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Ask Slashdot: Best Smartphone Plan For a US Vacation?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the might-help-the-natives-too dept.

AT&T 200

SJrX writes "I am planning on visiting the Pacific Northwest for several weeks, and was looking for the best smartphone option available. Roaming data rates and SMS rates are ridiculously high (best plans are $0.80 / MB, and $0.75 / message). Beyond AT&T and Verizon Prepaid, are there any other options? (I'm on an iPhone 4 so GSM is a must.) I assume in the US, I have no credit history for which to qualify for a plan, and a contract is obviously out of the question. Data and SMS are the only important things, with a few hundred minutes being plenty. I'm only planning on being in the US for 2 or 3 weeks, but mainly in rural areas (US Route 101) so large (3G) coverage is important."

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AT&T (2)

Moderator (189749) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280670)

Hello,

Normally, I would recommend Simple Mobile [mysimplemobile.com] which is contract-free using the T-Mobile network. $60 will get you unlimited everything. Since you have an iPhone though, and 3G is a must, you are probably stuck using AT&T's 3G network. That probably means getting a SIM card [att.com] and then paying $75/mo for a whopping 200MB on the Pay as you Go plan. But hey, at least you will get 4G.

Welcome to America.

It's not a must (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280682)

Leave your iPhone behind and buy a local prepaid.

Re:It's not a must (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280752)

This. Border guards have a hardon for smartphones. Leave your laptop behind too. What I'm trying to figure out is why anyone in their right mind would cross our border willingly, for a vacation no less.

Re:It's not a must (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281074)

A lot of us don't.....

Re:It's not a must (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281154)

Never again! US has lost my tourist dollars (and they would have been significant). Americans, get your heads out your collective arses,

Re:It's not a must (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281414)

Umm many of us do have our collective heads out of our asses. Problem is our politicians do not answer to us anymore, they answer to our corporate overlords. We can voice our displeasure at the ballot box, but it does no good. Apparently not enough of us are unhappy enough to violently revolt. And I doubt anyone will violently revolt until forced to do so, by some serious dysfunction, say starvation... Seems to me that the only people who will revolt BEFORE things get too bad are the French.

Re:It's not a must (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281728)

This. Border guards have a hardon for smartphones. Leave your laptop behind too. What I'm trying to figure out is why anyone in their right mind would cross our border willingly, for a vacation no less.

There are some things in the U.S. and Canada I'd have like to have seen (and photographed!) before I died. Niagra falls, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, The Canadian Rockies. But I am very much put off by the idea of being finger-printed and possibly having some TSA agent's bad day turn into my bad lifetime or having my things seized and not returned. And now that I have a family it's not just me that I have to think of. I can imagine entering into some twilight reality where my 3 year old talking back to a TSA agent results in him being injured or us all being held indefinitely. So though I'm only in my mid 30s, and my children will grow up, I doubt that I will ever be able to justify a trip to the US to see these things. I'm not the only one. C'est la vie.

Re:It's not a must (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281810)

Uh, Canada is a separate country. We don't have the TSA. We don't require fingerprinting, photographs or genital groping to enter the country.

no luck (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280684)

If you have an European GSM it probably can only work on T-Mobile's 3G network, where the coverage is spotty. They do have prepaid cards, but prices won't be cheap.

Re:no luck (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281072)

A T-Mobile prepay "Pay as you Go" SIM isn't expensive...

Unless you are a chatter box and use a ton of minutes.

http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/prepaid-plans.aspx

Plan to put down your smartphone (1)

sackvillian (1476885) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280694)

You did say vacation, right?

Re:Plan to put down your smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280876)

Are you suggesting that he carry around a stack of guide books, maps, and a GPS instead?

dom

Re:Plan to put down your smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280896)

a nokia n8 would do the trick. gmobile xt with maps downloaded (no data needed), 48GB of storage for everything, mine works fine on at&t voice only prepaid, 12 mpx camera, wifi for web browsing everywhere.

Re:Plan to put down your smartphone (1)

pasv (755179) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281614)

Does anyone remember how to plan ahead before we had smartphones? Bring a netbook, connect to a local hotspot and search from there. If really need be use your cellphone to access said searched data by sending it over via bluetooth. The point of a vacation is disconnection for most people you will be doing yourself a great disservice complicating your time there.

