Using IPhone data plan in UK
August 2, 2009 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Great Britain for two weeks and will be splitting time between London and Cambridge. I have an IPhone and have signed up to use ATT's international data plan while in the UK. The plan is limited to 20 MB of data. Also, I don't plan to use my IPhone to make phone calls while there. Just access the web to navigate around.

I'd like to get some tips from folks who have previously used an IPhone with an international data plan on how not to max out my 20 MB allotment. I read ATT's website and found some helpful hints including:

-Turn off push notifications for email and web apps.
-Avoid downloading large files (photos, PDFs, etc.) if you do check email.

I mostly plan to use Twitter and Facebook apps to keep in touch with people and share my travel experiences. But I would appreciate any lessons learned from the hive mind on how not to accrue excessive data charges.

Thanks in advance for any tips.
posted by jingo74 to Technology (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
While I don't any experience with AT&T or it's plans, one thing you could do is buy a pay & go iPhone sim card from O2 when you arrive in the UK. This will give you unlimited* internet access for free while you are here.

I did this when I arrived late last year, however I'm not aware of how locked down the AT&T iPhones are and if you can do this with yours.
posted by X-00 at 1:33 PM on August 2, 2009

As well as turning off push notifications, you'll want to set 'Fetch new data' (under Mail, Contacts, Calendars) to 'Manual'. Obviously, try and use free wifi wherever possible, instead of the cellular network. In fact, even if you have to pay for wifi it might still be cheaper than roaming data charges. Finally, under Settings > General > Usage, there's a Cellular Network Data log that tells you how much you've used, so you can keep an eye on it.

X-00, I'm curious to find out how you got an unlimited data pay & go SIM card from O2 -- as I understood it, the normal pay & go sim-only card doesn't come with unlimited data, and to get an unlimited data package you need to buy it along with an iPhone handset, or similar. Can you elaborate?
posted by chrismear at 5:21 PM on August 2, 2009

Photos on facebook will blow your data allowance in no time flat. 20MB is a very small quantity of data but I guess you could make 2 weeks if you're ultra-careful and basically do text-only stuff.
posted by polyglot at 11:57 PM on August 2, 2009

chrismear, there's a separate pay & go sim from the iPhone that comes with the Web & Wi-Fi Bolt On (it's free for the first 12 months, then it'll cost £10 a month after that). I just walked into the store and asked for the sim.
posted by X-00 at 1:00 AM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Handy, thanks.
posted by chrismear at 4:36 AM on August 3, 2009

I was just in the UK back in May, and used the same 20mb data plan from AT&T. You can get a lot of mileage out of that data, but everyone above is correct that FB (or anything w/ pics) will chew through data. IMHO, I think you'll be lucky if you get two weeks out of 20mb, I used that amount up in about a week, and that was mostly from using google maps and apps like urbanspoon/yelp, with a tiny amount of FB thrown in.

That all said, the best tip I got was to reset your data usage statistics (Settings>Usage>Reset Statistics) before you turn off your phone to get on the plane. While I was over there, I just kept checking the "Cellular Network Data" numbers (total the sent and received) to make sure they're under 20mb. As a result, I knew that I had a negligible amount of overage (~$3) to expect on my next bill.
posted by dicaxpuella at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2009

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