iPhone X bug causing Apple Pay problems for Suica users in Japan

in iPhone edited March 2018
A months-old iPhone X bug is causing error messages and system failures when owners attempt to employ Apple Pay's NFC functionality at transit terminals in Japan, an especially troublesome situation for users of the popular Suica platform, prompting some to seek replacement hardware.

According to local blog Ata Distance, which has been tracking the issue over the past four months, iPhone X users are seeing error messages on their device, in-store terminals and transit gates when attempting to pay with the Suica mobile transit card system. As seen in the video below, users can be denied access to railway gates, a major snag for busy urban areas like Tokyo.

Complications began with the launch of iPhone X in November. At the time, customers who upgraded to Apple's flagship from iPhone 7 and 7 Plus noticed compatibility issues with Suica Express Transit, an NFC-enabled transit card system operated by JR East. Customers complained of slow response times, while others reported the platform was unusable.

Ata Distance points to numerous social media posts describing unsuccessful scans at transit gates, including those run by JR East, as well as in retail stores that accept Suica payments.

The subsequent release of iOS 11.2 exacerbated the situation by introducing a new notification fault. Those troubles were rectified with iOS 11.2.5, but Suica Express Transit authentication is still a problem as of the latest iOS 11.3 beta.

Whether the issue is related to software or hardware is unknown, but circumstantial evidence suggests the bug is limited to iPhone X. Interestingly, not all users are impacted.

Apple does not appear to have an answer for the predicament. Some iPhone X owners have taken their device in to regional Apple stores for replacement, a method that seems to work in most cases. However, Apple does not have a dedicated resolution procedure in place, as some users were denied a device swap and told by staff that they are simply holding the phone incorrectly.

Apple rolled out Apple Pay in Japan with the launch of iOS 10.1 in 2016. User adoption of Suica was so rapid that Apple's payments solution failed just hours after launch due to an apparent system overload.


  • Reply 1 of 9
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 838member
    Don’t you have to authenticate it with Face ID?? If so the sensors cant see your face...so  errors occurred, same as when using apple pay. I maybe wrong 
  • Reply 2 of 9
    As a transit card, Suica does not require FaceID or TouchID. No one will use Suica on iPhone if they need to authenticate when exiting the train stations. Can you imagine how long the lines will be in Tokyo?
    doozydozen[Deleted User]
  • Reply 3 of 9
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 838member
    Thats goodness to know, hehe
  • Reply 4 of 9
    Apple will surely fix this soon.
  • Reply 5 of 9
    colinngcolinng Posts: 116member
    Cue the “you’re holding it wrong” fandroids. 
  • Reply 6 of 9
    colinng said:
    Cue the “you’re holding it wrong” fandroids. 

    Gods, I had much the same thought.  "Not this 'holding it wrong' thing again!"

  • Reply 7 of 9
    dipdog3dipdog3 Posts: 89member
    colinng said:
    Cue the “you’re holding it wrong” fandroids. 

    Gods, I had much the same thought.  "Not this 'holding it wrong' thing again!"

    Just give them a free bumper case, problem solved!
  • Reply 8 of 9
    tardistardis Posts: 94member
    I experienced problems using my Apple Watch on the train earlier this year, when it let me in but not out of the system. The immediate solution is that station staff can still use your Watch to find where you got on and let you pay cash, but resolving how to unblock and/or top up the Suica card was not easy, partly because most of them had no idea how Apple Pay works. After several attempts to do so, and a week or two paying cash, possibly including software updates on the iPhone (my iPhone is a 6S), or changing some account settings on the web page, the system resolved itself and now works OK.
    The good news is that, around year end, it was a special event to get in a taxi and find you could pay the cab fare with the Watch. Over the past few weeks, every cab I have ridden has had Suica scanners .......
  • Reply 9 of 9
    Apple will surely fix this soon.
    This has been a problem since the launch of the iPhone X. Even if they fix it soon after 11.3, it'll have been going on an embarrassingly long time.
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