What do you guys do about cell phones while travelling abroad for an extended period of time? I'm going to be staying in Japan for 9 months and everyone tells me to use a SIM card, but I'm not entirely sure how they work.
Once the phone is unlocked, can you just use any old SIM card from an electronics store? Does it have to be a specific one depending on my phone model and/or service provider?
Once the phone is unlocked, considering it is dual-band or matches the band that country actually uses, then the SIM card is like buying time on a local carrier, very much like a Cricket, Boost, or other no-contract phone company operates in the US on the charge-me-up kind of basis.
I also suggest you have a wifi capable phone if possible, and an App like Viber or Magicjack, and getting family/friends involved with that.
If your carrier does work in the country you wish to visit, sometimes it's less hassle to use it, and pay for some unlimited text messaging, and keep the phone turned off as your check-in device only. Think one-way outgoing, and 911 purposes, and you can control the costs. This isn't a bad idea if your goal is really just to occasionally use wifi on it, and text mom n dad that you got home safely each night, and where you'll be, check email and such. Then, use magicjack for actual calls.
Actually you should be looking at quad-bands if you want to travel the world over. Usually none of the western phones will work in Japan but the quad-band phones will work the world over.
This means you will need to get a new phone. My Canadian Samsung Galaxy S3 for example would not work in Australia or Europe, but the new S6 works everywhere (except Japan I believe).
>Does it have to be a specific one depending on my phone model and/or service provider?
It has to be a specific SIZE of SIM. However there are adapters and most SIMs that you buy will be in a kind of card that breaks off in several different sizes. Just check which one you need in your phone and break off shit until it fits.
90% are microSIMs these days. Basically, buy almost any random one and it will probably fit but regardless, just hand your phone to the shop and say you want a SIM for it, they'll get one that fits.
Forgive me if I'm asking a stupid question.... I'm planning a 1-year RTW trip (I won't be going to Japan). I will have to buy a new phone. Is there any advantage to buying a used unlocked phone and then buying SIM cards in each new country vs. buying a ~USD50 new phone plus an international SIM card (free incoming calls, outgoing calls @ USD0.25/minute) from a company like telestial.com or onesimcard.com? Thanks in advance!
>Why wouldn't the S6 work in Japan?
>90% are microSIMs
I think I meant that 90% are nanoSIMs.
>Once the phone is unlocked, can you just use any old SIM card from an electronics store?
Yes. At least in europe.
However there seem to be countries that use totally fucked up systems, like for example the US. When I was in SF last month, I got me a prepaid SIM with a few GB of data (holy fuck, is the US expensive!), but the price wasn't the worst part:
They needed my fucking IMEI to activate it, and on the first boot, i was greeted by a goddamn T-mobile splash-screen. I started an autistic rage right in the middle of best buy. The fucking provider should get his filthy hands of my phone!
Next time I go to the US, i just get me a burner phone, and make a wifi hotspot with it, or just eat up the $100 I will have to pay for roaming. No way that I am going to put a filthy US SIM card in my nice phone again.
>Forgive me if I'm asking a stupid question.... I'm planning a 1-year RTW trip
Anon it's relative to you. If you will be sheer moments in each country vs weeks on the ground, you would be buying something you needed only for your needs, and to know the answer to that is up to you, price it out for each country, or make a list here. Believe it or not, it's price controlled by country. If you will be in constant daily contact with home, you might like the international plan of your choice of carrier so incoming isn't so hard to get. Maybe you should be looking at unlimited texts as more important than calls, or maybe you will be doing a lot of data and will want wifi on the phone and a good source of wifi locally.
$50 seems a little crappy for a phone price, even a used one of any quality. I would assume $150 is your starting price point for unlocked and full features, and up to $350 depending on your deal finding (hey, lots of christmas upgrades just happened). As another anon said, if you got quad-band you might relax the most.
I don't know about the S6's specs; you'll have to look this up yourself. Japan uses the CDMA standard on the 2100 MHz band. If your S6 is a tri-band or quad-band model you should be OK, but -- again -- you'll need to check the specs. If your phone will work here, then it's a simple matter of going to Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, Yamada Denki, etc. (all big electronics stores) to buy a SIM card.
>When you put a foreign SIM card in your phone do you keep your same number? Like if my boss were to call my phone while I'm abroad would that call still come through?
You're retarded, ugly and wrong.
A SIM will have its own number. If you want your old number to work then you need what I was about to suggest, you also need global roaming or an international plan like other people have said already.
I routinely travel between two countries for work and sometimes various others. What I do is use a phone that has two SIM slots (Samsung Galaxy Core Max). One for my work SIM based in country A and if I go to another country, I sacrifice country B SIM and pop in a new one for that country.
My country A work SIM is always in the phone and 90% of the time, so is country B which is for friends/family. Most people don't actually call/SMS me, we use IMs to keep in touch and even make calls.
Whatever you do DO NOT talk to any phone company representatives in japan and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES sign a contract that you have not read 100% through.
Your best bet is to start a small contract with Sprint and get their international service. When it comes to international calling and travel you won't find a better company. Plus it's quite cheap
If that SIM card is synced with your same service provider yes it will still be the same number but they will have to dial the country code
If your phone is unlocked, you can just put in a new one and it will work.
If it's a smart phone, most use micro sd cards which are just unecessarily small versions of old sim cards, which were fine