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Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Massachusetts
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1,485 posts
199 reviews
141 helpful votes
Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Group:

I've searched the TA Forum and only see questions about cell and interenet use from long ago.

I love my iPhone but ATT rates are exorbitant to bring it abroad for a few weeks and use for checking email, using interenet and calling.

I don't plan to use it to keep in touch with home/office much.I occasionally email during 2/3 weeks away. Main purpose isinternet to search places to stay/things to do and to call to book hotels, maybe call day tour, winery, call hotel if my companion and I are doing different things, etc.

People talk about unlocking your phone---ATT store said no, I have to buy their data plan. ANd then calls were over $1 per minute (in Italy, guessing comparable rate in Africa). I don't understand how to buy SIM on ebay, etc.

Here are a couple of ideas/questions:

1. Can I bring iPhone and not replace SIM card to call and use internet? Internet: Someone said never turn on 3G out of the US--keep it on "airplane mode", effectively only using internet in free or password-purchased spots. Can I also use it to call w/o dealing with ATT in the US? I'm sure the cost will be high on calls, but will it work on their network, or must I change SIM card and do whatever it is one must do to use the phone to call?

2. In Italy last year, I just bought a cheap Italian cell phone which came in so handy. Loved it. Rechargeable minutes at tabbachi shops. Do they sell cheap pre-paid type cells in Capetown, and I'd just go to internet cafe for occasioanl internet use?

I am S-L-O-W technologically! Please respond accordingly so I have some clue what you mean. Thanks!

African Xplora
Sightseeing Tours
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capetown
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1. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

firstly you can buy a simcard for R1 about (14 us cents) at all the major retailers , when you land in cape town go to the woolworths store just outside the arrivals area you will need your passport and proof of accomadation to have the simcard activated in store. Outright internet is very expensive at R2 a meg (28us cents) but if you buy R289 airtime and convert it to 1.2GB data it works out 24c (or less than 2 us cents per meg) or R189 airtime gives you 600mb data. You just call 111 to convert airtime to data on the Vodacom network. Vodacom's coverage is best in Sa covering every corner just about. MTN is little bit more expensive but also good coverage. Never roam on your US Simcard with your Iphone its dangerious and could cost you arm and a leg.

Tempe, Arizona
Destination Expert
for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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2. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

I can add a few more comments about using Vodacom for the internet. I do myself. With a Huawei modem for my laptop. The above information is right about converting "time" to "data bundles" but I think you would handle that best at a Vodacom shop - and there's one in the Johannesburg airport for sure - I have used it. But you need a fairly complex phone to use the internet.

The SA cell phones operate on GSM 900 or GSM 1800. USA phones do not. I have a couple of simple Nokia phones I bought for about $20 - $25 each in South Africa and I would suggest buying one of these for your calling. Just as you did in Italy. And look for internet 'cafes' to do your research. (Or do it now.. )

Edited: 10:18 pm, January 30, 2011
Gold Coast...
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46 reviews
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3. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Agree with Dave do not bring your good phone. Either buy a cheapy or rent.

We pre ordered a phone to rent through Vodacom and it was ready for us to pick up at their store when we arrived in Johannesburg airport. Easy and cheap. Not sure exact cost, hire was free just had to pay insurance about AUD$1 per day. It was only used when lodges called us in advance of our arrival and also we sent quite a few text messages to home.

Nearly all places we stayed had wi fi / internet access, however we did have a netbook with us for storing our photos so did not need to use the phone for this.

Massachusetts
Level Contributor
1,485 posts
199 reviews
141 helpful votes
4. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Jpreid: Thanks. it appears that you responded in English, but I understood not a bit. I am tech-S L O W indeed!

I'll buy a cheap phone and leave my iPhone at home. Does Capetown airport have a phone/provider store or cheaper to buy and activate in town? A $25 phone is fine. In Italy it was a great solution with occasional internet cafes.

Companion decided Plan B tonight--we'll only have the first 4 nights of hotel booked at Adderley and wing it all from there. I'm cancelling Protea Fire and Ice tonight, (looked waaay too sensory-intense like Vegas for my taste, so I'm happy to cancel.) I'll need internet there for wine tour, car rental, hotel, etc. Assume that there are plenty of internet cafes, right?

Just don't know yet about iPad, notebook... I can't decide in time about this option. My new work laptop is too big and heavy. Are some of you happy with your little netbook for your internation travels? Brands you're happy/unhappy with? IPad experience for 3g coverage/wifi? Pricey to use? Worth it? Spotty coverage away from cities?

Oh--What shape electrical plug there, please? Will have Kindle to plug in.

Gold Coast...
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5,601 posts
46 reviews
74 helpful votes
5. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Lanago

We took a 10 inch Asus Netbook which we were very happy with, and it fitted easily into a cabin bag as well as my large handbag. As you said a normal laptop would be way too cumbersome.

We used it each night to back up our photos and also to send emails to home. Most places we stayed had wi fi but we did not need that all the time anyway, just every few days was enough. And of course internet access is not needed to back up photos.

