What gadgets to bring to Nicaragua?
January 8, 2014 4:05 PM   Subscribe

What mobile devices should we bring for a two week trip to Nicaragua?

My wife and I are going on our honeymoon in Nicaragua.

We both have Verizon LG G2 Android phones, which I would think are much too expensive and flashy to be using in Nicaragua. We realize there is almost no mobile data in Nicaragua, but would like to have a mapping program to use while there and some games to play on the plane. All our hotels have some sort of WiFi. We'll be in Granada and San Juan del Sur.

I had a few scenarios of what to do, and would appreciate input:

1) Leave phones here, buy a cheap Android tablet (Nook HD+ or Nexus 7), and buy burner phones while we're there for $10.

2) Buy two Windows phones (Nokia 520) and use them there. I believe the unlocked phones are around $80 a piece

3) Bring our phones and put in a SIM while there. From what I understand, the Verizon LG G2 is a worldphone and should work.

Any advice is appreciated, as it's the only real confusion I have remaining for this trip.
posted by lattiboy to Technology (6 answers total)
I went to Granada and San Juan del Sur for two weeks in July. My android phone (a 5 month old Galaxy S3) got stolen right out of my hand on my second day in the country, in Granada. (I am a VERY experienced traveller, and really did not see it coming. Put the 'nick' in nicaragua, as they say.) So... your instincts that you shouldn't flash them around are correct.

You don't really need a mapping program for where you're going. Both Granada and SJDS are really small, and you'll know your way around after walking around for an afternoon. Besides, you'd have to use offline map apps anyway, so you might as well just bring a guidebook or pick up a paper map while in Granada, if you really want a map. You REALLY don't need one in SJDS.

I would recommend that you just bring your phones with you, for on-the-plane and in-the-room game playing purposes - keep them in your hotel room when you go out. Buy a cheap burner phone when you're there, or bring an old phone you can pop a nicaraguan SIM into. (That's what most people I met did. )
posted by Kololo at 4:19 PM on January 8, 2014

My family is Nicaraguan, and even the ones who have gone back don't bring flashy stuff with them when they go. Leave the phone at home if you don't want it stolen. Don't asume hotel rooms are necessarily safe. Use a burner phone, or an old phone.
posted by corb at 4:27 PM on January 8, 2014

While in Costa Rica last Fall I bought one of these phones from Amazon and was glad to walk into a shop and easily purchase a SIM for it. Had the smartphone handy for taking snapshots, but a local phone was great for making on-the-fly plans in-country.

(Be sure to turn off all data before leaving if you should decide to bring the smartphones along.)
posted by scooterdog at 4:46 PM on January 8, 2014

FYI: T-Mobile's free global data roaming includes Nicaragua. So if you activate a T-Mobile SIM here, it should work there, at 2G speeds. (also it has to be one of the post-paid Simple Choice plans to get the free data overseas)
posted by dcjd at 5:13 PM on January 8, 2014

We brought our iPhones with us and never had any reason to use them. The online maps are useless. Totally and utterly useless. We read actual books on the plane.
posted by Capri at 5:20 PM on January 8, 2014

Best answer: Dr. range does her field work in Nicaragua and left for Managua this morning. She leaves most flashy stuff at home (jewelry, etc) but about a year ago she bought an old (GSM, unlocked) iPhone 3 on eBay that she buys SIM cards for when she arrives. There are some mapping apps that have good offline map options (Waze, plus another I'll try to remember); those plus the GPS in the iPhone have been pretty great. Mobile data has been pretty good -- she works way out in the campo and has sent emails from many miles beyond the last reliable electricity. She usually goes with Claro (one of two big Nica phone companies) but I think that's mostly dictated by geographical coverage and by what her in-country friends are using.
posted by range at 8:01 AM on January 9, 2014

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