Re:Plan to put down your smartphone (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281608)

Plan to put down your smartphone. You did say vacation, right?

Yes, all the more reason to bring a smart phone along. Try thinking about how phone+GPS+Internet would be useful while traveling. I bet you're creative enough to find at least one good reason why it could be worthwhile.

waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280702)

smart phone isn't going to work where you are going. get a tmobile prepaid sim in a GSM phone and call it good. you will have no datas.

Re:waste of time (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281050)

The T-Mobile "Pay as you Go" pre pay has data for $1.49 per 24 hour period. When you want data, you just fire up the web browser which redirects to an acceptance page to deduct $1.49 from you account and you have data access for the next 24 hours.

Oregon/Washington Coast coverage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280706)

As someone who lives and travels to the coast often I would reccomend the att prepaid over verizon, they have the most towers and strongest signal. I have friends on verizon and others who have many issues when we go out.

Good Luck! (3)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280708)

If you insist on GSM, that means AT&T or T-Mobile. If you want rural coverage of 3G, that pretty much leaves out T-Mobile.

So...AT&T it is. (I'd say "We have a winner!", but I'd be lying.)

Buy a pre-paid SIM and be done with it. The smartphone plan is like $2 / day on days used for unlimited talk and text. 3 Gb of data for a month will run you $35. The SIM itself should be free.

Re:Good Luck! (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280766)

If you want rural coverage of 3G, that pretty much leaves out T-Mobile.

If you want any 3G with an iPhone, that leaves out T-mobile, at least if your iPhone works on the same frequencies as the US one.

Re:Good Luck! (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280850)

If you want any rural 3G with an iphone, it leaves out everybody.

You get Edge (if you're lucky) and you will like it!

Have you considered leaving your phone at home and going on a real vacation [imdb.com]?

Re:Good Luck! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281784)

The European one uses the T-mobile freq. Only At&T puts GSM on that stretch of spectrum.

Re:Good Luck! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280806)

If you insist on GSM, that means AT&T or T-Mobile. If you want rural coverage of 3G, that pretty much leaves out T-Mobile.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, and was a T-Mobile customer until recently. I liked their company, but their rural coverage - even phone coverage - is terrible. IIRC they still have some sort of cross-network roaming agreement with AT&T, but you have to have a phone that can handle those frequencies (I guess an iPhone qualifies).

But what's really odd is - T-Mobile's data rates have been higher than AT&T's, despite the lousy network!

Having said all that... I'm not sure how AT&T's 3G coverage is around highway 101. The Oregon and Washington coasts get pretty hilly and mountainous in many spots, and their coverage map is not encouraging. I think you may need to take sackvillian's advice and put the phone down, whether you like it or not. Your friends can live without constant posts of bad photos on Facebook.

(Sorry for the anonymous post - I'm 93 Escort Wagon)

Re:Good Luck! (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280938)

You can actually get prepaid SIMs in the USA? I thought this was a European thing. You have to pay to receive calls and texts in the USA, don't you? What's the position with using it again on another trip the following year? I got a UK prepaid Three SIM last year, worked fine for two weeks. Came home, went back to the UK six months later and bought credit I couldn't use because I "hadn't used the phone at least once every month" in the meantime. Does this happen in the USA too?

Re:Good Luck! (1)

metageek (466836) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280994)

> Does this happen in the USA too?

yes, if you don't use it for 3 months (usually), they even cancel your credit (= eat the money you had already paid). This is waived if you have spent more than $100 (at least with T-Mobile, maybe the others are different)

Re:Good Luck! (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281088)

The T-Mobile "Pay as you Go" option is good for 12 months after each time you fill up your account with credit.

So if you visit the US at least once per year and fill up your account, your number will continue to work.

http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/prepaid-plans.aspx

Re:Good Luck! (1)

number11 (129686) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281456)

The T-Mobile "Pay as you Go" option is good for 12 months after each time you fill up your account with credit.

If you buy $100 worth of time. And if AT&T hasn't swallowed up T-Mobile by the time you come again.

Re:Good Luck! (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281606)

And if AT&T hasn't swallowed up T-Mobile by the time you come again.

Very true.

It will be a dark time of control by monopolies.

All praise the "free market" economy.