Power plug is a 3 pin style which you should be able to pick up in a travel goods shop just google ''power plug south africa'' first if you want to see an image of what you need.

Massachusetts
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1,485 posts
199 reviews
141 helpful votes
6. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Hey, thesandmans,

I considered ASUS netbook, but was under the impression that the battery life was too short.. You like it? Battery ok? Approx hours? Can use it mnay places? Do you subscribe to any service plan (ATT, etc) or just wait for free spots/spots where you can buy time? The netbook still doesn't address my phone issue, so I feel kinda stuck about what is best for me to best use phone and internet while abroad.

I've looked into buying an iPad, or bringing my iPhone with ATT data plan....just so darn pricey. I keep coming back to buying local cheap phones and pay for minutes. They work great. Then I hit an occasional internet cafe.

Yeah, sorry- I was being lazy about googling the SA elec outlet pin. Thanks. I'll get one before leaving.

Grazie.

Gold Coast...
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5,601 posts
46 reviews
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7. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Hi Lanago.

We found our little Asus to be very battery efficient, we usually get 6 to 7 hours out of it but that was never an issue anyway because we just charged it as we went along. We just used it for email in the places that we stayed that had wi fi access, I have no idea what type of places you are staying or where but we had free wi fi in probably more than half of the places we stayed at. Admittedly it was a bit slow in some places but as I said the primary purpose was for our photos to be backed up. We just decided before we left that an occasional email home was sufficient and really it was the last thing we worried about during our trip...too much else to see ! Not sure just how dependant you are for internet access ??

Plus the phone that we rented was handy for sending text messages home, as long as people know you are ok I guess thats all we wanted. We were surprised that on our arrival in sabi Sand we were able to send a text to let family know we were ok , from the middle of the bush.

Suggest you stick to your original decision to buy or rent a cheap phone, there is now way I would want to be worrying about carrying around a brand new expensive Iphone or tablet.. my Netbook was half the price of Ipad. Mind you that does not mean I would not like to have one down the track !

Cape Town
Level Contributor
10,407 posts
8. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Absolutely in agreement about a netbook. I have an Acer Aspire One which I take with me everywhere in the world. Yes an iPad or a Galaxy TAB is sexier but they have virtually no storage. Even a basic Netbook costing around $250 now includes a 250GB hard disc so, as you travel you can transfer all your photos daily as you go. Also I can carry my whole Music collection 130GB and a few movies for watching in off-hours (although that has never happened!).

I also get 8-9 hours battery life. But that is only fitting a larger 9 cell battery available from 3rd party suppliers. The standard 3 cell battery gives maximum 3 hours. Having the two batteries (one as a standby) means that you have enough power for a 12 hour Europe to Cape Town flight - if you can't sleep.

For connection to the internet use WiFi - as the Sandemans say, available in lots of places. But, all except the most basic netbook models, now have a SIM slot for wireless connection anywhere with cellphone connection. In SA that is most places you go. Then just buy a local SIM from any cellphone shop (prefereably Vodacom who have the best coverage - 3G/HSPDA in most cities and big towns, GPRS/Edge elsewhere) plus a one-off add on Data Bundle (1GB is about R250). This is valid for up to two months. Most of the time they will give you the SIM free if you buy the Data - just ask!

You could use this for calls through a cheap headset - especially free internet VOIP calls to overseas numbers. But this is not very convenient. At many stores you can buy a simple GPRS phone, including it's own SIM, for around R140 (US$20) or less. Just add Voice Airtime (you could even swap the same SIM from the Netbook, but it's not worth the few Rand saving!). Buying is much cheaper than renting for more than 2 or 3 days and also high street stores are much cheaper than the airport shops.

As you said right at the begining you can't use your iPhone as the ATT/Apple cartel LOCK the phone so it can't be used on any other network. One other reason I never buy any product with a Fruit Logo on!! My HTC Android Smart phone is much more flexible than an iPhone and I can use it anywhere in the world with a local SIM.

Edited: 7:49 am, February 01, 2011
Massachusetts
Level Contributor
1,485 posts
199 reviews
141 helpful votes
9. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Group, Thankls so much. I'll buy a little cheap phone in Capetown, in town, rather than the airport.

I'm looking on Amazon now and am probably getting lightweight Asus with long battery life. As to memory (1 vs. 2) --I'm pretty cluelss about all that, so I'll keep it as it is. I don't watch movies or listen to music so I think I'll be ok. If I need more, I'll deal with it when I get back home after SA. Also looking at the Acer. I want less than 3 pounds, excellent reviews, long battery life. Will order today.

One other question: Is Best Buy ok with returns or stick with Amazon, if I have problem with it before I leave? I seem to recall Best Buy had some problem return issue.

Thanks again!

Cape Town
Level Contributor
10,407 posts
10. Re: Bring my iPhone? Buy a phone there?

Think you need a US poster to help you on the last question. I buy a lot from Amazon UK for delivery both in the UK and in SA and have never had problems. But the US may be different.