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Roaming With an iPhone.

How to save money when traveling with an iPhone; the world's shortest guide: 57 words.

Simply follow these four steps:

1. If your iPhone is unlocked, skip to step two. If it's locked, you have three options:

  1. JaiIbreak and unlock
  2. Carrier unlock.
  3. Purchase a travel phone.

2. Get a SIM card data plan or turn off roaming.

3. Make sure your SIM card has attractive voice rates.

4. Configure your APN.

The ultimate iPhone roaming guide, with a detailed explanation of each of the four steps.

Because it is a "world phone," the iPhone is a great choice for travelers. It can connect with almost any network, virtually everywhere there's a cellular signal. (Many cheaper phones only work in certain countries.) The iPhone's ability to run apps also makes it a valuable traveling companion. You can get GPS enabled directions, translations or play games while waiting to make a connection.

Unfortunately, because it is expensive, most people purchase their iPhone on a contract and most carriers lock the phone for the length of the contract. That means you're forced to pay outrageous roaming fees - which can easily add up to thousands of dollars - or purchase your carrier's travel plans: which are still incredibly expensive. (Making local calls while overseas still costs you .99 a minute, while with the right International SIM card they are free.) And you still pay hundreds of dollars for less than a gigabyte of data.

Even though carriers can lock your iPhone, they can't prevent you from using international SIM cards to save money on talk, text and data. To determine which SIM card is best for you, simply follow these four steps.

1. If your phone is unlocked, skip to step two. If it's locked, you have three options.

A. Jailbreak and unlock

Some people love their jailbroken iPhones, but it's the most complicated option. Also, jailbreaking can cause other problems: potentially voiding the warranty and reducing battery life. A tethered jailbreak is temporary. (Your phone will relock when you upgrade the operating system.)

If you want to jail break your phone, it's easy to find instructional videos on the Internet. It's also easy to find someone to do a jailbreak for you. Simply search the term "jailbreak iPhone" in your neighborhood. After jailbreaking, download a recommended app to unlock your phone.

We are continually investigating jail breaking options for our customers but at this time we are unable to identify a procedure that is consistently convenient and reliable. Mostly importantly, because so many people are unhappy with the performance of their jailbroken iPhone, we are unable to recommend jail breaking at this time.

B. Have your carrier unlock your iPhone.

If you can get your carrier to do it, this is an attractive option. A carrier unlock is different from a jailbreak. It maintains all the iPhone's power management features, but allows you to insert any SIM card.

Unfortunately, most carriers will only unlock your phone once your contract expires. Their fee can also be expensive. Contact your carrier for details. (Although we have heard reports that many carriers do not train their staff on their unlocking policies. In other words, the person you talk to may not even know their employer unlocks iPhones. So you may need to research your carrier's exact policy and be persistent.)

C. Purchase an unlocked Android world phone.

Also an attractive option. On a single trip, you can save more than enough to pay for an Android travel phone. While Android functionality isn't identical to iOS, it is similar. iPhone owners should find the Android interface intuitive and easy to learn. In fact, we know several people - including application developers - who prefer using an Android travel phone to an unlocked iPhone: mainly because of the superior battery life. (Recharging your batteries is even more inconvenient on the road than it is at home.)

You can find a good, brand new unlocked Android world phone for $199. (For sake of comparison that's the cost of 10 MBs of roaming data. An iPhone can easily use 10 MBs in a day or two. AT&T's largest international data plan is 800 MBs for $199. Overage is $10/10 MBs. So 1GB in France costs $399. You can buy a 1 GB France Data Plan for $59. So buying an Android travel phone and France SIM Card Data Plan actually saves you $141 on your first trip. Plus you keep the phone: on your second trip you save $340.)

An added bonus of owning an Android travel phone is that you can run apps unavailable in the app store. Many Android apps are also cheaper than their iOS version. (For example, Angry Birds is free, with ads, on Android.)

2. Get a data plan, or turn off roaming.

In general, there are three types of monthly data plans:

  1. Heavy usage: 500 MB plus
  2. Convenience: 20 MB - 200 MB
  3. Pay per use.

An iPhone automatically downloads data. Traveling without a data plan, or without turning off data roaming, practically guarantees you a huge bill. You'll also find, that even if you're careful with your usage and don't watch video, your iPhone will gobble up a small data plan quickly.

We recommend an International Data Plan of at least 500 MB per month for iPhone users, or turn off data roaming. (Settings > General > Network > Data Roaming (off) )

3. Make sure your SIM card has attractive voice and texting rates.

Even with a great data plan, voice and text charges can add up. The vast majority of your communication will probably be in country - phoning your hotel, making a restaurant reservation - or back home. Look for competitive local rates and rates back to North America.

4. Configure your APN.

The Access Point Name tells your iPhone which network to connect to. So, when you're using a UK SIM card, you need to configure the APN to connect to the UK network. You can configure the APN (Setting > General > Profile.) You can find APN settings for different carrier's online.

As a value added service to our customers, Brightroam will email you the correct APN profile for your international SIM card. There's nothing to look up. Simply click and install. (If you'd like us to email you the APN for your iPhone, simply add an International SIM Card to your cart.) Select the microSIM option and add the International Data Plan you require. Contact our customer service team (1-888-505-4949) after checking out. We'll gladly email you the APN you need for your trip.)

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