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Is the Verizon iPhone Good for Travelers?

by on February 17, 2011 · 26 comments

in Travel Technology

As a New Yorker, I was elated to get rid of my AT&T iPhone. I had suffered from pitiful service: constant dropped calls, erratic data, no reception in elevators or underground, and the list goes on. The major drawback to the Verizon iPhone seems to be its inability to support data and voice usage at the same time. However, since this is something I almost never do, I was more than happy to pay the $110 cancellation fee on my AT&T contract and get a phone that actually works – well, at least in the US.

The fact is the Verizon iPhone works spectacularly – on my first day, I actually carried on a conversation in a high speed elevator going up 40 floors in a midtown Skyscraper (I was alone in the elevator, I promise). Later that day I was on the 1 train underground at Times Square and my phone actually rang and I had a quick conversation. Then leaving Penn Station on the Long Island Railroad en route to the Airtrain at Jamaica, my data usage was uninterrupted while exiting the city underground! All of these things would have never been possible with AT&T service.

The honeymoon phase with the iPhone came to a quick end however, when I realized it wouldn’t work abroad in a lot of countries. In fact, I’m actually still confused where it actually will work, because I’m being confronted with a ton of conflicting information on the internet. From what I’ve gathered, it should work in Canada, Mexico,  China, and a bunch of developing countries, but almost nowhere in Europe. While disappointing,  I’m not completely crestfallen about this issue for a couple reasons:

1) Wifi is more prevalent than ever – this will force me to seek out free hotspots and spend less on roaming data,
2) I should use the Skype app and wifi instead of making expensive voice calls,
3)  I need to be using my phone less when traveling, anyway. Being plugged in 24/7 is a blessing and a curse. I’m pre-programmed to constantly check my email/ blog comments/ Flyertalk, etc, so being forced to limit my access when abroad might be a good thing, albeit painful at first I’m sure.
4) I still have my AT&T iPhone, so I can bring it when traveling and buy a local SIM card, which is probably cheaper than buying roaming voice and data through Verizon. Anyone know a reputable jailbreaking service? (That sounds like an oxymoron)

Overall, the phone itself is absolutely fantastic, so I don’t regret the switch. However, I was a little annoyed last night when I was on the phone with Continental and after spending nearly 30 minutes on hold waiting for the international award desk, the agent finally answered and at the exact second the call dropped. I haven’t experienced any other issues, but for the sake of fair reporting, I wanted to relay the good and the bad.

Has anyone else switched to the Verizon iPhone? Do you have a definitive list of countries where the phone will work?

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Chase

    One option to get around this is to jailbreak your old AT&T iPhone and put in a foreign pre-payed SIM card when you go abroad. It’s a little bit of work, but you already have the old phone just sitting around, why not get some use out of it?

    My contract ends in June, I’m currently undecided about what I will do. I’m assuming a new model will come out, the question will be whether to get it on AT&T or Verizon.

  • The Points Guy

    Good point Chase- do you know of any good jailbreaking services?

  • nsfw

    Just to clarify @Chase, jailbreak does not equal unlock. Jailbreak is getting administrative privileges to your iphone and unlock is well duh carrier unlocking.
    If you have an iphone 4 on at&t and you’ve upgraded to 4.2.1 you can not unlock your phone at this point because the latest GSM baseband firmware has not been cracked to unlock. Other models should be Ok. I kept my iphone 4 at iOS 4.0.1 and can unlock.
    Here is a site you can track:
    http://caniunlock.com/

    But to TPG, Facetime is another new option that should work well once you are on wifi. Remember there is a facetime desktop app for mac as well now. Even new ipod touch users can facetime.
    One more thing to remember is when you Skype out to regular phone lines from a foreign country to your own country you are only getting charged local phone rates.
    So for example, I’m in Brazil on wifi and I skype out to a number in san francisco, I’m only going to be charged as if I’m making a united states long distance call. Penny(pennies) a minute.
    Also the new version of skype for iOS allows for video calls to almost any other computer, tv, or phone.

  • John

    iPhone 5 will come out soon in the summer.

  • Chase

    Thanks for the correction on my terminology nsfw.

    Although 4.2.1 hasn’t been cracked yet, I have faith that the interwebs will figure it out in time.

    I personally haven’t thought about it too much, but plan to unlock my phone (3Gs w/ 4.2) after I get a new phone this summer.

  • Dean

    LOVE the site! My friend Manjil jailbroke his iPhone. I can ask him. Also, my dad wants to jailbreak an extra iPhone he has and the people at the apple store actually told him how/where to do it. I’ll ask him as well. It’s the least I can do after the great info I’ve gotten from your website! I’m actually going to Stockholm for $150 thanks to thepointsguy.com — and I got that amazing deal to Vegas from expedia.ca thanks to this site!

    I have an unlocked nokia that I use when i travel but i’ve found lately that I just end up using my iPhone as, as long as I’m careful about how much I use it, I don’t have to worry about buying a country-specific SIM card and my bill doesn’t end up being that much. Receiving texts is free if you have a text package and I don’t use voice that much abroad.

  • JohnnieD

    My wife has a verizon Droid phone. It did not work on our last trip to Greece/Italy but the wifi function did when we found a signal. We used Skype when we actually did need to use a phone. Free wifi is not everywhere but with a little planning/searching it is possible. Still not as easy/convienient as having ATT abroad with sim card change, but hey when one is traveling we leave work @ home right?

  • http://janiskrums.com jkrums

    That’s the same that I don’t like about the Verizon service. I travel to the US Virgin islands quite a bit and Verizon doesn’t work for me there.

    I’ve ended up using my google voice account and Skype.