Re:Good Luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281000)

ATT uses non-std. spectrum for 3G. You are more likely to get 3G on T-Mobile with a std. GSM phone that was not built for ATT's network. My N900 works with T-Mobile 3G, but not ATT. Not sure if the iPhone sold in other countries is identical to the one in the US, but I would suspect not since the US one has no 3G on T-Mobile which would mean no 3G anywhere else in the world either.

Besides, ATT is the devil. Part of their business plan appears to be intentional over-billing.

T-Mobile has some of the best prepaid plans in the U.S. e.g. 1500 voice minutes or texts (each text counts as a minute) for $30, + $1.40 extra for unlimited data in any 24 hour period that you want to use data.

 

T-mobile pay as you go (2)

godIsaDJ (644331) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280710)

Just came back from a coast-2-coast. Faced the same problem. Get a T-mobile pay as you go. You have unlimited internet for $1.5/day with a web day pass that you purchase using your PAYG balance.

Re:T-mobile pay as you go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280796)

T-mobile are really good for this in the EU as well, £5 I think for 20mb of data for a week.

Re:T-mobile pay as you go (3)

hockeyrink (264208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280852)

I concur. Just back from a 2 week trip to San Francisco from Canada, and my Canadian Bell (unlocked; rooted) Galaxy S connected on EDGE speeds for pretty much the whole time (darn mountain ranges...).It was supposed to be only 2Gig of data, but I got an SMS mid way through the trip that informed me that my plan was updated to unlimited data. It was the "Prepaid Unlimited Talk, Text, 2GB data plan" for $70. We got 2 SIMS with this plan (a T-Mobile G1 on HSPA fast speed, and my Canadian Bell Galaxy S maxing out on EDGE), and one with just talk/text (for daughter) for $30.

Although the G1 is a slow phone, I found the GPS unit superior, and it made an excellent Google GPS navigator. Also worked well as portable wifi hotspot with the rooted "Open Garden" application. And don't forget to load up GasBuddy too.

Just make sure to add the $10 "International SMS" option if you plan to message out of the USA. Frustrating to get SMS from home, but not to be able to reply!

FYI, both my G1 and my Canadian Galaxy S both get HSPA speeds in Hong Kong!

Re:T-mobile pay as you go (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280958)

Can you do this if you only have a credit card with a European address? Most American companies won't accept a credit card unless you have a US or Canadian billing address (unlike in stores where it seems they don't care).

Re:T-mobile pay as you go (1)

godIsaDJ (644331) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281320)

Sure you can. You just walk in a store and pay cash. That's what I did... It's pay as you go after all... Make sure you get the APN details when you buy the card.

Re:T-mobile pay as you go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281240)

Are you sure your canadian galaxy S supports AWS bands? If not, you won't get 3G on t-mobile. Most phones don't support the bands.

Re:T-mobile pay as you go (3)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280928)

Note that T-mobile has two different types of prepaid plans [t-mobile.com]. With "pay as you go" plans, you put in an amount of money that can be used for voice, SMS, or data. With "pay by the month" plans, you pay a fixed amount per month, but with no multi-month commitment. Either one might end up best for you, depending on how much you plan to use the phone.

not a lot of options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280736)

along 101, verizon is the only company that will give you consistent service

If GSM only... (4, Informative)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280742)

...then you can throw out Verizon, they are CDMA.

Of the majors, that leaves you with AT&T or T-Mobile. There are a lot of smaller GSM carriers, but many of them are regional and/or will end up roaming in areas they don't have coverage, so I'm not sure if it's worth looking to hard at them.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280842)

Will the iPhone 4 do 3G on T-mobile? I don't think it does.

So AT&T is then the only option. There, that makes things easy.

Buy a go-phone SIM at an AT&T store, and you can pay $25 for 500GB of data. Calls (in the US) are10 cents per minute.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280984)

A iPhone from over seas may as they use different frequencies for 3G... it's the reason some people who flash a European modem on a Galaxy S loose 3G on AT&T here in the states.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281128)

Will the iPhone 4 do 3G on T-mobile? I don't think it does.

ATT has a monopoly on the 3G frequencies in the US.

But the iPhone will connect via T-Mobile's EDGE frequencies just fine.

May T-Mobile stores also have a SIM cutter for the iPhone 4 micro sim slot.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281492)

T-Mobile has 3G too; in fact, they use the same frequencies as overseas, IIRC. The US GSM iPhone won't get 3G, but a foreign one should get in, in theory.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281618)

in theory.

