Getting the most out of your smartphone while abroad - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Getting the most out of your smartphone while abroad

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com.

Related Stories

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 8:44 am

Q: I’m going to various countries in Europe this summer and can’t figure out the best way to use my smartphone. Any suggestions? — Kim

A: Your smartphone can be your most valuable companion when traveling abroad and if you do it wrong, it could be the single highest travel expense you will encounter.

The Internet is filled with stories of folks who didn’t realize that they were racking up huge bills because they were on international roaming rates. First lesson: just because your smartphone works when you land in a foreign country, doesn’t mean you should just use it as usual.

There are a number of ways to avoid expense charges, but the best method for you depends on a few variables: your phone, your carrier and what you actually want to do with your phone.

If your phone is unlocked or you can get your hands on an unlocked smartphone, you can simply purchase a pre-paid “SIM” card in the country or countries that you plan on visiting and totally control what you spend.

If your phone is tied to a U.S.-based carrier, it’s probably locked and will only work on that carrier’s system or a system in Europe that they have a roaming agreement with.

In these cases, the cheapest way to use your smartphone is to simply put it into airplane mode and try to use open Wi-Fi hotspots wherever you are traveling. This is also the most frustrating way to use your phone, because you pretty much need to stay put in order to get on the Internet.

If you want to be able to connect virtually anywhere you are or while you are on the move, you really need to work with the cellular providers.

When I travel, all I care about is data access because I use Skype and Skype Out minutes to make phone calls, so I generally activate a global data plan from my carrier before I leave for my trip.

AT&T charges $30 for 120MB of data, $60 for 300MB and $120 for 800MB and the overage rates are pretty steep, so choose wisely. Verizon charges $25 for every 100MB of data, so the equivalent 800MB plan will cost you $200.

Make sure you contact your carrier before you leave to discuss options and to make sure it automatically terminates when you return so you don’t get charged every month.

Even 800MB will go quickly if you aren’t really careful, so you need to change your surfing behavior while you are on your trip. I always put my phone on airplane mode when I get on the plane and reset my usage meter so I can track my exact data usage once I hit foreign soil.

I only take my phone out of airplane mode when I can’t find an open Wi-Fi connection and I need location specific information (maps, restaurants, etc.) or to use a translation app in real time.

I don’t post to social media, check my email or casually surf the Internet unless I am connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.

I always make sure that all the background apps are shut down before I take it out of airplane mode so I don’t accidentally waste a bunch of bandwidth.

I also look every day to see how much bandwidth I have left and divide it by the number of remaining travel days to know how much data I can use per day.

Another way to stretch the data plan is use an app called Onavo Extend, which uses compression technology to squeeze more usage out of your data plan.

It also helps you understand which tasks are using the most bandwidth and is available for iPhone, iPad and some Android devices.

• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to evtrib@datadoctors.com.

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Movies in a Minute: 'Jason Bourne'

Do you realize it’s been nine years since the last “Jason Bourne” movie? As a fan of the franchise, I have to say I’m disappointed in this one…

Published: July 29, 2016 - 11:43 pm @ http://ktar.com/story/1201697/movies-in-a-minute-j…

Phoenix Planning for a New Approach to its Urban Forest

A city famous for tall palm trees wants to find some shade.William Yardley reports on an ongoing planning effort in Phoenix to cultivate a tre…

Published: July 29, 2016 - 11:12 pm @ http://www.planetizen.com/node/87654/phoenix-plann…

From Arizona to Montana, Native Voters Struggle for Democracy

The Navajo Election Administration in the Chinle Agency. (Aura Bogado) Leonard Gorman is a man of maps. He heads the Navajo Nation’s Human Rig…

Published: July 29, 2016 - 8:43 pm @ https://www.thenation.com/article/arizona-montana-…

Infographic: International Tiger Day 2016: Tiger facts you need to know

STEPS FOR DISABLING AD BLOCKERDriving in Canada Canada - a home away from home Canada, it's time to change! Living with a disability in Indo-C…

Published: July 29, 2016 - 8:18 pm @ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/rest-of-w…

#WeMadeHistory

By Victoria A. Brownworth The tension built over the course of an hour. At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the ceremonial …

Published: July 29, 2016 - 7:42 pm @ http://www.curvemag.com/News/WeMadeHistory-1368/

VP nominee Mike Pence to appear in Phoenix, Tucson Tuesday

TUCSON, AZ - Indiana Gov. and Donald Trump's vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence, is scheduled to appear in both Phoenix and Tucson Tuesday …

Published: July 29, 2016 - 7:17 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-central-southern-…

Libs at DNC Call GOP Racist; Here's The Historical Facts

Back in 1857, in a landmark decision, a Supreme Court packed with Democrats determined that not only was Dred Scott not a citizen, not only th…

Published: July 29, 2016 - 6:12 pm @ http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/us/libs-at-dnc-…

8 Instagrammers to Follow As Your Kids Grow Up

When Will was born, I picked up a book called 100 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up. For a few months, I flipped through all the id…

Published: July 29, 2016 - 5:39 pm @ http://solomomtakesflight.com/blog/8-instagrammers…

Online Archive Documents Destruction of Ancient Sites

Print Irreplaceable Art Objects Will Get Virtual Backup Copies Russian Orchestra Plays at Ancient Syrian City of Palmyra Damage to mosques, a …

Published: July 29, 2016 - 5:41 pm @ http://www.voanews.com/content/online-archive-docu…

Turkey shuts down dozens of media organisations

STEPS FOR DISABLING AD BLOCKERDriving in Canada Canada - a home away from home Canada, it's time to change! Living with a disability in Indo-C…

Published: July 29, 2016 - 5:16 pm @ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-ea…

Facebook

ahwatukee.com on Facebook

Twitter

ahwatukee.com on Twitter

RSS

Subscribe to ahwatukee.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px

Most Popular

Online poll

Loading…