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.

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Global FeliCa iPhone XS, iPhone XR, Apple Watch Series 4

Update Apple Pay Suica specs
Updated Apple Pay Suica specs are for iPhone 8 and later, Apple Watch Series 3 and later

Apple updated Apple Pay eligible device information and Suica information with the release of iPhone XS today. It’s really boring to know that iPhone XS, iPhone XR and Apple Watch Series 4 are Global FeliCa just like previous generation devices, boring in a nice predictable way. They have to be in order to work with those FeliCa powered Student ID Cards for iOS 12 and watchOS 5. It’s really just Apple Pay. It just works, that’s all customers need to know.

I suspect A12 Bionic powered Express Cards with power reserve will work better on FeliCa Suica than the forever beta China Transit cards. We’ll find out soon enough.

A12 Bionic Powered NFC
A12 Bionic is powering some very interesting new NFC features on iPhone XS and iPhone XR

Suica Platform Update: JRE POINT September Point Campaign

JRE Points

Now that you have your JRE POINT account setup on the JrePoint iOS App, we have the perfect opportunity to get free JRE POINT with the just announced September Premium Point Campaign running September 28~30. If you purchase a grand total of ¥5,400 worth of goods on those three days you automatically get an additional 500 free points in addition to the regular points (¥5400=540 points). At least 1040 JRE POINT that you can turn around for a free ¥1,040 Suica Recharge.

In order to get the 500 free points you must first sign up for the campaign in JrePoint App. Launch the app, tap the Yellow campaign banner, scroll down the campaign page, tap “Entry” and you are done.

The only thing left to do is shop at any store that offers JRE POINT. Look for the green logo below. At the register give the cashier your plastic JRE POINT card and pay anyway you want to: Suica, credit, cash.

There is a Kaldi Coffee Farm store in the Asagaya Station Beans Mall. I need some coffee and things and can kill ¥5,400 in less than a minute there. I’ll pay with my BIC CAMERA View JCB card and get JRE POINT + BIC CAMERA POINT. The latter will kick me over the line so I can pick up a new Apple iPhone case there for free.

Now that’s what I call platform lock in.

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.

7-Eleven Japan ATMs adding Suica Recharge Service

JR East announced that starting next month, October 15, 7-Eleven ATMs will offer Suica Recharge with cash with no service charge. No longer do you have to hunt for a JR Station with Smart Recharge Kiosks, just head to the nearest 7-Eleven.

Anybody can recharge Apple Pay Suica and Japanese Transit IC cards major convenience store chain cash registers but the addition of DIY Suica Recharge at 7-Eleven makes Suica Recharge with cash easier than ever. You can also recharge Rakuten EDY cards as well which is convenient for Android users. Nanaco recharge has been there all along.

7-Eleven ATM machines have a smartphone reader as you can see below where the nanaco and FeliCa acceptance marks are. I’ll put together a guide video when the service starts next month.