Japanese mobile newcomer Rakuten Mobile made a huge step towards levelling the playing field with rivals, detailing plans to begin adding Apple’s iPhone 12 line-up to its range from the end of the month.

CMO Naho Kono (pictured) told the media the company will offer the “most reasonably priced” iPhones in the country as part of its Unlimit VI plan, with flexible data options.

Rakuten Mobile will start accepting orders online and at retail outlets tomorrow (23 April) and also plans to soon offer all iPhone models running iOS 14.4 and later.

Marc Einstein, chief analyst at Japan-based research company ITR, told Mobile World Live carrying the iPhone 12 is a positive development for Rakuten Mobile, as not offering the most popular smartphone model in Japan was a large barrier to growth.

“This will likely entice more users going forward, especially since they can use their Rakuten Points towards the purchase,” he said.

Apple’s iPhones had a 46.5 per cent share of the Japanese smartphone market in 2020, data from IDC showed.

Kona said the company’s total user base topped 4.5 million at end-March, with 3.9 million on its mobile network and the rest MVNO customers.

She said its network achieved 80 per cent population coverage, with the company on target to hit 96 per cent coverage in a few months.