How to use a smartphone to survive in a foreign city

Comments

  • silver_arrow

    Rogers isn’t the only ones whose phones work on two carriers. Bell phones work on Virgin and Telus on Koodo vica versa without unlocking.

    Anyways with the article I agree this is really everything you need to cover while traveling.Another extremely useful app is Google Now for transit information to places as well as currency exchange, flight information and everything else that it does.

  • silver_arrow

    Rogers isn’t the only ones whose phones work on two carriers. Bell phones work on Virgin and Telus on Koodo vica versa without unlocking.

    Anyways with the article I agree this is really everything you need to cover while traveling.Another extremely useful app is Google Now for transit information to places as well as currency exchange, flight information and everything else that it does.

    • John Borsellino

      Wrong, a Telus won’t necessarily work on Koodo, I had to unlock my daughters Telus LG LTE phone to work on Koodo

    • Hahausuck

      Wrong, a Rogers phone wont necessarily work on fido where it’ll work with chattr. It entirely depends on the phone, and what agreement has been set with the manufacturer (and instructions given to said manufacturer by the carrier.

    • Tom

      In all 3 cases, having the phone work on both the main brand and the MVNO is NOT guaranteed at all. Sometimes it’ll be allowed, sometimes it won’t. It depends on whether the manufacturer bothered to distinguish the IMSI numbers when implementing the SIM lock. It should not be seen as a “given.”

  • Mike366

    If you use a windows phone, here map + Bing translator don’t even require internet connection

    • Mike366

      Real offline map? Or only the area around your route?

    • Jeremy Janzen

      Real offline map… You can cache large areas of maps, wherever you want. I cache my whole city (about 250k people) and I believe its about 25mb stored on my phone. It’s an awesome travelling feature.

    • Hahausuck

      City maps to go works for this too if you don’t wish to use google as your source of map data.

    • Mike366

      Still just cache. What if you go out of the city? Here map allows you to download maps of the world

    • Jeremy Janzen

      You aren’t following… You can download maps of arbitrary size anywhere. So you can download a map that is considerably larger than the city you are visiting. The only major limitation is 6 cached areas total.

    • Mike366

      I have offline maps of countries on my lumia. I don’t have to manage the caches. Caches are not maps

    • Hahausuck

      And iOS also can do offline translating with verbal voice ala Siri. Can’t remember the apps name tho. Prolly itranslate.

    • Mike366

      BTW, I am replying you in DISQUS app on WP. Check it out 🙂

    • Stuntman06

      There are offline mapping apps available for Android. One I use is called NavFree and it is free.

    • Mike366

      Then that should be mentioned in the article. True offline map is very important when you are travelling, especially when you haven’t got a local sim

  • BaconTelevision

    Good article.
    Decent list of recommendations and applications for those looking to travel.
    I’ve used a fair bit of these when travelling.

    If you’re looking for an economical choice of accommodations I might suggest “airbnb”

    For example, I travelled to Japan last month and booked a BnB for 65.00/CAD per night

  • JT money

    There are 3 points in descending importance which I feel should be addressed.

    1) if u want data services, make sure you understand the concept/method of changing APN settings on your phone and make sure you know what those new values are ahead of time if you know which carrier you’re going to use. Depending on who you deal with(where u are), sometimes staff are not as well trained to input those settings themselves

    2) research ahead of time the carrier you’re going to go with. Just to use China as example as I was recently there. The bigger carrier with better coverage is China Mobile, but they are kinda like verizon in that their phones (including iphone 5’s) are different in wireless data frequencies(protocols actually). For international phones to use data there, you need to go with the smaller China Unicom. I imagine other parts of the world are kinda the same

    3) Google services not always the best, in the sense that maps may not recognize the local system of postal addresses. To use China again, many a time because of oriental ways of writing addresses versus western scripts, I would be on the complete opposite side of a city as opposed to where i needed to be. Partially also because China firewalls alot of google services. Had the luxury of using a Nokia WP8 phone on top of Android so their Maps+ helped out when i was carrying it for verification of addresses or translation. Another specific thing with China in case anyone cares, is no one really uses FB messaging or Whatsapp, it’s WeChat.

    hope that helps 🙂

    • Zed

      Excellent point about knowing to deal with APNs, though some SIM cards will provide the APN information to the cellphone.

    • Hahausuck

      Most will provide the basic info for voice and text, but a lot require you to manually enter the data apn. Not sure why? Maybe they change it frequently?

