Sunday, 17 November 2013

Using a Softbank iPhone 5 LTE SIM with the Google Nexus 5

Google's Nexus 5, at 39,800 Yen from the Google Play Store, is a steal. The phone will run the latest version of Android for the forseeable future (~next 2 years anyway), comes with Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, an improved camera over previous Nexus phones, and the deal-maker: LTE connectivity. The Nexus 5 (international version) supports LTE Bands 1/3/5/7/8/20. Band 1 will give you connectivity on both Docomo and Softbank; Band 3 will give you connectivity on Softbank, and in future on Docomo too. Japan Mobile Tech has some good info on how to use the Nexus 5 with a Docomo Xi LTE SIM, so I am going to provide some info on how to do the same with Softbank LTE.

The main problem with Softbank is they will NOT sell you a SIM-only contract that does LTE. You can get a SIM-only 3G contract, which gives you access to the "" APN, however it is not possible to add LTE to this contract. Therefore, the only way to get LTE with an unlocked phone on Softbank is by getting a phone from Softbank that already connects to their LTE network. In my case, I had an iPhone 5, and this article will discuss using the iPhone 5 SIM and APN settings on the N5 (it also applies for the iPhone 5S or 5C).

1. Take the nano SIM out of your iPhone. Make sure you are signed out of iMessage first, if you were using that; otherwise your SMS's will go to iMessage and you won't be able to pick them up on your Nexus 5. You will also need a nano-SIM to micro-SIM adapter, which you can get from Amazon or in Akihabara. Pop the SIM into the Nexus 5 using the adapter.

The phone will prompt you to reboot in order to access the mobile network. I was surprised about this, as with most of my other phones, it has been possible to "hot-swap" the SIMs without a reboot.

After the reboot, go to Settings / More / Mobile Networks, and first uncheck the "Data enabled" setting (I always do this to avoid connecting to some horrendously expensive APN by mistake while setting up the phone). Then select "Network Operators", and you should see the list above. Choose Softbank this first time. After that, select the "Choose Automatically" setting to avoid getting an annoying notification every time you lose the Softbank signal in the subway etc.

Next, still in the "Mobile Network Settings" menu list, select "Access Point Names". You will see an APN named "Application" with the address "". This is the Softbank APN for SIM-free 3G phones. DO NOT use this APN. Touch the APN name to edit the details, then select the overflow 3-dot menu from the top right, and DELETE the APN. You do not want or need this APN on your phone. Back in the APN list, which should now be blank, touch the "+" button at the top of the screen, and you will be taken to the "Edit Access Point" screen for a new, blank APN. Fill in the details for the Softbank iPhone 5 4G LTE APN as shown in the screenshot above (please do not ask me for the password, as I will not be publishing it on this blog. However I am sure you can find it for yourself).

In the lower half of the APN settings, set the authentication type to "PAP", and set the Bearer to "LTE". Also set the APN type to "default,supl,mms" to make this APN your default connection for all data transmission.

From the 3-dot menu, select "Save", and go back to the APN list. Select your new APN with the radio button beside it. Go back one menu and check "Data Enabled".

If all has gone well, you should now be connected to the iPhone 5 LTE access point, and be able to enjoy Softbank's blazing fast 4G speeds!


  1. Any idea about how an U.S. Nexus 5 would perform with Softbank?

  2. FYI, the Japan Google Play Store version of the Nexus 5 will work with a Softbank Android 4G USIM. SMS, MMS work with Hangouts and LTE connectivity is working as expected. Had to dig through Japanese websites to get the info but it is possible.. Typing on it now.

    The USIM-specific ID/pass needs to be extracted from the USIM by skimming it off of /dev/log/system using the old Huawei 201hw or the RAZR M. Get the app called Catlog from the Play store. Must be running 4.0.x and be a shiro-rom on Softbank. Use catlog to search for SBMCGM and write down the data. Combine it with the fourgsmartphone APN info and use andmms to get messaging up. Full writeup by someone willing to give a step by step should appear in English soon. Good luck.

  3. Thanks! Then the only problem is getting hold of a RAZR M or a 201hw...

  4. Hi , have you heard of anyone who has actually done this successfully with a softbank iphone 5s sim?

    I'm ready to get the 5s and then put the sim in my Note 3, however before I do, Id prefer to hear that someone has got it fully working, and also didnt have a huge data bill.

    Yesterday I was in a softbank shop and they explained that the sim in the iphone 5s & 5c is different from the sim in the 5. They said the 5s/5c sim is a "nano (c)" sim. When I asked what the difference is with the standard nano sim in the iphone5 they said "the nano (c) sim has only been tested in the 5s/5c and therefore they cannot guarantee that all features would work if I put the sim in another phone, such as even softbank's iphone 5s".

    This may be nothing to worry about, but as you can imagine id rather know it works and with no huge data bill before committing to a 2 year contract for a sim I can't use and a phone I dont want.

    Appreciate any feedback from someone has tried this with softbank 5s/5c sim, thanks.

