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Old 20-03-2019, 14:23   #31
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Re: cell phone while cruising

Hello All,

I have been reading everyone's posts avidly, on both this thread and others. I may be over thinking this, but I'm trying to look at this from every angle and feasible scenario. Here's my situation:

Currently in USA, but sailing off to Caribbean at the end of the year for an undetermined amount of time. 1 season? 2 seasons? Probably living in Caribbean rental during off season. Then off sailing/living in Med. May not return to US on a permanent basis.

I'm thinking about getting a dual sim android phone, with the main sim and plan from Google Fi. Very thorough coverage in Caribbean. $35 per month for two phones on the plan before data, which is $10 per GB with a max cost of $135 per month. I don't anticipate a crazy amount of data being used, as will try to stick to wifi. I'm looking at the OnePlus 6T as I love a good camera phone and it's the best value excellent camera with two sim slots. The US # through Fi would be great for banks/credit cards and emergencies as calls would be $0.20 per minute. I am already a daily Whatsapp user, so would stick with that for friends/family to message and chat. Then, as needed, I would supplement with a pay-as-you-go local sim which I could also pop in the phone if we're lingering in any country long enough to warrant it.

I anticipate rethinking the whole the all over if/when we get to the Med as everything would have changed again by then... I was looking at the Google Pixel 3 (I love a good camera!) but it does not have dual sim, so OnePlus it is.

Does anyone see and flaws in this plan, or have any thoughts that might help? Thanks for your help.


Maz
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Old 20-03-2019, 14:45   #32
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Re: cell phone while cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by No Sprogs View Post
Hello All,

I have been reading everyone's posts avidly, on both this thread and others. I may be over thinking this, but I'm trying to look at this from every angle and feasible scenario. Here's my situation:

Currently in USA, but sailing off to Caribbean at the end of the year for an undetermined amount of time. 1 season? 2 seasons? Probably living in Caribbean rental during off season. Then off sailing/living in Med. May not return to US on a permanent basis.

I'm thinking about getting a dual sim android phone, with the main sim and plan from Google Fi. Very thorough coverage in Caribbean. $35 per month for two phones on the plan before data, which is $10 per GB with a max cost of $135 per month. I don't anticipate a crazy amount of data being used, as will try to stick to wifi. I'm looking at the OnePlus 6T as I love a good camera phone and it's the best value excellent camera with two sim slots. The US # through Fi would be great for banks/credit cards and emergencies as calls would be $0.20 per minute. I am already a daily Whatsapp user, so would stick with that for friends/family to message and chat. Then, as needed, I would supplement with a pay-as-you-go local sim which I could also pop in the phone if we're lingering in any country long enough to warrant it.

I anticipate rethinking the whole the all over if/when we get to the Med as everything would have changed again by then... I was looking at the Google Pixel 3 (I love a good camera!) but it does not have dual sim, so OnePlus it is.

Does anyone see and flaws in this plan, or have any thoughts that might help? Thanks for your help.

Maz
I am doing what you are planning to do. I use Google Fi for my main USA phone number, which I need to maintain, and local SIM for data & local calls.

I buy International dual SIM Samsung phones. I currently have the Samsung Note 8 and I really like it. You can also get a data only local SIM card for a GSM router to use in the boat for all your devices. Or, you can use your phone as a data hotspot with the local SIM.

There may be cheaper ways, but I find this way to be easy and it works.
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Old 20-03-2019, 14:58   #33
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Re: cell phone while cruising

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Originally Posted by boom23 View Post
I am doing what you are planning to do. I use Google Fi for my main USA phone number, which I need to maintain, and local SIM for data & local calls.

I buy International dual SIM Samsung phones. I currently have the Samsung Note 8 and I really like it. You can also get a data only local SIM card for a GSM router to use in the boat for all your devices. Or, you can use your phone as a data hotspot with the local SIM.

