Apple Pay Suica on A12 Bionic iPhone XS/XR is different from other devices because basic FeliCa transactions bypass iOS and go directly to the Secure Enclave. You can see this in action with Express Transit power reserve, but if you observe carefully you can catch it in other ways.
I caught a glimpse today buying ice coffee at a JR station NewDays shop (supplied by Doutor btw). I was recharging Suica with Apple Pay and forgot it was still processing when I touched iPhone XS to the reader. The payment went through without a problem, the recharge completed a few seconds later.
Is this a iOS 12.4 beta thing or did A12 Bionic iPhone do this all along? I suspect it did all along and makes sense: the payment transaction bypassed iOS which was busy processing the Apple Pay recharge and wasn’t ready to post a balance update to the Secure Enclave. Prepaid and postpay processing at the same time…very interesting.
Most people think all Express Transit is the same, but Suica Express Transit prepaid is very different from EMV Express Transit postpay. Suica settles the transit bill in less than 200 milliseconds (ms) locally right at the transit gate, while EMV Express Transit leisurely (500 ms) tells the gate, ‘I am bank card XXX, put it on the bill’ for settlement later between the bank and the transit agency. For EMV there is a lot of backend system work to make that happen, and even then the user sometimes has to tap twice:
Service Mode is a weird function that doesn’t have a counterpart on the Android Suica•PASMO side. The JR East Apple Pay Suica help page used to mention this. The iPhone Service Mode explanation says, “Service Mode will allow station agents and kiosks to help with any issues with your card.” The street reality is that station agents don’t need you to put the device in Service Mode, just fork it over and they can fix any Suica•PASMO issue for you.
This means that Apple Pay Suica•PASMO on pre-A12 devices requires iOS/watchOS to be up and running for Suica and PASMO to work. Unfortunately this also means that different iOS versions sometimes have performance issues on pre-A12 devices and that iOS occasionally drops the ball. iOS 12 for example was very buggy for many Suica users, fortunately iOS 12.3 fixes all issues with great Apple Pay Suica Express Transit performance.
If your Suica or PASMO card balance doesn’t update
Open the Wallet app on your iPhone.
Tap your Suica or PASMO transit card, then tap the more button .
Turn on Service Mode, then authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode.
To turn off Service Mode, tap on the card. If your balance is still incorrect, restart your iPhone.
Service Mode syncs and reconciles iOS with the Suica•PASMO Stored Fare (SF) balance information from the embedded Secure Element implemented inside the A Series/S Series.
Service Mode seems pretty useless on A12 and later Bionic devices, a restart works best, but it’s still useful for Apple Watch which does not have the A Series Bionic power reserve feature. I imagine Service Mode on iPhone is more for show than actual functionality, although Service Mode is useful for cash recharge on 7-Eleven ATM machines where you have to put the device upside down to capture the ATM NFC antenna hit area.
The feature will undoubtedly be back for the final release but, again, heavy duty under the hood Wallet construction continues in the run up to the Apple Card release and iOS 13. We’ll get lots of new Apple Pay Wallet details at WWDC19.