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Thread: Carrier Recommendation for Bringing US iPhone 3G to UK

  1. #1
    Default Carrier Recommendation for Bringing US iPhone 3G to UK
    Hi all,

    I am US student who will be studying and working abroad for about four months in London. I want to bring my iPhone to the UK and purchase a SIM to use locally, and I am looking for a few recommendations.

    Currently, I have a jailbroken 3G iPhone running 2.2.1 on AT&T in the US. My plan was to unlock the phone using yellowsn0w before going to the UK and purchase a SIM there. I figure I'll test the unlock here in the US using a friend's T-Mobile SIM. Once the firmware 3.0 comes out, I will wait until yellowsn0w is updated to the next baseband. Sound like a good plan?

    So, which carrier do you guys recommend? I have done some reading about my options (O2, Orange, 3, and Vodaphone), but I feel like I don't have all the information. The big thing is that I want to have a data plan in addition to pay-as-you-go minutes so I can use the web browser and Google maps to navigate the city and surrounding area. I spoke to an O2 representative today, and she told me a needed to buy a special iPhone data plan.

    What I am looking for is the best functionality and usability for the cheapest price. In all honestly, I'd prefer an unlimited data plan like I have with AT&T so I don't have to worry about going over, but I understand that might not be possible or fiscally responsible.

    Thanks for any help and recommendations of a carrier and an unlocking process.

    Sincerely,
    Jordan

  2. #2
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    I'm afraid I have nothing to offer, but would definitely be interested in the reply from someone who does as I am in a similar circumstance.

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    iPhone? More like MyPhone iPhoenix3g's Avatar
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    Being from the uk myself i would recommend t-mobile you pay only 2.50 on pay as you go for a 5 day unlimited internet pass, and there pretty good with the cost of texts and calls too.

    Hope that helps.

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    Thanks! That's a great deal. Two questions though: (1) is this for a 3G network (T-Mobile for iPhone in the U.S. is Edge), and (2) are there T-Mobile shops around London where I can walk in off the street, sign up, and walk out with a 3G PAYGO Sim?
    Last edited by lcymru; 2009-05-28 at 04:23 PM.

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    iPhone? More like MyPhone iPhoenix3g's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lcymru View Post
    Thanks! That's a great deal. Two questions though: (1) is this for a 3G network (T-Mobile for iPhone in the U.S. is Edge), and (2) are there T-Mobile shops around London where I can walk in off the street, sign up, and walk out with a 3G PAYGO Sim?
    As far as i am aware t-mobile doesn't really have any edge coverage, i have never received edge coverage on my iphone but they have veryyy good 3g coverage all over the uk, And yes they are many t-mobile shops in the uk, or you can order a free t-mobile sim from the web, or maybe even go for a 30 day contact which would save you even more money.

    Hope this helps.

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    lcymru (2009-05-28)

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    Personally this is what i use with my iPhone

    02 Sim Only - I pay 20 a month and get 600 mins, 1200 text and unlimited interest access.

    02 are the only carrier for iPhone in the UK but i think they are the best there the most covered carrier for the UK.

    Also all SIM's in the UK it's possible to obtain an 3G connection using yellowsn0w tested myself.

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    lcymru (2009-05-28)

  9. #7
    O2's 3G network is very slow....