In reality, all GSM iPhones have the same frequency support.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281852)

No. GSM just specifies the protocol and security stacks, it does not specify the frequencies. As such, GSM supports a number of different frequencies bands and it's up the phone manufacture on how many of those bands are actually implemented in the phone. Most phones nowadays are quad-band so they can roam, but you can implement a perfectly fine GSM phone that only connects to one band or two bands

You will sometimes see phones implement just the domainant ones in your area (850MHz/1900MHz for North America and parts of South America, 1700MHz/2100MHz for Japan, and 900 MHz/1800 MHz for everywhere else) in order to save money on the cost of creating the phone.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281974)

No. GSM just specifies the protocol and security stacks, it does not specify the frequencies.

And Apple makes ONE GSM based iPhone sold globally.

The only difference being the ones locked for non-free corporate controlled countries.

Re:If GSM only... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281260)

Verizon also doesn't have data service north of Seattle. I just got back from a trip to Vancouver and Alaska, and it is all "extended network" which means voice-only even though you're in-network with a US-and-Canadia plan.

Get a cheap phone (1)

slackzilly (2033012) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280772)

I never bring my expensive smart phone abroad, in case of theft.
I realize that I can just as well lose my phone when I am in my own country, it is just a precaution I take.

T-mobile (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280780)

Go for t-mobile. As they have a prepaid unlimited plan for $50/mo. This will net you 100mb/mo.

If you really want to go unlimited. T-mobile has a flexpay option. Same as prepaid basically. For $79.99/mo you get everything unlimited.

Re:T-mobile (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280874)

Go for t-mobile. As they have a prepaid unlimited plan for $50/mo. This will net you 100mb/mo.

Assuming they will be making mostly international calls, these won't be included in the 'unlimited' bundle. T-Mobile won't offer them 3G service on their iPhone which was a requirement, and AT&T will offer 500MB of data for $25.

Why exactly is t-mobile a better choice?

Re:T-mobile (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281148)

Why exactly is t-mobile a better choice?

Because they are cheaper than ATT and if you go with the "Pay as you Go" option, you aren't signing up for anything monthly.

Re:T-mobile (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281950)

Nor are you signing up for anything monthly with an AT&T go-phone. So, T-mobile is more expensive, with poorer coverage and probably no 3G.

Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280812)

You will want to check Sprints coverage in the area you will be visiting but I would suggest going with Virgin Mobile. You can get a decent Android (LG Otimus V) for $200 cash price and unlimited data and SMS for $25\ month - it "only" includes 300 minutes of talk time, but since that doesn't matter... and of course no contract.

They have another Android phone with a slide out keyboard but it's shit so heads up on that.

Further, you can tether and the Android installation is absolutely generic so no bloatware. One thing though, you will want to remove the Facebook app that comes installed. It has a habit of popping up in the background and can reduce the battery time from not that bad at all down to 5 hours when idling. In fact, keep everything you can killed when your not using that particular app, Google Maps and all.

Remember to wipe data from it before leaving home (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280814)

You'd better fully expect to be treated like a criminal upon arrival with all data on your phone cloned. So, do a factory reset before getting off the plane and don't have anything on the SIM card.

Re:Remember to wipe data from it before leaving ho (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281552)

You'd better fully expect to be treated like a criminal upon arrival with all data on your phone cloned. So, do a factory reset before getting off the plane and don't have anything on the SIM card.

That's BAD advice. Nothing dodgier looking than a phone that you wiped as you got off the plane. Wipe it a few days before you leave and then make some calls to sex lines, download some fairly racey pictures but nothing too extreme. This gives the border guys something to giggle about instead of raising any red flags. Oh, and don't raise a red flag, they're a bit funny about Communism over there. Consider a Swastika instead - a swastika is free speech precisely because it's so repugnant. They'll be falling over themselves to not be prejudiced against your right to fly a swastika. Just no communism, okay?

ATT Is your best bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280822)

Enough said!

mysimplemobile (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280898)

http://www.mysimplemobile.com/Simple-Mobile-Plan.aspx

$40/mo unlimited talk/text

$60/mo unlimited talk/text/data as long as unlimited means under 1GB/mo

Bring your own unlocked phone. Pay cash for just the SIM with no ID, credit check, etc etc

I don't know why they haven't been shutdown yet, since you can be relatively anonymous on the service.