There may be cheaper ways, but I find this way to be easy and it works.
Yes, simple and cheap are huge priorities for us. I know that there will be cheaper ways out there, but I want to not be thinking about juggling stuff too much. I'm hoping that this plan is a good balance, and one that we can lean on for a year or two. And good idea about hotspots for when we need them, thanks. I keep forgetting that you can purchase sim cards that are dedicated for data.

Maz
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Old 20-03-2019, 15:05   #34
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Re: cell phone while cruising

We've been using Fi for three years and love it. Gives us a constant US phone number that friends or the bank can call. We still have it and still use it for those reasons and are satisfied overall. However, a few notes on less than perfect implementation:

1. The phone frequently doesn't ring (even though we get a missed call notice) or rings only once before going to voicemail. The handoff between systems is less than perfect. It does seem to get better once you've made a few calls on a system.

2. The WFi calling, which should save you some money, is generally choppy. Yes, this in part depends on the internet service behind the WiFi, but I had better WiFi calling a decade or more ago with T-Mobile

3. Overall $10/GB for data is really expensive. Even if you go over 6GB and get the next 9GB 'free' it is still $4/GB. That's about twice what we consider expensive. In the Caribbean we get a local SIM and pay anywhere from $0.50 to $3/GB. If you don't need much then the Fi data is very convenient, but if you're going to use a fair amount then it's worth the hassle to go local.

In a nutshell, exactly what you describe is where we've ended up - Fi for convenience and constancy, local SIM for any heavy data lifting or if we need to make local calls. (This post over Fi)
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Old 20-03-2019, 15:28   #35
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Re: cell phone while cruising

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
We've been using Fi for three years and love it. Gives us a constant US phone number that friends or the bank can call. We still have it and still use it for those reasons and are satisfied overall. However, a few notes on less than perfect implementation:

1. The phone frequently doesn't ring (even though we get a missed call notice) or rings only once before going to voicemail. The handoff between systems is less than perfect. It does seem to get better once you've made a few calls on a system.

2. The WFi calling, which should save you some money, is generally choppy. Yes, this in part depends on the internet service behind the WiFi, but I had better WiFi calling a decade or more ago with T-Mobile

3. Overall $10/GB for data is really expensive. Even if you go over 6GB and get the next 9GB 'free' it is still $4/GB. That's about twice what we consider expensive. In the Caribbean we get a local SIM and pay anywhere from $0.50 to $3/GB. If you don't need much then the Fi data is very convenient, but if you're going to use a fair amount then it's worth the hassle to go local.

In a nutshell, exactly what you describe is where we've ended up - Fi for convenience and constancy, local SIM for any heavy data lifting or if we need to make local calls. (This post over Fi)
Thanks! You're a superstar. Good to know. I'm new at this and trying to get my head around everything, so please excuse me if this is an obvious question: I can slap a local data only sim in my phone's second slot when we need it and then make sure that my phone does no roaming on Fi's sim, right? Hot spot: check. Whatsapp: Check. Map of locale: Check. Right? Emergency calls (even if just voicemail notification) still come through on Fi. Only need a local phone number as well if we're really staying and will want to call and be called locally. Have I understood it properly?

Maz
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Old 20-03-2019, 16:21   #36
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Re: cell phone while cruising

Specifically as to the second SIM, that's how I I understand it should work but I have no actual experience. My phone is Fi only, wife's gets the local SIM. Then I hotspot to her or she to me depending on who has data. We don't have separate US phone numbers, but that works for us.
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Old 20-03-2019, 16:47   #37
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Re: cell phone while cruising

so you want people calling you in the middle of the night because they don't know what time zone you are in??? IF there is an emergency there is a family emergency there is NO way you can do anything that will make a difference. WHY do you think you NEED a phone and if you think you need a phone because you are so important then get a sat phone so you can stay in touch 24/7.
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Old 20-03-2019, 17:33   #38
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Re: cell phone while cruising

QUOTE: "WhatsApp, VERY popular in Central America, can also continue with your originally registered number even when you change SIMs so no one needs to update your contact info."

