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Japan says hello to the SIM-free world

Foxconn will be producing Huawei smartphones in Guizhou.

TOKYO -- Every cellphone service subscriber in Japan can now request that their SIM cards be unlocked. The new instruction took affect at the beginning of the month to make it easier for consumers to keep their phones when switching carriers.

     The proposal is opening up a huge playing field, one that foreign cellphone makers are taking advantage of.

     Huawei Japan announced Wednesday the official Japan launch of the honor 6 Plus. The SIM-free phone is a global hit. The Japanese subsidiary of the Chinese consumer electronics maker began accepting preorders for 45,800 yen ($375.60), less than half the price of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. The honor 6 Plus has a dual-lens camera, which allows users to quickly switch focus from distant to nearby objects.

     The company opened an official online store, V Mall, on the Rakuten Market e-commerce platform. Huawei's products were available only through Japanese electronics retailers before.

     V Mall is also selling the honor cube, a Wi-Fi and storage device intended for the living room, and the MediaPad T1 7.0, a tablet.

     Huawei Technologies is trying to sell 100 million phones this year. Global sales of the honor series are expected to double to 40 million from last year. "Because penetration of SIM-free phones in Japan is still very low, the growth opportunity here is tremendous," said a representative at Huawei Japan .

     Asus, a Taipei-based company, recently brought the SIM-free ZenFone 2 to Japan. It features a 5.5-inch high-definition screen. A ZenFone 2 with 64 gigabytes of storage will go for 50,800 yen.

     ZTE, another China-based phone maker, recently introduced three cheaper SIM-free options, the g01, g02 and g03, through NTT Resonant, an NTT Communications subsidiary. Prices range from 10,000 yen to 30,000 yen.

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