    You might want to try out Viber App and this SIM card option for your old iPhone: http://www.maxroam.com/

  • nsfw

    @Dean If you check out my first post, jailbreak won’t really help TPG. He needs an unlock his old GSM phone. The tool is called ultrasn0w.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrasn0w
    http://twitter.com/#!/ultrasn0w

    Looks like the unlock for the iphone 4 for the latest iOS will be held back until iOS 4.3 which should be out Feb 28′th.
    3g, and 3gs users should be able to unlock with unltrasn0w now although it will help to be a little technical.

    John’s point about the iphone 5 is important because its said to be a dual mode GSM+CDMA phone on the same device. Its said that the verizon iphone 4 could have been dual mode but apple chose not to enable the chips capability.

  • mark

    Remember that while VZW will work in Mexico and Canada, be careful of roaming charges. VZW will work (using your plan minutes) in Puerto Rico. I am not sure why it doesn’t work in the USVI…it should…unless VZW simply doesn’t have network there.

  • Jamie

    I believe Verizon will loan you a world (gsm) phone when you travel abroad with little notice. I did this once, but it was a couple years ago. Of course, it wont be the iPhone, but it could be something even better, like a droid ;)

  • Aleks

    iOS 4.2.1 can be easily jailbroken via http://greenpois0n.com/ (note that’s a zero, not an “o” after the “s”). Unlocking can then be done via sn0wbreeze. See this post on ultrasn0w.ca: http://www.ultrasn0w.ca/2011/02/sn0wbreeze-22-to-jailbreak-ios-421.html

  • nsk

    Aleks is right – greenpois0n works FINE to jailbreak an iPhone 4 on 4.2.1. From there, unlocking is a snap. The other posters above are spreading misinformation.

    TPG: I’ll gladly walk you through the jailbreak and unlock process. Maybe we can do a barter: I’ll help you jailbreak and unlock, if you give me an enhanced membership :)

  • Dean

    @nsfw

    yes, i understand and should have been more clear. I’m aware that unlocking a cdma iphone won’t make it compatible with gsm. I was referring to his old gsm at&t iphone in case that was unclear to anyone else. apologies.

  • Lampert

    Women and teenagers use iPhones. Men use Android.

  • Pingback: Using Skype to Save Money on Phone Calls When Traveling Abroad | The Points Guy

  • Frank

    We use http://www.mobal.com . Purchased just the SIM card. UK phone number. We use it in our – HI phone 4 from China. Quad band unlocked phone…Calls, text & data…Works all over the world without any problems..Looks just like an Iphone but with Android apps…I guess almost the best of both worlds…

  • Crazy3445

    Android BLOWS!!!!!!

  • Crazy

    You must unlock the phone first. It is different than Jailbreaking.

  • Crazy3445

    False. It will arrive this Fall. The iPhone 5 will deffinatelly be a world phone. It is not none if it will have 4G LTE/WiMax/HSPA+

  • Criss

    The CDMA iPhone 4 (AKA the Verizon iPhone) has a new Qualcomm MDM6600 chip set that in theory can and is used in World phones. Unfortunately it is not utilized to its full potential because it s locked to only work on CDMA networks. As of now it is not a world phone, but hopefully an update will come to unlock this chip so it will work on CDMA/GSM networks across the globe. The next iteration of iPhone will be a world phone even though it is yet to be known if it will also connect to the newest 4G networks such as Sprint’s 4G WiMax, T-Mobile/AT&T HSPA+ 4G and Verizon’s 4G LTE. (AT&T is also going to start rolling out its own flavor of LTE this summer, but will not roam on Verizon’s because of different frequencies)
    Other features of the next generation of iPhone include the following:
    Apple A5 1dual core processor
    8 megapixel camera with the possibility of dual LED flash
    new design
    compatabillty to work on all 4 major US carriers: Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile
    And a 3.7-4in. screen

  • Jbee

    And men with small penis write this on the internet

  • Chris Anderson

    We have have the iPhone 4 ,3Gs? 16GB and 32GB, in stock for sale at affordable prices.

    iPhone 3G 8GB Cost……..US$250
    iPhone 3G 16GB Cost…….US$300
    iPhone 3Gs 16GB Cost……US$350
    iPhone 3Gs 32GB Cost……US$400
    iPhone 4G 16GB Cost…….US$500
    iPhone 4G 32GB Cost…….US$600

    Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G 64 GB – Apple iOS 4 1 GHz – Black Cost US$450

    Apple iPad 2 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G for Verizon Black Cost US$550

    Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi 64 GB – Apple iOS 4 1 GHz – White Cost US$600

    Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G 32 GB – Apple iOS 4 1 GHz – White Cost US$650

    Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi – 64GB – Black MC916LLA/ Cost US$1,000

    Contact us for the Full details.and for other mobile phones in stock.

    1. Complete accessories(Well packed and sealed in original company box)
    2. Unlocked / sim free.
    3. Brand new (original manufacturer) box – no copies
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    5. All material (software, manual) – car chargers – home chargers – usb data
    cables -holsters/belt clips – wireless headsets(blue-tooth) -leather and
    non-leather carrying cases – batteries.

    SPECIFICATION:

    (ARAB/EUROPEANS/ASIA/US SPECIFICATIONS) GENERAL NETWORK GSM 900/GSM 1800/GSM 1900 PLATFORM – TRI BAND (GSM900 + 1800 + 1900 MHZ.ANY OF THE PHONES THAT IS NOT IN GOOD CONDITION SHOULD BE RETURN IMMEDIATELY TO US AND WE WILL BEAR THE RETURN CHARGES AND REPLACEMENTS FOR THE PHONES.

    Contact us Via: [email protected]

  • Mttcnnn

    Men who like women and not other men also use iPhone. Fuck droid.

  • Cedric Rochat

    I guess Numbridge will be your friend ;-)

  • Hsggygsgft126654fd

    Crestfallen?

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