A Complete Guide to Using Your iPhone Abroad: For Dummies

The Budget-Minded Traveler

This whole information to utilizing your iPhone* abroad consists of complete particulars, such that even the least tech-savvy individuals can be in a position to use their smartphones overseas by following the directions under.

Up to date June 2018.

On this information, we’ll go over:

1. Airplane mode and Wi-Fi
2. Using iMessage and FaceTime abroad
three. Greatest apps for texting abroad
four. Using worldwide SIM playing cards together with your American iPhone
5. Locked v unlocked telephones
6. Should-have journey equipment in your iPhone
7. Including worldwide service to your present cellular phone plan
eight. Freezing your present cellular phone plan
9. Maintaining your US telephone quantity even when you cancel your service
10. Overview of the perfect cellular phone plans for vacationers
11. Dumbphones: Shopping for an affordable worldwide cellphone

*Android customers, whereas your actual Settings directions will differ a bit from the iPhone’s Settings directions detailed on this publish, the concepts are precisely the identical.

Learn it, reserve it, pin it, share it. Assist me allow you to and your mates to be sensible together with your cellphone invoice whenever you journey.

First, what sort of traveler are you?

When you have no concept what you have to be doing together with your iPhone overseas, begin right here to determine which elements of this information apply instantly to you.

A – Brief-Time period Traveler: You’re happening a one-time brief journey (lower than a month) and also you need Wi-Fi functionality to communicate with household and pals or verify Fb, e mail, publish to Instagram, and so on., however you don’t essentially want a world SIM card or worldwide knowledge. Concentrate to sections 1, 2, three, 6.

B – Relocator: You’re going overseas for a minimum of a month to one location or area and would really like a world SIM card to have all of the common calling and knowledge capabilities of your smartphone overseas. Examples: Research overseas college students, working or volunteering overseas, shifting overseas. Concentrate to sections 2, three, four, 5, 6, eight, 9.

C – Comfort Traveler: Journey size doesn’t matter a lot to you, you simply need to find a way to add worldwide service to your already present plan, with the intention to simply use it in a number of locations with out having to assume twice. Concentrate to sections three, 6, 7, 10.

D – Nomad: You’re peacing out and not using a long-term plan, you want all the info in all of the nations. You’re hoping to not change SIM playing cards all that always, or in any respect if potential. Concentrate to sections three, four, 5, 6, eight, 9, 10.

1. Using Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi (aka what you want to flip off in your iPhone once you’re overseas)

This part will allow you to utterly keep away from worldwide fees in your iPhone invoice. Why is that this necessary? Should you don’t freeze your account (Part eight) and your telephone occurs to decide up service in overseas nations, you could be tempted to use apps or reply calls, and that may sky rocket your invoice. SKY. ROCKET. Your invoice. Worldwide expenses might be utilized to your account, and the sight won’t be fairly.

Keep away from worldwide expenses, but nonetheless benefit from the use apps in your telephone by connecting to Wi-Fi.

You don’t want to do something particular to your telephone earlier than you go overseas. After you arrive in your vacation spot nation:

How to Activate Airplane Mode and Use Wi-Fi on the Similar Time (Sure, you’ll be able to).

Swipe up from the house display to entry your management middle:

airplane mode and wifi

Flip Airplane Mode ON, then flip Wi-Fi ON.

So long as Airplane Mode is ON, you gained’t be charged for knowledge. To double triple be sure to gained’t be charged for knowledge, do that:

  • Settings –> Mobile –> flip Mobile Knowledge OFF

Any apps that perform on Wi-Fi (Fb, Instagram, Twitter, Mail, Voxer, and so on.) are accessible so long as you’re related to Wi-Fi. Go to city.

Turning off Airplane Mode and Mobile Knowledge primarily turns off your telephone quantity and the info you usually pay for. This implies, you can’t obtain or place common telephone calls or SMS messages (iMessage excluded, see subsequent part). Additionally, you’ll be able to’t entry something that wants Wi-Fi to perform in the event you’re not related to a Wi-Fi sign.

