iPhone Battery Replacement Refugees

MacRumors posted an excellent reminder that the iPhone $29 (¥3,200) battery replacement program ends December 31. If you want to take advantage of lower battery replacement prices for SE, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X act now. IT Media News reports that Japanese iPhone users are finding it very difficult to make reservations with ‘battery replacement refugees’ having to extraordinary efforts to get one.

Don’t wait and become a refugee, if you need an iPhone battery replacement start getting one now.

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iOS 12 Suica bugs exacerbate iPhone X Suica problems and create confusion

iOS 12 Apple Pay Suica bugs are causing headaches for some users getting exchanges for iPhone X Suica problem devices (a NFC hardware problem across all iOS versions): users find they have the same Suica problems running iOS 12 (iOS 12.0 specific software bugs) on NFC hardware problem free Revision B iPhone X devices. Unfortunately for iPhone X users the 2 issues merge in a perfect storm. It’s confusing and only natural to assume nothing is fixed and yet another Apple Support runaround iPhone X exchange is needed to fix it. If you are using iOS 11.4.1 on Apple Pay Suica iPhone X, I suggest staying with it and not updating to iOS 12 just yet.

Apple Pay Suica users who have updated to iOS 12.0 and watchOS 5.0 report the following problems:

  • Transit gate error flicker
  • Unresponsive Express Transit at transit gates with Face ID/Touch ID/Passcode Apple Pay authentication request
  • Suica card balance doesn’t update
  • Slow or failed Apple Pay Suica Recharge attempts

Affected devices: iPhone 7/7 Plus (JP models only), iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 2 (JP Model only), Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4.

iPhone XS is not affected by iOS 12 Apple Pay Suica issues thanks to A12 Bionic.

Fortunately iOS 12.1 has Suica bug fixes: Apple Engineering closed my original iOS 11.2.5 Suica error bug report filed in January 2018 saying the issue has been fixed in iOS 12.1. iOS 12.1 developer beta 4 went out earlier this week with 2 more likely to go before the official release. The just announced October 30 Apple Special Event would be a natural iOS 12.1 official drop date.

UPDATE
iOS 12.3 fixes all Apple Pay Suica software issues for all iPhone users with very fast performance, a highly recommended update for all Apple Pay Suica users.

Why iPhone 7 Missed the Global FeliCa iPhone Party

Apple Pay Global FeliCa iPhone Chart

Many iPhone 7 users outside of Japan hoped that iOS 11 would enable FeliCa software on NFC-F hardware which all iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 have, so that overseas iPhone 7 models could join the iPhone 8/iPhone X global FeliCa party. iOS 11 arrived but iPhone 7 FeliCa remains a Japan model only feature. Why?

The silly reason is that overseas iPhone 7 models do not have the legally required Japanese MIC certification mark engraved on the case like the Japanese models. The real reasons are more specific:

  1. FeliCa on iOS is a custom implementation on the A Series Secure Enclave that requires iOS to be running and unique per device keys licensed from FeliCa Networks. Apple only licensed FeliCa Network keys for Japanese models.
  2. Apple did not want to spend resources obtaining new global certification plus the hassle of licensing keys from FeliCa Networks just for doing FeliCa in an older iPhone model

In retrospect iPhone 7 was a transition device to global NFC (A-B-F) model. The hardware was in place but Apple Pay NFC switching wasn’t ready in iOS 10. It took Apple another year to get all the software ready for global FeliCa in iOS 11.

If you have your heart set on using Apple Pay Suica when you visit Japan but don’t want to upgrade to a global FeliCa iPhone, Apple Watch Series 3 is the less expensive option.