In Japan there are three main cellular service providers: au, Softbank (previously Vodafone), and (NTT) Docomo
When the iPhone first came out it was only released by Softbank, and later au and Docomo started carrying it. Mr. J and I use au as our mobile carrier, and when the iPhone 5 first came out my cellphone at the time was on its last leg, so I reserved one though them.
The iPhone 5 battery is infamous for dying after little use, and fast forward over two years later, mine was on its last leg. Like on the Kyoto trip my friends and I took, it would completely die after only taking 2-3 pictures or under 20 minutes of usage no matter if it was fully charged or not. So after the trip, I decided I needed to get the issue remedied ASAP before my next trip back to the States, and started the process of doing just that.
One of the unfortunate things about the iPhone release in Japan is that you actually can’t get anything done through your cellular provider. No matter what the issue, it’s going to require calling Apple Support and arranging to send it in for repair, or visiting an Apple Support Tech Center in person. Since the nearest center was over an hour away by train, and it wasn’t guaranteed that the problem could be fixed in a day, I ended up sending it in.
The process wasn’t particularly difficult, but it was rather annoying. First I had to call and register the issue I was having with support tech staff. (And just FYI, they don’t seem to have a support line in English.) I got the Apple Support telephone number from a clerk at the au store. After registering the issue, the staff member that answered my call gave me an issue number and told me to back up my data as well as visit a local au store to get a loaner phone to hold me over until the phone could be repaired and returned to me. After doing both, I was supposed to call back and give them the issue number so they could continue with the next step of the process.
If you need instructions on how to back your data up in iCloud, they do offer a troubleshooting/how-to guide in English if you provide your e-mail address. The thing is, you only get 5 MB of free storage on iCloud. So unless you hardly keep anything on your phone or have purchased more iCloud storage, you’ll probably just want to back everything up on your hard drive through iTunes instead.
Getting the loaner phone was pretty easy, too. Unfortunately my local au store was out of iPhone loaners, so I got stuck with an Android. (This seems to be a pretty common occurrence with au… They should really stock more iPhone loaners.) The whole week I had it, I barely figured out how to do more than call and check text messages. I was so thrilled when it came time to give that POS back! >D But I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
Setting up the loaner phone means all your cellular data will transfer over to it, so you’ll need a wi-fi connection to complete the next part of the process if it applies to you. When I called back, the next service assistant retrieved my claim with the issue number I provided, and told me I would need to turn off the “find my phone” option before continuing. When that was completed, I could finally set up a pick-up date. Apple Support uses Kuro Neko/Yamato Delivery to pick-up iPhones and return them.
After you schedule a pick-up time, make sure you remove your SIM card. If you don’t know where the SIM card tray is, look on the right side of the phone at the center, where there’s a little elliptical space with a hole inside. Use the SIM card tray opener tool and push it into the hole. If you don’t have the opener tool, you can use a paperclip. You have to press pretty hard for it to pop out. Take out the SIM card and put the empty tray back in. When you hand the phone off to delivery, only give them the phone as is with the SIM card removed. That means remove the case or any straps beforehand. They’ll come with a special box to package your phone in upon pick-up.
Apple Support quoted about a week for pick-up, repair, and return. That was pretty spot on in my case. A friend of mine was able to get hers back in 3-4 days, and I imagine in some cases it might take longer. When I got mine back, Apple Support had done a full restore on my phone. At first they said it probably wouldn’t be necessary for just a battery change, which just goes to show that no matter what they say I would make sure to find a way to back up everything you need to be 100% safe.
Since my phone is under the Apple Care Warranty, I didn’t have to pay anything. It’s likely if you’re under the same plan you won’t have to either unless the phone is water damaged or shows any really obvious signs of user negligence.
Anywho, I’m just really stoked about having my phone back! It’s nice to be able to use it while out and not have to worry about it dying all of a sudden or needin to have a portable charger on hand at all times. If anyone reading is going through the process itself, I hope this post helps you and you get your phone back soon!