iPhone 3G works great in South Korea

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by lamina, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2006
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    I arrived in Seoul last night (your today's morning) around 7pm.

    The iPhone 3G works great in Korea, in case anyone's wondering.

    Now if I could only get the bloody thing unlocked so I don't have to pay $3/min to use it...
  2. macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2008
    That's pretty cool! I remember signing with AT&T 4 or so years ago, and Korea still wasn't a place you could call/use internationally.
  3. thread starter macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2006
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    To anyone interested if the iPhone 3G works in South Korea in non-roaming mode...

    No iPhone for me. That is, no iPhone service for me, since I already have an iPhone 3G.

    The South Korean phone system works like this (from what I understand):

    The phone companies here control all phones on their network. That is, every phone is registered on the networks here. The only phones they allow to be registered are Korean phones. Therefore, no iPhone service for me.

    I could of course somehow change the IMEI on my iPhone to a South Korean IMEI, but that’s highly illegal, and due to S. Korea’s insistence on being different from the entire developed world, I wouldn’t be able to use text messaging here.

    I spent $800 just getting the phone. That’s $399 for the phone itself, and another $400 (plus taxes) getting out of my contract with Rogers. Yes, that’s rape, I know.

    So I’ve got the fanciest iPod touch in all of Seoul. I even bought a SIM unlock chip. I got it today, after waiting 3 weeks for it to be shipped here. The guy at the store explained to me how it simply won’t work, because my phone isn’t ‘approved’ for use here.

    So there you have it folks. They (and Rogers) have no problem charging me $3/minute for roaming, with data, call display, visual voicemail, and SMS all working, but they won’t let me ‘register’ my phone and use it as a local phone here.

    I’ve recruited my Korean friends to help, and they have all found the same information. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t use my phone here. I’ve looked into the Samsung, LG, and other high-end phone lines here, and they’re nice, but they don’t work with iTunes, and they just don’t zip the way the iPhone does.

    There are rumors of the iPhone coming (and not coming) to South Korea abound, but nothing official from Apple or any of the providers, so I won’t hold my breath.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2008
    I was wondering if you have tried a Korean SIM card already or did u simply try to get a SIM card and they rejected your request?
    I'm very interested since I have been thinking of buying an Iphone during my visit to USA and trying to see if it will work if I throw in my SIM(korean) card in it.
  5. macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2008
    I was very interested to read this. We are adopting from Korea and I will be there for about a week to pick up my son in either November or December. I was hoping I could buy a cheap prepaid SIM card and toss it in the iPhone like I did with another phone in Macau last summer (was $12 and each recharge would last me a couple of weeks) but it looks like that won't work out. Guess I'll just be phoneless there. Not a big deal...just would have been convenient.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 21, 2008
    Near a bunch of T-Rex
    Dude!!! congratulations!! hope you have a great adopting trip :)
  7. macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2008
    I have traveled several times to S. Korea, but have not tried using a local pre paid sim. Your iPhone should have no problem roaming in S Korea on their 3G networks (no EDGE or GPRS) as long as you have the international roaming service enabled on AT&T. I believe the iPhone would need to be unlocked, and then a local prepaid sim may work.
  8. macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2008
    Cause I'm Korean, living in Toronto (in Kingston for my university - Queen's University) and I was previously a Telus Mobility User and paid $200 for the stupid service cancellation as I still had about 10 months of my 3-year contract remaining and moved to Rogers to get an iPhone.
    Used to live in Nowon-Gu in Seoul by the way.
    So anyways, Mike, if you ever need help in adapting to the Korean culture, etc.
    Just PM me and will be glad to give you any hand that I can offer :)

    Korean phones use SIM cards that are bigger in size.
    So those SIM cards wouldn't physically fit inside the iPhone.
  9. macrumors member


    Jan 10, 2006
    so iphone 3G can't be used as a Korean cell?

