Question for U.S. based world travelers ...

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by cmeisenzahl, May 14, 2017.

  1. cmeisenzahl macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2005
    Daughter leaves for a summer internship in London in a couple weeks, 10 weeks long. She has an iPhone SE that I imagine is unlocked as I bought it outright. We're on an AT&T family plan.

    What's the best strategy for her over there wrt phone use. Get her a local/England SIM card for her phone? Is that something I should buy online ahead of time? Or have her buy when she gets there? Any words of wisdom? Or things to watch out for? We've never done this before.

    Thanks very much in advance,
  2. chscag macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    First, make sure the phone is unlocked. You can probably give AT&T customer service a call and find out. Buying the phone outright does not necessarily mean it's unlocked. If the phone is unlocked, she can buy a sim card when she gets to London. Someone from the UK can likely provided better information for that option.
  3. sbuntin macrumors regular


    Aug 2, 2011
    Portland OR
    AT&T has international roaming, but... $10 per day.

    I'd recommend she get a local SIM when she arrives. Most buy-beforehand SIMs and plans are woefully overpriced, and the 15 minutes on the ground to get a local SIM is time well spent. I believe most youngsters usage patterns are to mostly use data and text, not so much minutes. She should shop on that basis. For calls to home, she can presumably use FaceTime or Skype (thus avoiding using expensive International minutes).

    There is at least one (SIM Local, T2 international arrivals) and perhaps other shops in the airport. Most shops will install and activate the SIM for her.

    You should check with AT&T regarding lock status, though, as soon as possible. You should be able to do this online. See!/wireless/KM1008728 . Note step 10 - once AT&T approves the unlock (or it is already unlocked) she can just turn it off, replace the SIM, and turn it back on. The new SIM may have its own unlock code, distinct from the iPhone unlock code. If so, it will be printed on the card the SIM was attached to. She'll need to enter this whenever powering on the phone with the UK SIM. It can be turned off, somewhere in settings. I mention it because that could be a nasty surprise for a tired traveller.

    She should not remove the SIM before she leaves for safekeeping. That will render the phone useless until she gets another SIM, and this is not good for a traveling young person (or old for that matter).

    Two more tips - Learned these two the hard way:

    When she does replace the SIM with a local one, she should make sure to keep the old one safe. I usually tuck mine inside the phone case. Taping it to a card in her wallet (perhaps the one that comes with the new SIM) is an option.

    One last thing - send her with a SIM tool, or a paperclip. Makes it easy to swap back when she returns to the US. It is surprisingly difficult to find a SIM tool or paperclip in some airport terminals.

    And one more - if she has not already setup a good (more than 4 digits) passcode, Find my Phone, and thumbprint lock, she should do so before leaving.
  4. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    I would never pay AT&T for 10 weeks worth of roaming.
    That would cost you a fortune.
    Tell her to get a local sim there. She will get a UK number and will be able to get calls, texts and data for cheap.
    Also did you buy the phone full price from Apple or AT&T?
    If you got it from AT&T chances are it might still be locked so to be 100% stick another nonAT&T sim card inside to see if its locked or unlocked.
    If it says sim not supported its locked. If it activates and makes calls with the other carrier sim you're good.
  5. BrianBaughn macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2011
    Baltimore, Maryland
    I'm pretty sure she'll have to get a SIM and purchase a pay-as-you-go or monthly plan with cash as the providers won't accept a non-UK credit card. The providers' websites should have details on payment options for monthly but 10 weeks may not be worth the bother. Pay-as-you-go "top-up" credit codes can be purchased in many shops and are added to the account via the provider web site.

    She'll have a new number and everyone's going to have to learn it to iMessage her, although it seems like there's a thread here on how to have the iPhone retain the US number in Messages.

    10 weeks is a long time and you might check to see if you can temporarily suspend the account (and retain the number) with AT&T if that saves any money...and money might not be an issue on your family plan.

    I've used "Three" for service over there the last couple of times I visited and had no complaints.
  6. dylanursula macrumors 6502

    Jun 27, 2010
    I lived in the UK and now in the US and I highly recommend she buys a SIM in London. Check out Carphonewarehouse (CPW) or its competitors for pricing. You MAYBE able to even have it shipped to the address for the day she gets there or CPW's are a dime a dozen everywhere in Central London.
  7. awair macrumors regular

    Sep 6, 2011
    She should get a Three (3) PAYG SIM card from any Three store on the high street.

    Do not buy a top-up in advance, with each credit you get some free data (for 30 days?) Data & calls are much cheaper than US. Three does not block VoIP calls. There are no (airtime) charges for receiving calls in the UK.

    Consider using this in conjunction with (you) having a VoIP account setup with a UK number, her calls to you would then be considerably cheaper. Suggest for a free geographic DID (if you sign up in the UK).

    If she's tech savvy (use wifi), hard at work (no time) & sticking to a budget, this could cost you as little as $25 for 10 weeks (2 £10 top-ups).

    Good luck.

    Disclosure: I am a satisfied customer of both Three & Sipgate, have tried many of the others...
  8. jetsam macrumors 6502a

    Jul 28, 2015
    This is just my 2 cents (or 2 pence ;) )

    I was (am) hesitant to jump in on this, as all my information is second hand. However, I've followed a number of threads on this, as my wife is a regular visitor to the UK from the US. Since her employer has always been willing to reimburse her for an AT&T Passport plan, she's never actually needed to get a UK SIM. However, as the family nerd, it's up to me to tell her how to do it if the need arises.

    All that said, the advice that most UK people seem to give is the same as yours - go to one of the ubiquitous Car Phone Warehouse stores. The advice also is not to get a SIM at Heathrow, though they are available, and it might seem convenient. There seems to have been a number of problems doing that. This might be based on the fact that staff at the Heathrow kiosks figure they'll never see you again, so they don't really care if the SIM works right or not.
  9. awair macrumors regular

    Sep 6, 2011
    She'll need a UK number so that all the great people she meets can contact her on a local number.

    Agree, 100%
  10. michael9891 macrumors 65816

    Sep 26, 2016
    I'm not US based, I live in the UK and am on the Three network. For £20 a month, you can get 500 minutes & 3000 texts to any UK number and 12gb data. I've used my iPhone all round London with no problems whatsoever.

    Simply get a Three SIM card from a newsagent, supermarket etc and a £20 top up voucher. Ring the number on the receipt, credit the voucher and use it to select the £20, 30 day option. All very simple.
  11. cmeisenzahl thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2005

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10 May 14, 2017