My Euro travel experience with iPhone

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by due time, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. due time macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2007
    Santa Clara, CA
    So I spent a week in Germany with my iPhone, so I thought I'd share my experiences.

    I watched a 2hr movie on the airplane and still had half my battery left when I arrived - not too bad. I had turned off wi-fi, bluetooth, and put it in airplane mode of course, all of which I'm sure help conserve battery power.

    Before leaving I bought the 20MB for $25 int'l data package so I wouldn't be worried about the cost of every kb. I also reset my usage so I'd know exactly how much I was using. I was flying during the Super Bowl, so the first thing I did when I got there was check which rang up 750kb on one page view. I decided I'd better be cautious about too much browsing. It turns out by the end of the week, I'd only used 9MB total, so I shouldn't have worried. Just need to be a bit careful about which websites you visit.

    Cell phone coverage was fine, never had any problems with calls. As soon as I turned it on in the airport I immediately got two text messages, one from O2 welcoming me to Germany and giving instructions on using directory assistance and from ATT reminding me that int'l voice and data rates now apply. One cool iPhone feature is 'international assist'. The iPhone automatically adds the appropriate prefixes to dial internationally back to the US. So you just dial off your contact list as you would in the states. I never did try to call a local German phone number, so I didn't get to test out how that would work.

    I had mail set to upload only when I manually requested it and only did that once a day or so, no issues.

    The only real problem I had was riding on the train and trying to browse, send mail, or use the new locate me button. I found that when you switch from one cell carrier to the next, you have to reboot the iPhone to get data. While riding on the train, I was constantly switching between O2 and T-Mobile networks as the train went from one area to the next. So I continually had to reboot. Also, the 'locate me' feature didn't work reliably. I don't know if it was because I was moving inside the train, or just the cell phone signal was spotty, but it wasn't until we were stopped in a station that I finally got it. One time, it told me I was near Knotts Berry Farm in LA! but mostly it just gave me the 'I can't find you' type message. The next day while traveling by car, it seemed to work much better. My colleagues driving with me were utterly impressed with the 'GPS' and Google map capability.

    Just a useful tidbit of how to use the web to help you travel - not really an iPhone feature: I use the BACKPACKIT website to store my hotel and other random travel information all in one place, which makes it easy to navigate and recall everything. Of course you have to take the time to add the links to your BACKPACKIT site before you go for this to be effective. On the train I was wishing I had input the train schedule link so I'd know by the stations going by when my stop was coming up. I couldn't find the link (that my German colleague had sent me) by browsing since the train website was all in German.

    All in all I was very glad to have the cute little brick with me.
  2. Sobe macrumors 68000


    Jul 6, 2007
    Wash DC suburbs
    No no no, you're supposed to write how terrible the iPhone is for people who want to use it when they travel and how that makes them have to hack the phone and should therefore make Apple release unlocked phones.

    /sarcasm off

    Sounds like it faired pretty well overall, with a little work.

    How are the international phone rates? Not data, just normal phone use.

    Sounds like a fun trip, hope you had a good time.
  3. elmo151 Guest

    Jul 3, 2007
    useful commentary.
    I suspect that the train is moving too quickly between cell towers for locate to work properly.
  4. crusher macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2007
    Well, the iPhone just isn't supposed to work at speed of up to 300km/h (190MPH). You're just leaving and entering the cells too fast to get reliable location data. Certain parts of the trains are equipped with repeaters for better signal quality, but if you're just out-of-nowhere (which can happen even in high-dense populated Germany), connections may drop occasionally. On some lines between the big cities, T-Mobile and Deutsche Bahn have teamed up and offer WiFi (which uses UMTS-Antennas on the train for the connection). This is fairly reliable, but don't expect great speeds (around 20kByte/s).
  5. Stampyhead macrumors 68020


    Sep 3, 2004
    London, UK
    Cool, thanks for the info. I'm going to Europe this spring so it's good to know I don't have to turn the thing off while I'm there.
  6. due time thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2007
    Santa Clara, CA
    The train wasn't going anywhere near 300km/hr, probably 1/3 of that is my guess, i.e 60mph. It was an IC train, not an ICE.

    Note that driving in a car the next night at approximately the same speed it seemed to work better. I think it was just a random function of signal strength and timing.

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