ATTENTION U.S. iPhone users! Best network?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by peanutismint, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. peanutismint macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #1
    I live in the UK where we're able to unlock our iPhones freely. Luckily.

    I'm visiting the States later this month and would like to use my iPhone 4 whilst over there - I've obviously unlocked it already so hope to buy a US SIM card and start using my phone right away.

    Can anyone suggest a decent carrier to go with? It'll have to be a prepay card rather than contract - I'll probably want some free minutes to call other friends' mobiles whilst in the US (friends who are with me as opposed to calling mobiles back in the UK!) along with some texts and loooots of 3G data usage for browsing the web and tweeting while I'm on the move.

    Any suggestions?? I'll be in Southern California if that makes any difference re. coverage etc....
     
  2. Big-TDI-Guy, Jul 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011

    Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030

    Big-TDI-Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    #2
    Problem for you - only half of our networks are compatible with yours.

    Inquire with your carrier, though I understand contracts and carriers operate VERY differently in your neck of the woods.

    When I went overseas - my phone company changed my plan, and gave me some Orange SIM card to use while I was there - once I got back, popped back my old SIM and that was that. I'm not sure if it works in reverse.

    I'd guess that ATT is the big GSM fish here, and Verizon is the big CDMA fish. (that you likely can't use)

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=958597
     
  3. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #3
    I'm with a provider called O2 - I don't think they have any 'sister networks' in the States, but I could be wrong - I mentioned I was going to the States whilst on the phone to their customer services the other day and the lady didn't mention anything about being able to use a different network....


    I have heard good things about AT&T - what's the difference btwn GSM and CDMA? Is that what you mean when you say only half your networks will work with my phone? Different radio band or something??
     
  4. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #5
    Hmm cool, so as suspected it's probably AT&T (or Verizon....)

    Is it easy to get prepay SIM cards from them that work with iPhone and allow mobile data/internet??
     
  5. benhollberg macrumors 68020

    benhollberg

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #6
    I assume you have a GSM iPhone. If yes then AT&T is your option because Verizon is CDMA and doesn't use SIMs. You could go with T-Mobile, probably cheaper but not sure, but you would just have to cut your own SIM since they don't offer micro-sim.
     
  6. Dandrews524 macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    New York
    #7
    youve been lied to, mate
     
  7. benhollberg macrumors 68020

    benhollberg

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #8
    I don't have anything bad to say about AT&T.
     
  8. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #9
    hahahah fair enough, mate!

    Yeah I think it is GSM.....I don't think we have any other kind of networks in this country.... so do AT&T offer micro SIMs??
     
  9. benhollberg macrumors 68020

    benhollberg

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    #10
    Yes.
     
  10. Dandrews524 macrumors 6502

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    Jan 30, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    #11
    they certainly do. dont get me wrong at&t isnt terrible, and they do have high speeds than verizon, but overall coverage can be somewhat spotty in the states. since you need GSM i would def go with them over t mobile
     
  11. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030

    Big-TDI-Guy

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    #12
    Yes they offer Micro sims - as the Iphone 4 uses them.

    Late reply - CDMA is a different network protocol that's not a world standard adn entirely different from GSM. So if your phone uses a SIM card, safe bet it's not a CDMA. (though Verizon sells "world phones" that have both network capabilities)

    ATT is getting better - but my experience showed me that GSM coverage across the pond was much stronger. Due to the size of the US - the density of towers for a given area can't compete with the UK - so expect to have more dropped calls and coverage dead zones - but if you're not venturing into the sticks - you'll likely be fine.

    If you're asking whether or not ATT is a good carrier - expect the answer to that to be as meaningful as asking someone what flavor of ice cream is best. Depends on the individual and the conditions. But for GSM carriers - I do believe ATT is the big fish, numerically at least.

    That said, I did have better overall coverage (far fewer dropped calls) back in my Verizon days... then the iPhone came out in 2007 and I decided that shiny was more important than phone calls. Regretted it, but since then - ATT has improved (at least in my area), and I'm too lazy to switch carriers now...
     
  12. NJuul macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    Boston
    #13
    If you are only here briefly, T-mobile is probably cheaper (and I think ATT requires a two-year contract, even on their pre-paid plans).
    With T-mobile, just go into a store, get a pre-paid sim, put some bucks on it, and have them cut the sim in the store to fit the phone (yes, they do that). Expect to pay around $50 for a month, if you want any kind of data on it. And I don't think the 3G net works on your iPhone, only EDGE. Something about them using a slightly different version.
     
  13. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #14
    Yeah well by the sounds of things, as I can only use GSM providers, they're the best of a bad bunch. Just looking at their site, seems I can get a 'GoPhone' plan which is pay-as-you-go (or what you guys call 'prepay' over there); they have a $50 which gets me unlimited texts and nationwide calls, but confusingly although it also says 'unlimited data' it says smartphone users have to pay extra? I guess it's just their way to weasel an extra few bones out of people as they think nobody's gonna wanna browse the internet via GPRS on their Nokia 3210 :)
     
  14. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #15
    Okay, so are T-Mobile GSM rather than CDMA? And as for your point about 3G networks - is that the case with all US networks? Or just T-Mobile? If i had the choice, I'd obviously rather use a provider who offered 3G......
     
