Two Americans on AT&T heading to Chile for two months, what do we need to know to use our iPhones?
September 23, 2008 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Two Americans on AT&T heading to Chile for two months, what do we need to know to use our iPhones there?

My wife and I will be visiting Chile for two months and would love to take our iPhones and use them. We have 1st gen iPhones and neither have been unlocked. I jailbroke mine at one point, just to see what it was like, but since 2.0 have been back to official firmware.


1. I'm assuming we'll have to unlock the iPhone to use in Chile, but when we return, will we be able to roll-back the phones to official *Apple* un-unlocked-ness?
2. And also, what will we need to get in Chile to be able to use our phones? I've never traveled with a phone before overseas, so forgive me if this is obvious.
3. Does anyone know if AT&T allows you to temporarily suspend service, or will we be stuck paying full-price for our plans while we're gone?
4. What is the safest and most "established" ways to unlock your phone? I know there's a lot of information out there, but I'm not sure where to look for the best resources.
5. Will we be able to get a reasonable data plan on a Pay-as-you-go service in Chile?
6. Finally (sorry), will a Chilean SIM card work in Argentina if we travel into Argentina for a week or so?

Sorry for the many questions, thank you to anyone who can answer any part of this list.
posted by adrock31 to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
3. I'm guessing you don't want to use roaming or it isn't available. In that case, you need to get a SIM card (US$10 approx.) from any of the big telephone companies and a prepaid card to charge money to your number account.

5. Haha, no. I think the best you can get is a US$5/25MB promo if you get a SIM card from EntelPCS. Those US$5 are subtracted from your number account. You're free to spend those 25MB and then get the promo again, but I'm not sure how convenient that would be for you.
posted by Memo at 10:48 AM on September 23, 2008

I don't know about the temp suspend, but you can definitely cancel your data plan.
posted by hazyspring at 10:59 AM on September 23, 2008

can tell you that AT&T does (or did once) allow you to temporarily suspend service if you call them ahead of time. They call it a "favor" but you save a nice chunk of change for listening to them tell you how lucky you are. Sorry, cannot help with your other questions.
posted by cusecase at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2008

I am currently researching this very same question, except my iPhone is going to the U.K. and Belgium for about a month in November. Your details will undoubtedly vary, but:

1. Login to the AT&T wireless site and click on the "international travel" links. They're obvious and you'll find them easy. ATT has short-term data plans available in various countries around the world just for the iPhone. I think they're about 20MB of data for $25 USD and up in price from there.
2. While your at AT&T, see what type of international short-term roaming packages they have for your destinations to take care of the voice call side of things.
3. Go to the iPhone user forums on and search on your country and see what others have found. There's a fair amount of info out there.
4. Go to and do the same thing as #2 in the Apple iPhone user discussions.

There may be other jail-breaking ways of doing these things, but those are the "official" methods/options I've found so far.
posted by webhund at 2:46 PM on September 23, 2008

(I don't know anything about iphones and international plans so i wont be able to get too specific... but perhaps something will be useful or at some point help someone with a similar question. )

I have never tried an international/roaming type plan and am unaware of its drawbacks and benefits. If that doesnt work out, it would be fairly cheap and easy to get a phone to use within the country during your stay using prepaid calling.

#4. I had an AT&T plan before I moved to Chile. I brought my motorola phone with and now use it here. I tried to get it unblocked in the US before coming here. I brought it to an AT&T store in the US, and they said they physically unblocked it and would later email me a code in a few days. I am unsure what they did, if anything, and I was never emailed a code. After calling for a month and getting various promising replies they said they decided they did not want to give out a code in the end.
I walked down the street to a phone kiosk in Chile and asked them to unblock my phone. I think they charged me about double (US$24) cuz I look foreign and obviously am clueless on this unblocking issue, but it took about 10 minutes and worked. I bought a new Chilean card (SIM/chip) for US$12.

#5. Many people dont use monthly plans at all. You can have a phone for the purpose of receiving calls, or put money on the phone by walking into a pharmacy and telling them your phone number and amount for it to be automatically charged, or buy a phone card where you scratch off a code on the back and call the number to activate.

#6. Chilean SIM cards do not usually work in Argentina (as far as i know, mine and friends havent at least).
posted by nzydarkxj at 10:30 PM on September 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks a lot everyone. Definitely filling in the holes of my understanding and preparing me for getting down there.

@nzydarkxj How much would the cheapest cell phone cost down there if I were to just buy one when I got there?
posted by adrock31 at 6:33 AM on September 24, 2008

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