Phoning home from Indonesia?
February 22, 2011 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Mobile phone for Indonesia?

I’m heading to Indonesia for a couple months and am looking to buy a used mobile phone for the trip. I want to buy it in the US to make sure it works. My girlfriend is over there already and using a Nokia E63. If I can find an E63 (I’m also hunting for E71, or E73) I’ll get one but I’m looking for other ideas just in case. It helps if you are making a recommendation based on experience.

1. Durable. My girlfriend has dropped her phone in jungle rivers and down mountains and it always comes back to life within hours.
2. GSM & Quad Band.
3. Must use a SIM
4. Qwerty Keyboard
5. Web Browser
6. Texting
7. Used or new
8. $150USD or less
9. Ability to unlock phone if it's not already unlocked.

Any other recommendations for a mobile phone to be used in Indonesia?
posted by brokeaspoke to Travel & Transportation around Indonesia (3 answers total)
Can you get a used Nokia E72? I use one, and it has GPS and WLAN access on top of all those things you need. Checking at, you might get one for about $120 on the low end.

Another unit you might want to try (although I don't have any experience with it) is the Blackberry Curve 8320.
posted by micketymoc at 2:09 PM on February 22, 2011

Best answer: Aside from wanting to make sure it works, is there any particular reason you want to buy it in the U.S.? Have you considered just getting a phone once you're there?

I'm not sure which part of Indonesia you're going to, but any decently-sized urban areas (including small towns), will have plenty of options for buying a phone. Everyone uses handphones there, and since the vast majority of people don't have prepaid plans, there are tons of warungs (small shops) selling both phones and credit to recharge whatever company's sim you happen to be using. The warungs should let you look at and test the phones before you buy them. It definitely helps if you speak some Indonesian or have an Indonesian friend that can help you. Prices should be listed and you shouldn't need to haggle. Nokias will be very, very common there (check the model list if you want to have an idea of just how many are available (in Indonesian, check the "Ponsel" drop-down menu)).

The problem I see is that you want specific models and a more expensive one, the majority of phones available will be lower-end, but most warungs will have a couple of higher-priced phones, just maybe not the exact model you want (but there's enough warungs around where you could easily check out a few at the same time to see if they have what you want). If you are in an urban area, though, you could find a larger department store or indoor market and they should have more expensive phones in there. You also won't have to deal with unlocking, since all the phones are unlocked there, which makes whatever you get good for a travel phone.

Honestly, I would opt towards a cheaper phone. I don't know if you're going to be staying in an urban area or more in the countryside, but it's nice not to have to worry too much about dropping/messing up your phone too much. Also, calling is expensive (relatively speaking) and mostly used for situations where it's necessary or easier to talk, and even then usually kept short. Most people in Indonesia communicate by text. I don't know if most of your communication will be with your girlfriend, in which case you might want to talk more. She probably knows a lot of this already, but make sure you get the same type of SIM as she does. It's generally cheaper to talk to someone who is using the same company as you, and many Indonesians keep multiple sims and numbers they use depending on who they call/who calls them to save money. I just saw your post title, and if you're considering using it to call the US, Skype would be a far, far better option unless you don't have computer access or the proper bandwidth to use it.

Browsing the internet can be a little spotty as well. I didn't buy an internet plan while I was there, but my Indonesian friends said it could be pretty slow at times. With the popularity of facebook there, it might be improving, though. This would also be dependent on where you'll be.

Hopefully some of this will be helpful. Sorry I can't recommend a specific phone. I loved the phone I used, but it doesn't fit all your criteria and would be difficult to find. Anyway, I'd love to hear more about what you and your girlfriend will be doing there, but this isn't really the proper place for that. Wish I could be heading back there right now. Have a good time, and eat lots of street food!

Selamat Jalan!
posted by wander at 8:39 PM on February 23, 2011

Response by poster: For some reason, I did not get notice wander gave an answer to my question. I did end up finding a used Nokia E63 in the states. I didn't *need* and E63 but chose it because it's what my girlfriend has so I saw it as having a reliable track record, especially knowing what she's put it through. By and large it's done what I needed it to do. I've been in Indonesia for seven weeks and find that connectivity is generally problematic regardless of the means by which we connect but I got used to it. I'm spoiled by nearly ubiquitous connectivity in the US.

Wander, if you want to know more of the details of our trip I'll be happy to share. Just PM me and we can swap emails.
posted by brokeaspoke at 12:47 AM on May 5, 2011

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