Taking an Android Phone Abroad - dummies

By Dan Gookin

The easiest way to use an Android phone abroad is to rent or buy one in the country where you plan to stay. Often, international roaming charges are so high that it’s cheaper to simply buy a temporary cell phone wherever you go, especially if you plan to stay there for a while.

When you opt to use your own phone rather than buy a local phone, things should run smoothly — if a compatible cellular service is in your location. Not every Android phone uses the same network and, of course, not every foreign country uses the same cellular network. Things must match before the phone can work. Plus, you may have to deal with foreign carrier roaming charges.

The key to determining whether your phone is usable in a foreign country is to turn it on. The name of that country’s compatible cellular service should show up at the top of the phone, where the name of your carrier appears on the main screen. So where your phone once said Verizon Wireless, it may say Wambooli Telcom when you’re overseas.

  • You receive calls on your cell phone internationally as long as the phone can access the network. Your friends need only dial your cell phone number as they normally do; the phone system automatically forwards your calls to wherever you are in the world.

  • The person calling you pays nothing extra when you’re off romping the globe with your Android phone. Nope — you pay extra for the call.

  • While you’re abroad, you need to dial internationally. When calling home (for example, the United States), you need to use a 10-digit number (phone number plus area code). You may also be required to type the country exit code when you dial.

  • When in doubt, contact your cellular provider for tips and other information specific to whatever country you’re visiting.

  • Be sure to inquire about texting and cellular data (Internet) rates while you’re abroad.

  • Using an Android phone over a Wi-Fi network abroad incurs no extra fees (unless data roaming is on). In fact, you can use the Skype app on your phone over a Wi-Fi network to call the United States or any international number at inexpensive rates.