Using a Galaxy S4 in Australia
February 4, 2015 8:22 PM   Subscribe

G'day Austalian mefites! I'm going to be visiting Australia, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to use my phone while I'm there. It's a Galaxy S4 from Verizon.

From what I can tell, I should be able to buy a prepaid sim card from an Australian carrier and stick it in the sim card slot in my phone. Is is really that simple? Is there anything more I need to do before I leave? And is this the best option? If that's really all there is to it, can anyone recommend what company I should use for the prepaid sim card?

Thank you in advance.
posted by chndrcks to Technology (10 answers total)
If your phone is not carrier-locked, then yes it should be that simple.

Which carrier you use will largely depend upon whether you're straying outside the major cities. If so, you want to be on the Telstra network, so I'd look at BOOST (only because I used them last time I needed a bit more 3g data). If you're staying in the cities, then you have a few more options.

If your phone is carrier-locked, you'll want to sort that out before you leave.
posted by pompomtom at 8:28 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

American here who was on Verizon while living in America and on Telstra while living in Australia. Yeah, it's really that simple. Verizon locking their phones to their network is a thing of the past, they have come unlocked ever since they started selling 4G LTE phones as they were required to do so by law.

Telstra is like the Verizon of Australia, great coverage everywhere...cities and in the middle of nowhere. And they also have the best 4G LTE network in Australlia. It's also the most expensive, much like Verizon is.
posted by signondiego at 8:29 PM on February 4, 2015

Thanks for the advice so far. I should have mentioned: We'll be in Sydney the whole time. Decent coverage is a plus, but not a necessity. Mostly I'd like to be able to pull up some maps, do some google searches, etc. without having to worry about finding wifi all the time. So cheaper is probably preferable in this case. Text and voice will be handy if we need to meet up with friends, but we won't be consuming very many minutes.

Anything we can't miss while we're in Sydney?

Thanks again.
posted by chndrcks at 9:07 PM on February 4, 2015

Yes, no, yes, Telstra.

It is completely simpler US -> Australia than the other way round, at least in my own personal experience.

To expand on the excellent advice above, if you are going outside the cities, coverage for the other networks is very patchy. For many years I was on a network that piggybacked off of Telstra's main competitor, Optus, and would routinely lose coverage when I went to the country. This is often where you are most in need of good mobile phone coverage.

Don't forget to bring an adaptor for your charger. You can get them here, of course.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:08 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm constantly frustrated when trying to buy prepaid SIM cards in the US and Canada. It really is that easy over here — you'll have to show some ID, that's it.

You can get ~1g of data and a bunch of texts/minutes (we use a strange credit system here, don't fully understand it...) for about $35. Optus is cheap, but has terrible coverage even within cities (there's an entire strip of central Melbourne that doesn't have Optus reception). Telstra should have a similar deal, maybe a bit more expensive.
posted by third word on a random page at 11:59 PM on February 4, 2015

It is that simple as long as your phone isn't carrier locked. You can buy a $2 sim starter pack from any Coles or Woolworths, though you might need your passport details to register it. The strategy I use is to purchase $40 worth of credit (Telstra). Any purchase over $30 will get you a certain amount of bonus minutes and texts. Since you have the bonus minutes and don't plan on calling/texting much, you can use all of the credit to buy data packs as detailed here.

I have used this system for about five years and it's worked very well. Almost too well. I don't know when I will ever use up all of my bonus 10,335 minutes or 22,064 text messages.
posted by roshy at 12:35 AM on February 5, 2015

Will My Phone Work?
posted by 724A at 11:08 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

According to the Verizon site, your phone comes "Global Ready". When I took my "Global Ready" Razr M to India, it really was just popping in an activated SIM card. (Getting a hold of an activated SIM was a different story, because of terrorist concerns, India is strict!)

As a result, the other useful phone thing that I learned is that the GPS works without a data connection. We got around pretty well caching maps of the relevant areas when there was wifi and keeping the phone offline and using GPS during the day.
posted by yeahlikethat at 11:09 AM on February 5, 2015

There is an Optus and a Vodafone in the arrivals hall of Sydney international airport. Open 6am - 10pm, according to the website. I'd go to one of them, as it's nice to have a human help you out when you've just flown for 24 hours.

Having a quick look, if you're only in Australia for a few days, then the Optus $2/day looks good (extra charges for international though, so take that into consideration). If you're around for longer than a couple of weeks, the Optus $30 prepaid cap doesn't seem to include international texts or calls, so I'd go with the Vodafone $30 prepaid cap. There are probably cheaper options out there, but this should be the easiest. (I'm on that cap with Vodafone, and I'm happy with it). YDetailsMV
posted by kjs4 at 8:27 PM on February 5, 2015

Thanks all. I went to Telstra and liked the deal the offered (I think it was 30 AUD for about 800MB). Unfortunately for them, they wouldn't take my (signature, non-chip) credit card, and by the time I had some cash to go back with, I had decided that there was enough free WiFi between the hotel and museums. If I were staying longer or venturing elsewhere, I think I'd go with Telstra.
posted by chndrcks at 6:42 PM on March 2, 2015

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