  15. BHP41 macrumors 6502a

    BHP41

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    United States of America
    #16
    AT&T. Plain and simple. You have a GSM iPhone so you're stuck with att or tmobile. Why in the world would you want to go through all the hassle of trying to get a sim card cut(some may do it, not all) while you're on vacation just to be stuck with slow ass EDGE data????

    With ATT you'll have full use of your iPhone just as you would at home. It may be cheaper on tmobile but we're not talking hundreds of dollars and I would much rather have my iPhone the way it's supposed to be than dealing eighths hassle of tmobile.

    Spend the extra few bucks, you'll be glad you did.
     
  16. I LOVE HUNG, Jul 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  17. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #18
    Yeah to be honest at this rate I'm willing to just throw money at the problem til it goes away :-D I've saved up quite a bit for this little holiday anyway, would be nice to be able to tweet photos from the road to the folks back home.

    Will head to an AT&T retailer when I touch down, hopefully they'll be able to help me out. Thanks for all the help guys!!
     
  18. wxman2003 Suspended

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2011
    #19
    We could probably give you better answers if we knew what general areas you are visiting. that way those that live in those areas could give you better advice.
     
  19. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #20
    I'll be spending the majority of my time in a small town near San Diego in California, probably heading north to the LA/Anaheim areas for a few days; I realise coverage may be spotty out in the boonies ;-) but should be more than adequate towards the cities?? And as somebody mentioned before, your country's a whole lot bigger than ours, hence less towers/worse coverage....
     
  20. TEG macrumors 604

    TEG

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2002
    Location:
    Langley, Washington
    #21
    Here is what you want to do...

    You will want to go to a US Store, like Radio Shack or even an at&t Store, and buy a Go Phone (pre-paid), and don't mention that you have an iPhone, but make sure to get a Go Phone that is a Smart Phone. Then cut the sim on your own, put it in your phone, and you should be all set. Never mention to at&t that you have an iPhone, because they will try to force you into a two-year contract.

    You can use T-Mobile, but they use different frequencies for 3G, so you would be stuck at EDGE speeds.

    There are a couple of other GSM (World) networks, most of them Pay-as-you-Go, but they vary greatly from market to market.

    TEG
     
  21. awadeee macrumors 68020

    awadeee

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Location:
    Viper City
    #22
    You will have to use AT&T or T-Mobile. You can't use Verizon since their CDMA protocol isn't compatible with your iPhone and getting a phone on Verizon isn't as simple as a SIM swap.

    If you use T-Mobile you will have to cut the SIM down to fit the iPhone 4 and you will be stuck on EDGE (2G) data.
     
  22. peanutismint thread starter macrumors 6502

    peanutismint

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #23
    Hahah, despite the fact that I'm only there for three weeks....?!

    Ok I'll think about doing that - how about these other GSM 'world' providers? Do they work with iPhones? Mobile web browsing on 3G? If so, any suggestions of good ones??
     
  23. tbayrgs, Jul 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011

    tbayrgs macrumors 603

    tbayrgs

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #24
    Let me try to summarize for you as everyone here, while providing tons helpful info, has been somewhat incomplete.

    First, there are 4 major carriers (and a bunch of regional carriers who often piggyback the major carrier's networks): AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. AT&T and T-Mobile utilize GSM/UMTS for their networks while Verizon and Sprint use CDMA/EVDO for theirs.

    The reason you haven't heard of CDMA is because it's used in very few place around the globe, none of which are in Europe so, let's just disregard any carriers using it as your iPhone will not work with them--that would be Verizon and Sprint.

    AT&T, until this past February, was the only carrier of the iPhone here in the US and thus their network is fully compatible with the iPhone (voice and 3G data). T-Mobile also uses GSM frequencies that are compatible with the iPhone but this is only for voice--they have different frequencies for their 3G data network so as NJuul stated, data would be transferred at EDGE speeds (another tech unique to the States as I believe I read that Europe skipped this intermediate step and went straight to 3G). If you plan on using a lot of data, using EDGE would be excruciating for you (think dial-up modem speeds). So yes you'll be able to use your iPhone on T-Mobile but you won't like using data.

    That leaves AT&T as your ONLY option if you need voice and 3G data. Here's a link to their GoPhone prepaid plans webpage. As you'll see, prepaid data (required for a smartphone) is pretty steep ($15 for 100 MB, $25 for 500 MB) though probably cheaper than what you'd pay using your home carrier overseas.

    If you think you'll have access to a lot of Wifi, T-Mobile is best, otherwise you're best/only real choice is AT&T.
     
  24. BHP41 macrumors 6502a

    BHP41

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Location:
    United States of America
    #25
    When do you leave out? I'm going by ATT Saturday, I can ask some questions for you.
     

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