Using iPhone for extended stay out of U.S.

caoimhin

macrumors member
Original poster
May 11, 2006
57
41
Dublin
I will be living outside of the U.S. for one year (in Dublin, specifically). The most confounding part of the trip is trying to find a practical and simple way to use my mobile phone for data services, such that I will be able to "pick up where I left off" when I return home for holidays and at the end of my stay. The criteria I'd like to satisfy are as follows:

1. Once unlocked, I'd like to continue to use my iPhone with an Irish carrier. Seems simple enough. Unlock the phone with my current carrier (pay the fee), and pop in a new SIM from an Irish carrier.

2. Keep my current U.S. number "alive" so that I can return to it when I'm back in the U.S. This also seems easy enough; I can suspend the number and pay a nominal monthly fee to keep the number in my possession while inactive.

and finally...

3. I'd like to seamlessly communicate with the contacts I already have. This is impossible with non-iOS users; I'll have to give them a new phone number. But what about iMessage users? If I use my iPhone with the Irish SIM, will iMessage users still receive messages from my name in their contacts? Do I need to provide them with my email address for this to work, or will iMessage manage all of this via my Apple ID?

All the best.
 

timeconsumer

macrumors 68000
Aug 1, 2008
1,771
1,427
Portland
I will be living outside of the U.S. for one year (in Dublin, specifically). The most confounding part of the trip is trying to find a practical and simple way to use my mobile phone for data services, such that I will be able to "pick up where I left off" when I return home for holidays and at the end of my stay. The criteria I'd like to satisfy are as follows:

1. Once unlocked, I'd like to continue to use my iPhone with an Irish carrier. Seems simple enough. Unlock the phone with my current carrier (pay the fee), and pop in a new SIM from an Irish carrier.

2. Keep my current U.S. number "alive" so that I can return to it when I'm back in the U.S. This also seems easy enough; I can suspend the number and pay a nominal monthly fee to keep the number in my possession while inactive.

and finally...

3. I'd like to seamlessly communicate with the contacts I already have. This is impossible with non-iOS users; I'll have to give them a new phone number. But what about iMessage users? If I use my iPhone with the Irish SIM, will iMessage users still receive messages from my name in their contacts? Do I need to provide them with my email address for this to work, or will iMessage manage all of this via my Apple ID?

All the best.
1 and 2 is exactly what I would do in your situation.

As far as iMessage goes they can iMessage your new number or your Apple ID. Keep in mind a lot of people have the setting to send as text if iMessage is unable to be sent. Due to this it could cost extra depending on what carrier they use and their plan. So based on that I would recommend they just send to your email address that you have listed in Messages under "send and receive"

For non-iPhone users you could register for google voice and have them text you there as google voice uses data for you while appearing to be a normal text message to the other user.
 

0970373

Suspended
Mar 15, 2008
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I will be living outside of the U.S. for one year (in Dublin, specifically). The most confounding part of the trip is trying to find a practical and simple way to use my mobile phone for data services, such that I will be able to "pick up where I left off" when I return home for holidays and at the end of my stay. The criteria I'd like to satisfy are as follows:

1. Once unlocked, I'd like to continue to use my iPhone with an Irish carrier. Seems simple enough. Unlock the phone with my current carrier (pay the fee), and pop in a new SIM from an Irish carrier.

2. Keep my current U.S. number "alive" so that I can return to it when I'm back in the U.S. This also seems easy enough; I can suspend the number and pay a nominal monthly fee to keep the number in my possession while inactive.

and finally...

3. I'd like to seamlessly communicate with the contacts I already have. This is impossible with non-iOS users; I'll have to give them a new phone number. But what about iMessage users? If I use my iPhone with the Irish SIM, will iMessage users still receive messages from my name in their contacts? Do I need to provide them with my email address for this to work, or will iMessage manage all of this via my Apple ID?

All the best.
1) Easy to do once phone is unlocked. Three has taken over O2 in Ireland and I find their pay as you go service to be just fine when I've used it traveling there.

2) I've done this easily. Just call the carrier and let them know you're going to be out of town for a few months. You'll pay a small fee I think. I was with AT&T at the time but I think all carriers do this.

3) WhatsApp or Telegram is what I use w/ non-iOS users. iOS users can still get iMessages from your Irish SIM. Once they've added your new number or if they use your email address, they can iMessage you back.
 
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niji

Contributor
Feb 9, 2003
1,464
1,167
tokyo
iMessage using the address/numbers in Contacts:

1 in order to avoid telephone numbers (not necessarily iMessage related) problems, its always best to input all phone numbers, even the USA numbers starting with the + country code. even if you are calling within the country it works fine as a local call from within the country and it is also good to use when calling to that country from a different country.
all my numbers no matter what country always include the country code.

2 iMessages: while abroad, sending an iMessage to a number in the USA: if you have only entered the USA numbers starting with the area code then iMessage can not be used by trying to send to the phone number. it won't send as an iMessage or as an SMS.
but you can of course send iMessages from abroad to any iMessage receiver using their apple ID if you know their apple ID.
however, i (think) that as long as you are replying to an already present thread from that user, even if they have set the preference to show their ID as their phone number, then if you replying within that thread, even if it is their USA number (showing up in your contacts only as starting with area code), it would still reach them since probably apple is appending that +1 for you or, simply actually sending to their associated apple ID anyway.
 
Last edited:

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,349
934
Baltimore, Maryland
My recent experience with a SIM card from "Three" in London was bad with iMessage. Everyone that normally sends iMessages to your phone number will be put out.

