPhone X Suica Problem aka the iPhone X Dirty Little Secret.

It is not surprising that Apple engineers have not found a workaround for the ‘Day 1’ iPhone X NFC hardware flaw, and yes it is a flaw that also affects NFC A China Express Transit Beijing and Shanghai cards.

It is time Apple: put on your man pants and offer a iPhone X replacement program for all iPhone X users who have been affected by the iPhone X Suica Problem.

The First Shinkansen

I am a sucker for vintage industry promotion films, the kind of thing the third grade home room teacher would show as a treat on a dull Thursday afternoon. The soundtrack was warped, the film was scratched, patched and sometimes got stuck, but it was all fun.

Japanese rail fans love to post vintage photos and I came across this tweet with a fascinating video of the very first Shinkansen test car being pushed by a steam engine to the test site. It’s easy to forget how important the Shinkansen project was to Japan leading up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Even if you do not understand Japanese you can sense the importance of it all from the film clip: scrubbed technicians in pressed uniforms performing their jobs, testing the infrastructure, analyzing the performance, coaxing that first Shinkansen train to full speed.

It’s hard to believe that the Shinkansen project almost didn’t happen and was built just 18 years after the end of the Pacific War. I wonder how happy the project team felt when the first Shinkansen whooshed by. It must have been a great day. The future arrived at 256 km/h.

NFC Times Misses Apple Pay in Japan Story

NFC TIMES Headline

Dan Balaban’s NFC TIMES EMV contactless promotion vehicle isn’t the most FeliCa friendly of industry publications. I cannot read his latest piece: Launch of Apple Pay in Japan Boosts User Numbers for Mobile Suica, but Most Transactions Still Use Cards because of his paywall, but I don’t have to; the title says it all.

Balaban is simply dialing in JR East data points presented at the Transport Payments Asia Pacific conference in Hanoi. Those market numbers have been around for a while, but they don’t tell much. There are much more interesting market trend numbers out there.

Since Balaban doesn’t bother with Japanese translation or the Japanese market much his subscribers will have to settle for warmed over presentation slide blah instead of real market information and analysis.

JR East Expanding Suica Paperless Shinkansen Ticketing

EkiNet Touch and Go Shinkansen AreaJR East, JR West and JR Hokkaido will take another step towards paperless Shinkansen ticketing in 2019. The yet unnamed service will link the existing EkiNet online reservation system with a customer’s Suica, Kitaca or ICOCA IC transit card. Once the customer registers an IC transit card number, any EkiNet Shinkansen ticket purchase will be automatically linked to the IC card number. The rest is simply ‘Touch and Go’.

It’s not that different from the smartEX service that also uses soft-linked transit card ID numbers. Apple Pay Suica users need to be careful because even though the Apple Pay Suica ID number stays the same with iPhone to iPhone migration, the ID changes when transferring Apple Pay Suica from iPhone to Apple Watch.

The Touch and Go Shinkansen service that started April 1 is truly just touch and go but is limited to non-reservation seats and the ‘Touch and Go’ service area. Part of this is due to the current ¥20,000 Stored Fare (SF) limit of Japanese Transit IC cards which is due to be raised before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.