No Management Middle? Using Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi for Dummies:

Step 1: In your Settings, flip Airplane Mode ON (make certain the little airplane icon is highlighted). This ensures you’ll not use any knowledge or incur any sudden worldwide costs.

Step 2: In your Settings, choose Wi-Fi, and switch your Wi-Fi ON. Airplane Mode mechanically turns Wi-Fi OFF, so you want to go in and switch it again ON. Your solely probability to use your telephone’s Wi-Fi-capable apps and features will probably be if you find yourself related to Wi-Fi. When you aren’t choosing up any free alerts, you’ll need to head to a espresso store or your lodge to discover one.

Step three: To attach to a Wi-Fi sign, go into your Settings, choose Wi-Fi, and choose a community. In case your lodge or a restaurant offers Wi-Fi that takes a password, you’ll want to get the password from them, then choose that community and sort within the password to join.

2. Using iMessage and FaceTime Abroad (totally free)

imessage international

Sorry Droids, that is for iPhones solely.

Join your iPhone to Wi-Fi, with iMessage and FaceTime turned ON and activated:

  • Settings —> Messages —> be certain that iMessage is ON
  • Settings —> FaceTime —> make certain FaceTime is ON
  • If in case you have been switching SIMs and telephone numbers round just lately and iMessage isn’t activating in your iPhone, restart your telephone and check out once more.

iMessage and FaceTime work by means of your Apple ID if they will’t use your affiliated telephone quantity. Which means, in your Settings —> Messages —> Ship & Obtain, you will notice all choices you’ve gotten to attain individuals by means of iMessage, and you need to use your e-mail tackle when your telephone quantity is frozen or unavailable (i.e. maybe you switched out your SIM). Your associates at residence may see an e mail handle as an alternative of your telephone quantity once you ship a textual content, nevertheless it nonetheless works.

So long as Airplane Mode is ON, or in case your Mobile Knowledge is OFF, you gained’t be charged for utilizing these providers. If Airplane Mode shouldn’t be on, and your Mobile Knowledge is turned on, FaceTime will cost as Knowledge, so watch out.

Using iMessage and FaceTime for Dummies:

  • Facetime: A good method to chat with household and associates again residence so long as they’ve iPhones and are awake concurrently you! (Thoughts the time zone!) Open your Contacts, choose the individual you need to FaceTime, and hit the video icon in your choices. Alternatively, open your FaceTime app (seems just like the inexperienced one above), on the highest choose Audio or Video, then sort the identify of the individual you’d like to chat with, they need to present up in an inventory, faucet their identify to place the decision. In the event that they don’t have an iPhone, it gained’t work.
  • iMessage: Sure, iMessage features on Wi-Fi (between iPhones solely), so you’ll be able to textual content all you need with others who even have iPhones and iMessage, even abroad! You don’t have to do something particular to make iMessage work (it ought to already be turned on in your Settings), your telephone already is aware of what to do. Merely textual content anybody else with an iPhone. For those who aren’t positive who has one, you’ll be able to look again in your texts. Anybody you textual content that has blue textual content bubbles has an iPhone, anybody with inexperienced textual content bubbles doesn’t.

three. Greatest Apps for Worldwide Texting and Calling (without spending a dime)

All the following listed app features are free on Wi-Fi. Please notice that it’s mandatory for every consumer to talk by means of the identical app (i.e. you possibly can’t ship a WhatsApp message or place a name to somebody who doesn’t have WhatsApp).

WhatsApp: Hottest app outdoors the US for texting and telephone calls. Obtain it and activate your telephone quantity with it. Even for those who freeze your telephone quantity or change out the SIM, you’ll be able to nonetheless choose to proceed utilizing WhatsApp with the unique quantity that you simply join to it. The one time this gained’t work is should you hand over your quantity and another person begins utilizing it. (Keep away from that with Tossable Digits). Features: texting, sending pictures and movies, voice messages, video calls, audio calls.

iMessage: Refer to earlier part. Features: texting, sending photographs and movies. (iPhone to iPhone solely).

