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Old 05-12-2012, 01:28 AM   #1
Aust
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Best mobile phone tactic

I found this a real dilemma my last trip, and I've done more research since and I'm still confused what the best thing to do is.

My husband and I want to be able to phone/sms family at home, and also be able to contact each other if we're apart at times during the trip. What is the most cost effective way to do this??

e.g. should we buy prepaid phones from the US? activate global roaming on our own phones? Purchase a Travel Sim or similar?

We'll have a laptop with us so won't be needing internet access via phone.

I'm so bad when it comes to technology that I'm completely confused, appreciate any help!
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Old 05-12-2012, 01:48 AM   #2
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Aust - this comes down to what handset you currently have and how attached you are to it; and whether you are taking the laptop or not.

We've done all your options:
1. Activated global roaming and ended up paying $$$ when we returned.
2. Bought SIM only for $. Took our handsets with us, which we needed to unlock for $$.
3. Bought a handset/prepaid SIM card deal for $. Worked out great for us as we didn't have to unlock our Aussie handsets. We took a laptop with us for accessing the internet; so the we only need voice and text. This was a great way to travel and to be able to contact each other.
4. I'm now up to buying an unlocked quadband smart phone in Australia and getting 3G prepaid SIM cards with data overseas. Seems to be the best option so far. DH and I did this for Hong Kong and we didn't have the laptop with us. I think this will be our option going forward even if we take the laptop. There was the one-off hit for buying the handset but aside from that, this option will be as cheap as option 3 going forward (pending data usage).
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:45 AM   #3
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We just bought 2 AT&T sims off ebay and put them into our unlocked iPhones. Unlocking from Telstra was free.

When we got to LA, we put in the sim cards and rang AT&T and got hooked up.
Easy as.
Great deals but couldn't get data on the iPhone on pre paid.

I think the sims cost us $15 delivered from the US.

Hope this helps
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Old 05-12-2012, 04:27 AM   #4
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Once you activated the sims in the US, did you have to have monthly plan or just pay by the call or just pre pay?? I too am a gumby, I'm seriously tempted to just cut everyone off and do like they did in the olden days
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Old 05-12-2012, 05:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExcitedSam View Post
Once you activated the sims in the US, did you have to have monthly plan or just pay by the call or just pre pay?? I too am a gumby, I'm seriously tempted to just cut everyone off and do like they did in the olden days
Prepaid deal, and the phones were for us 2 talk to each other incase one of us went one way etc. Also we had a phone number on Jakes arm with niko pen so if he got lost someone could call a US phone number, cause if it was Aussie phone number they wouldn't likely to call call because of being a weird looking number etc. I think its really worth having them because of bookings and reservations etc, car hire it made life a lot easier. Would recommend having phones while there. It wasn't for family or anyone is OZ to call us but only for us to keep in contact we each other and if the kids got separated from us.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:12 AM   #6
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Last year was the first time I travelled with a smart phone. Having a optus post-paid plan the phone came unlocked for free. Then I got a T-Mobile sim card from Travel Gear.
Swapped the sims over in DFW and the phone worked immediately.
Through Travel Gear I signed up to the $2/day plan and it worked for me. Once in the US I bought a pre-paid data sim card from a T-Mobile shop for my tablet - that was $50.
The only limitation is that T-Mobile operate on 4 G and my phone is 3G - so downloads were slow.
I have friends about to go to Europe and they have got a TravelSim card from Australia Post cause 1 sim can country hop.
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Old 05-12-2012, 05:32 PM   #7
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Sugarglider you may as well have written that in french, I have no idea what you said. I am technologically illiterate, sorry. Last year we got a sim card from ATandT when we arrived in the USA. We want to be able to contact each other when we seperate (DH and DD on rides, me in the shops) and we also want to be able to make and recieve calls and SMS to and from Australia. The SIM and prepaid from ATandT worked well but cost us a bundle. There must be a cheaper way.
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JennyN View Post
Sugarglider you may as well have written that in french, I have no idea what you said. I am technologically illiterate, sorry. Last year we got a sim card from ATandT when we arrived in the USA. We want to be able to contact each other when we seperate (DH and DD on rides, me in the shops) and we also want to be able to make and recieve calls and SMS to and from Australia. The SIM and prepaid from ATandT worked well but cost us a bundle. There must be a cheaper way.
HI Jenny - I am not sure what bits you understand and what bits you don't so please excuse me if I write something you already know. Perhaps you have another question?

DFW = Dallas Fort Worth Airport
T-Mobile is another US phone company - just like AT&T
Travel Gear is an australian travel company based in melbourne that sells sim cards. For the US they sell the T-Mobile sim cards for $30 each. They will express post the sim card to you whilst you are still here in Australia.
then you need a call plan and Travel Gear sell 3 different call plans. I chose the "$2/day" plan (I pre paid $30 for a 15 day trip) and that gave me everything that YOU want (calls and SMS to Australia). So all up that deal cost me $60 for a fortnight. ($30 for the sim card + $30 for the call/data plan) - lump sum cost - no more to pay. When I landed at DFW airport, I inserted the sim card, turned on the phone and it was working immediately. Calls and SMS worked fine.

