Reply
Posted Oct 7, 2013
12:36:12 PM
View profile
Traveling with no SIM card question

So a year from now, I plan to go to England and France, but don't want to deal with international charges, but also want to be able to still use my Galaxy S3 as a camera/mp3 player/possible emergency phone.

I don't want my phone doing background things that require an internet connection, and then having it using my data while overseas, leaving me with a gigantic bill to come home to.

Long story short, if I remove my phone's SIM card, can I still use its basic functions without accidentally acruing international fees?

Traveling with no SIM card question

5,094 views
6 replies
(0) Me too
(0) Me too
Post reply
Replies
(6)
0
(0)
  • Rate this reply
View profile
Oct 7, 2013 7:55:39 PM
0
(0)
Scholar

Removing the SIM card disconnects your phone's modem from the AT&T network, so no it will not perform "basic" functions such as receive calls, SMS, etc.  If you connect it to WIFI it will be able to function with things that require data (Hangouts, Skype, Google Voice, ChatOn, Emails, etc.) but not non-emergency phone calls.

 

So basically you have two options:

  1. Call AT&T and tell them you would like to sign up temporarily for one of their international plans during the duration of your trip.
  2. Call AT&T (or use the unlock support page/request form) and request the SIM unlock code for your device(s); then pick up a pre-paid SIM from local carriers in England and France (I know SFR will work in france, and they used to have the best priced pre-paid deals in France; I don't know about England, sorry).  When you put the "foreign" SIM in and power on the device, you will be prompted for the SIM unlock code (should be the first time only, after that it is unlocked).

 

I have to use the second option sometimes for work; when we travel to France they issue SIM cards instead of a corporate device (every couple of years or so).  Just as a warning, AT&T is very resistive to providing this carrier unlock (SIM unlock code)- they want the device completely paid for (they sometimes take this to mean the full two-year contract or in other words when you are eligible for an upgrade, since they space out the subsidy of the phone over the two year contract; but other times you will get a reasonable CSR/Manager that will realize this is just for travel and you are not taking the device to another carrier), and a certain period time to elapse before they will give it out.  They have left me high and dry before (with the HTC One X- they gave me an incorrect code and it almost locked the device, as three incorrect entries permanently lock the device), so now I keep an unlocked device as a backup for travelling.

 

There is a third option; there are companies who will sell you an unlock code, or some companies that will unlock your device for you (presumably if you switch to their service though), and lastly there is that certain 3-letter developer site posts referring to which seem to disappear around here- there is a software method to extract the unlock code from your device's software. I can't attest to the reliability of any of these "third options," but know that they do exist.

 

I hope this helps some, as someone who has been in your situation before...

 

-Steve

Re: Traveling with no SIM card question

2 of 7 (5,058 Views)
0
(0)
  • Rate this reply
View profile
Oct 8, 2013 8:00:18 AM
0
(0)
Mentor
Edited by tim horton on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:03:19 AM

s.m.knipe wrote:

-Steve



That was a very good summary of what a AT&T smart phone can do without the AT&T simcard. I just came back from an oversea trip to Hong Kong and method 2 was what I used. I got the unlock code from AT&T in advance and I did not encounter any problem at all. I purchased a local prepaid phone card and activated an unlimited data plan for a week for only US$11. My wife was with me and I just ran a tethering app and she had all the wifi data she needed when she was not far from my phone. Runnning the data and tethering did eat up the battery pretty fast. I ran into a slight problem and that was at one point the data was kept shutting down on me. It turned out since I had a small data plan with AT&T and I must have set a monthly data limit on the phone. Once I raised the limit and that was all good.

To change the data limit on my GS3, go to settings, data usage, check mobile data, check set mobile data limit, then you see two horizontal bars. The red one is for monthly limit, and the orange one is for warning. Just move the bars up and down to the desired limits.

Re: Traveling with no SIM card question

[ Edited ]
3 of 7 (5,036 Views)
0
(0)
  • Rate this reply
View profile
Oct 8, 2013 11:21:32 AM
0
(0)
ACE - Expert

chrisis wrote:

So a year from now, I plan to go to England and France, but don't want to deal with international charges, but also want to be able to still use my Galaxy S3 as a camera/mp3 player/possible emergency phone.

I don't want my phone doing background things that require an internet connection, and then having it using my data while overseas, leaving me with a gigantic bill to come home to.

Long story short, if I remove my phone's SIM card, can I still use its basic functions without accidentally acruing international fees?


Yes, camera, MP3 player and emergency dialing will work. By emergency dialing I mean dialing emergency numbers, such as 911 in US or 112 in Europe.

 

Besides getting an unlock code for your phone (or unlocking it yourself, which is illegal in the US) you can avoid unnecessary charges following these steps:

 

  1. Disable Data roaming in the Settings (More settings under Wireless and network, then Mobile networks)
  2. Enable unconditional call forwarding to voicemail before you leave (Phone, Call settings, Call forwarding, Always)

That way you can use the phone as much as you want and the only things you'll be charged for will be calls you place and messages you send.

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

Re: Traveling with no SIM card question

4 of 7 (5,023 Views)
0
(0)
  • Rate this reply
View profile
Oct 9, 2013 7:03:13 AM
0
(0)
ACE - Professor

tim horton wrote:

 

 I ran into a slight problem and that was at one point the data was kept shutting down on me. It turned out since I had a small data plan with AT&T and I must have set a monthly data limit on the phone. Once I raised the limit and that was all good.

To change the data limit on my GS3, go to settings, data usage, check mobile data, check set mobile data limit, then you see two horizontal bars. The red one is for monthly limit, and the orange one is for warning. Just move the bars up and down to the desired limits.


That doesn't have anything to do with your AT&T data plan (as once you are on another carrier's SIM, you aren't on AT&T's network anyway).  The data usage limit in settings is just a software based safeguard on the phone.  You must have had the phone set to stop your usage once you hit the threshold (useful feature for preventing overage charges from your carrier).  You are just changing a setting on the phone, not changing anything about your data plan or account.

 

 

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

Re: Traveling with no SIM card question

5 of 7 (4,980 Views)
0
(0)
  • Rate this reply
View profile
Oct 9, 2013 9:50:54 AM
0
(0)
Mentor

redpoint73 wrote:

tim horton wrote:
I must have set a monthly data limit on the phone. Once I raised the limit and that was all good.

 


That doesn't have anything to do with your AT&T data plan (as once you are on another carrier's SIM, you aren't on AT&T's network anyway).  The data usage limit in settings is just a software based safeguard on the phone.  You must have had the phone set to stop your usage once you hit the threshold (useful feature for preventing overage charges from your carrier).  You are just changing a setting on the phone, not changing anything about your data plan or account.


 Didn't I say that?

Re: Traveling with no SIM card question

6 of 7 (4,966 Views)
0
(0)
  • Rate this reply
View profile
Oct 9, 2013 11:06:58 AM
0
(0)
ACE - Professor

tim horton wrote:


 Didn't I say that?


Ahh, you're right.  Sorry, I misinterpreted your post as saying that you thought you somehow changed your data plan by adjusting the setting on your phone.  But reading it again, it doesn't really say that.

*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

Re: Traveling with no SIM card question

7 of 7 (4,960 Views)
Share this post
Share this post