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Andre S.

What smartphone to use in Japan?

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I plan on visiting Japan later this year, and there are two things I'd like to have a smartphone for while there:

 

 - Give me my position (GPS) and directions (Google Maps or equivalent) at any time

 - Photograph and translate Japanese writing (which I don't understand whatsoever)

 

I won't need the thing otherwise, so I'd probably just rent it there if possible. What should I get and where can I do that? I will be staying at Kyoto.

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I plan on visiting Japan later this year, and there are two things I'd like to have a smartphone for while there:

 

 - Give me my position (GPS) and directions (Google Maps or equivalent) at any time

 - Photograph and translate Japanese writing (which I don't understand whatsoever)

 

I won't need the thing otherwise, so I'd probably just rent it there if possible. What should I get and where can I do that? I will be staying at Kyoto.

I'm pretty sure Bing and Google both do camera image translation with their related translator apps.  Can't really speak for iOS or the other.

 

(Mind you I don't own a cellphone, so I could probably just shut up.)

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Nokia Lumia 1020

 

Great camera.

Great GPS and Nokia Maps.

Bing and Google should be able to translate the text from the photo.

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Nokia Lumia 1020

 

Great camera.

Great GPS and Nokia Maps.

Bing and Google should be able to translate the text from the photo.

This would be a great choice.

 

but one thing. if it's anything like countries who use cyrilllic text, both google and Here maps will only display map names in Cyrillic, and thus I would guess, in Kanji/Japanes in Japan. The only map I saw that showed names in English when I was in Cyprus was the Apple maps on my WiFi Ipad 2, which was pretty useless all in all. 

 

Nevermind, I checked maps.here.com and here maps does have english names on the maps in Japan. 

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I've never had much luck translating complete Japanese phrases (in kanji, hiragana or whatever) to anything that made actual sense, it always needed a bit of extra guesswork :/ for simple phrases and words both Google Translate and Bing should work.

Kyoto is relatively small and it's easy to move around though. A GPS always comes handy but you won't find yourself depending on it.

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Nokia Lumia 1020

 

Great camera.

Great GPS and Nokia Maps.

Bing and Google should be able to translate the text from the photo.

Just been to Japan with my Lumia and unfortunately Japan is a country that Nokia maps doesn't support.

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Just remember a lot of Map / Translate apps require a constant data connection to function.

 

The translate apps upload the image of what your translating to a remote server to do the translation, and most map apps download the data on the fly.

 

With Google Maps i believe you can download a city offline so that should work and give you directions without a data connection then, however i dont think you would have any luck translating without one.

 

With that in mind it might be an idea to get a local sim, as i imagine you will be charged $1000 for using data when roaming. Then again i would imagine Japan has free Wi-Fi everywhere, however you never know.

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Bear in mind GPS will be useless without internet connectivity, as will the translation features.

You'd be better off arranging a rental phone before you arrive.

 

Anyway. Just by a decent guidebook.

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Bear in mind GPS will be useless without internet connectivity, as will the translation features.

You'd be better off arranging a rental phone before you arrive.

 

Anyway. Just by a decent guidebook.

 

No, it won't

 

Here maps work without internet. though it only has very basic japan coverage. but you can also download google maps versions that download regions locally on all phones and you can get both garmin and/or TomTom with offline maps for all phones. 

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Bear in mind GPS will be useless without internet connectivity, as will the translation features.

 

Not really. Here Maps on WP works fine without internet connection, as does Bing Translator, but sadly, it doesn't have offline support for Japanese.

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Nokia Lumia 1020

 

It is an overkill if he needs it for location and translation services. 520 would do just fine.

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Sorry to burst your bubble guys but HERE just does not have map data nor a licensing agreement for Japan.

 

Nokia does not have much incentive to improve it anyway because HERE is generally not used in anything in Japan.

 

@here's twitter replies have barely changed since last year.

Javascript is not enabled or refresh the page to view.

Click here to view the Tweet

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It is an overkill if he needs it for location and translation services. 520 would do just fine.

 

The thing is he wanted it for photos as well. if he just wanted translations and maps, the cheapest models are fine, if he wants a phone that takes decent photos as well, he's up in the upper echelon. 

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The thing is he wanted it for photos as well. if he just wanted translations and maps, the cheapest models are fine, if he wants a phone that takes decent photos as well, he's up in the upper echelon. 

 

I understood the second thing as a taking a picture of some Japanese writing, and then translating it.

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In wich case a 520 is probably the cheapest most reliable device he can get without speed being an issue. though forJapan he would need to install one of the google maps apps or the garmin/Navigon apps (personally after I used Navigon on my android before and it kept insisting I take a two hours longer route and two hours into the short route it still insisted IS pedn two more hours getting back to the longer rout, taking 4 hours more at that point, I don't trust garmin anymore. bought tomTom for the road home and it had no such problem).

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FWIW, I recently visited Japan and was able to purchase a data SIM card for my unlocked NL920. I thought it didn't work at the beginning because I had the "no signal" logo (bars with a crossed out circle) but I realized after a few days (I'm not the smartest man) that I actually had data. For GPS, I used both GMaps and Here, but GMaps was better since Here only had very basic roads and landmarks.

I purchased the SIM card at Yodobashi Camera Kyoto, I believe it was a B-Mobile brand or something similar, using the NTT Docomo network. It was for 1GB at around $35 give or take, no contract required. Activation might require calling from a local number and it's usually not performed by workers inside the store, so please do some research on that.

I think that the only wifi I found was at a Starbucks in the Kyoto train station.

I can't say I tried translating text because I didn't need to, I had some relatives there.

Good luck!

Here's a link to the SIM card in the Yodobashi Camera website:

http://www.yodobashi.com/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E9%80%9A%E4%BF%A1-JCI-BM-FRML-1GBM-b-mobile-%E3%83%93%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A2%E3%83%90%E3%82%A4%E3%83%AB-3G%E3%83%BB4G-1GB%E5%AE%9A%E9%A1%8D-%E6%9C%89%E5%8A%B9%E6%9C%9F%E9%96%9330%E6%97%A5-%E3%83%9E%E3%82%A4%E3%82%AF%E3%83%ADSIM%E3%82%BF%E3%82%A4%E3%83%97/pd/100000001001612645/

???? JCI

BM-FRML-1GBM [b-mobile(??????) 3G?4G 1GB?? ????30? ????SIM???]

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Bear in mind GPS will be useless without internet connectivity, as will the translation features.

You'd be better off arranging a rental phone before you arrive.

Yes, that's what I'm thinking, just the what/where is unclear to me. Btw guys I wouldn't need it for photos, I'll carry a "real" camera around. I just need to photograph text for translation.

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It is an overkill if he needs it for location and translation services. 520 would do just fine.

I suggested it for the camera too :)

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No Here Maps, just checked and they don't have support for offline maps for Japan. Bing don't either, to my knowledge, so either Google or something else. Thus I'm not sure if a Lumia would fit your purposes (if it was another country then 520 would have fitted perfectly with offline translations for a dozen languages and offline maps for close to a hundred countries).

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Seeing as everyone is recommending nokias, I'll vote for Sony Z1 Compact

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TBH, as long as it works on the frequency bands Japan uses, any smartphone will do the job.

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