Is that cheaper than what you paid AT&T?
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:49 AM   #9
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I've been doing some reading on this as I want to get a sim for my iPad as well as sims for our smartphones whilst in the USA.

The Travelgear option looks like the best for the iPad but there seem to be so many different points of view on the best option with smartphones. It's easier if you just want to use the phone for calls and texts but using it for data is certainly more complicated. It's even more complicated if you have an iPhone. I really want to be able to use the Lines and Disney app whilst we are at WDW.

It seems that it's not impossible to get data working on your iPhone with a prepaid plan but you only have two options. 1. get a TMobile sim which seems to be the simplest option. But with TMobile their 3G data operates on a different frequency to our so you have to accept the fact that you will only get Edge/2G speeds for data.

Alternatively it is possible to get an AT & T sim but to get data working you have to fudge things a bit. There is a massive thread on the Whirlpool forums about this. http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum....cfm?t=1296230

there also seems to some evidence that AT & T have better coverage than TMobile. That's a factor for us as we'll be driving way off the beaten track for much of the trip, but if you'll only be in Orlando and major cities it's probably not a problem.

the easiest option may to go into a Walmart and buy a cheap prepaid Phone , that sounds like a good way to go if you just want to be able to call and text each other. Call costs to Australia will still be high but Skype is a great alternative for that.

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Old 05-13-2012, 05:01 AM   #10
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I also really want phone access while I'm away, I can't believe that really there is only two choices, but when in Australia you can buy a sim and from the supermarket and make a choice of so many different options.
I use my apps for a lot of things so really want the data as well.
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Old 05-13-2012, 05:43 AM   #11
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This is a big dilemma for us this time too. The first time we went I had bought international sims online and took unlocked phones over and we just couldn't get the sims to work which was so frustrating. We ended up buying prepaid cheap phones for the duration of our trip.

Jump to the second trip and we just bought prepaid cheap phones and an internet stick thing for the trip.

When we went to Fiji last year we just had our iphones put on international roaming. It was more convenient. I'm not sure what it ended up costing though.

This trip I'd love to just do the iphone thing again. We wouldn't be making calls, just using them for texting communication if we split up.

I'm wondering whether the convenience would outweigh the extra expense?

We will however buy an internet stick for my laptop again, that was very convenient.
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:04 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the advice, I gave this one over to my husband for his input (seeing as I've organised every single other part of this trip!), and he thinks the best idea is to put international roaming on my phone for messages and phone calls home (I have a basic prepaid phone with no internet or anything so no nasty surprise bills when we get home, and I did the international roaming last trip and it didn't cost too much), plus we will buy a couple of cheap prepaid phones for us to communicate with each other. With the laptop we should be set.

Any website suggestions for buying phones?
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:11 AM   #13
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Andona - you hit the nail on the head. Unlike Australia, the US does not have a standard phone system - each company has it's own. And they are different than Australia.
And on T-Mobile they only offer 2G and 4G when almost all Australian phones are 3G. I haven't checked out AT&T.
I had no problems with SMS, calls, and using the WDW Touring Plans app - it worked fine. Facebook worked well - I only had problems with some internet downloads and it dropped out a lot when I tried to use phone as car navigator. Funnily enough using the phone as a wifi hotspot for the tablet worked really well!

I found this short article which starts to explain - but I admit I skipped over some technical bits. Also please note the pricing is a bit different now. the article seems to suggest it is best to go with AT&T for an iPhone.

And yes - Whirlpool forums are great - I end up there so often!
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:28 AM   #14
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Sugarglider, I don't understand the whole 2G, 3G or 4G thing. we just have an assortment of different phones, will T mobile work on all phones? Also what are Whirlpool forums? Obviously I have no idea about any of this but DH leaves even this to me.
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Old 05-13-2012, 09:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JennyN View Post
Sugarglider, I don't understand the whole 2G, 3G or 4G thing. we just have an assortment of different phones, will T mobile work on all phones? Also what are Whirlpool forums? Obviously I have no idea about any of this but DH leaves even this to me.
Hi again Jenny!

I hear you - I really understand it either! I have great difficulty wading through all the techno talk in articles.

So the G in 2G/3G etc stands for 'Generation' - so you have 2nd generation mobile phone technology (e.g. the very small nokias that were very popular until iphone) and 3rd Generation technology (smartphones - like iphone). The US has been ahead of Australia and moved onto 4th Generation.

T-Mobile and AT&T will work on almost all Australian handsets.

Whirlpool is an Australian discussion board (much like DISboards) and it focuses on technology - mostly about ISPs and the internet, also covers mobiles, IT jobs, electronics etc I have found it surprising useful when I don't understand things about my phone / tablet / PC etc

Was this helpful?
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Last edited by Sugarglider; 05-13-2012 at 09:19 AM.
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