    Is this confirmed? Man, I'm in the US on a trip and was hoping to buy an iPhone 3G and take it back to Seoul to use. Does anyone have any further info on this?
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2008
    Osaka, Japan
    Korean Phones are one of the best in the world!!!! you should get one, but yea i understand your grief of not being able to use the iphone
  11. macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2008
    will sms work in korea with data roaming turned off?


    since the only type of service compatible in korea with the iphone 3g is UMTS 2100, will sms work when you have data roaming turned off? the iphone won't be able to use any other cellular network to send out the sms...
  12. thread starter macrumors 68000


    Mar 9, 2006
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    Yes, SMS does work. I'm sure it's bloody expensive when roaming though.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2009
    I now have a yellowsn0w hacked iPhone3G roaming with a UK Vodaphone SIM card in Korea, the phone also works with other countries SIM, but when I use a local Korea KTF SIM, it only searches for network, eventually, nothing......anyone here knows how to get around the problem? Thanks
  14. macrumors 68000


    Mar 13, 2007
    You had to pay a 400 dollars cancellation fee? You must have been a fairly new customer or you got caught with a higher fee because you renewed your contract to get your iPhone. I cancelled my Roger's contract early around the time of the iPhone launch for I think around 140 CAD if I remember right and went with Fido to get my iPhone.

    You probably would have been better off just roaming and getting a local cellphone for the majority of your calls.
  15. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 19, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    International SMS is 50 cents per message (for AT&T, at least). It works with international roaming turned OFF (as well as ON, of course).
  16. macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2009
    As i found by visiting other pages on the net and on self experience from a trip to Seoul:

    1. There are Simcards for postpaid. They should fit in every mobile phone, even from abroad (for example iPhone, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and so on)

    2. As far as i heard: The Simcards are locked to the Korean mobile phone, with which they where sold. This should change until the end of 2008. I'm not shure if this changed yet.

    3. The WIPI prevented almost all foreign manufacturers from selling their devices in Korea. WIPI, simply spoken, means that foreign manufactured phones didn't work on Korean telephone networks. It was special korean standard for internet using devices. This was banned by the government now and should be history till April 2009.

    4. I you are spying on a prepaid card. No way of getting one during my visit from august to october 2008. I you're lucky you get in some phone shops a korean prepaid phone. But just when you have a alien registration or ask a korean friend to do it for you.

  17. macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2009
    iphone 3G

    i got a US iphone 3G i unlocked few days ago with yellowsn0w. I know it works because I was in Indonesia last week using it with a local sim out there. I got back to korea, tried my USIM from SHOW/KTF and says restricted network when trying to play with network settings. When i first got my phone (not iphone) in korea, i was told that after 2 months the sim becomes unlocked, meaning u r supposed to b able to use that USIM in other fones. I tried this after the 2 month period since the purchase date. So the problem may be the IMEI registration, or diff bandwith iphone 3G doesnt support? If anyone got more info please let me know.

    and btw USIMs do fit into the iphone's simtray :eek:
  18. macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2009
    iPhone 3g in Korea...

    I've been living here in Seoul since Aug 2008, and have had a hell of a time figuring out the cell phone system here... and boy is it a pain in the .....

    Being Korean, I speak Korean natively and it's still an incredible pain to get any information, but here's what I know:

    1. The first reason why foreign phones do not work in S. Korea is that all 3 of the carriers (SKT, KTF, LG) all have IMEI whitelists of their phones. Simply put, this means that SKT/KTF/LG have lists of the IMEIs of every phone produced on their networks, and only those are allowed to be used on the network. So even though you have a foreign phone, completely unlocked, it will try to connect to the network, find that it's IMEI number is not accepted, and well, you're screwed from there.

    >> The only solution to this that I've thought of is to get a hold of a Korean phone, get it's IMEI number, and use a tool to change the IMEI number of your iPhone 3g to match. That way when your iPhone tries to log on, it will be recognized as a Korean phone. The other catch with this is that Korean phones are not programmed to show their IMEI numbers. Most phones around the world will show their IMEI numbers after the user keys in *#06#, but nope, not in Korea. I do know that a few select phones can be hacked to show their IMEI's, Samsung's Blackjack being one of them.... but that would mean: buy iPhone 3g, unlock, buy blackjack, hack blackjack, hack iphone. That's a lot of money....

    Plus I dont know if SMS will work via this method...

    2. Korean phones operate on WIPI for data transmission. I'm not 100% clear on the details of WIPI, but from what I know it's a mutant younger brother of Java, so people here can do online banking, T-Money (korean rechargeable transit card), etc. That way no matter what phone you use, the application will work.... too bad it's another one of those things that Koreans have to be different from the entire world with. This has been mandated to be removed by the Korean FCC, but will go into effect April 2009. Hopefully this will bring about the allowance of the iPhone 3g here...

