Most iPhone users pay a fixed monthly price for their data service. But the story can be very different when you take your iPhone overseas. Whenever you're traveling to another country with your iPhone, you need to know about iPhone data roaming to make sure you don't accidentally run up a tremendous bill.
When you take your iPhone overseas, you'll no longer be using the cellular data network belonging to the your wireless carrier. In that case, your phone will be in data roaming mode--which means you're not using your data plan and will have to pay for each megabyte of data your phone sends or receives. Paying in that way can be very expensive; you can easily rack up a bill of hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Here are a few ways to avoid huge iPhone data roaming charges.
Turn Off Data Roaming
One way to make sure you never run the risk of running up a data roaming charge is to turn off your cellular network connection completely. To turn off data roaming, do the following:
- Tap the Settings app on your homescreen
- Tap General
- Tap Network
- Slide the Data Roaming slider to Off.
With data roaming turned off, your phone won't be able to connect to any 3G data networks and thus won't run up any bills.
Turn Off All Cellular Data
In iOS 4, Apple introduced an even-more-ironclad way to avoid iPhone data roaming: you can now turn off all cellular data. With that setting on, the only way to connect to the Internet is via Wi-Fi. To turn off cellular data:
- Tap the Settings apps
- Tap General
- Tap Network
- Slide Cellular Data to "Off".
This can work in conjunction with, or separately from, turning off iPhone data roaming. Whether you want to turn off one or both will depend on your situation.
When you're overseas, you may want or need to get online. To do this without incurring major data roaming costs, use the phone's Wi-Fi connection. For anything you need to do online--from email to web, text messages to apps--if you use Wi-Fi, you'll save yourself from these extra charges.
Use an International Data Package
All cellphone companies that offer iPhone data packages also offer international data plans. By signing up for one of these plans before you leave your home country, you can budget for Internet access on the trip and avoid exorbitant bills. You may want to use this option if you expect to need to get online regularly during your trip and don't want to be subject to finding an open Wi-Fi network.
If you choose this option, contact your cellphone company before leaving on your trip to discuss your options for international data plans. Sign up for a plan and ask them for specific instructions on using the plan and avoiding additional charges while on your trip. With this information, there shouldn't be any surprises when your bill arrives at the end of the month.
Dealing With Big Data Roaming Bills
What happens if you make a mistake, though? What if you accidentally run up a $100 or $1000 or even $5000 data roaming bill while overseas? You're not necessarily stuck paying that bill. Check out our tips on contesting an iPhone data roaming charge.
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