US traveler in England: iPhone won’t connect
September 10, 2022 2:23 AM   Subscribe

I’m traveling in England from the US, with an iphone SE, and can’t get internet service. Everything works fine with wifi, but every attempt to get any service with has failed. I’ve restarted, turned airplane, wifi, roaming off and on, and everything else I can think of. I’m new to iphones, but I was told I wouldn’t need to do any special preparations. I have Verizon. I’ve tried several of the trouble shooting suggestions google has led me to, and no luck. Please help! I’m hoping it’s something I overlooked.
posted by librosegretti to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Did you check with Verizon about the plan? Often people buy their iPhones unlocked and get a new sim in their country when they arrive (pay as you go) and it works. If you have a locked Verizon iPhone without a roaming plan that might not be the case for you. If your phone is unlocked you can buy a pay as you go sim very easily in the Uk and go into any news agent shop and top it up easily for your trip and I think you should still be able to use WhatsApp etc with your regular number.
posted by catspajammies at 2:32 AM on September 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Presumably you checked in Settings under Cellular that you have Cellular Data on, and Cellular Data Options set to Roaming On.

Are you getting phone service? That is, is it just data you aren’t getting, or the connection entirely?
posted by nat at 2:48 AM on September 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yes, WhatsApp will work with your regular number if you get a PAYG SIM, because when I'm in the States I buy a T-Mobile tourist SIM but WhatsApp is fine.
posted by essexjan at 2:59 AM on September 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

iPhone SE should not need any special prep for this beyond making sure you are allowing both voice and cellular data roaming. You should get a text message from Verizon when you land in the UK saying, basically, "Welcome to the UK, you have such-and-such international rate plan." Did you receive this? When you log into your account what does it say regarding your global access plan?
posted by 4rtemis at 3:13 AM on September 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I expected the automatic “welcome to the UK” but never got it. I have checked all the settings. No service at all, data or phone. I have roaming on, but see no setting for voice roaming
posted by librosegretti at 3:55 AM on September 10, 2022

Best answer: It looks like you needed to have an international plan added maybe? Here is a link to the Verizon page I found
posted by catspajammies at 4:37 AM on September 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Even without an international plan I would expect a welcome to the UK message from your carrier.

Do you have the first generation iPhone SE? There were multiple versions of that sold, some of which lacked the frequencies that are used in some countries for cellular data.
posted by AndrewStephens at 4:43 AM on September 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

I have a locked Verizon iphone and I can never use it internationally unless I call Verizon before my trip and buy the international travel plan. Before I discovered this requirement, I too expected it to just work in Europe, but despite having all the settings as in the responses above, it didn't. This has been true when I had an iphone 6, 8, and 10. I now have a new 13 and am traveling to England next week.

Can you contact Verizon and do this? It should work on the spot once you do.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:53 AM on September 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Does Field Test Mode (usually accessed by dialing *3001#12345#*) show anything useful, like what band the phone thinks it’s using?
posted by zamboni at 5:05 AM on September 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It’s not a 1st gen phone. I tried to buy the plan but I am an “account member” but not “account owner”, so signing up has failed. I’ll see if Beloved Partner (currently in the US) can set it up
posted by librosegretti at 7:09 AM on September 10, 2022

If you can call Verizon (611?), you might ask them to enable an option to choose the network. I had some problems in Canada this summer that were fixed by being able to select a particular roaming network to use.
posted by pjenks at 7:12 AM on September 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

I am an “account member” but not “account owner”, so signing up has failed.

Yep, this was me when I was using a MetaFilter phone and it was always a headache (I also had Verizon and traveled from the US to Europe and Canada - Canada is now just covered on my plan but it didn't used to be). If BP can't do this, it's really decently simple to just get a SIM card and toss it in if you don't have to be connected to your phone number. The only weird part is that voice mails will pile up until you're back on your old SIM card. You can still use your US cell number on WhatsApp and Signal and still text with anyone who has an email address in their Apple ID (or if you have a data plan, you can text them using that). It's fussy to set up but depending what Verizon pitches you for a cost, might be cost effective.
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 AM on September 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Update: Beloved Partner signed me up. Thank you all!
posted by librosegretti at 8:19 AM on September 10, 2022 [8 favorites]

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