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  1. #1
    MacInWin
    Guest
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6
    I am looking for some advice from anyone in UK/Belgium/The Netherlands who can help. My wife and I are planning to visit England, Belgium and The Netherlands in April/May and I am taking my iPhone6. I plan to use it for both text and data, plus maybe local calls in the UK. I'm going to use Skype to call back to the US if needed, so international voice minutes are not critical. Last time I travelled to UK and France, I got a sim card at a shop that was from Lyca and allegedly was "international" with 60 minutes talk and the data/texts beyond what I needed. However, when I travelled to France and needed to make a phone call, I got a message that I only had 10 minutes because it was now in France. I ended up having to get another card in France, this one from Orange, that seemed to work well there but as soon as I arrived back in England quit working because it was not international. The third card I got was from "3" and worked well for the three weeks in England, with the exception that I could not call certain numbers that are the equivalent of 800 numbers in the US.

    So, to avoid the adventure this time, can anyone living there tell me what sim card/plan would work well for this scenario: I need about 60 minutes international calling, 4 gb data, preferable 4g speed, and a few hundred texts. I will be about 3 weeks in England, then one week in Belgium/The Netherlands, and then back to UK for 2 weeks. I know that is more than a month, so I fully expect to have to top off, or replace the card as most of them seem to be for a month only. Last time none of the three would allow me to top off with my US credit cards, rejecting them as unacceptable because they were from the US. I'd like to avoid that, too, if I can, but that's not a show-stopper because I can get two cards and swap them if I need to. I do realize the number will change, but I can live with that.

    So, any advice?

    PS: Before anyone suggests, my carrier now is Verizon and their international plans are abysmal. I can keep my current plan (Unlimited texts, 4GB data, 700 minutes/month) for $10/day while traveling, which would be close to $400 for the trip, or sign on for a monthly international service at $40/month for 100 minutes/100 texts/100Mb data, with overage on data at $25 per 100Mb. As I do plan to use the data for GPS and Skype back to the US, my first estimate of what that would cost got to or above the $400 level again, so I'm looking for a more reasonable solution.

    TIA
    Last edited by MacInWin; 01-08-2016 at 01:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6

    Member Since
    Mar 05, 2014
    Location
    London UK
    Posts
    64
    Your Mac's Specs
    MacBook Pro 15" mid-2009 2.8GHz 8GB OSX El Capitán 11.6; G4 Powerbook 12" 867Mhz 1152MB OS X 10.5.8.
    I am not that familiar with roaming, but I believe the EU regulations are changing to make it cheaper.
    Here are some UK providers to check out.
    ee.co.uk
    o2.co.uk
    three.co.uk
    vodafone.co.uk
    giffgaff.com

    JP

  3. #3
    MacInWin
    Guest
    Thanks for the links. I had been to all but giffgaff.com, which was a new one. The plans all look "reasonable" but I'm a bit concerned about whether or not they support 4G/LTE instead of 3G. I want to use GPS and traffic reporting so data speeds are important. Nothing like a spinning wheel when you need to know if to get off the motorway! I may end up with three cards--one for the first few weeks in UK, then one for the Belgium/Netherlands leg, then another to finish out in UK. That may well be the way to go, given I don't care about the call number changing.

  4. #4
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6
    badshoehabit's Avatar
    Member Since
    Aug 02, 2011
    Location
    Tyneside, UK
    Posts
    1,478
    Your Mac's Specs
    MBP Retina late 2015 15.4" 16GB 2.5 GHz OS Mojave; iPhone 7 128gb; iPad Mini 2, 32gb
    Three certainly supports 4G. My sim only Three package includes free international roaming and it's a one month renewable contract. You get free mobile to mobile and landline calls/texts within UK; free calls/texts to UK numbers when abroad; free roaming. I'm using a 5s.

    If you don't already have it, it's worth downloading (free) WhatsApp which allows free texts & picture messaging internationally by wifi for contacts who are also users.
    Last edited by badshoehabit; 01-10-2016 at 01:05 PM.

  5. #5
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6
    Sawday's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location
    York, UK
    Posts
    1,561
    Your Mac's Specs
    iMac: 27”, 3.4 GHz, 16Gb RAM. iPad2, iPad mini4, iPhone5s
    MacInWin, Just a couple of points and sorry I can't suggest any particular SIMS. Firstly, 4G is by no means universal in the UK - in fact 'Up North' it's quite rare. I've had a 4G plan for over a year but only ever got a 4G signal on one occasion. Fortunately, it costs me no more but unless you're in a major town I'd recommend you don't pay much extra for 4G if you can't use it. Google will give you sites that show maps of coverage. Secondly, the terminology over here for adding credit to a pay-as-you-go SIM is 'Top Up' rather that 'Top Off'. 'Top Off' might be misconstrued if misheard which is a possibility with a US accent
    Experience teaches you to recognise a mistake when you make it again.

