Author Topic: Cell Phone while traveling abroad  (Read 3610 times)

HydroJim

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
  • Age: 23
Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« on: July 14, 2015, 01:04:36 PM »
Does anyone have any tips/tricks/ideas for cell phones while traveling internationally?

My girlfriend is going to India for 2 weeks and wants to be able to at least make international phone calls while she is there.

I figured it would be best for her to get a pre-paid phone when she gets there rather than attempt to bring her existing verizon smart phone over there.

I thought some travelers on these forums might have some information that could help. The information I'm finding online is not too easy to sift through and I have no experience in international travel.

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4022
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2015, 01:31:30 PM »
Look into either Truphone SIM or KnowRoaming (KnowRoaming is by far the cheapest of the two for India). Both could probably be used by the existing Verizon handset if it's a LTE handset with global GSM band support. That said, if she's got regular access to broadband WiFi, going VoIP will be by far the most cost effective method of use, especially calling back to the States. If she takes her smartphone, the cheapest and easiest options to use on that front is going to be some sort of bulk minutes calling packages on one of the following two providers: Localphone and Rebtel. There's also Truphone App that's just flat per minute rates. All three have apps that simplify setup and usage. If you can figure out how to use Skype... you'll be fine with all three of these, and get far cheaper rates to boot.

I would also recommend downloading offline maps for the area she's visiting in advance if she uses GPS a lot, and disabling background and mobile app data for everything else except maybe email. That'll help save a boatload in data costs as well.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 01:42:27 PM by I.P. Daley »

Capsu78

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 722
  • Location: Chicagoland
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2015, 01:35:58 PM »
Not the least expensive way, but pretty reliable- I set up my existing phone plan with a 30 day international plan.  I find I send many more texts than actually use the phone to make calls.  Perfect for checking in with those concerned about you.

OTOH, I have seen way too many people scrambling to find SIM cards when language is an issue etc.  Reliable communications more important to me.

IP Daley knows much more than I do, but if I am not traveling with him I don't want to waste a minute overseas with setting up new aps.

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4022
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 01:38:45 PM »
IP Daley knows much more than I do, but if I am not traveling with him I don't want to waste a minute overseas with setting up new aps.

Good thing all my suggested options can be set up and tested Stateside before leaving then, eh? ;)

HydroJim

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
  • Age: 23
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2015, 01:49:35 PM »
Details that may be pertinent: She speaks at least one of the languages they speak in India so buying a phone there wouldn't be hard. Her family is from India. I'm a little ignorant of Indian culture but I'm learning. She has traveled there with her family before and this is her first time going by herself. She needs the phone to be able to communicate with family members while she is there to coordinate airport pickups, emergencies, etc.

She currently has a Samsung Galaxy S5 on Verizon Wireless. I explored their international options and they want like $40 for 100 minutes and 100 sent texts. It's an option but I don't even know how that would work over there. It's a CDMA phone and from what I read online, India has a GSM network.

She will have internet and wifi for international calls while she is there. It's more the local calling that I'm trying to help her with.

My original vision was of a prepaid "throwaway" cell phone that she could buy when she got there and use for the two weeks.

Thanks everyone for their input thus far.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2999
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2015, 01:53:39 PM »
If she is going to have wifi or even a mifi device while there, you should look into Google Hangouts for her. It's pretty useful even for local calling - the international rates are pretty reasonable:
https://www.google.com/voice/b/0/rates?hl=en&p=hangout

Basically, she'd be dialing India "internationally" so would have to add the prefixes as if she was dialing from the US. This should be no problem and, assuming a decent wifi connection, call quality should be good.

I used Google Hangouts this way in Korea and it was pretty useful. The only thing that could be quirky is receiving any calls.

Capsu78

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 722
  • Location: Chicagoland
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2015, 02:09:22 PM »
She currently has a Samsung Galaxy S5 on Verizon Wireless. I explored their international options and they want like $40 for 100 minutes and 100 sent texts. It's an option but I don't even know how that would work over there. It's a CDMA phone and from what I read online, India has a GSM network.

Hydro,
That's pretty similar to what I pay for my ATT add on..I would ask the Verizon rep "Is this going to work in India?" 

IP Daley- I can't get my phone dialed in on this side of the pond half the time!  You Da Man ;-)


Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4022
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2015, 03:55:16 PM »
She currently has a Samsung Galaxy S5 on Verizon Wireless. I explored their international options and they want like $40 for 100 minutes and 100 sent texts. It's an option but I don't even know how that would work over there. It's a CDMA phone and from what I read online, India has a GSM network.

The same way KnowRoaming works over there, they're roaming onto GSM networks using the GSM/LTE network support on the phone.