    Hope that clears up some stuff for anyone who is curious. BTW, anyone willing to do a little experiementation with ZiPhone to see if it can actually change the IMEI of an iPhone 3g? PM me if you are, and maybe we can work out something....

    It's been 5 months since I've been out of the US, and damn I miss my iPhone... :apple:
  19. macrumors newbie

    Feb 21, 2009
    iphone 3G help

    s4yunkim, I am in a very similar boat. I am a Korean, and I am moving back to Korea in March after living in various countries for 20+ years. I am now coming from Japan where I have been using Softbank iPhone for a while. It is very depressing to hear that I cannot use my iphone in Korea, even if it was unlocked. I have been hearing rumors about iphone being introduced in Korea, but god knows when that will happen... I completely rely on my iphone so it is quite depressing. My question is - what phone did you end up using in the meantime? Unless it is an iphone, I really don't need all the other half baked smart phone features. I may have to use one of the samsung phones... any recommendations?
  20. macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2009

    ak1m, unfortunately it looks like you've been spoiled by the iphone like I have, and I'm sorry to say that you're probably not going to find anything even close to comparable. Since I've been in Korea, I've wasted my money on the LG Viewty, and the Anycall (samsung) haptic 2. Again, I used the word -wasted-, because neither of the two compare in terms of smart phone capability. If you have a mac, which I do, dont even bother with trying to sync. I'm sure it's possible to sync using some samsung software, but it's never going to be as convenient as using the iphone.

    Also, in my opinion, both the phones have a very gimmicky touch screen, and after having used the glass screen on the iphone, I didnt like it one bit.

    As I wrote in my post earlier about the abolishment of WIPI, that's one of the major stumbling blocks in the iphone's release in Korea, so there are heavy heavy rumors about KTF releasing the iphone as soon as April. There are articles where a KTF spokesperson claimed that they could have released the iphone in December if they wanted to. But.... if you know anything about the way Korea works, you know that a lot of these corporate types are full of crap. But... that's how it stands. KTF claims they cant wait to release it, and you know SKT isnt going to be left behind if that happens. We'll just have to wait and see.

    As for me, I've sold off both my phones (at a heavy loss :( ), and settled with a simple slider phone (Anycall W300, aka the UFO phone). It gets the job done... I've paired it with a iPod touch 2nd Gen 32gb, and carry both with me everywhere I go. It is a bit annoying to have to switch between the two when a call comes in, but what else can you do. Shoot me a PM or something and let me know when you'll be back in Korea, it would be nice to have someone to figure this stuff out with. :) :apple:
  21. macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2009
    OK, so after reading ALL the threads above, and understanding 20% of it,

    iphone 3g from US will not work in Korea (as far as PHONE and SMS/texting), right?

    s4yunkim and ak1m seems like you guys have done a thorough research on this, and you too are faithful to your iphones.

    the reason why I ask is, my team and I will be traveling to Korea (from South Carolina) for about a month. One of my teammate and myself will be bringing our iphone 3g's with us. rest of the team (including the iphone users) were thinking about renting a cell phone at incheon airport.

    while I don't mind using the rental phone, i will be carrying my iphone with me where-ever I go, contact info, camera, email (wifi availability???).

    so if I carry my iphone around, will I at least be able to get wifi to check emails? or does that also block it?

    Soo many questions, not enough time. *sigh*
  22. macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2009
    I would be really interested to figure things out, as i stay for 1 year in Seoul from now on. I have a iPhone 3G, which is unlocked from the start and i would really dare to use it here. Maybe April 1st brings something new.

    So if your interested figuring it out, send me a message.
  23. macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2009
    Hey musicfreak81, where are you located? I'm near central Seoul, and I'd be interested in figuring out something with you. Send me a PM and lets meet up sometime. :) :apple:
  24. macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2009
    I live close to Sinchon. As i couldn't send you a message, because that forum has a limit of 5 posts, before you can send a pm to a person. And you need to activate it in the options. So here is my e-mail: srose at web de
  25. macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    When I was in Seoul, there was a lot of wi fi available. Interestingly enough, the signal I used allowed me to check my e-mail using the native e-mail application.
    The irony was that I never could seem to pick up a cell signal, so I stayed in airport mode while I was on vacation.

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