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Thread: traveling in US with unlocked iPhone

  1. #1
    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    traveling in US with unlocked iPhone

    So we are heading to the US for a week or so (driving from Winnipeg, Canada to North Dakota then to Montana), and both my husband and I have unlocked iPhones (4 and 4S). Any tips on how to best go about getting SIM cards/text and data plans for the week?

    Thanks!

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    Really depends where you are going to be most of the time, so you are going to have to check various coverage maps. I live in Toronto, but I frequently work in the US and use Android phones (formerly Galaxy S2X, now Nexus 4). Where I generally am, I'm fine using T-Mobile. $3/day for unlimited 3G/4G, but T-Mobile is known to really only provide coverage in urban centers. Rural areas and less populated states aren't well covered, or are covered through roaming agreements with AT&T. If T-Mobile coverage works for where you are going, it really is the easiest thing to get a set up. Just get a couple SIM cards from T-Mo set up for pre-paid, then manage the plan yourself online, pay for the days that you use service, don't pay when you don't.

    AT&T isn't nearly as flexible as far as I know. T-Mo really might be the only way to do per day payments as AT&T might be monthly prepaid (haven't looked in a while).

    You can also look at various MVNOs, but check which network they are actually working on. Roam Mobility has pretty good plans for Canadians (free calling back to Canada; which I don't need as I just use Google Voice to bounce calls), but again runs on T-Mo. Straight Talk runs on AT&T, but might cost your $45 each for a month, plus the SIM card.
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    Looking at the coverage maps, T-Mo coverage in North Dakota and Montana is virtually non-existant other than Fargo. I was driving through West Virginia a couple weekends ago and had full roaming coverage on AT&T with my T-Mo SIM, which when you are pre-paid basically is just voice and text, no data.

    You should either look at AT&T, an AT&T-backed MVNO, or roaming data packages from your Canadian carrier. I think Rogers came out with some improved roaming packages, but sadly nothing really comes close to unlimited for $3/day on T-Mo.
    Last edited by itsablur; 06-24-2013 at 01:08 PM. Reason: spelling
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    Also, beware that the 4S is a dual radio and can run on any network but the 4 is a single radio and if you are on Rogers (which I seem to recall is CDMA based) you will have to be on a Sprint or Verizon MVNO.

    I have also heard good things about Roam Mobility.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffmac View Post
    Also, beware that the 4S is a dual radio and can run on any network but the 4 is a single radio and if you are on Rogers (which I seem to recall is CDMA based) you will have to be on a Sprint or Verizon MVNO.
    Rogers is GSM. They used to be TDMA (remember that!?!?!), but switched about 13 years ago. None of the major Canadian carriers is really CDMA any more. Both Bell and TELUS (who actually shared a network; TELUS built everything west of Saskatchewan, Bell built everything east of Manitoba) migrated to GSM in time for the Vancouver Olympics, but do not operate any 2G GSM. CDMA is being decommissioned in a few years up here (thank god...).

    Carrier switching on CDMA is confusing as heck...
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    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips. We definitely have GSM phones and I fully expect big coverage gaps (familiar with that in Canada), but we'd really like to at least be able to text each other when we get there without paying exorbitant roaming fees.

    And after all that, it looks like we may not be coming south after all. We had a mini-family reunion planned for Drumheller, Alberta but figured we were flooded out, so were looking for drier options. But Drumheller seems to have come through it, so it's back on. Way to go Alberta!
    JonP likes this.

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    "FREE PHONE CALLS

    Taking a mobile overseas can be akin to carrying a ticking time bill in your pocket. Smart travellers use airplane mode, wi-fi and Skype’s low-cost call packages to ensure communications to home cost cents rather than arms and legs. But the free Viber phone app has made footloose phoning a snap. It enables free mobile-to-mobile calls and texts anywhere in the world to anyone using the same app, providing you’re in range of wi-fi or a 3G service. Spend 30seconds registering your phone number and get family and friends to do the same before you travel. And, it works with dependable clarity. Whatsapp Messenger costs 99cents for a similar service. We also send out some love to Words with Friends – still a favourite time-killer and a great wayto send free texts. MA"

    Fifty things we love about travel right now


    I got this link from the blog, the article mentions the Aeronaute, that phone app, trains and 47 boring stuff.

    This is why I cut and pasted the info. I don't know if the app if available for Apple, after some research I believe it is.
    Last edited by backpack; 06-25-2013 at 03:27 PM.


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