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Pocket WiFi vs Prepaid SIM in Japan

Which mobile internet option reigns supreme? Find the perfect choice for your visit to the Land of the Rising Sun

If you're traveling to Japan for the first time, you shouldn't assume that you'll be able get free WiFi everywhere. Yes, being a highly developed nation, there are areas where you can get on free WiFi. But keep in mind that it is not available publicly at all times. And when you do find a free WiFi network, you may be frustrated to discover that it is not as reliable and fast as the ones you enjoy at home because oftentimes, too many people are exploiting it. While we are a technologically-forward country and our metropolises are some of the most advanced in the world, tourists are highly encouraged to have their own mobile internet device to ensure they are able to stay online at all times. If you're planning a trip, it is therefore essential that prior to your visit, you have already figured out which one is better for your needs: a Pocket WiFi or a prepaid SIM.

To help you decide, we have dissected the benefits and drawbacks of each. Read on.

Pocket WiFi: What is it?

A device many of you may be familiar with from one of its many different names around the globe. Known to some as MiFi, Portable WiFi, the Dongle, or Mobile Hotspot, this mobile Internet device works as a portable router that allows more than one gadget to connect to the World Wide Web at the same time. Although small enough to fit a pocket, it delivers a strong network connection usually found in wired broadband systems.

4G Pocket WiFi 501HW from Softbank


  • Allows multiple devices to connect, usually up to 10 gadgets
  • Fuss-free connection; simply turn on and connect
  • Fast and wide 4G / LTE network with large data allowance
  • Lightweight and portable


  • Needs to be returned to the rental store after your trip
  • Will entail bringing a separate mobile phone and a backup battery, which can be a concern for some people

If you are always on the go, and looking for high speed internet with a larger than most of prepaid SIM data allowance, eConnect Japan's Pocket WiFi rental is perfect for you. With us, you need not worry about getting off the grid because we provide an extra battery to ensure an uninterrupted internet connectivity. Lastly, Pocket WiFi is perfect for familys, or groups of people traveling togther because it allows for high data use as well as multiple device connectivity. Also, a great option for the solo traveler out there who needs to connect various devices all at once. (Like all you vloggers/insta-folk out there!)

The Prepaid SIM

A prepaid SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) is a digital chip that is inserted into a dedicated slot inside a mobile phone or a tablet. It is connected to a specified cellular data carrier that provides a good internet connection that users can take advantage of. To ensure reliability and fast speed, eConnect Japan uses SIM cards only from the heavy-duty Docomo 4G/3G network.

Japan Prepaid SIM card by eConnect


  • Plugged in mobile phone directly which has longer battery life compared to a Pocket WiFi
  • Slightly better coverage than the pocket WiFi; the eConnect prepaid SIM covers more than 99% of Japan's population centers
  • No seperate rounter/battery means less bulk and more mobility
  • Disposable and hassle-free (no need to return after your trip)


  • Setup is more technical, as it requires APN configuration
  • Cannot be used with a network-locked phone (many US phones have this problem)

If you are traveling alone and do not plan to go outside the urbanized areas of Japan, the prepaid data SIM is ideal for you.

The Verdict

When choosing which Internet connectivity option will work best on your trip to Japan, keep the following things in mind: the number of companions you have, your devices, and your itinerary. If you are on a business trip or a person who needs an internet connection with blazing speed and a large data volume, we strongly recommend the Pocket WiFi. Also, if you are on a holiday with family or friends and each one of you needs to connect to the web simultaneously, then by all means, go for the Pocket WiFi for its strong signal capability and its multi-device connectivity. It also allows you to use a large data amount for a reasonable price all while being extremely easy to set up.

If the thought of bringing an extra device other than your phone is too much for you to handle or if you want simply don't want the hassle of having to be resposible for and return a Pocket WiFi rental unit, then the prepaid SIM is your best bet. It is also a great option for those out there who may not need an excessively large amount of data for just a few days of travel!

If you need more details about buying a good prepaid SIM or renting a Pocket WiFi device for a seamless travel experience, check out what affordable offers eConnect can provide you with.