They ride on T-Mobiles service.

Re:mysimplemobile (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281168)

They ride on T-Mobiles service.

Or you just just get a T-Mobile "pay as you go" account with no monthly cost.

http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/prepaid-plans.aspx

Re:mysimplemobile (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#36282026)

Or you just just get a T-Mobile "pay as you go" account with no monthly cost.

http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/prepaid-plans.aspx

The my-simple-mobile service is far lower cost and is only by the month without any contract.

TAKE YOUR VACATION! (2)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280900)

HWY 101 rocks, don't ruin it w/ a damn phone!

Re:TAKE YOUR VACATION! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36280932)

HWY 101 rocks, don't ruin it w/ a damn phone!

Why not, everyone else does.

Re:TAKE YOUR VACATION! (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281020)

/cry

It's true...

O.K. so there may be some caveat's... Truth be told, I use data on my phone to pump Pandora through my car stereo, but out there, it's pretty choppy, so I usually switch to something else.

Even Verizon doesn't cover the whole 101 stretch though, there are many parts in WA & OR that don't get 3G coverage, so data will be slower than snail mail. Between Forks and Ocean Shores for sure.

Really, if you're responding a few quick texts... fine, but if an "emergency" happened, what could you REALLY do about it? You'd have to hunt down a library, or drive to a coverage area to do anything productive.

Otherwise, there are plenty of hotspots along the way to dump data, Forks, Ocean Shores, Astoria, Long beach, Pacific beach, etc... I'd use free wifi...
Again, those pay as you go plans won't help, even if you find a resonably priced one, if you don't have coverage, or have limited coverage.

(Coverage may have changed since I've been out there, but I doubt it)

Virgin Mobile $25.00 300 minutes unlimited txt/3g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36280942)

Radioshack is offering a deal for the LG Optimus V right now for $149.00 at http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11231368#
You have to purchase from within a store, but it shouldn't be too much of a hassle to get a u.s. friend/relative to pick one up.

Their lowest priced no-contract plan for the phone is $25.00 and includes 300 minutes with unlimited texting, and internet usage. Along with the widely available free wifi in the Pacific NW, you should be set for talking over Google Voice so as to not even use your 300 minutes at all.

Then you can always resell the phone over craigslist/ebay/amazon for it's usual price of $200.00, and you'll be making a profit of $25.00 while still receiving full usage of the item for a month, or so.

hwy 101 in spotty for 3g (1)

murphtall (1979734) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281002)

hwy 101 in spotty for 3g at best in WA and OR. at&t will work for coverage, its what i have and it works fine in hwy 101 in WA, i would imagine in Oregon that the coverage is similar. rest areas in washington state have free wifi, so that will help too. HTH ~KM (Washington resident)

Try to find a local carrier (1, Interesting)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281016)

Try to find a local carrier in the area. You may be able to find US Cellular, Metro PCS, or something along those lines.

The reason I recommend looking into them is with a lot of those companies you'll get better coverage if they are a local provider as they'll have their own towers in the area (much the same way Immix Wireless does in central and eastern PA). Plus, with a lot of them (just like with AT&T and Verizon) you can get either a pre-paid plan or sign up for a plan without contract since you'll have your own phone. Just get a SIM card from them and go. The other issue you may have is doesn't the iPhones (or at least the newer ones) use the smaller SIM cards? It may mean you'd have to try to trim the card to fit like others have done in the past.

Still your best option is a pre-paid phone, but with a lot of those the "data internet" is really more of a Mobile Web (cut back version)... so keeping your own phone may not be a bad idea. I haven't tried, so I don't know if you stick a Pre-Paid SIM into a regular phone, if it works right. (I know at least on Verizon the "pre-paid" phones have custom firmware that includes the prepaid options).

You could also just do a TracPhone or something along those lines and just stick to calling and texting and forget about the data... save that for uploading pictures/facebook/etc when you're home, or send them over bluetooth to a laptop and upload on a WiFi signal at a coffee shop or some open network you find while you're out there.

Re:Try to find a local carrier (1)

BigIrv (695710) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281488)

Sorry, MetroPCS, Cricket, and US Cellular are CDMA carriers. They do not have SIMs. The only big GSM networks in the US are AT&T and T-Mobile.