FaceTime: Refer to earlier part. Features: audio and video calls. (iPhone to iPhone solely).

Fb Messenger: Messenger has come a great distance. Features: texting, sending pictures and movies, and putting voice and video calls.

Voxer: Certainly one of my favourite apps for preserving in contact with my greatest family and friends. It’s like a walkie-talkie app. Features: texting, sending pictures and movies, voice messages up to 15 minutes lengthy.

four. Using an Worldwide SIM Card with an American iPhone (aka how to get a overseas telephone quantity with knowledge)

SIM playing cards for Dummies: A SIM card is actually your cellular phone quantity and no matter knowledge you pay for, whereas the precise telephone is simply the machine that makes all of it work. This implies you’ll be able to take out your SIM and insert it in one other (unlocked) telephone and make a telephone name, and the individual you’re calling nonetheless sees your identify on the caller ID. It additionally means you may take out your SIM, and nonetheless use your similar telephone with Wi-Fi to entry any apps, you simply wouldn’t have your telephone quantity or any knowledge related anymore. Taking out your SIM primarily does the identical factor as turning on Airplane Mode or turning off Mobile Knowledge: your telephone simply turns into a Wi-Fi system.

So, getting a overseas SIM means getting a overseas telephone quantity and knowledge. That is very best for individuals shifting to one place abroad for longer than a month.

Earlier than you do anything (like depart the nation), be certain that:

  • Your telephone has a SIM card slot. See photograph under in case you don’t know what this seems to be like.
  • Your telephone is unlocked. See subsequent part for extra about unlocked v locked.

Having an unlocked telephone is necessary if you would like to have the ability to use your personal telephone when you get overseas. In case your telephone is locked, you’ll have to purchase an area telephone fairly than use your personal. Unlocking your telephone provides you the power to use a world SIM card. So long as you have got an unlocked telephone with a SIM card slot, you ought to be in a position to buy a SIM abroad (with knowledge, calling, texting, no matter you want), slip it into your telephone, and have a fully-functioning native telephone.

After you arrive in your vacation spot nation:

Step 1: Buy a SIM card. There are three totally different sizes of SIM playing cards: common, micro, and nano. Newer iPhones use nano SIM playing cards, however most SIM playing cards on the market will are available a “one size fits all” trend, with perforations within the plastic such you can punch out the dimensions you want to slot in your telephone’s SIM card slot. Be certain to verify before you purchase.

Getting one may be as straightforward as buying one from a merchandising machine just like the one within the photograph under from London Heathrow Airport (I’ve by no means finished this!). Typically, nevertheless, you will want to find a retailer the place they’re obtainable for buy (I’ve completed this a ton of occasions).

SIM playing cards are low cost. You will get a SIM with an honest quantity of knowledge and calling for underneath $20 nearly all over the place, you then simply “top up” when your knowledge will get low. It’s your decision to do a little bit of analysis for greatest carriers in your vacation spot nation earlier than you select one.

SIM card slot

SIM card slots seem like this. Pop it open with a paperclip. Push exhausting.

When buying a world SIM card, consider:

  • If you are going to buy it from a mobile service, chances are you’ll be required to present your passport (deliver it with you).
  • Some SIM carriers have higher protection or supply higher pricing than others. When you’ve got an opportunity, ask round to see which service the locals favor earlier than you commit.
  • Some SIM carriers may merely be a greater choice as a result of they exist in multiple nation. For instance, in Italy you possibly can go together with an Italian SIM service (i.e. Tim), or a common European one (i.e. Vodafone) that may recharge your knowledge or minutes in additional nations than simply Italy. This can be a good factor to consider should you’ll be touring by means of a number of nations.
  • Make certain it’s the proper measurement and can work in your telephone, no matter telephone you determined to purchase it for.

