Would like to use AT&T iPhone 4S & 5 in Ireland - please help

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by hipnetic, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Hello all, I'm in the USA but am traveling on vacation to Ireland soon. It's my understanding that if I try to use data roaming it will be crazy expensive, and even AT&T's international roaming plan would still be very expensive just for voice and texting. Some articles/posts I've read suggest putting the phone into Airplane mode and turning back on WiFi and just living like that. I've never unlocked an iPhone and only jailbroke one once a while back, so I'm rusty on that. But I've read some positive posts in another thread here about swiftunlocks.com for unlocking the phone. On to my questions...

    1) Do I need to jailbreak my phone before I can unlock it via swiftunlocks?

    2) Will this unauthorized unlock cause me any trouble with my continued AT&T usage? What about if I have to bring the phone in to AT&T or Apple to deal with an issue?

    3) Once unlocked, can I just find a SIM card somewhere after arriving in Ireland and save a lot more money by using that versus using something like AT&T's international roaming plans/add-ons?

    4) Will I be able to use affordable data with one of the SIM cards/plans in Ireland?

    4) I have an iPhone 5, but my wife and daughter have 4S's. Any issues with either of those models?
  2. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
  3. macrumors 68040


    Oct 21, 2010
    Tampa Bay
    1. no
    2. no
    3. yes
    4. yes
    5. no
  4. macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2010
    I went to Ireland recently and there was a store in the Dublin airport that sold SIM cards. They had a few different options, and I went with Meteor, which worked pretty well for me. I was mostly looking to use lots of data and local (Ireland) calls. If your needs are different then you may want to look at the options closely.

    Just be sure you complete the unlock process completely. If you don't have a foreign sim card then you can restore your phone in iTunes to verify the unlock was completed and applied completely. I used a t-mobile sim here to test it which allows the unlock process to complete without a restore. That unlock process does require a WiFi connection, so it is a good idea to not wait until you are in Ireland to do it.
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Thanks for the replies!

    Based on some other Googling I've done, it sounds like finding a Tesco store in Ireland and signing up with a plan with O2 may be the best choice for coverage and pricing. If anyone disagrees with that, please chime in.

    Regarding your comments about getting the unlock process finalized while still in the USA with a T-Mobile SIM...so if I pay swiftunlocks do I need to have a T-Mobile SIM inserted while they do their thing? How do I know if/when swift unlocks has done their thing?
  6. macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2010
    To check the phone has been unlocked the easiest way is to use a foreign sim (such as t-mobile) like I mentioned above. It will go into an activation process very similar to when you first setup the phone, and it will activate using wifi. That activation will fail if it is not unlocked. That activation is only required one time.

    If you don't have a foreign sim then you can restore your phone in iTunes. You should see a message on the computer screen, "congratulations, your iPhone has been unlocked." The method above works better if you want to save a jailbreak.
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Sorry, I'm still confused...

    - I can get a US T-Mobile SIM in the USA, but I don't think I can get a foreign T-Mobile SIM, can I? Will a US T-Mobile SIM be useful for confirming that the unlock worked?

    - You mention doing a restore with iTunes. I don't want to reset my phone to factory settings. I'm on AT&T and plan to continue to use AT&T. I just want to use my phone in Ireland on O2 (or whatever) and then when I get back I'd like to put my AT&T SIM back in and be back to normal with minimal fuss. I'm hoping that I don't have to back up and restore my iPhone via iTunes. I'm hoping I can just plug one SIM in when in Ireland and then re-plug my old SIM in when I get back to the USA.
  8. macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2010
    A US T-Mobile sim is fine if your phone is locked to AT&T. If you can find one of those that is the easiest way to make sure the phone is unlocked. Just put it in your phone and follow the instructions until the phone is connected to T-Mobile.

    If you are certain the unlock process worked and don't have access to another sim then you can also wait until you get to Ireland. Just keep in mind that you will need WiFi the first time you use a foreign sim. If you test it before you leave then you won't need to find WiFi when you get to Ireland.

    The backup + restore is not necessary if you use a foreign sim to activate your phone using a WiFi network. The restore is only necessary if you don't have a foreign (non AT&T) sim and want to confirm the unlock process worked before you get there.
  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Thanks again for the help. So I just used swiftunlocks.com, got a notification email that my phone has been unlocked. Now I'll have to decide whether to bother buying a T-Mobile SIM card just to confirm that the unlock worked. I may just roll the dice.

    Another question...I'm worried that I'll be out of coverage and/or the iOS or Google maps apps will use up too much data when working as a GPS. The rental car will have a GPS, though, so I probably shouldn't bother with this, but...a while back (before Apple added turn-by-turn GPS to the iOS) I had bought Navigon (East Coast US). Does anyone know if it's possible to add the Ireland maps to that at a discounted price? I'm not seeing any in-app options for that. Navigon Europe seems to cost $100 on the App Store. If there isn't a much cheaper option than that, then I guess I'll just stick with the GPS that the rental car comes with and Yelp/Maps/Google Maps to find points of interest.
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    The instructions on swiftunlocks.com state for me to hook my iPhone up to my computer and launch iTunes, then remove the old SIM, then insert the new SIM and connect back to iTunes. I'm not sure if my daughter's phone has ever even been synced up with iTunes on her laptop, and we won't have her laptop with us on our trip. Is it really even necessary to bring iTunes into the equation? Or, assuming our phones were successfully unlocked, shouldn't we able to just insert the new Ireland SIMs into the phones once we get over there and everything should work?
  11. macrumors 604

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    The instructions about connecting to iTunes, removing sim, etc are pretty much the same as what I got from Verizon tech support to use my iPhone 4S in England.

    The instructions said you could either connect to itunes with internet connection or without iTunes as long as you had a wi-fi connection active.

    I did it with just a wi-fi connection in the self-catering flat and it worked fine.

    Might help you I hope.

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