Good point - it's striking how many people are unaware of this and will ask you why/when you returned to your home country, when you give them your WhatsApp contact number registered years ago.

Not meaning to sound condescending to host countries, it's also striking how it now seems that every village in the so-called "third world" will have a phone shop selling SIM cards and in most places they are not required by law to record your particulars when they sell you one (point being - it's simpler than having to wait for them to photocopy your passport, etc). They always have stock of "data only" SIM cards, which is what you need..
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Old 20-03-2019, 17:33   #39
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Re: cell phone while cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by No Sprogs View Post
Hello All,

I have been reading everyone's posts avidly, on both this thread and others. I may be over thinking this, but I'm trying to look at this from every angle and feasible scenario. Here's my situation:

Currently in USA, but sailing off to Caribbean at the end of the year for an undetermined amount of time. 1 season? 2 seasons? Probably living in Caribbean rental during off season. Then off sailing/living in Med. May not return to US on a permanent basis.

I'm thinking about getting a dual sim android phone, with the main sim and plan from Google Fi. Very thorough coverage in Caribbean. $35 per month for two phones on the plan before data, which is $10 per GB with a max cost of $135 per month. I don't anticipate a crazy amount of data being used, as will try to stick to wifi. I'm looking at the OnePlus 6T as I love a good camera phone and it's the best value excellent camera with two sim slots. The US # through Fi would be great for banks/credit cards and emergencies as calls would be $0.20 per minute. I am already a daily Whatsapp user, so would stick with that for friends/family to message and chat. Then, as needed, I would supplement with a pay-as-you-go local sim which I could also pop in the phone if we're lingering in any country long enough to warrant it.

I anticipate rethinking the whole the all over if/when we get to the Med as everything would have changed again by then... I was looking at the Google Pixel 3 (I love a good camera!) but it does not have dual sim, so OnePlus it is.

Does anyone see and flaws in this plan, or have any thoughts that might help? Thanks for your help.


Maz
I have a fi phone and it works well, but if you are just doing the Caribbean, consider getting the Guadalupe Digicel plan. It is 40 euros/month for 30gbyte and local calling. It roams to all the islands. Some places it is slow (sl Lucia) but overall can't beat the price. It can't call the USA directly but can use Skype or Whatsapp.
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Old 20-03-2019, 19:01   #40
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Re: cell phone while cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by No Sprogs View Post
Thanks! You're a superstar. Good to know. I'm new at this and trying to get my head around everything, so please excuse me if this is an obvious question: I can slap a local data only sim in my phone's second slot when we need it and then make sure that my phone does no roaming on Fi's sim, right? Hot spot: check. Whatsapp: Check. Map of locale: Check. Right? Emergency calls (even if just voicemail notification) still come through on Fi. Only need a local phone number as well if we're really staying and will want to call and be called locally. Have I understood it properly?

Maz
That is how my dual SIM phone is setup.
Data is on local SIM. For outgoing calls, you can select the SIM you want before calling. For incoming calls, both SIMs are answered. It is much better than carrying around two phones.
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Old 21-03-2019, 09:41   #41
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Re: cell phone while cruising

Maz-
Understand that all cell phones are "local" to some extent. They DO NOT support all frequencies for all carriers. Check online for "what frequency do cell carriers in ___ use" for a quick look at that.
If you buy a standard GSM cell phone that has dual SIMs...it is probably targeted at the oriental or Asian markets and carriers. And it won't support all of the US bands, leaving you to wonder "Why doesn't this ****ing phone work?!"
You really need to find out which carriers you may be using, for instance, in PR the service may be different from Honduras or Jamaica. Having dual SIM's won't help you, if the phone doesn't support all the protocols and bands.
We have the same problem here in the States, with TMob and AT&T not using the same frequencies, and with 2G support being dropped to make room for 5G, even fewer old phones will work across different carriers. "GSM" ain't good enough.
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Old 21-03-2019, 13:13   #42
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Re: cell phone while cruising

To elaborate, most phone models are available with different collections of supported channels, for different markets. There is usually an "international" version with a broad selection of channels, which are usually not the ones available direct from the networks. I see no alternative to 1) checking the channels used by your carrier and prospective carriers (listed on wikipedia.org), and then 2) check which channels are supported by the variations of prospective phone models, starting with the international versions (e.g. https://www.phonearena.com/phones/OnePlus-6T_id10991).