Does anybody have a useful response? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281040)

AT&T and Tmobile both want you to sign contracts with them for pay as you go if you didn't buy the phones from them directly. At least this is what I was told by both companies when I tried to get a prepaid account for my Huawei Ideos.

Cricket (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281048)

I am really surprised nobody so far has mentioned Cricket [mycricket.com]. They have unlimited plans, cover all 50 states, and NO CONTRACT. You pay month-to-month.

I used Cricket for several years and they were probably the least-hassle mobile phone company I ever dealt with. The only reason I switched away from them is that I needed data and at the time (this was about 5 years ago or so) they didn't have it.

Check them out.

Re:Cricket (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281130)

They have roaming agreements to cover all the US, but you can't buy their service from everywhere. And if you look at their data map, the 101 is pretty barren.

Don't bother planning ahead (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281058)

Just show up and see what the locals are doing. Do that. They'll have already figured out which carrier works best where you are.

You're looking for Simple Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281060)

Simple Mobile offers unlimited, pre-paid GSM plans for $60/month. But note that their "unlimited" data has been known to cut off at 1GB in a month. Also note that they are built on top of T-Mobile's network so there's not a large amount of 3G coverage. In the rural areas, you'll be limited to EDGE.

http://www.mysimplemobile.com

break the rusty cage (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281104)

I'm telling you this as a friend: If this is really a vacation, then turn off the smartphone. Or get a cheap prepaid phone at the drugstore in case of emergency.

Life is too short. Try a few weeks off the web just to see what it's like. You may never get another chance to do so. You may think that words like "roaming data plan" mean freedom, but the opposite is true. Freedom is not having to be connected. It's exhilarating.

-

Re:break the rusty cage (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281380)

And if where you work requires it, this isnt an option.

Re:break the rusty cage (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281822)

And if where you work requires it, this isnt an option

If where you work requires you to be on duty during your vacation, it's time to think about a change of careers.

$500 bucks and golden, but see Canada instead. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281126)

If you give AT&T $500 (for a year) they will make you a *regular* client with no-contract. This works for Canadians, not sure about people from Europe. Vacation? Fly in Vancouver Canada instead, drive to Baniff, fly out of Calgary, then you won't get your cell phone and laptop vacuumed by Uncle Sam.

In Canada, couple of twenties to Rogers for a 3G pay as you go sim.

Ovi maps preloaded will save money - get the N8 (1)

thaig (415462) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281144)

The N8's prime advantages on holiday are:

Preloaded maps so you don't need to eat up bandwidth to look up how to get places.
A 12MP camera that justifies the megapixel numbr by being fantastic and better if you get the panorama app.
Longer battery life than most of them and certainly longer than a lot of cameras.
Pentaband Radio - if it's GSM you can connect.
Built like a brick shithouse. Sorry, that saying might be local to where I'm from but basically it's tough.
The HDMI output is very nice for looking at photos you took that day or with the USB on the go feature you can use the phone to show the pictures off a camera which doesn't have a video output.

I have taken it on holiday and it's the one to have IMO. I am very biased, BTW so you should know that and I admit that many things might not seem great about its GUI etc but I just don't think they counted much when I was out there using it.

Here is an example of a Panorama I took with it of Table Mountain:

http://www.panogio.com/south-africa/3751101061399 [panogio.com]

Regards,

Tim

Re:Ovi maps preloaded will save money - get the N8 (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281452)

Those preloaded maps...is that NAVTEQ data? If so, it's going to be rubbish in the Pacific Northwest. OpenStreetMap will be substantially less useless.

Re:Ovi maps preloaded will save money - get the N8 (1)

thaig (415462) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281540)

If this is ok for you then the maps should be ok too:

http://maps.ovi.com/# [ovi.com]|47.7023446|-122.2419395|11|0|0|hybrid.day?

It doesn't seem too bad to me. It's not great in Argentina or my part of Africa. It's also quite a lot better than not having a map at all because you've run out of credit or can't get a signal.

Regards,

Tim

Re:Ovi maps preloaded will save money - get the N8 (1)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281734)

I've used the NAVTEQ data extensively in the northwest, it's just plain useless, especially if you're leaving a major city, or go someplace in a major city that has been rebuilt in the last five years (thanks to Californication and a tendency for demolishing blight and disaster-damaged areas and rebuilding it from scratch, this represents a major usability issue in the Puget Sound and Portland-Vancouver areas). NAVTEQ is more likely to get you thoroughly lost in Seattle than just winging it without a map.

