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Thread: Using my at&t iphone in the UK

  1. #1
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    Using my at&t iphone in the UK

    I wasn't sure the best place to post this. My wife and I are going to England Scotland and Paris next year, assuming the rona lets us. We have iPhone XRs under commitment and old 6S+s that we don't use. We will be there for two weeks or so, only a couple of days in Paris. I'm looking for affordable and reliable service mainly for data and sms/mms. I know AT&T has plans, but at $300 for two weeks and 2 phones isn't cheap.

    Should I go with AT&T, see if I can get my sim switched to esim and get a local sim there or should I take the 6s+s and get a sim there?

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    Don't forget that they also have a pay per use option. As I recall, incoming text messages are free, outbound SMS at a slight charge. Keep in mind if you have WiFi available, many countries/locations do, you can use iMessages and WiFi calling at no additional charge. Make certain you know how to use those features and you can avoid many potential roaming charges. I suggest you call or do an online chat with customer service for clarification. I hope that you will have the chance to go and that you have a safe and happy trip. Best wishes.
    Just another day in paradise.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serial Port View Post
    Don't forget that they also have a pay per use option. As I recall, incoming text messages are free, outbound SMS at a slight charge. Keep in mind if you have WiFi available, many countries/locations do, you can use iMessages and WiFi calling at no additional charge. Make certain you know how to use those features and you can avoid many potential roaming charges. I suggest you call or do an online chat with customer service for clarification. I hope that you will have the chance to go and that you have a safe and happy trip. Best wishes.
    Thanks you. I forgot about wifi calling

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    Quote Originally Posted by DewChugr View Post
    Should I go with AT&T, see if I can get my sim switched to esim and get a local sim there or should I take the 6s+s and get a sim there?
    The ATT phones likely won't work with UK SIMs since they are locked while you are paying them off. If you are generally in the same place, you could get a local SIM with data and wi-fi hotspot support, and put your ATT phones on Wi-Fi only. And use them through the 6s+. Unless that is too complicated.
    iPhone 11 is my current primary phone. But I have more phones than lines. Back to only Prepaid with the changes in the economy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevink1 View Post
    The ATT phones likely won't work with UK SIMs since they are locked while you are paying them off. If you are generally in the same place, you could get a local SIM with data and wi-fi hotspot support, and put your ATT phones on Wi-Fi only. And use them through the 6s+. Unless that is too complicated.
    I could just take the old phones and get a sim there and make it simple.

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    If your XR will have been paid off by the time you take your trip you can get AT&T to unlock it. (Or you can simply pay off the remaining balance.) Then my suggestion would be to switch to an AT&T esim and pick up a local UK SIM card. With AT&T’s WiFi Calling turned on you will be be able to make and receive calls and texts from your regular AT&T number using the cellular data from the local UK Sim. (In other words, not just over WiFi.)

    Be sure to configure the dual sim and roaming settings so there won’t be any roaming on AT&T. I agree that a chat with AT&T or Apple customer service on how to do that is a good idea.

    FYI, you can purchase a Three UK sim preloaded with a data & call plan from Amazon here in the US before the trip. It’s about the same price as buying it after you arrive in the UK. If you go that route I recommend choosing ‘UKSims’ as the Amazon seller.

    If you can’t get your XR’s unlocked then you can use local UK Sims in the 6+s & still save a lot of money over AT&T roaming. Make sure to call AT&T and have the 6s unlocked first. I recommend downloading google voice on the 6s and forwarding calls from your AT&T number to google voice. In this scenario you can actually also still receive & send iMessages with your US AT&T number. Apple customer service can show you how to configure the settings for that. Alternatively or in addition you can also just communicate with your friends and family using WhatsApp, FB Messenger.

    Hope that helps!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DewChugr View Post
    I could just take the old phones and get a sim there and make it simple.
    When traveling I feel no need to maintain the home routine of calls and texts and like to keep it simple and enjoy the trip. Sometimes, and for some people, that is not entirely possible.

    I do keep a VOIP phone service on the phone just in case. I use a Google Voice number with Hangouts to keep that simple. That allows me to phone and text to the US for free using hotel or public WiFi, or data from the local SIM. Calls use about 1 MB a minute. Texts use next to nothing.

    Some hotel and public WiFi block VOIP calling. It's hit and miss, but usually works.

    I recommend installing it and learn how to use it before departing.

    If there is a need to call local numbers in the foreign country, the local SIM makes that much easier.

    I also recommend installing Here Maps and downloading offline maps for where you are going to the phone. That allows maps and navigation without using data or even having active phone service.

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    There are also services like Skyroam. Rent their hotspot for the period you need it and return it. That way you can just turn off cellular and stay connected to Wifi the entire time. I did it when I went to London 2 years ago and had zero issues with it.

