International Roaming Data/Call Experience

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by nyc4lifedt, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. nyc4lifedt macrumors member

    Aug 19, 2009
    Recently took a trip to Europe and wanted to share some experiences with anyone looking to go overseas with the iPhone.

    I have iPhone 3GS, and traveled to France, Italy and Greece.

    First of all, 3G coverage seemed to be "better" than in the U.S. I live in New York City and even in the metropolitan area, I sometimes have a spotty AT&T service. But in all of the countries I mentioned, 3G coverage was excellent. I don't know if it was because the phone switched around carriers to connect to the best Network, but 3G coverage was great.

    In France, the phone connected to OrangeF. In Italy, connected to TIM, WIND, VodafonIT. In Greece, to WIND GR. (You can choose your own, or the phone searches automatically for you.)

    Before I left, I purchased the data package. ( for packages) I didn't know how much I would need, so I opted for 100MB plan for $119. I don't plan on keeping the package on my account, since I don't travel to Europe that often. Make sure that you time it correctly. It gets prorated, and I was about a week into my billing cycle, so my allowance was around 75MB.

    100MB seemed to be plenty. Towards the end of my stay, I had Data Roaming turned on, and even had fetch on as I do in the U.S. (I don't recommend doing this, I just had a lot of left over usage to use). You will not need such a big data allowance package, if you manage your usage under settings or myWireless AT&T app.

    Calls were calls. The quality wasn't better or worse than it was in the U.S., as anyone that I talked to didn't notice I was not in the U.S.. I didn't unlock my phone, so I didn't have a local sim card or a phone number. Even when I dialed someone out of my contacts, the phone automatically added +1 in front of the number. (Under settings, there's an option for International Dialing Assistance)

    I used GPS/Map a lot. That was my primary concern. I wanted to go around the foreign cities without a hard map. GPS worked great. It located exactly where I was and I was able to use it to get directions. Map uses a very little amount of 3G data, so even when I constantly had the GPS on, data usage didn't go crazy. Map downloads are small. Having the Location Service on drained a lot of battery. It lasted around 10 hours of hard usage, so have an extra battery or charger handy.

    There had been advices that you should use WiFi whenever possible and I tried doing that. However, as it is in the U.S., WiFis needed registration and most of the time they weren't free. Rather than looking for a hotspot, having the data roaming was convenient.

    Text messages were 50 cents sending and receiving. And since I didn't opt for a World Traveler plan, which is around $5 to lower the per minute costs, I made calls that were about a dollar per minute. Not cheap, but when traveling with a roaming phone, that's a given extra cost.

    Overall, using iPhone internationally worked great. Just make sure you plan well before you leave.
  2. bmcgrath macrumors 65816


    Oct 5, 2006
    London, United Kingdom
    European 3G coverage tends to be quite good compared to the US. Mainly because 3G has been around alot longer in European countries compared to the US. AFAIK some of the first 3G networks were set up in Europe in 2001 and from experience where I grew up in Ireland a mass push to 3G products happened in 2003.

    I think I remember reading a statistic that said 80% of the European population had 3G coverage.

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