Greg
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Old 21-03-2019, 17:36   #43
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Re: cell phone while cruising

Gotcha. Thank you so much Dsanduril, Boom, Chris, Allen, Hello, and Greg. Very useful thoughts, ideas, leads, and advice. We've got some time so I will thoroughly research. But at least I now know I'm on the right track, where potentially the track might lead, and what could sabotage the track if I'm not careful.

Maz
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Old 22-03-2019, 01:49   #44
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Re: cell phone while cruising

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Originally Posted by wtmf View Post
so you want people calling you in the middle of the night because they don't know what time zone you are in??? IF there is an emergency there is a family emergency there is NO way you can do anything that will make a difference. WHY do you think you NEED a phone and if you think you need a phone because you are so important then get a sat phone so you can stay in touch 24/7.
YEP -- agree - the only time we get a phone in a foreign country is when we need to leave the boat for an extended period of time. We got one in Georgia when the agent insisted as we traveled through Georgia and Armenia. We got one in Russia again when our agent insisted as we spent about 3 weeks away from the boat traveling though Russia.

We sailed Greece, Italy, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Cyprus, Spain, and only got a sim card for our computer for internet but never a phone. Never saw a need for one.

This year we are sailing Italy, France, Spain and Morocco and will probably not get a phone unless we get one in France when we plan to travel inland and leave the boat.

We only get a phone when we winter over someplace or we think it is necessary for someone to contact us about the boat when we are traveling inland. We not that important that someone needs us in an emergency. Email works for that just fine.
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Old 31-03-2019, 18:07   #45
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Re: cell phone while cruising

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I'm sure this has been discussed to death but I'm not finding any threads on it.

What I've read is T-Mobile is the best. Works in Canada, Mexico and about 200 more countries which is great.

At the PDX boat show I stopped at their booth and the 2 guys told me not to go with their company. Yes, you can roam all over the world but if you don't place a call at least once every 90 days T-mobile will kick you off.

Are cruisers experiencing this? If so then what are the options?
Here's our experience thus far, as long term T Mobile users and new cruisers.

We went with T Mobile years ago because we've been living and traveling in a van for 7 years and Canada and Mexico were a big part of our plan.

T Mobile was great for those journeys - - but don't be misled, they will still call you out the second you aren't just on vacation... the fine print talks about "normal usage" and we have been almost kicked off/out several times during long stints either north or south of the border, whether making occasional calls or not.

We also found that coverage in the states was far less than most competitors, especially in the remote places in the PNW we most often chose to be. Many times we would be in a remote place and be without service for days/weeks at a time and then would run into someone else streaming movies on AT&T or other as they passed through.

Now, we're cruising/island hopping and have been pretty unimpressed with the coverage from Tmobile so far. Does it occasionally allow us to get online, yes, but we've already been discussing cancelling.

The norm here is to do as others have described and buy/topoff a local SIM card from each country. In The Bahamas this couldn't possibly be easier as Aliv now offers truly unlimited wifi and has an absurdly good coverage. Good = You'll never be offline when near even remotely inhabited islands (had we known we would have started working from The Bahamas years ago) =)

We still want to have some data/wifi option to cover the "in between" periods, so that our first day at each new island/country isn't wasted trying to hop a cab to a phone store or coffee shop... and we are currently trying a few things on right now (Google Fi, Skyroam, etc)... so we'll know more soon.
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