  5. "......, such as even Softbank's iphone 5s"

    Sorry, the above should read:

    "......, such as even Softbank's iphone 5"

  6. The person who created this post was a big thank you man .. for sharing with us.

    The author uses iPhone maybe because that is his phone. Cheers. Bias aside, iPhone is currently the best smartphone in the world. Imagine the 9 million units are sold during pre selling period? That was amazing.
    Do you like to get free iPhone 5s for FREE? Visit the link to find out how.

  7. Could some elaborate on this point "The USIM-specific ID/pass needs to be extracted from the USIM by skimming it off of /dev/log/system using the old Huawei 201hw or the RAZR M." Think have a problem with the Nexus 5 sim not allowing LTE data in other phones, but allows voice.

    1. Yeah, that info above is relevant to people who are choosing to migrate to a Nexus 5 from an older Softbank Android handset w/ 4G capabilities. Those handsets use a different SIM from the iPhone and unlike the iPhone each one of the SIMs is coded with a unique username and password string. Those variables are, when said SIM is inserted in a Softbank Android phone, read from the SIM as specified in Softbank's locked down APN settings.

      In order to bypass this you must get one of those two older phones because they run older versions of Android. In these older versions of Android the /system log did not have the same sort of access protection that it does in current versions. That means that if you get one of these older handsets and put the SIM card in it, run the app called logcat, and then flip mobile data on and off, you will have a cleartext record in the /system log that gives you the username and password strings from the SIM.

      Once you have those strings you just need to input them in to your Nexus 5 APN settings along with the reset of it and you'll be good to go.

  8. Just wanted to post my experience.

    I've recently arrived in Japan and will be here for at least 3 years. I'm currently using a SoftBank prepaid SIM in my Galaxy S3 i9305 and just have voice and SMS. The voice rate is ridiculously overpriced so I'm looking for ways to get a contract with voice and data service that I can use with my S3.

    I was able to borrow a friend's SoftBank iPhone which has a black micro SIM card. It works in the S3 and provides voice, SMS and 3G data using the Smile World APN. I'm not sure what kind of iPhone it was (don't know much about iPhones) and I don't think the S3 supports SoftBank's LTE bands anyway so I don't have any experience with testing 4G service.

    You said:
    >You can get a SIM-only 3G contract, which gives you access to the "" APN, however it is not possible to add LTE to this contract.

    I just came from a SoftBank store and asked to buy just a SIM card to use with my S3 but they said they don't sell any SIM-only contracts. I even brought a (Japanese version) printout of SoftBank's "Port Out" procedures and the girl flat out told me "I've never seen this before and we don't do that at all." Besides the latter half of her statement making no sense whatsoever, they were otherwise very nice and answered a lot of my questions, but wouldn't budge on selling just a SIM. They actually even called a few other SoftBank stores to see if they had any zero yen 3G phones, since I would have bought one and pulled the SIM card (the 3G unlimited flat rate packet plan is cheaper than the 4G version which I don't think I can use in my S3), but none of the stores had any 3G phones. I'm going to try talking to a different store tomorrow. Any guidance on what to specifically ask for?

    Thanks for posting your technical insights!

  9. That's ridiculous that they denied it when it came directly from their website. On the other hand, SIM-free phones to use here need to be approved by the Japanese regulator, which almost no overseas phones are.

    I don't know where your Galaxy is from, so I can't comment on compatibility with LTE bands.

    You are probably better off getting a 3G SIM from B-Mobile; check out for lots of info about them.

    Or, since you are already using a phone that is over 2 years old, why not just suck it up and get a 4G contract that comes with a new model, either from Docomo or Softbank? If you are going to be here 3 years or more anyway...

  10. Hey,nice post.I'm likewise in Japan and I can utilize my Softbank 3g SIM as a part of my Nexus 5 without any issues. On the off chance that you are additionally on Softbank, you will likely need to design your APN to utilize the opensoftbank APN (Google for the settings) rather than whichever APN your current phone is utilizing.


    This app reverse engineers the preprogrammed username and password algorithm.

    I moved from an 206sh LTE aquos android to an asus fonepad 7 LTE and others report that many 4G non-ipad sims work great.

    My sim was issued in late 2013 so your mileage may vary.

  12. Ran into a bit of a stop when trying this method.

    I'm currently living in Japan and I went into Softbank today with my Nexus hoping it would work and had a hell of time trying to get the data to connect. I finally saw this post and was able to configure the APN to give me the data (hooray!) and ended up signing up on a Nano SIM. I was happily using the data for the next 2 hours until my phone ran out of juice and switched off.

    I finally managed to charge it, booted it up, and am now unable to get the data connection back. I even wiped the APN and re-entered it, but to no avail. Any ideas?

    1. Following up:

      I actually managed to get the data back. I had to remove my SIM, insert it into an IPhone 5s, restart the 4g and then return it to my Nexus. After doing some testing, it seems that connecting my phone to a WiFi network causes the SIM to stop recognising the 4G, regardless of the APN. It wasn't my phone turning off that caused the problem, but rather the fact that it auto-connected to my home WiFi when I turned it back on.

      In any case, it seems crazy that my options are to never connect to a WiFi network again or to have constant data losses. Any ideas or possible fixes for this would be greatly appreciated.

  13. I have softbank 4g sim but the device is moto Razer 201m .I want to set up my sim in nexus 5 what should I do ...I use many me ...any ideas....??? Thanks in advance