In my case it was all personal contacts as my business line is a Google Voice number and I had zero problems with that.
 

niji

Contributor
Feb 9, 2003
1,464
1,167
tokyo
My recent experience with a SIM card from "Three" in London was bad with iMessage. Everyone that normally sends iMessages to your phone number will be put out.
yes. which is why people who travel internationally would be better served by asking their contacts to use your apple ID so that no matter what SIM card you have in yr iPhone there isn't any problem.

additionally, if you associate your USA number with your apple ID in the apple ID app, then it doesn't make any difference anyway because even if your contact is using your currently non used mobile number, apple will always use your apple ID to sense your presence anyway / anytime you are on line either through WIFI or via cellular data.
 

0970373

Suspended
Mar 15, 2008
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My recent experience with a SIM card from "Three" in London was bad with iMessage. Everyone that normally sends iMessages to your phone number will be put out.

In my case it was all personal contacts as my business line is a Google Voice number and I had zero problems with that.
Put out as in annoyed that they had to tap twice to add a new number to your contact card? Interesting.
 

BrianBaughn

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2011
6,349
934
Baltimore, Maryland
Put out as in annoyed that they had to tap twice to add a new number to your contact card? Interesting.
Yes! Somewhat. That's probably the worst thing they could do. When the SIM card is changed back to the original their messages to the UK number aren't going anywhere, since I can only have one phone number associated with my iMessages.

Also, if they start using an iMessage email address their messages won't go via SMS if iMessage fails, as far as I know.

I found that even if I set the preferences for my outgoing Messages to originate from an email, they didn't...sometimes.

Just so everyone knows...I don't expect these things to work perfectly.
 

AndrewR23

macrumors 68040
Jun 24, 2010
3,853
1,003
anyone know if a sim free iPhone 6 can be serviced anywhere in the world at an apple store since its the same model number that they sell overseas?
 

ucfgrad93

macrumors P6
Aug 17, 2007
17,534
8,157
Colorado
I will be living outside of the U.S. for one year (in Dublin, specifically). The most confounding part of the trip is trying to find a practical and simple way to use my mobile phone for data services, such that I will be able to "pick up where I left off" when I return home for holidays and at the end of my stay. The criteria I'd like to satisfy are as follows:

1. Once unlocked, I'd like to continue to use my iPhone with an Irish carrier. Seems simple enough. Unlock the phone with my current carrier (pay the fee), and pop in a new SIM from an Irish carrier.

2. Keep my current U.S. number "alive" so that I can return to it when I'm back in the U.S. This also seems easy enough; I can suspend the number and pay a nominal monthly fee to keep the number in my possession while inactive.

and finally...

3. I'd like to seamlessly communicate with the contacts I already have. This is impossible with non-iOS users; I'll have to give them a new phone number. But what about iMessage users? If I use my iPhone with the Irish SIM, will iMessage users still receive messages from my name in their contacts? Do I need to provide them with my email address for this to work, or will iMessage manage all of this via my Apple ID?

All the best.
My daughter is in Spain for 18 months. She got her iPhone unlocked before she left and is using a local SIM card there. We stay in touch with FaceTime and WhatsApp. Works like a charm.
 

0970373

Suspended
Mar 15, 2008
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Yes! Somewhat. That's probably the worst thing they could do. When the SIM card is changed back to the original their messages to the UK number aren't going anywhere, since I can only have one phone number associated with my iMessages.

Also, if they start using an iMessage email address their messages won't go via SMS if iMessage fails, as far as I know.

I found that even if I set the preferences for my outgoing Messages to originate from an email, they didn't...sometimes.

Just so everyone knows...I don't expect these things to work perfectly.
I didn't have any problems like that. I was overseas for 3 months and got a local SIM with a new number. Everyone had my email but I also asked them to add my new local number, not to delete my US # though. It worked just fine. Though I've had different probs w/ iMessage on my home network with my US # so it's def not perfect. haha

As for SMS to email, no, iMessage won't convert a failed message to SMS if it's addressed to an email as it's now a cellular relay.
 
Last edited:

caoimhin

macrumors member
Original poster
May 11, 2006
57
41
Dublin
Thanks to all for the suggestions. I've been hearing that Three is the recommended carrier, so I'm hoping that Brian's negative experience was an aberration. I'll post again after a week of using the new number and communicating with my usual contacts and report any abnormalities. Maybe this thread can be useful to other users in the future. As much as I love iMessage's apparent simplicity, I really can't always wrap my head around the way it works.
 

0970373

Suspended
Mar 15, 2008
2,726
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Thanks to all for the suggestions. I've been hearing that Three is the recommended carrier, so I'm hoping that Brian's negative experience was an aberration. I'll post again after a week of using the new number and communicating with my usual contacts and report any abnormalities. Maybe this thread can be useful to other users in the future. As much as I love iMessage's apparent simplicity, I really can't always wrap my head around the way it works.
What I've found that works best is if you turn off iMessage, power down your phone, insert the new SIM and then power up and turn iMessage back on and then log into your iCloud account under Messages. Best of luck!
 

caoimhin

macrumors member
Original poster
May 11, 2006
57
41
Dublin
Thanks again for all of these suggestions. Just over 2 months in, I wanted to report back with my experience in the event that it helps anyone else.

1. I paid the fee to unlock the device with AT&T.
2. On arrival, I purchased a SIM with a new carrier (Three--who incidentally have a €20/month unlimited data plan, which has been fantastic. No LTE though.).
3. All of my contacts using iOS were seamlessly accessible through iMessage. By default, my phone was sending new iMessages from the new Irish number, so all of my contacts saw a new number. I needed to identify myself to those people.
4. For contacts who sent me an iMessage, most appeared as only a phone number on the lock screen (and as a full contact name only in the contact). This was, as was indicated in a post above, because I needed to update their contact profile with the international number format for US numbers (adding +1).

That was it. Easy as could be. I chose to keep my US number active, just on a much less expensive plan. I wanted the ability to swap SIM cards out when I return home for holidays.