Turn the iPhone to WiFi and use a local phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281212)

I live in Seattle and we were in a similar situation a few weeks back in Thailand. We found that using a pair of local pay as you go phones solved the phone issue and we set our iPhones to Airplane mode with WiFi turned on. Just about every coffee shop will have free wifi, including the ubiquitous starbucks.

walmart (3, Funny)

ThurstonMoore (605470) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281282)

Go to walmart and buy one of their pre-paid smartphones. It will also add to the American experience.

Re:walmart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281450)

Are you referring to this http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/ as the "American experience"?

AT&T GoPhone plans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281286)

For an iPhone and no contract, AT&T's GoPhone prepaid plans are suitable, but without data service, unless you pay extra for that. Then it runs 10/min, or, if you prefer, $2 for any day when it's in use, with unlimited usage for that day.

Check out Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281308)

Don't know if your Apple phone will work on their network but http://www.virginmobileusa.com/ have nice prepaid options that include data and start at $25 per month.

Check with the carrier.

Advice from Seattle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281336)

No one likes to upset their CEO. Metro Seattle is the US headquarters for T-Mobile, so their coverage is good here, as well as along major highways and medium-sized cities. If that's where you'll be, an unlocked iPhone with T-Mobile pre-pay would be you best deal. That's what I have and I'm happy with it. Just keep in mind that iPhones don't match well with T-Mobile's data plans. You can only get slow EDGE service, I believe. But free Wifi is easy to find here at any public library and many cafes and coffee shops.

If not, try either AT&T or see if there's a reseller that suits you needs. If you get here without a plan, check out the cell booth at discounters such as Sam's Club and Costco. I believe if you tell them you're going to the cellular booth, you can get in without a membership. Unfortunately, they usually want to sign you up for a plan with a 'free' phone.

Roaming costs in USA coming from Argentina (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281396)

Somebody asked why should someone get a new simcard... Well... I live in Argentina and have a phone from a local company called Personal, and if I travel to the US I would be charged USD 3.30 per MB (source: http://www.personal.com.ar/roaming/enelexterior/factura.html ).

Does that price sound reasonable?

Why do you need net access? (1)

timbos (710908) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281468)

Why do you need smartphone access for a 2 week holiday? Surely you can reduce your phonecalls to keep the cost down and spend 2 weeks enjoying your vacation rather than having your nose stuck in your phone. Free WiFi is common in hotels, restaurants, pubs, and coffeeshops.

Re:Why do you need net access? (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281590)

Why do you need clothes for a 2 week holiday? Surely you can reduce your time in public to keep your exposure down and spend 2 weeks enjoying your vacation rather than having your arms stuck in your clothes.

Or any other ridiculous variation. We all have different preferences and desires -- why are you trying to force yours on others?

GSM? Try Simple Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36281554)

GSM? Try Simple Mobile (T-Mobile reseller).

http://www.mysimplemobile.com/

Order your sim card now!

T-Mobile (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281654)

They have unlimited data, unlimited SMS and a fairly reasonable number of minutes. And the price isn't so bad either.

The coverage could use a little work, but it's pretty good in cities and on the freeways between them.

I will be quite unhappy if they are swallowed by AT&T. They are the least bad of all the cell phone operators.

www.prepaidgsm.net (2)

agw (6387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281692)

Usually a link to www.prepaidgsm.net settles this question for all your vacation destinations.

It's really a great site.

My personal choice is always to put a prepaid GSM card with some cheap data plan into my primary smart phone and then use an older phone with my home country SIM to receive calls or make calls where my caller id is important. Others work around that by forwarding calls and using special services like skype's caller id function.

don't bother (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36281944)

I visited the US last year for two weeks (and going back this summer for three weeks), and I say, don't bother. You won't be using the phone as much as you think. If you are disciplined.

I try not to use my phone browsing unless I was on a wireless, which meant at the hotel or other hotspots. Fine, so sms cost $0.75, but I didn't send that many messages anyway (send email while at the hotel where you are going to meet your friends, then one sms if they were late). Probably didn't send more than 10 during my stay last year. Only thing was the map, maybe. But I got a Nokia, which meant I just pre-downloaded the map when I was on the wireless, and then tried to only use gps (no gsm). Not sure if iPhone has something similar.

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