What are my options for using my US 3G iPhone in London for a week?
November 7, 2008 8:01 AM   Subscribe

What are my options for using my US 3G iPhone in London for a week?
posted by schmoppa to Travel & Transportation around London, England (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
AT&T has roaming partners in the UK, so your phone should just work (using your normal cell phone number) when you get there. it'll cost you though - AT&T's website says about $1.30/min normally or $0.99 if you get the special international roaming service (which is an additional monthly cost). you'll pay about two cents per KB of data you move too. (there's a switch in your iPhone's Settings app that will turn data off if you're roaming.) you may have to call to enable roaming at all on your plan. probably worth it to check.

the normal tools for iPhone hackery (ZiPhone and PwnageTool) do not offer unlocking on the 3G yet, so you're pretty much stuck with using AT&T's stuff.
posted by mrg at 8:27 AM on November 7, 2008

Well, you could always treat it as an iPod Touch. WiFi will still work, and if you install Fring then you can use Skype to place and receive phone calls. London is apparently the WiFi capital of the world, so you should be able to find lots of hotspots.

If you're willing to void the warranty, then you could try the Rebel SimCard and a prepaid SIM purchased in London.

You could pay AT&T's exorbitant rates, as mrg pointed out. If you don't go this route, definitely turn off data while roaming. I believe it's off by default, but double check. This has been the source of those $10,000 iPhone bills you may have heard about.

Frankly, I would recommend getting a cheap pre-paid phone in London for calls and use the iPhone for WiFi (including Skype to save on using your other phone) and iPod features. You get most of your features, save the warranty, and you could eBay the pre-paid phone when you return home.
posted by jedicus at 8:37 AM on November 7, 2008

not the best news, but thanks for the good responses.
posted by schmoppa at 9:06 AM on November 7, 2008

You can also get the international data roaming plan. Log onto your ATT account and you can just activate it. Dont forget to deactivate it when you get home.
posted by schwa at 9:40 AM on November 7, 2008

My wife and I just used AT&T International Roaming in the UK for a week. She has an iPhone, I have a Samsung Sync.

She turned data off whenever she wasn't using it. Somehow she still managed to rack up $70 in data overage charges that week. We sent a lot of texts ($0.50 each*), to avoid making calls. Even so, our bill for last month was about $330.

I'd do it again, because the convenience of being able to keep in touch was worth it, and her iPhone really helped us out a number of times when we needed quick web access.

But I'd advise you to try not to do much gratuitous communicating (text or voice) or web browsing, either with your traveling companion(s) or with people back in the States.

*Whenever we texted each other, each of us was paying $0.50. It adds up quick.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:56 PM on November 7, 2008

AT&T offer several levels of roaming package - the phone call one which lowers the per-minute rate mentioned above, and the data roaming which you can buy in bulk amounts of 20MB, 50MB, 100MB, etc. You will need to call them to activate this. Ask for the "International Provisioning" department, and get them to put you straight through... the regular customer service rep is not able to activate those features.

However, a quick note worth including here (AT&T don't tell you this unless you ask):
If you go with either the data or the call international roaming plans, you must keep the roaming plan/s turned ON even after you return, until you are sure that all the charges from the foreign carriers have appeared on your bill. Since these may not appear for 10 days or 2 weeks, the additional (pro-rated) charge might off-set any saving you have made by going with the roaming plan in the first place.
posted by DannyUKNYC at 6:16 PM on November 7, 2008

I'm in exactly the same situation as the OP (London for 10 days soon!). After reviewing all of this helpful information, and the linked AT&T international roaming data packages, my question is this:

From the vantage point of a typical iPhone user (who probably will rely a lot more on maps, google-fu and other web-stuff when traveling abroad), what does 20MB, 50MB translate to on a day-to-day basis for an iPhone-equipped, 21st-century traveler?

I plan to keep phone call usage to a minimum/zero, but anticipate needing SMS to coordinate meetups and "I'm here; where are you" type stuff. But still don't have a good feel for how much data usage I can anticipate or should/should not pay for.
posted by webhund at 8:59 AM on November 11, 2008

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