    • JT money

      @disqus_lYYQvE5Ilg:disqus @disqus_DqLJOFUD8w:disqus True that sometimes the sim will import all the info into the phone automatically, but I find more often than not it wont. I have a rogers “branded” Lumia 920 that I use on Bell and I still had to override thru a 3rd party (nokia still) app to manually change APN’s to Bell. I’m pretty sure Roger’s hooks go deeper though for I was never able to get it to work (reliably) on China Unicom versus my optimus G. Also getting MMS and Data to work simultaneously…not always possible depending on phones’ menu settings.

    • HatInTheRing

      I’m glad someone pointed out frequency. This is a huge ommittance from this article. You can’t just unlock your phone, pop in a sim of the same size in any country and you’re off and running.

      For example if you travel to the US and have a Galaxy S3 I747 you can’t use Sprint or Verizon sim cards because they’re CDMA but you can use AT&T and T-Mobile because they run on the compatible GSM network.

      Before you leave make sure you understand the networks your phone is compatible with and do a little research.

  • Zed

    actually it’s *#06# to get IMEI 🙂

  • 2kfire

    “To obtain your IMEI number, go into your phone’s dialer app and type *#06*”

    The dialer code is actually *#06#

    This small error was the source of great frustration the very first time I ever unlocked a phone…

    Edit: Zed, you just beat me!

  • wizard

    I would suggest the magic jack app to make voip calls to mobiles or to land lines.

    • Hahausuck

      Or fongo, textplus, or textme. All provide free voice & SMS.

    • JT money

      Skype?, Skype premium (still really cheap) does intl to pretty much anything with a wire connected to it lol

  • Tim3Tripp3r

    Excellent couple of articles on traveling with a smartphone.
    If I can add my own .02 cents in – There is a app in the Google Play Store called “Tweakker” that after being installed can set the APN, MMS,and internet for 1100 carriers in 200 countries. Seems like a natural companion for the data only SIM traveler going abroad.

  • Water

    Just talk to people…

    • Farid Pirani

      But what if you don’t speak their language…

    • alphs22

      A phrasebook? Hand gestures? Draw on pen+paper?

      I’ve done my share of traveling around Asia and Europe and when asking for directions, most people will understand some very basic English words or will understand the gestures you’re making.

    • BaconTelevision

      While I agree with your statement, the article is about aiding your travels with the use of a smart phone. I’m more comfortable with tossing my wits, a phrase book, etc. I believe it builds character and gives you unique experiences you can’t get through the use of technology.

      However, this article really just highlights the advantages of technology today, and how convenient it’s become for travelers to bridge that gap of language, culture, and customs.

  • alphs22

    I would leave my smartphone when I’m traveling abroad.

    I’m a tech junkie like anyone else, but it’s too easy to fall back into your daily routine (check facebook, email, etc.) rather than immersing yourself in your travels.

    Bring a phrase book. Ask locals for good places to eat. If you want, bring a guidebook and a map to navigate and orient yourself. Leave the phone at home. Sometimes it’s nice to not be connected.

    • JT money

      I understand where u are coming from…however (and I’m going to pull the race card) I was a super-whitewashed Chinese guy in China who couldn’t speak the language (very poorly) I’m going to assume you’re not in that situation (white(ish) or Asian with speaking skills) after a few weeks I was just tired to of having the same dialogue (re)explaining myself (or my origin) to do just the simplest tasks.
      Also my travel was sorta business related.
      I still did those things u mentioned though and I echo your sentiment

  • PT

    For HTC unlock code, it’s only cost like $4 . Just go to ebay.

  • HatInTheRing

    Why does it say you need an Android right off the top? Is it none of this available to iPhone?

  • blaine swigart

    Hi Daniel
    Excellent advice, I have really enjoyed your posts since you joined Mobile Syrup. You and Ian and the rest of the team do great work covering the Canadian mobile industry. Keep up the good work.
    Blaine 50

  • Alain Lafond

    To unlock, put your phone in fastboot (look on the net for how for your model). The do a search on the net for Android SDK, install it, do the update. Then install Google drivers from the SDK. Then go in directory where is fastboot.exe (do a search on your computer after you installed.
    fastboot devices
    If you see a weird number man the your phone was seen, then
    fastboot oem unlock
    Look on your phone, you see a windows asking if you are sure, confirm.
    Your phone is gonna reboot. Et voilà… done
    Be aware that its gonna wipe all data on your phone. You’ll have a brand new phone on handand you’ll be able to buy a SIM card from other carrier and for so you’ll have $15.00 more in your pocket to pay for it…