Step 2: Buy any additional credit or knowledge which may not have come included in your SIM card. These can be obtainable in the identical retailer that you simply purchase your SIM card, and lots of comfort shops additionally promote them. They arrive within the type of playing cards with scratch off codes, or it might be an automatic system that the shop clerk can do for you. Your SIM card offers your telephone quantity, whereas credit and knowledge present your service. It’s pay as you go together with SIM playing cards, so as soon as you employ up your credit score, you will have to purchase extra. Don’t fear, you’ll nonetheless have all of your apps in your telephone, switching out the SIM is just switching out the telephone quantity.

Step three: Insert the SIM card into your telephone. For iPhones, make sure that your telephone is off, take off any case you may need, and discover the tiny slot on the aspect with a bit gap in it. Use a paper clip to push into the opening (push onerous), and that little tray will slide out, the place you’ll be able to take away your SIM card related together with your account within the States (be very cautious not to lose this!) and substitute it together with your new worldwide SIM card. Flip your telephone again on to arrange your new SIM.

Step four: Add any credit/knowledge that you simply bought. In the event you’re utilizing a card with a scratch-off code, simply comply with the directions on the cardboard. Often you dial a quantity, and a recording tells you what to do, getting into your scratch off code to activate your credit score. Watch out in case you are in a rustic that speaks one other language, maybe ask another person to show you how to load your credit to ensure nothing will get misplaced in translation.

After you have activated your credit score, you ought to be good to go! You’ll have an area telephone quantity, and you have to be in a position to use every little thing in your telephone simply as you’d within the States.

iphone abroad

iPhone four SIM card slot with micro SIM card

SIM Cards

Common measurement SIM cards- NOT match for iPhone anymore.

SIM Card Vending Machine

I want it have been all the time this straightforward!

Purchase an Worldwide SIM Card On-line

If you need to pre-order a world SIM card and have it topped up and prepared to go for instant use, attempt one from World SIM.

It comes with a UK quantity and a US quantity on one SIM, and you may add digital numbers.

It’s a bit costlier than a world plan like T-Cellular or Dash, and in addition costlier than an area SIM, however it’s tremendous handy, and you may prime up on-line.

You will get a Europe SIM card simply. Take a look at bundles and plans for World SIM right here.

iphone abroad

You possibly can change SIMs whereas your telephone is on, it’s not an issue.

5. Locked v Unlocked Telephones (aka how a US iPhone works abroad)

When a telephone is “locked,” it primarily means it is going to solely function with the service via which you’ve got a contract. Carriers do that so that you gained’t bounce ship and begin utilizing one other service. Should you purchased it via a selected service (i.e. at a Verizon retailer, likelihood is it got here locked).

Nevertheless, US cellular phone carriers will unlock your iPhone for worldwide use for those who simply ask them. “Unlocking” is a software program concern, not hardware, so your service can unlock your telephone remotely. This can allow your iPhone to be suitable with SIM carriers in different nations. This principally means you possibly can go overseas, buy a world SIM card, put it in your iPhone, and use your iPhone overseas with that service as defined within the earlier part.

It sounds easy, and typically it’s, nevertheless it requires motion in your half, and it’s totally different with each service. Click on right here to learn how to unlock your iPhone together with your service and use it abroad.

6. Should-Have Journey Equipment for Your iPhone

1. Pop Socket

One of many prime 5 questions I get requested, anyplace: “WHAT is that THING on your phone???”

That “thing” is the most cost effective insurance coverage coverage I’ve ever purchased. That “thing” is a pop socket. Since I purchased it, I haven’t dropped my telephone whereas taking pictures, texting, or different. It acts as an additional grip on the slippery iPhone, plus it offers leverage in order that I can attain all the display with one hand (iPhones are getting so huge nowadays). It additionally acts as a stand so I can prop up the telephone to watch movies, and it actually helps if I’m laying in mattress and holding my telephone above my face, I don’t drop it on myself. I acquired it model new with the case I point out right here in #2, caught it on in March of 2017, and it has not budged in any respect.

