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[Mobile in Japan] Pocket WiFi Rental vs Roaming, Pros & Cons

These days having mobile internet while traveling in Japan is practically a necessity for most people. And with mobile WiFi rentals becoming the go-to-move for travelers around the world, you may be wondering why you should jump onto the bandwagon? Especially when your cell company already has a roaming plan that can most likely get you through your trip. Why go through all the trouble of renting additional mobile internet device when you could just purchase roaming data from your provider... isn't that the most convenient option?

These are great questions to ask yourself. However, if that was the case, then why are hundreds of thousands of people renting Pocket WiFi units when traveling to countries like Japan? Let's take a deeper look at the strong and weak points for each option (Pocket WiFi vs. Roaming Data) and compare them objectively. This way, you'll be armed with info to decide which option is right for you.

Data roaming – convenience with a price!

Let's first get into the pros and cons of data roaming plans.

selective focus photography of person using smartphone

Pros

The positives of data roaming is first and foremost, convenience. It cannot be denied that just switching your phone over to a roaming plan, that goes through the cell provider that you know and trust, is a great option from a convenience perspective. You can also keep your sim card in the phone and not have to worry about installing or programming anything into your phone – like what would be required if you are using a prepaid SIM card.

Cons

The downside to roaming is that you will most likely have much less data with a much higher price tag. And the kicker here is that many cell companies will charge you by the day for your data usage. In some cases, especially if your traveling for longer than just a few days, this can end up being a massive bill! Not all companies do this, but certainly something to be wary of.

Speed of roaming data will also be dependent on the carrier's roaming contract for the country (there's even a possibility that is could be 3G and not 4G).

To top it all off, the higher expense you are paying for the roaming plan may also not be worth it because, depending your carrier, it may be a lot harder to get customer support if something goes wrong!

Okay, so now that we've had a thorough look at the roaming option, let's move onto Pocket WiFi...

Pocket WiFi rentals - what's the scoop

One alternative to roaming plans are Pocket WiFi units. People may know them by a variety of names depending on the region. Mobile WiFi, MiFi, Dongles, or even WiFi eggs. In Japan, and lots of other Asian countries, these devices are referred to as Pocket WiFi.

SoftBank Pocket WiFi

Now let's break down the merits and demerits of Pocket WiFi...

Pros

The advantages of having a Pocket WiFi unit by your side during travel are numerous. For one, Pocket WiFi devices have big data allowances with lightning fast speeds (usually always 4G/LTE), so you don't have to worry about data conservation as much as you would need to with a roaming plan or prepaid SIM cards. Also, you can connect up to 10 devices to your Pocket WiFi at one time. This is a huge plus if you have multiple people traveling together in a family.

Cons

The issues with Pocket WiFi rental as opposed to roaming is the fact that Wifi Rental involves having to carry around and maintain an extra device. You need to charge the device, and you need to make sure you don't misplace it. This is less convenient when compared to roaming data, which you just need your phone for.

The other issue is pick up and returns. Because it's a physical device, you need to pick it up when you get to Japan and return it when you leave. This involves either returning it to the booth at the airport that you rented it from or mailing it back to the right place.

Our take on the matter

While roaming data plans sure are the quickest and most convenient way to get data while abroad, the catch here is that this convenience comes with a hefty price tag or speed/data limit compromises. So one should ask themselves is it really worth it?

Yes, you could use the roaming data on your phone and only have to deal with having that one device... But what if you have a computer, or a whole group/family with many devices that need connecting..? Well then, Pocket WiFi will certainly provide you more value for your dollar! Sure there may be troublesome to carry lug around an extra device with you everywhere you go, but the benefits you gain from this little device far outweigh that trouble. Lightning fast speeds, huge data limit, multi-device connectivity, are just a few of the many perks of Pocket WiFi. That's why many people left a positive comments and reviews for the Pocket WiFi. If you are keen to rent one, check out our Pocket WiFi rental plans!

Peace, love, and keep rocking fellow travelers!