    T-Mobile's is the best 3G/HSDPA network BUT if you get the SOLO which is the equivalent of the O2 Simplicity plan mentioned above you get 600 mins unlimited texts and internet access (capped at 1Gb.month) but it is 3G only - you will not get HSDPA so will be limited to 384kbs
    O2's 3G is HSDPA enabled but when I tried it the speeds were appalling, varying between zero and 500kbs.
    On T-Mobile contract my speed varies between 1100 - 1900 kbs.
    If you are staying in London you should get coverage on all networks but Three are truly appalling, Orange data is slow and expensive and voda have a good network but not good price plans.
    The T-Mobile Solo and O2 Simplicity plans are monthly contracts - you pay your 20 and get your allowance for 30 days, if you don't pay the following month I believe (but am not certain) that they revert to standard PAYG - on T-Mobile internet usage is capped at 1/day or you can get a 5 day pass for 2.50.
    I would suggest the 20 Solo from T-Mob or the same Simplicity plan from O2 if you really don't want T-Mob either should be suitable and both do more expensive plans for more minutes and texts but the cheaper plans (15/month) don't include internet on either so avoid them.
    Pay Monthly Sim Cards - Mobile Phone SIM Cards - T Mobile
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    Confucious - the T-Mobile solo plan seems appropriate. But your post made me wonder whether I wrongly assumed that a 3G network in the U.K. runs at the same speed as the AT&T 3G network in the States. AT&T's U.S. 3G network is theoretically capable of 1.7 Mbps, although I just ran my first speedtest and got just a bit over 400 kbps. So, why is it that the U.K. T-Mobile 3G network will give me no more than 384 kbps?

  11. #9
    3G is limited to 384 kbs
    AT&T runs at HSDPA speeds of upto 1.8Mbs which is why you get over 400kbs
    T-Mobile in the UK has HSDPA of upto 3.6/7.2Mbs depending on where you are and I get speeds of 1100 - 1900kbs
    The problem is that T-Mobile in the UK have restricted their cheaper price plans (including all the ones where you get 'free' internet access) to 3G only and not HSDPA and 384kbs is the limit of 3G only.

    O2 has HSDPA but when I tried it my speeds fluctuated wildly between 0 and 500kbs on T-Mob my speed very rarely drops below 1100 if I have good reception and does not fluctuate nuch, with O2 I could run the speed test 6 times without moving the phone and get 6 completely different readings from 0 to 500. If I do the same on T I will get 6 very similar readings, it is far faster and far more consistent.

    Hope this clarifies matters.
    He who asks a question looks foolish for 5 minutes. He who doesn't ask a question remains foolish forever.

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    lcymru (2009-06-02)

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    Thank you - well clarified.

    I suppose I shouldn't go on and on about this, but I did note that T-Mobile for Solo and O2 for Simplicity both apparently require a UK debit account and maybe a couple of UK credit cards; unfortunately I have neither. So it seems that a "Sim Only" Pay As You Go approach may be my only option.

    O2 has a PAYGO voice Sim with a data "bolt on" but apparently data activation can take up to 48 hours. The T-Mobile website describes something similar, stating "Pay as you go customers can add mobile internet access 5 day for 2.50. To buy text WEB to 441." I also saw some HSDPA "Mobile Broadband" PAYGO Sims on eBay UK, and I guess that could be a data-only alternative. Any further advice?

    Thanks again for everyone's help.
    Last edited by lcymru; 2009-06-02 at 09:25 PM.

  14. #11
    I would email both T-Mob and O2 and explain your situation and what you want and why you think there might be a problem - I think they will find a solution.
    If they don't we'll have to think again.
    Mobile broadband you can safely ignore - they are data only sims for dongles or SIM compatable laptops - you can't add voice or text to them.
    He who asks a question looks foolish for 5 minutes. He who doesn't ask a question remains foolish forever.

  15. #12
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    Logical suggestion; emails in transit. I'll report back when/if I get a response. Thanks confucious.

  16. #13
    Good luck.

    But, just a thought, with your username, shouldn't you be going to Wales?
    He who asks a question looks foolish for 5 minutes. He who doesn't ask a question remains foolish forever.

  17. #14
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    Astute observation re my username - there is indeed a Wales connection on the "other side" of the family so I adopted the moniker.

    Heard from O2 and T-Mobile - cannot get either Simplicity or Solo without UK credit cards (or bank account) and a UK address. Both said go with PAYGO and that activation of both voice and data should be near instantaneous upon adding a suitable "credit". I assume this is the only option, but wish I could get PAYGO with HSDPA speed -- I ran more speedtests (using the iPhone app of that name) in the Chicagoland area and typically got 1.4-1.6 Mbps with a few times over 2 Mbps.

    Thanks, confucious, for your help. If you have any other thoughts, please let me know.

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