I’m not satisfied there’s a lot else on the market that’s extra value your subsequent $10. I’m utterly unaffiliated with them and utterly in love with their product.

Professional tip: Do NOT buy a generic model, the stickiness shouldn’t be assured to be robust. Saving a pair bucks just isn’t value dropping your a number of hundred greenback iPhone if the sticky half provides. Stick to Pop Socket 😉

pop socket review

2. Hidden bank card iPhone case by Spigen

I’m not a handbag woman. I really like having my ID and bank card prepared with my telephone; nevertheless, I DON’T prefer it when everybody else can SEE my bank card simply hanging out on the again of my telephone. Particularly if I hand my telephone to somebody to snap a photograph of me. Take a look at that photograph above yet one more time. You’d by no means know there’s a hidden bank card slot:

Hidden Credit Card iPhone Case

This sensible little child is by Spigen, and I swear by it. It’s a little worn, however it has additionally been on since March of 2017 up to now with out breaking, nor has my telephone had any dropping injury by any means with this case on (not that I drop it a lot due to my Pop Socket). For the last word bank card telephone case stealth mode, I extremely advocate it.

three. Waterproof case

This can be a easy waterproof telephone case by Joto, kind of like a dry bag on your telephone for these of us who don’t have Lifeproof instances. It has sensible materials so you possibly can function the display via the plastic. For $eight, one other nice insurance coverage coverage for the lively traveler.

four. Anker charger

I can’t get by means of any packing listing or iPhone publish with out mentioning my absolute favourite cellular USB charger. Regardless of which one you get, go together with Anker, they’re a fantastic model and make highly effective batteries. I’ve had mine since summer time of 2015 and it nonetheless expenses my telephone up to 7 occasions on one cost. I by no means depart house with out it.

7. Freezing Your Present Cell Telephone Plan (aka how to not pay cash for providers you aren’t utilizing)

In case you are leaving for at the least a month and never going to be needing your US mobile service in any respect throughout that point, I recommend that you simply put your service on maintain. You ought to be in a position to do that on-line or by calling your service’s customer support. For Verizon, you are able to do this on-line in your MyVerizon account. In my expertise up to now, in the event you name customer support and ask them to do it, they cost a $15 payment, so be sensible about the way you do it.

On one journey to Mexico in 2014, I waited till I arrived, then did it on-line and it took impact instantly. Upon arrival again to the States, you’ll be able to return on-line and have them reactivate your service instantly as properly. Even when your service fees a small charge to hold your line “alive” whereas it hibernates, it might nonetheless prevent a big sum of money that might in any other case be wasted.

Observe: You will be unable to obtain common SMS texts or telephone calls whereas your service is on maintain. Your telephone turns into a Wi-Fi gadget with out an lively SIM card.

As a result of I switched to T-Cellular, I shouldn’t have to do that anymore. That is for individuals who need to maintain every thing about your common account the identical, however you’ll be leaving for lengthy sufficient to put it on maintain for a bit. The opposite choice can be utilizing Tossable Digits to hold or save your quantity for later, however cancel your plan utterly for now.

eight. Including Worldwide Service to Your Present Cell Telephone Plan

This half is somewhat tough for me to write about as a result of there are numerous totally different mobile carriers inside the US, and every service’s providers and charges are going to differ, not to point out the truth that they appear to be always altering.

I wrote a publish evaluating cellular phone plans for vacationers, verify that out to see what your service/plan consists of.

Verizon Worldwide Service

Verizon has an choice to activate a Journey Move for $5/day in Mexico and Canada and $10/day in over 130 nations worldwide. For short-term journeys, this is usually a nice choice. For long-term journeys, $10/day = roughly $300/month. Please don’t be that dummy.

Additionally, keep in mind to activate your Journey Cross BEFORE you journey, in any other case you’re screwed.