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    I've been to the UK and Europe several times. Make sure you test to confirm your phone is unlocked. Don't believe anyone. Band 20 gives the most coverage area. Order a free SIM from https://www.giffgaff.com/. They will send it free anywhere. Set up an account with a credit card and put some money on it, a few pounds more than the data bucket you will be purchasing. You don't need to be in the UK to activated the SIM even though they make it sound like you do. Giffgaff will work anywhere in Europe with no roaming fees. A few days before you head over activate what they call a "Goodybag". This is your data bucket good for 1 month. The cost is $10 pounds up to $25 pounds depending on the size of the data bucket. Once that is activated remove your credit card from the account so there will be no more charges. Tethering is allowed. Remove your US SIM and install the Giffgaff SIM while over the Atlantic. You should be good to go as soon as you land. I've been doing this for over 10 years and have never had a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by surreymicro View Post
    I've been to the UK and Europe several times. Make sure you test to confirm your phone is unlocked. Don't believe anyone. Band 20 gives the most coverage area. Order a free SIM from https://www.giffgaff.com/. They will send it free anywhere. Set up an account with a credit card and put some money on it, a few pounds more than the data bucket you will be purchasing. You don't need to be in the UK to activated the SIM even though they make it sound like you do. Giffgaff will work anywhere in Europe with no roaming fees. A few days before you head over activate what they call a "Goodybag". This is your data bucket good for 1 month. The cost is $10 pounds up to $25 pounds depending on the size of the data bucket. Once that is activated remove your credit card from the account so there will be no more charges. Tethering is allowed. Remove your US SIM and install the Giffgaff SIM while over the Atlantic. You should be good to go as soon as you land. I've been doing this for over 10 years and have never had a problem.
    Is this data only with no voice or text service?

    [Edit] Ok, I checked at the link. It says calls and texts are unlimited. Do you get a UK number?

    The rates are 6GBP for 500 MB, 8GBP for 2 GB and up from there.

    It says, "Calls to international and premium numbers
    Add credit to make calls and texts to international and premium numbers or to send picture messages."

    What is considered an international number? Is a call from UK to France an international call? If you are in France is a call to a French number an international call?

    Otherwise, it says data in the EU is the same as home up to 20 GB. I guess home is the UK.

    Says it uses the O2 network.

    Sounds interesting for something you don't have to fiddle with when you arrive. Had not heard of this one.
    Last edited by bobdevnul; 07-10-2020 at 10:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by surreymicro View Post
    I've been to the UK and Europe several times. Make sure you test to confirm your phone is unlocked. Don't believe anyone. Band 20 gives the most coverage area. Order a free SIM from https://www.giffgaff.com/. They will send it free anywhere. Set up an account with a credit card and put some money on it, a few pounds more than the data bucket you will be purchasing. You don't need to be in the UK to activated the SIM even though they make it sound like you do. Giffgaff will work anywhere in Europe with no roaming fees. A few days before you head over activate what they call a "Goodybag". This is your data bucket good for 1 month. The cost is $10 pounds up to $25 pounds depending on the size of the data bucket. Once that is activated remove your credit card from the account so there will be no more charges. Tethering is allowed. Remove your US SIM and install the Giffgaff SIM while over the Atlantic. You should be good to go as soon as you land. I've been doing this for over 10 years and have never had a problem.
    Do this or the UK 3 sim card as someone mentioned earlier. Stick the sim in an unlocked phone and turn on the hotspot feature. For your other phones, turn on airplane mode and turn on the wifi and connect to the hotspot. You will get your text and phone calls via wifi calling. We did this with an Orange sim card from Amazon for 20 GB of data for $40. This supported four phones, when we got on the plane to leave Europe, we were down to 0.1GB. I chose the Orange card because of the countries we visited and the 4G data. If I were going to the places you named, the two cards mentioned above will be fine. You can check Amazon or Ebay for the 3 Sim and make sure the data is 4G LTE. There is no charge for the roaming in Europe. It was great that we also had free minutes to make calls without paying for the calls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DewChugr View Post
    Thanks you. I forgot about wifi calling
    Not just WiFi calling but also FaceTime and FaceTime Audio calling over WiFi as well when talking to others in iPhones and iPads and Apple computers.

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    Yes, you get a UK number when you activate the SIM. Dialing numbers in the UK is different than in the US or Canada. All phone numbers start with "0" (zero). If you don't dial correctly it won't connect. If you are in the UK then a call to France is an international call. If you are in France and call France then it's a local call. Calls to a UK number are local calls, doesn't matter if you are in France or the UK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobdevnul View Post
    Is this data only with no voice or text service?

    [Edit] Ok, I checked at the link. It says calls and texts are unlimited. Do you get a UK number?

    The rates are 6GBP for 500 MB, 8GBP for 2 GB and up from there.

    It says, "Calls to international and premium numbers
    Add credit to make calls and texts to international and premium numbers or to send picture messages."

    What is considered an international number? Is a call from UK to France an international call? If you are in France is a call to a French number an international call?

    Otherwise, it says data in the EU is the same as home up to 20 GB. I guess home is the UK.

    Says it uses the O2 network.

    Sounds interesting for something you don't have to fiddle with when you arrive. Had not heard of this one.

    I second the suggestion for giffgaff. Worked great for my daughter when she studied abroad in the UK.

    One note of caution - make sure you order your SIM way ahead of time. I ordered two for my wife and me when we went to visit her several weeks in advance and the SIMs didn't arrive until we had already departed. Had to buy SIMs at a Verizon store when we got over there.

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