We're planning to travel to Brazil the day after Christmas, and spend New Year's in Rio with some friends. My wife in particular is looking forward to her first visit to the country.
Being a gadget junkie and internet addict, I of course spent some time trying to figure out which of my phones will work in Rio, and what it'll cost.
In particular, we were hoping to use our AT&T iPhones for both voice and data services.
Just got off the phone with the AT&T international customer service department, and they informed me that using the iPhone in Rio will cost $2.29/minute without an international contract, and $1.99/minute with a contract. And it applies to both incoming and outgoing calls.
The contract of course will cost $5.99/month extra and we can discontinue it after we return. He made the point though that we need to be on the contract through the billing cycle, which means staying on the plan for a couple of months, even though we're only going to be in country for a week and a half.
Data service on the iPhone in Brazil will cost $25 for 20 MB and $59.99 for 50 MB, paid per month of course. No help of course in figuring out how to identify 20 and 50MB of usage. I mean, who really knows how much MBs are consumed surfing the web on an iPhone? How do we figure that out? Where is the MB usage meter, while you're using it?*
I know we can buy local SIM cards to use in an unlocked phone, or buy a prepaid, inexpensive local cell phone. But haven't researched that option fully yet.
That option also means having another number to pass around to friends and family. And of course, it rules out mobile internet surfing.
We're also going to need to look into forwarding our to our U.S. Verizon cellphones, to our AT&T iPhones or local cell phones, and what the charges for that might look like.
Of course we'll both have our laptops, so Skype will always be the default phone application whenever we're online.
But it doesn't help obviously in a mobile context.
If anyone has specific suggestions/recommendations, they'd of course be appreciated.
Some of you may be thinking that I may be missing the whole point of a vacation, which for many is to get away from cell phones and mobile surfing. But they're a bit of a necessity for both of us for work reasons.
All the communication issues aside though, we're both really looking forward to visiting Brazil. I've already loaded the Kindle with as many guidebooks as were available, in addition a number of titles in paper that weren't.
Posts from the ground to follow.
* The rhetorical rant above aside, I can run some back of the envelope numbers to figure out the costs here. At $60 for 50 MB, you're talking about $1.20/MB. An average graphics heavy page like the NY or LA Times is about .40 MB. This means about 50 cents to download a page.
Not sure if the iPhone Safari browser compresses the average web page down some or not. Something for further research.