See extra about Verizon’s worldwide journey options right here.

AT&T Worldwide Service

AT&T has the identical concept as Verizon, however they name it Worldwide Day Cross and it begins at $10/day. A few of AT&T’s present pans already cowl speak and textual content in Mexico and Canada, so make sure to know what you’re already paying for earlier than you buy protection.

See extra about AT&T’s worldwide journey options right here.

T-Cellular & Dash Worldwide Service

T-Cellular is main the motion that has made this woman ONE HAPPY TRAVELER. The T-Cellular ONE plan will get you limitless (2G) knowledge in additional than 140 nations worldwide. Dash is catching on and implementing comparable plans.

All you have got to do to use it’s abroad is be certain that your roaming is turned ON:

  • Settings —> Mobile —> Mobile Knowledge (ON) and Mobile Knowledge Choices (Roaming ON)

When you’re in Settings, flip in your FREE Wi-Fi calling:

  • Settings —> Telephone —> Wi-Fi Calling ON

Occasions have modified. Even Montana has T-Cellular now, which was my largest drawback with the service till 2018.

Learn extra about one of the best cellphone plans for vacationers right here.

9. How to Maintain Your US Cell Telephone Quantity When You Journey

Sure, in the event you cancel your cellphone plan, you possibly can nonetheless hold the one that you love telephone quantity so you’ll be able to flip it again on with no matter service you need upon your return.

The magic is actual, and the reply is Tossable Digits. Take a look at every part you want to know to save your telephone quantity when you journey.

10. Overview of the Greatest Cell Telephone Plans for Vacationers

I’ve an entire publish devoted to evaluating cellular phone plans for vacationers, however here’s a fast abstract:

T-Cellular: Greatest for the frequent traveler or nomad who skips round so much however nonetheless has a house base within the US.

Dash: Similar providing as T-Cellular, not nice protection within the US.

Verizon: Greatest protection within the US, has a Journey Cross for brief journeys, so continues to be a terrific choice for frequent however short-term vacationers. Not excellent for any long-term journey.

AT&T: Similar concept as Verizon.

Undertaking Fi: Think about Challenge Fi if the Wi-Fi facet is sensible in your space (and also you’re prepared to hand over your valuable iPhone), or stick to what you’ve got.

Click on right here to learn the complete publish.

11. Dumbphones: Shopping for a Low cost Worldwide Cell Telephone

A “dumbphone” is what I name the other of a smartphone. It nonetheless has a flip display, qwerty keyboard, or… simply buttons. Keep in mind these? You gained’t have the ability to use your dumbphone overseas until it’s SIM card-compatible, and even then some nations are strict about what telephones will work with their networks. Verify behind the battery to see if there’s a SIM card in there.

Most dumbphones within the US are usually not SIM-compatible, however don’t fear, as a result of your vacation spot nation is sure to have many worldwide cell telephones for you to select from for reasonable. The telephones will already be SIM-capable and a few may even come packaged with a SIM card and credit included. Which means you do not want to have a smartphone abroad, you’ll be able to nonetheless have a daily telephone, however the ones abroad might be SIM-capable, and that’s the key to utilizing it overseas.

You’ll merely want to buy a brand new telephone, and normally this gained’t value you a lot. I’ve paid as little as $10 (Brazil) and as a lot as $65 (Italy) for a telephone overseas.

Refer to Sections four and 5 above for assist with utilizing SIM playing cards in dumbphones.

Old-fashioned dumbphones!

SIM Card Dumbphone
SIM Compatible Phones


This publish was initially revealed in 2014, up to date in 2018. Inform me, have I forgotten something?

To learn extra about utilizing your iPhone overseas, examine these out:

Additionally, now it’s your flip! I might love to hear about your expertise taking your telephones overseas. It helps others studying the feedback if YOU share successes and failures with telephones overseas. What did you do proper? Is there one thing you would like you knew earlier than you left? Are you able to add anything to the knowledge right here? Please share within the feedback!

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