Japan Data

NTT Docomo Most Popular Mobile Provider in Japan

Economy Society

As of the end of 2023, there were 218 million mobile phone contracts in Japan, amounting to around double the total population. Leaving aside company phones, however, only some 10% of people have more than one phone on a personal contract.

Smartphones have become a necessity in modern life thanks to an endless array of functions that make it possible to make payments using electronic money or credit cards, communicate via social media, telephone, or email, and take photographs or record video. These days it is not that unusual to see somebody with more than one smartphone, but a recent survey by ICT Research & Consulting found that the overwhelming majority of people in Japan, or 84.7%, just have one smartphone or feature phone under a personal contract, while 10.4% have two phones on such contracts. Among people who have two phones, most have the second on loan from their employer for work-related use, and so are not included here.

The survey of people aged 20 or older was conducted via an online questionnaire in April 2024, with a total of 4,564 valid responses.

Number of Smartphones per Person

For users with two or more phones, NTT Docomo was the most popular carrier for their main phone, at 47.2%, followed by SoftBank at 20.2%, and Au at 15.8%. In addition, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and Rakuten Mobile, which both lease communication lines from the major carriers, represented 9.4% and 7.4% of the main phones for users with two or more phones, respectively.

For the second phones of those who owned two or more, the carriers came in the ranking NTT Docomo (40.7%), Au (16.8%), MVNO (14.6%), Rakuten Mobile (14.1%), and SoftBank (13.8%). While MVNO and Rakuten Mobile are less popular for use as a main phone, some users find cost benefits in using them for a second phone.

Around half of the respondents use the same carrier for their first and second smartphone. The financial benefits of using the same carrier, such as family discounts and set discounts, not to mention the convenience of billing consolidation and more effective use of points, seems to account for the prevalence of single-carrier users.

Carriers Used by People with Two Smartphones

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pakutaso.)