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Mobile phone for child


I’m going around in circles and hoping someone can help. We recenty moved to Tokyo and I need to get a mobile phone for my 11 yr old, just so she can contact me in an emergency, let me know she got to school ok etc. Our service provider is Docomo but we used an intermediary to set up the service, so can not get a ‘childs phone’ as we did not go direct to Docomo.

My daughter has an ipod touch, which obviously does not have a SIM so does this mean any kind of portable Wifi device would be useless?

The only option I see at the moment is to buy a phone. Two questions what is a good (cheap) alternative to an iPhone? I’m not familiar with Japanese makes/mobiles.
Stupid questions alert with any android phone purchased here could it be configured in English?
If I get a data only SIM could she still voicecall me via Whatsapp or another app?


Hi there,
You could get a mobile wifi device, but you’d have to use Skype/Whatsapp etc. to call. Also, it’s a rather over complex system. It’s hard enough getting an 11 year old to remember one device let alone two devices.
Any Android handset should be fine - and they can all be switched to English. At around the 20,000yen to 30,000yen mark they’re pretty decent - just not as cool as an iPhone :slight_smile:
If you really want to get an iPhone, Expansys has iPhone SEs from about 40,000yen new. Another place to look is - and you can avoid the small amount of import duty you have to pay on purchases from Expansys.
A data only SIM is fine if you just want to use Whatsapp/Line etc. As long as your child doesn’t use up all the data when you want to call!


A bit off-topic, but one thing to keep in mind is, in the case of an event like 11 March 2011, technology tends to fail. Networks go down etc. Personally I wasn’t able to place a call for several hours. Thus you want to have a fail-safe caveman technology solution when a kid is involved.
Buy her a medallion she loves, engrave name, your land line telephone number and your consulate’s, etc. in a bilingual fashion. Train her to go to a Police Box in order to show their staff this info.
Back to the 21st century: you may also consider a child tracking wearable and/or a cheap shell phone. There are models for kids and seniors.
Android phones: I believe that most can be configured in English, however they don’t always come with a manual. If possible choose a model that is sold also in the UK/US because it’s easier for you to google the howtos.


Thank you both very much - it does seem to be a bit of a minefield and definitely worth covering off all eventualities in a ‘what if’ situation…very helpful


You could get the voice only option from and get a regular Japanese Softbank Voice (and data if used!) SIM- the voice only option is 1,000yen/month with no contract and no termination fee. You would need to make the payment as an adult using any debit/credit card. Hope that helps!


I have a 7 year old and for the same reasons that you stated, we bought him an iPhone 6 from Amazon US for $150 because we wanted a US phone for him like ours. He has data/SMS, no voice through Soracom. IMHO the best feature is “Find My Friends” because we can see from our iPhones that he got to school OK and when he’s close to the bus stop (he’s forgetful about texting us updates). The monthly cost is minimal.


Thanks so much Tara. Have managed to get a Wifi hotspot for her to use with
iPod touch, but quite a lot of fiddling around involved!
Did you order from Amazon US and get it posted here or was it brought over?