Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: T-mobile postpaid international roaming plan

As previously mentioned, the plan this year was to use my Nokia 521 phone in Europe in conjunction with the T-mobile post-paid all you can eat plan along with international roaming (unlimited data, unlimited SMS, $0.20 per minute). Because there were 3 of us, we all signed up under the family plan, paying about $120/month after taxes. That's about $40/month, which would be like buying a SIM card for 10 euros for 3 different countries. Given that we visited Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Lichtenstein, we broke even.

We tested the plan on 3 different phones. Hina carried and iPhone, Arturo carried a Nexus 5, and I carried the afore-mentioned Nokia. We had data on all 3. We relied mostly on SMS to communicate with each other, though I used Skype alot when texting or calling my wife at home. Skype voice over a 2G network is sucky, but text messages worked fine, and I wasn't going to make huge long phone calls until I got wifi anyway.

Surprisingly enough, the glitches came whenever I tried to sign up for free wifi networks that required SMS for registration. No matter what I tried (routing through Google voice or giving the "real phone number" for the phone), I could never register for the wifi at the Zurich airport or at certain hotels. Fortunately, I had workarounds in both cases, but it was nothing short of annoying.

Other than that, however, the plan worked well, had no hidden fees, and whenever we needed to make a phone call at $0.20 per minute, we were more than happy to pay the charge. This was the first tour where we didn't spend substantial time getting SIM cards in every country, and it was definitely worth it.

Lots of people have complained about T-mobile's coverage in the US. But to my mind, that's the wrong trade-off. The times when you most want good phone coverage is when you travel, especially internationally where you're not familiar with the area. If you really wanted a post-paid plan, the T-mobile trade-off is probably the best you can find today.

Highly recommended.
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