What's the best short term/least hassle cell phone data plan?
September 10, 2013 8:01 PM   Subscribe

A friend is visiting from Brazil and is bringing his iphone 4s with him. He wants to use it while he's here. What's the least painful way to make that happen?

If it helps, his carrier in Brazil is Tim, and my carrier here in the States is AT&T. Friend seems to think he can just go to the Apple Store, buy a chip, and Bob's your uncle. I know it's probably not going to be as easy as all that. Keeping in his Tim chip and using it internationally is really not an option.
He just needs to have a chip for two weeks to use for data purposes. Can AT&T help me with this because I am a customer, or is Apple the best bet, or is some third option even better?
School me on temporary data plans, metafilter.
Thanks in advance.
posted by msali to Travel & Transportation around United States (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can get a SIM from Tmobile and get unlimited data for a month plus 100 minutes for $40. ($10 for the SIM and $30 for the plan for a month.) I just switched to that permanently from AT&T. It may be cheaper to get a limited amount of data, or pay by the day.

Google "best prepaid smartphone plans". I think lifehacker has a recent feature.
posted by supercres at 8:12 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Here's how to find that plan. They hide it good.

It looks like two weeks is just about the tipping point between paying by the day and for a month.
posted by supercres at 8:18 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Worth noting if you whine at them they waive the sim charge sometimes, as well.

That is basically the Plan for this sort of thing though.
posted by emptythought at 8:39 PM on September 10, 2013

Response by poster: Awesome ideas guys, thanks! My only issue is that this appears to be a plan meant for a longer period of time. Could it work in the short term, where we cancel after a month?
posted by msali at 9:05 PM on September 10, 2013

It's pre-paid. If you stop paying it stops working. You don't need to cancel.
posted by caek at 9:12 PM on September 10, 2013

Yep, just don't sign up for automatic payments, and the sim will stop working at the end of the paid period.
posted by wnissen at 9:21 PM on September 10, 2013

Straight Talk has a similar plan and appears to be compatible with iPhone 4S. I found I had to order the SIM via their website and have it delivered by mail, though, when I tried to go to WalMart I could not purchase it there. So if he's interested in doing this I recommend ordering in advance to be shipped to your address.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:22 PM on September 10, 2013

Sorry, I should clarify because Straight Talk's plan is actually more like $45 per month, and that doesn't include the cost of the SIM, which is $14.99 for an AT&T compatible SIM. But you do get unlimited talk time as well.

The phone has to be unlocked, also. My phone is Android so I'm not sure how different this is for iPhone, but I bought my phone unlocked.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:25 PM on September 10, 2013

Best answer: First, check that his phone is unlocked.

When I went to the US, I got a prepaid SIM card at T-mobile. Probably the same one that supercres is referring to. Around $40, unlimited data. It expires in a month if you don't renew it.
posted by xmts at 12:08 AM on September 11, 2013

Anyone willing to chime in with the Canadian version of this question? Especially with nano-SIM availability?
posted by JMOZ at 4:12 AM on September 11, 2013

Canada is 10 years behind the US when it comes to mobile data which is amazing considering the US is 10 years behind the rest of the world. After looking through the providers there's no equivalent to the aforementioned T-Mobile plan. I resigned myself to a daily voice-only plan from Fido.
posted by llin at 7:16 AM on September 11, 2013

If his iPhone is unlocked and he doesn't want to use many minutes, PTel has a completely PAYG service that includes data. You can buy him a SIM card in advance for $5, then the first chunk of minutes is $10.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:46 PM on September 11, 2013

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