By >Akihabara News Team
[Offbeat] Did You Know? iOS 4.2.x Brings Japanese-only Benefit
A little known fact about Apple’s latest iOS update for iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads: When iPads were first sold exclusively in the US, with international launches being pushed back time and again for lack of stock, some hardcore people in Japan bought US-market iPads and imported them with the intent to use them in Japan. Doing this, though, was actually illegal under Japanese law: all electronic devices with antennas needed to carry a Technical Conformity Certification from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) – not just be certified, actually carry the Certification logo – on the body of the device itself. iPhone 3Gs and 3GSs sold in Japan have this certification, at the bottom of the back. iPads sold in the US, somewhat unsurprisingly, do not.
Last March, the MIC issued a press release announcing a revision to the portion of Japanese telecom law to allow the “easily seen” display of the Certification logo to include electromagnetic methods of display, e.g. a video screen. This means that even if a hardware device was manufactured prior to it receiving a certification, or even if it was manufactured intended for a market outside Japan, it can still be used legally inside the country as long as its software can display the relevant Certification logo, such as on an About page. Thus, people who imported non-Japanese iPads are now on the straight and narrow side of the law, with no fear of being slapped with the 2M JPY fine and public flogging for toting a non-Certification-logo-branded wireless device.
Of course, this still meant that imported iPads and iPhone 4s would still be illegal under Japanese law, as they don’t come with the Certification logo engraved on its casing and the software would not display it; that’s where iOS 4.2.x comes in. The latest update finally displays the Japanese regulatory certification logo in Settings > General > About > Regulatory, making them usable in Japan as well. Enter Japan Communications Inc. With the iPad update finally making non-Japanese iPads legal in Japan, the country’s first and most famous mobile virtual network operator has announced that they will start offering a SIM card and contract for imported non-SIM-locked iPads.
One more interesting bit: A Japanese blogger who got a for-Japan iPhone 4 at an Apple Store noticed that his new Apple product doesn’t have an MIC Certification logo, instead sporting an FCC and EU certification; he asked his readers to specify if their iPhone 4s had the MIC certification or not, and received responses for 97 iPhone 4s: forty of them didn’t have a Japanese certification logo, but fifty-seven did, completely destroying my hypothesis that Apple decided simply to take advantage of the rewritten MIC rules and forgo engraving the Japanese certification on their devices at all. This mix of different certifications raises the theory that some of these iPhone 4s – or at least, the rear plates – were originally manufactured for non-Japanese markets, and for some reason, were rerouted here. Which further raises the question: if it’s the entire phone that was unexpectedly brought to Japan, and not just the rear plate, and it carries a certification from a country where SIM locking is illegal, is the phone not SIM-locked?