Here's the specs on the Galaxy S5 - note the support for GSM 900/1800 bands and WCDMA (HSPA) 900/2100 bands which are all GSM bands used in India. Verizon might be a CDMA network, but LTE technology is GSM-based (thus the SIM cards for LTE service), and the LTE band that Verizon bought in the United States from the FCC for service requires the SIM slot be carrier unlocked. This means you can buy the KnowRoaming SIM sticker, apply it over the Verizon SIM card, put it back in the phone, and install the KnowRoaming app to toggle between Verizon and KnowRoaming any time you like. It's a bit of a chunk of change up front ($30), but it comes with $10 in airtime, and PAYGO through KnowRoaming at around 21-25˘/minute/SMS/MB (depending on destination and service - it's cheaper/more expensive depending on the country) may not be much cheaper than Verizon's roaming package in India, but it's PAYGO and it comes with data access and free incoming texts as well. What she doesn't use in credit can be saved for another trip later as unused balance rolls over for as long as 15 months of account inactivity. She even has the option of setting KnowRoaming up to have her Verizon calls forwarded to their roaming service.

This will probably be cheaper and more convenient in the bigger picture than shopping for a burner phone over there, but even if you want to go that route, she can still just pick up a local SIM card and stick it in her existing smartphone and still have it work with no muss and fuss, she just has to pull her Verizon SIM and switch over to GSM network service in the phone settings menu. But it'll work for the same reason that Verizon can roam in India without a CDMA network and why I recommended KnowRoaming as a good international roaming option. No sense generating more electronic waste. Trust me, I'm smarter than your average bear with this stuff.

And for the record, it also means that that shiny Galaxy S5 could be taken to any AT&T or T-Mobile based MVNO here in the States to potentially save money as well (not just Verizon MVNOs like Selectel), and still do the same KnowRoaming trick to enable international roaming support.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 03:56:56 PM by I.P. Daley »

Daley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4022
  • Location: Cow country. Moo.
  • Got that mustache feeling.
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2015, 04:03:12 PM »
She will have internet and wifi for international calls while she is there. It's more the local calling that I'm trying to help her with.

One last bit. This one. If she's got internet and WiFi access, going VoIP with Localphone, Rebtel or Truphone App over using something like KnowRoaming even for calling there in India will still be cheaper. VoIP is always cheaper than mobile network calls. If she has the option due to free internet access, and it's easy to use...

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2999
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2015, 04:13:38 PM »
She will have internet and wifi for international calls while she is there. It's more the local calling that I'm trying to help her with.

One last bit. This one. If she's got internet and WiFi access, going VoIP with Localphone, Rebtel or Truphone App over using something like KnowRoaming even for calling there in India will still be cheaper. VoIP is always cheaper than mobile network calls. If she has the option due to free internet access, and it's easy to use...

Agree with this. Voip will almost always be cheaper. If she needs a constant connection, renting a portable wifi (MIFI) device might even be well-worth it. But if she can just live off whatever internet or wifi is available, that's really going to be her cheapest option.

rpr

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 652
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2015, 04:14:28 PM »
My understanding is that getting your own phone will be hard since most legit places are required to verify address of the user. As a visitor, this will be difficult to supply and verify. Not sure if it is possible to get one either at the airport or at a good hotel by showing your foreign passport. One option is to ask a friend or relative in India to buy a cheap Nokia/Moto prepaid phone with SIM and let you borrow. That is usually what I do if I'm in India for a while. It's been a while since I was in India but I recall that WiFi wasn't as common.

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1685
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2015, 04:29:01 PM »
For others who do international travel, you might consider tmobile.  My teen has their simple choice no contract plan.  It includes text and data in 115 countries.  She is doing volunteer work for the month in China and she did not need to do anything at all to use her phone there.  Her phone is working great.  If she wants to talk, it's 20 cents a minute...but she's a teen, she prefers texting.  Also, she can do FaceTime with no charge if she wants to video talk.

mschaus

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 153
  • Location: Chicago
    • blog
Re: Cell Phone while traveling abroad
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2015, 08:20:43 AM »
Another vote to be sure to turn off cellular roaming data—be extra careful because Verizon charges $2,100/GB for roaming data if you don’t have a special international data pack. (AT&T is less “generous” and charges $21,000/GB—both numbers are unbelievable).

I like to just turn off data roaming but keep my cell connection active, and forward all calls to voicemail. This lets me send/receive text messages and make a call if I really need to. Cost is super low that way if you don’t need to use the phone much. Google Maps can cache maps offline for a pretty large area now.

I actually just wrote up more details on this subject with the focus on AT&T iPhones, so hopefully it can help some people here:
http://mschausprojects.blogspot.com/2015/07/how-to-travel-internationally-with-iphone.html

Tell her to enjoy the trip!