Cheaper to buy a local cellphone while travelling?
April 26, 2011 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm travelling in the US (Los Angeles) from Canada. What are my phone options? i'm sick of paying my local company's roaming charges. Can I buy a phone in LA that'll have full data/text/voice options for a month? If so, what'll it cost me? Can I just buy a chip for my iPhone for that month with no contract? (And if so, what's the best way to unlock it). Also, is there a way to forward SMS/text messages sent to my Toronto number?

My phone company wants $125 for limited text/data/voice + my usual $87 monthly fee while I'm travelling for 2 weeks. I've heard the US has cheap mobile options--do they work for temporary visitors/people who don't want a contract?

Best solution would be to somehow use the iPhone I currently have, which I think is unlocked. (And if I find out it isn't, is there an easy unlock process--I'm on a Mac and my phone is 3GS).

If I do go this route, what should I set up on my current phone regarding forwarding? Way to still get texts? I also have a Google phone number in LA if that's of use in this scenario.

Thank you!
posted by dobbs to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also, I'll be at LAX and then driving to West Hollywood. If there's a particular place you can recommend, that'd be great.
posted by dobbs at 8:24 AM on April 26, 2011

Best answer: You might want to check out t-mobile's site and see if a prepaid/pay-as-you-go plan looks appealing. If your phone is unlocked you can get a t-mobile sim card and pop it right in (assuming you have the GSM version, not CDMA).

I use t-mobile on my unlocked iPhone 3G in San Francisco and it works great although the data network is EDGE - not 3G. It's a bit slower but not heinously so. Also spotty in less-inhabited areas (like my dad's farm in Kansas) but I'm in LA often and coverage is totally and completely fine.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks hapax_legomenon. I checked with t-mobile and they were $80 or so for unlimited national voice/text and 2gb of data. I found another shop that offered Simple Mobile, which runs on the t-mobile network and they offer an $80 unlimited everything, including international text. Got it today and it works great.
posted by dobbs at 8:14 PM on April 27, 2011

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