Can I Use My iPhone When Traveling to Another Country?
Going on a vacation without your iPhone is becoming impossible. You need your phone to take photos, navigate through unknown places, and stay in contact with friends and family. With that said, you will have to make some preparations to make sure that your cellular bill doesn’t go through the roof.
You can use your iPhone in another country, but you have to be very careful when and how you use it. Here are some tips that will save you a great deal of trouble on your journey.
Is Your Phone Locked?
If you got your iPhone from your provider, chances are that it’s locked. That means that it works only with the provider you got it from. For example, if you got it from AT&T, you can only use an AT&T SIM card to be able to connect to the internet and make calls. In this case, you’ll have to unlock your phone to use another SIM.
Roaming charges are costly. You could end up with a massive cellular bill if you use your iPhone abroad, so it’s better that you check the facts first.
If you unlock your phone, you will be able to buy a local SIM card in the country you are visiting. That way, you can stay in touch with your friends online without worrying about the bill. While unlocking isn’t free, it’s generally less expensive than using your phone in roaming.
How to Unlock Your iPhone
There are two ways you can unlock your iPhone. One is to take it to the nearest iPhone service and let them do it, and the other one is doing it yourself. Apple has put together a handy guide that will tell you how to unlock your iPhone, no matter which provider you are using.
Open the document and navigate to the correct unlocking instructions. Then, call your provider and ask them to unlock your phone. The process usually takes only a few minutes to complete. If you’re using an older iPhone, the provider will have to unlock it for you, so don’t let them tell you otherwise. Insist that they get it done, no matter what they tell you.
Phones use CDMA and GSM technologies. Most cell providers in the US use only CDMA, except for Sprint and Verizon. If your provider is Verizon, you can just slip another SIM card into the GSM slot and use it normally, without unlocking the phone. However, if you own a Sprint iPhone, the easiest way to avoid a huge bill is to get another smartphone for the trip.
What If the Provider Doesn’t Want to Unlock Your Phone?
Depending on what kind of contract you signed, your provider might refuse to unlock your iPhone for a certain period. If that happens, there’s still something you can try. Just take your iPhone to any independent phone store or service, and they’ll do it for you. The process takes only a few minutes, and it comes with a small fee, but that’s nothing compared to what you’d spend on roaming bills.
What to Do with an Unlocked iPhone?
When you finally unlock your iPhone, you made it to the safe zone. Replace your SIM card with a local card you can buy when you land, making sure that you don’t get any unplanned expenses. Go to the nearest store and ask them for the best data package that will last you for the entire trip. Also, make sure that it fits into your SIM card slot before you buy it.
Local SIM cards are way more affordable, and you won’t have to pay for any extras. When you run out of data, you won’t be able to make any more calls or surf the internet.
If your phone can’t be unlocked, you should do everything you can to minimize the roaming data. Here are some quick tips:
- Turn the mobile data off the moment you leave the country.
- Go online only where there’s a free Wi-Fi spot available.
- Buy a cheap phone that accepts local SIM cards.
- Rent a portable hotspot to get online.
- Use your tablet to communicate, as it doesn’t have a SIM card.
These are just some quick tips that should help you stay in touch with the people back home without causing you any extra expenses.
Make the Necessary Preparations at Home
There’s no doubt that you can use your iPhone when traveling to another country, but you should prepare it for the trip first. Unlock it if you can. If not, either get a cheaper smartphone that can use local SIM cards or try one of the other tips listed above. Whatever you do, don’t turn your mobile data on until you land safely back in the United States.
What method do you prefer when traveling with your iPhone? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.