  6. #6
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6
    badshoehabit's Avatar
    Member Since
    Aug 02, 2011
    Location
    Tyneside, UK
    Posts
    1,478
    Your Mac's Specs
    MBP Retina late 2015 15.4" 16GB 2.5 GHz OS Mojave; iPhone 7 128gb; iPad Mini 2, 32gb
    4G, when available, is free with Three. Some places you get no signal, never mind 4G, but that applies everywhere you travel; move a few yards (especially in the wilds) and it returns.

  7. #7
    MacInWin
    Guest
    Thanks. I think Three it is. I'll do some research into topping up on US credit card. That should work!

  8. #8
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6

    Member Since
    Mar 22, 2013
    Posts
    113
    Your Mac's Specs
    13" MBP, 27" iMac, Mac Mini Server, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 7, 2-Apple TV Gen 4
    We have an ee hotspot for when we travel to the UK and we have been unable to "top up" from the US. Topping up online requires an account with a UK address (or it did last tme we tried). If anyone knows a way for us to add data to our ee hotspot from the US, I'd be much appreciative for the info.

    And so as not to hijack the thread too much, is it even possible to swap out SIMs on a Verizon iPhone to work in the UK? Our iPhones arrive tomorrow, so I'm an iPhone newb. But I'd love to be able to stay in touch with Wifey via text or voice during our next trip.

  9. #9
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6
    Sawday's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location
    York, UK
    Posts
    1,561
    Your Mac's Specs
    iMac: 27”, 3.4 GHz, 16Gb RAM. iPad2, iPad mini4, iPhone5s
    Just an idea - why not stay in touch using Whatsapp when in a free wifi area. No card, no data. If you haven't come across it you can send text and photos to each other - you'll both need the app.
    Experience teaches you to recognise a mistake when you make it again.

  10. #10
    MacInWin
    Guest
    M_Six, you definitely can just swap SIM cards in a Verizon iPhone. They are now defaulted to unlocked. I did that the last time I travelled in UK/France and it worked great. I just wasn't happy with the services I got for the SIMs I put in, which is why my question of the thread.

  11. #11
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6

    Member Since
    Mar 22, 2013
    Posts
    113
    Your Mac's Specs
    13" MBP, 27" iMac, Mac Mini Server, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 7, 2-Apple TV Gen 4
    Quote Originally Posted by Sawday View Post
    Just an idea - why not stay in touch using Whatsapp when in a free wifi area. No card, no data. If you haven't come across it you can send text and photos to each other - you'll both need the app.
    I'll definitely get that app for when we do have wifi access, but mostly we need to stay in touch when we're both out doing different things around a city where there may not be wifi available everywhere. On our last trip, the day I stopped into a store to pick up the ee hotspot it took much longer than I had hoped and Wifey ended up standing around on a street corner for a half hour.


    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    M_Six, you definitely can just swap SIM cards in a Verizon iPhone. They are now defaulted to unlocked. I did that the last time I travelled in UK/France and it worked great. I just wasn't happy with the services I got for the SIMs I put in, which is why my question of the thread.
    Very cool. So the new SIM gives you a new number and has pre-paid minutes and data, right? Basically turns your iPhone into a pre-paid phone?

  12. #12
    MacInWin
    Guest
    Yep, a local UK number and whatever minutes/data/text you have on the card. I then use Skype to get back to the US, but do like the text capability. And I use a ton of data for GPS as well. So I get a card with few minutes, tons of data and international texting.

  13. #13
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6

    Member Since
    Mar 22, 2013
    Posts
    113
    Your Mac's Specs
    13" MBP, 27" iMac, Mac Mini Server, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 7, 2-Apple TV Gen 4
    Cool. Thanks for that. Do remember the approximate cost of the SIM you bought? We'd only need the minimum amount of talk minutes and texts for the few times we're not together. For data we have the ee hotspot.

  14. #14
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6
    badshoehabit's Avatar
    Member Since
    Aug 02, 2011
    Location
    Tyneside, UK
    Posts
    1,478
    Your Mac's Specs
    MBP Retina late 2015 15.4" 16GB 2.5 GHz OS Mojave; iPhone 7 128gb; iPad Mini 2, 32gb
    Something else: 'The Cloud' is a free UK wifi service which you can pick up in many bars/restaurants etc. You sign up once then use it when available.

    http://www.thecloud.net/free-wifi/

  15. #15
    Travel in UK and my iPhone6

    Member Since
    Mar 22, 2013
    Posts
    113
    Your Mac's Specs
    13" MBP, 27" iMac, Mac Mini Server, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 7, 2-Apple TV Gen 4
    Cool. I'll check that out. Even the paid service for a month is reasonable if it guarantees you access at all locations. Certainly cheaper than the ee data plans.

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