Should I buy a mobile phone in Mexico?
December 1, 2009 3:03 AM   Subscribe

Can I buy a mobile phone in Mexico and use it in Australia?

Hi All!

I'm headed to Mexico next year and was wondering if I could pick up a phone in Mexico and use it here when I get back to Australia?

I've got no idea if they are cheaper there than here, but if so I'd be tempted. Things that worry me are network compatability, and also getting a charger for it here.

Any advice around this is much appreciated! Thanks!
posted by Admira to Technology (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you pick something with a USB-based charging port, then you'll be able to find a charger locally.

Likewise, if you pick a GSM phone, you'll be able to find a carrier in Oz.

I'd be most worried about carrier locks. Most phones are unlockable through the gray market, but not all of them. Research your phones, and unlocking them, first. Even after unlock, you may need to do some configuration to get, for instance, voicemail and data connections to work correctly.

Also, you're only likely to get the cheap phone price if it's carrier subsidized... which might mean buying a 2 year Mexican contract.
posted by Netzapper at 5:05 AM on December 1, 2009

Phones must be really expensive in Australia since unlocked GSM phones you'd want to get are pretty expensive in Mexico. At least compared to the US. The super cheap without any real data features or other will probably the same costs as you can get them at home. Mexicanos I know will get their phones and electronics in the US. Of course you could find a subsidized locked phone in Mexico and need to get it unlocked in Mexico or back in Australia. But remember Mexico also uses CDMA phones like the US and those won't work so only get a GSM phone which are sold for the Telcel and Movistar networks.

It will depend a lot on where you go in Mexico as well. It is doubtful you'll find great deals in tourist resort zones. There's some shops in Mexico City and Guadalajara where deals can be found. Places that are not in the touristy shopping centers but near Metro stops the travel guides warn you about.

Even non-USB charging solutions will have power adapters that work in Australia when you get the little plug adaptor to convert from the US-style to the Australian style plug...those little cheap plugs that you plug into the power plug end -- opposite of of what you'll bring to use on your gizmos to use in the Americas. You can probably find what you'd need and most electronics or travel shops in Australia, but it will be harder to find in Mexico.
posted by birdherder at 6:11 AM on December 1, 2009

Best answer: Yes. Almost all phones in Mexico are GSM, and all carriers will sell you an unlocked one. Better, there's definitely a guy in a tiny storefront every odd block, in every Mexican city, who will unlock any locked phone for about five dollars.

All electronics are expensive in Mexico, though, so you may wish to check prices before thinking you'll save money this way. It might be easier in reverse: get an unlocked phone in Australia, and use pay-as-you-go cards (very common) in Mexico.

If you go to Mexico with your existing phone, even if it's locked, I'm confident the aforementioned guy on the street can unlock it, too.
posted by rokusan at 7:57 AM on December 1, 2009

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