I want to get an iPhone, but how do I travel across carriers?
December 24, 2009 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Hello, I'm wanting to get iPhone (or use my Blackberry Worldphone) in Korea and other countries; however, I do not know the best way to do this. From my understanding I would likely have to buy an unlocked phone and then get hooked up with a carrier on a pay-as-I-go plan or something? What do most nomads do for phones besides things like Skype?
posted by Knigel to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do your devices support Hangul, both entry and display? If not, they may not work even if you can connect.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:25 PM on December 24, 2009

The only way I'm aware of is to either bring an unlocked phone from home and get a local SIM card for wherever you're traveling, or just buy a phone locally. Maybe it's possible to get a prepaid SIM card? Personally I just stick with using Skype on my iPhone when I'm overseas, great as long as I have WiFi access (usually easy to find in Korea and Japan). If I was going to be somewhere more than a month or two though, I'd probably look into getting a cheap phone from a local carrier.

Never heard of a Blackberry Worldphone, but my iPhone supports hangul (along with most other Asian character sets).
posted by photo guy at 5:42 PM on December 24, 2009

Best answer: As for Korea: I've researched the hell out of this, because I'd love to use my iPhone in Korea.

Ways to use an iPhone in Korea:

1) Buy an iPhone in Korea from KT Show. Requires you to sign a contract, around 150,000won for the 16gb 3GS.

2) Buy an iPhone abroad. Unlock. Spoof the IMEI (illegal, and no public methods exist out there.)
In Korea, cell phones are locked to the network via IMEI, which is a unique identifier per device. If your IMEI's not in the network's database, even if you have a SIM, it won't work. Theoretically, only way to get out of this is to spoof the IMEI, but I don't think this is currently possible with the 3G (it used to be possible for the 2G), and especially with the updated basebands. Realistically, this is impossible.

3) Buy an iPhone abroad. Get it verified as compliant and certified by Korea's Radio Research Agency or a local equivalent. This costs a month or a week, and you need to pay about 370,000won/500,000won respectively. Here's an info link (in Korean) just for reference. After that, you can buy prepaid/contract USIM cards and insert them in your phone and they should work. This is the only way you can use prepaid sim cards in Korea, thanks to the draconiam IMEI-carrier-locked system that KTF and SKT use.

Yeah, this sucks. I'd say that if you reeeally want to get an iPhone, you should go the KT Show route, since it'll be much cheaper than certification. You can always unlock it and use it abroad then.
posted by suedehead at 6:56 PM on December 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

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