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Old 03-07-2016, 09:54   #1
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Cell phone for cruising

Hi, I'm interested in how cruisers view cell phone use while travelling abroad. I'm an IPhone user and I'm wondering if you all have any advice for me. Do you use an unblocked phone and purchase sim cards in each place? Do you maintain service from your home carrier? IPhone vs cheap burner phone? Data, text and call costs? Any info would be appreciated. Also any advice on sat phones. Brands, carrier, use costs, ect. Thank you!

Ken
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:03   #2
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Re: cell phone for cruising

Hi Firebartt and welcome to CF!

I'm sure there are many if not most here who have some advice. My question is, where will you be cruising initially? US coastal (which coast?), North America coastal, Pacific, Atlantic? Lots of knowledge here but if you're more specific you'll get better info. Where are you currently based? So many nations here....
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:25   #3
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Re: cell phone for cruising

Hi Redhead. I will be East coast US, Caribbean and the Med.
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Old 03-07-2016, 11:16   #4
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Re: cell phone for cruising

Hi,
I feel like the bees knees is a dual SIM international phone. Many phones will do this, mine is a Motorola G and my wife has a Samsung Mini 4.

Keep your home SIM in one, preferably with a free international roaming plan like TMobile offers, and then buy local prepaid SIMs for faster data and a local number to call (and get called back) by local folks. To rent cars or track down parts at chandleries and etc.

We use WhatsApp for text and voice with each other and our families. It seems to eat less data (and battery) than Skype, with better call quality, and my wife and I like the "Send each other a map with our current location" feature for finding each other in random foreign cities. It also sends photos way faster than texting, so we use it a lot at the hardware store ("this tupperware or this one?" and etc).
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Old 03-07-2016, 11:51   #5
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Re: cell phone for cruising

I use an iphone 6 and a Samsung 4s for backup. The iphone 6 and newer are unlocked so it's easy and cheap to change out the cards for which ever country. Mostly we use Whatsapp for nearly everything. Much better quality signal and then our friends can call us for free.

Keep your iphone, because you can install navigation apps like INavx for only $29. It's a great backup. Can't do it with an android.
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:22   #6
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Re: cell phone for cruising

We use plain banana phone and it comes in range and boots into any local network. It works in the EU, Africa NorthWest and West Indies. We do not buy any extra cards.

b.
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:39   #7
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Re: cell phone for cruising

Shortly before we left on our circumnavigation almost 6 years ago, I purchased an iPhone 5C from Verizon - this was after a fair amount of research. Apparently, Apple made a model of the 5C specifically for Verizon - it did both CDMA and had an unlocked GSM (SIM) slot. This worked perfectly for us as we could connect to the CDMA network while at home and purchased SIMs wherever we happened to be. We found it remarkable that some of the most remote countries actually had decent broadband service, eg, the Maldives had excellent service the entire length of the archipelago. One of our top priorities when checking into a new country was to get SIMs (we bought my wife a 5C as well since it worked so well) and the SIMs were almost always inexpensive (in St. Helena they were free but the network stunk).

I still consider myself a Digital Immigrant whereas my children, born into the Digital World, are Digital Natives. Regardless, my wife and I are so dependent on our portable smart phones that we harbor no small amount of paranoia about losing them.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:43   #8
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Re: cell phone for cruising

It used to be that Iridium had the only world-wide sat phone system, but now Immarsat has enough geostable satellites to cover all but the polar regions (their satellites necessarily being over the equator). I used to have an Iridium for field research in areas that have no cell service (Hey, if that primate is a new species, it's located in way the heck out) but switched to Immarsat for our retirement boat. They let me suspend service for the months we are in port or near shore, and just start paying the subscription when we need it. Getting and paying for Verizon service in the Bahamas for last spring was such a hassle and so expensive that for the little use we needed just having the sat phone would have been better. We get our weather by radio or marina internet.
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Old 03-07-2016, 14:01   #9
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Re: cell phone for cruising

You asked about cost, we spend about $40 per month for 8GB in Central America. We use a stick in the computer which is better than a phone hotspot for us. The stick has a small cost but you can get it refilled.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:13   #10
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Re: cell phone for cruising

an unlocked, GSM Samsung 5 Active has worked OK for me. Use with local SIM and service, mostly for data as a hotspot. It's sold as waterproof, the most I'm hoping for is water resistance. And it's ruggedized for drops, etc.
The Google FI phone also looks interesting . . .
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:22   #11
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Re: cell phone for cruising

iPhone 6 for me.
I'm too lazy to have getting a new phone as a hobby.
Always keep mine in a Lifeproof cover.


I'm from Europe and my 3 subscription covers all of Europe, US, Hong Kong and more so I just keep it going. It also includes 10GB of data per month out of country.

Windward islands / south caribbean I pop in a fresh Digicel SIM with data, covers almost every single Island.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:24   #12
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Re: cell phone for cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by firebarttt View Post
Hi, I'm interested in how cruisers view cell phone use while travelling abroad. I'm an IPhone user and I'm wondering if you all have any advice for me. Do you use an unblocked phone and purchase sim cards in each place? Do you maintain service from your home carrier? IPhone vs cheap burner phone? Data, text and call costs? Any info would be appreciated. Also any advice on sat phones. Brands, carrier, use costs, ect. Thank you!

Ken
Hi Ken
It depends where you are sailing?
We have a sat phone on board that works really well. We are based in the South Pacific. We buy local sim cards when in Fiji or Tonga or Samoa. This works really well.
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Old 04-07-2016, 11:19   #13
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Re: cell phone for cruising

i travel internationally much of the time. i have an I Phone with Vonage App and T-mobile My monthly bill is a little over $50.00 US/month with this plan i get unlimited data world wide (3G), unlimited text world wide, phone call at $0.20/min. and unlimited calling in North America. I use Vonage when im in Europe or Asia and have few communication issues.
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Old 04-07-2016, 13:48   #14
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Re: Cell phone for cruising

For a phone I have a Ruggex which is a toughned waterproof model with twin sims & 64Gb memory card in it. Rugged Smartphone Android Dual Sim IP68 Waterproof Tough Dustproof Shockproof 3G F6

I'm also thinking about getting a SPOT system mostly to let relatives know where we are and for the odd text message.
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Old 04-07-2016, 15:03   #15
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Re: Cell phone for cruising

For me:

Dual SIM Samsung phone (neither slot locked). Having dual SIMs is handy sometimes even w/in the same country because one carrier may not cover the whole country (Panama for example).

Internet aboard the boat: unlocked USB cell modem connected to a micro hub + Wilson booster. Just like the phone...swap SIMs as we move around. I do use phone hot spot a lot when traveling ashore though...makes long bus rides, long layovers...go by much quicker.

Phone protection: zip lock snack size bag...perfect fit.
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