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IPhone in Israel

Hi, I don't see how to search this entire section, so apologize if this was recently covered.
I wonder if anyone can help with some questions re taking my IPhone to Israel. I can unlock it, so plan to get a sim card there. However, I see many different options and am wondering about others experiences. I will want to make and receive calls and use wireless to check email. However, it would be great to also be able to access the Internet outside of wireless, for example, to use Google Maps while driving. I am not quite savvy enough to figure out what features I need to look for in sim cards and whether they are just for calls or also for accessing data.
I see some different companies such as TalknSave,http://www.talknsave.net/Default.aspx or Prepaid with Data http://prepaidwithdata.wikia.com/wiki/Israel offer sim cards. I am not sure where else they can be bought. So, any advice on what to consider with a sim card would be very helpful.
Also, it sounds as though even with an unlocked phone, I need to change some settings so that I don't have roaming charges. Is there anything to look out for? Many thanks.
Carolyn

Posted by
9110 posts

Until What'sHerName shows up, here's a starter:

A sim works for both voice and data.

My ATT iPhone costs two bucks a minute for voice if not on an international plan, a dollar per if it is. A minimal plan is thirty dollars a month. I've never put it on international data since wifi works fine for what I need. I use this method in Israel and everywhere else.

Google maps will gobble cellular data at an unbelievable rate. Using a phone as a gps also runs down the battery faster than you can blink. MapsWithMe and others let you download a map ahead of time and the gps will still work (see following) but it won't give you directions - - you just have to look and see where you are and what's coming up next.

To avoid data roaming charges, turn cellular data off which also kills data roaming but leaves wifi, gps, and voice intact. If you use the airplane mode switch, you have to subsequently take other steps with other toggles and run the risk of screwing up either in bucks or loss of a capability. The archaic airplane mode toggle was invented for something else - - leave it alone.

Posted by
18 posts

Hi Ed,
Thank you. That is good advice re Google Maps. I was just at the ATT store. They told me that if I put a foreign sim card in, then I am not connected to ATT in any way, so there is no need to turn off data roaming. So, I hope that is correct. I hope others will weigh in if their experience was different.

I guess I need to figure out what kind of sim card/plan options I need and the best place to find them in Israel. Welcome any suggestions.
Carolyn

Posted by
9110 posts

They are correct. I wasn't clear. Google maps with GPS will gobble data at a large rate - - for which you must pay somebody (whoever's on the other end of the sim). The reason is that huge amounts of data are transmitted to the display every time you move an inch. The transmission of directions only adds more data.

They are also incorrect. The kill switch for data also kills data roaming. Try it and see what happens. If you kill only data roaming, you can still burn data as noted above. The only thing that might happen is that you wouldn't burn data out of that sim's operating area. That does you absolutely no good if you remain intent on using google maps.

Short example. A couple of months ago I needed to use a gate app at Schiphol. Flipped data on and started running without turning it back off. If I'd turned it off, it would have cost me a couple bucks. As it was, data continued to be passed to a multitude of apps until I'd gotten high enough to be out of cellular range. Stupidity cost me just under a hundred dollars.

Wait for Chani. She lives in Tel Aviv and can give you scoop on what the best deal is.

Posted by
13958 posts

Sorry to disappoint, after all the praise that has been heaped, but I don't have a smart phone. In fact I've been struggling with my new iPod Touch which works (so I'm told) much like the smart phones. I have a very basic mobile phone that I use mostly for emergencies when I'm away from home.

That being said, finding hotspots here in Israel is usually easy. Many restaurants now offer free wifi to customers - just ask for the code when you sit down.

And if you do use a smart phone, don't use google maps while driving - it's been my experience here that they are often misleading and trying to figure out how google spells a Hebrew street name is often simply impossible. My friends all use waze (pronounced ways) to get anywhere and everywhere. It's free. You can check them out at their website, waze.com.

Lastly I suggest you head to the Israel Forum on Trip Advisor. There are a goodly number of regular contributors and responses come quickly and are pretty reliable.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you all. I guess the one thing I am not 100% clear on is about turning off the data roaming. So, even though ATT told me that I didn't need to do that if I was using a foreign sim card, I do need to do so? And, does that mean I won't be able to access Wayze?
Thanks again.
Carolyn

Posted by
9110 posts

Forget ATT - - they are not in the game unless you're using their sim.

(Also forget them since often as not they don't know much; they sell phones made by somebody else. They recite crap and guess at the rest. )

Back to the question.

Two toggles exist: 'Cell Data' and Data Roaming'.

Turning off the first also turns off the second. (How could you have roaming data if you were unable to receive any data at all. )

Turning off only Data Roaming leaves Cell Data working as long as your are within the area of coverage of the sim in use. All apps will work.