I'm going to thailand. I bought a used ATT iPhone 3GS. Now what?
February 13, 2013 3:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading to Bangkok in ten days for about two weeks. I looked into using my iPhone 5 overseas and the answers from ATT made me think twice about it. So for 100 bucks I bought a used Iphone 3GS. I figure I'd just buy a sim card there and I'd be all set. But then I thought I should check. Do I need to unlock it? or jailbreak it? Is there anything specific to Thailand and Iphones I need to know? What's the process here?
posted by rileyray3000 to Technology (6 answers total)
It will need to be carrier unlocked, yes.

Once there, sorting out a SIM should be simple - the first time I did this there was a woman handing out free SIMs before I'd even got out of Chiang Mai airport. On a more recent trip, I had to go as far as a 7-11 to get a SIM (and it cost me some tiny amount of money).
posted by pompomtom at 3:33 PM on February 13, 2013

Most likely your 3gs is locked, and so will only work on an AT&T SIM, so no good in Thailand. Check where you bought it, some used iphones being sold lately are unlocked since AT&T started offering unlocking services to people whose phones were out of contract.

However, assuming it is locked, you can get a third-party unlocking service to do it for you for $5 or so. I did this with 2 iphones I had with an unlock provider I found on eBay. They work fine, it takes less than 24 hours, and you don't have to ship your phone anywhere. Just search for "iphone IMEI unlock", choose someone with high feedback. You can get your iPhone 5 unlocked too.

Once your phone is unlocked, it will work with any GSM provider, just pop in a new SIM. But you'll have to change the APN settings to the carrier for whatever SIM you have to get the data connection to work. That only takes a minute or two.
posted by skewed at 5:03 PM on February 13, 2013

But you'll have to change the APN settings to the carrier for whatever SIM you have to get the data connection to work.

I'm pretty sure that when I did this there was some sort of message you received and the APN configuration happened by itself.
posted by pompomtom at 6:20 PM on February 13, 2013

I pretty regularly switch out SIM cards in my (unlocked) iPhone 5, and all I do is reboot the phone which seems to allow the network settings to switch over.

Definitely get it unlocked.

You may also experience some iMessage weirdness, because iMessage likes to associate your account with phones and SIM cards in weird ways. At one point I was getting texts from the wife of a friend whose phone I had briefly borrowed because iMessage had redirected it to my phone when I switched the SIM cards over. Recently when I switched to a US SIM, no one I texted via iMessage was actually receiving my texts until I turned iMessage off and on again. Just be aware. If you're not too fussed about paying regular text message fees, it's probably safest to just turn iMessage off completely.
posted by olinerd at 1:41 AM on February 14, 2013

I took my (already) unlocked iphone 3GS to Phuket, Thailand at Christmas.

Went to the local mini mart and waved it at the girl behind the counter, sim for this please!

She gave me a DTAC sim. Popped it in, didnt need to change any settings (other than turning 3GS back on since I had it off).

Sim came with some free internet but I later bought some top up cards in order to buy one of these internet bundles. There are instructions on the topup cards in English telling you what to text to apply the credit.

Added a couple of cards worth then tried to buy the internet bundle online but that didnt seem to work so I used the activation shortcut which worked first time. I tried to buy the 890b bundle with 900b credit but got an insufficient credit text back, the 650b package worked fine.

Spent the next month happily browsing the web from the beach and getting Thai txts from Dtac.

The Thai government has made a big deal of making mobile and wifi widely available, anywhere catering to tourists will have wifi out the wazoo, you shouldnt have a problem.

Top tip - iphone + Youtube + Gangam Style = instant hit with any Thai child under the age of 12.
posted by Ness at 4:55 AM on February 14, 2013

I can't comment on the unlocking side of things, but when I was in Thailand about 6 months ago and got a "Happy" SIM (which is DTAC, I think), I had to manually change the APN settings.
This may be helpful.
posted by Diag at 6:44 PM on February 16, 2013

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