The following question came in from a user of our website this week.
We are elderly non-tech couple going on a Baltic cruise and ending up in New York. We have a bed ridden son and we need to call him often and skype or similar from Europe and U.S. Is Iphone the way to go, an international phone? Please advise us, as it’s all too hard. Thnk you.
I responded with the following questions:
Raymond, couple of questions for you,
Is your son likely to want need to call you? How regularly will you need to call and or use something like Skype? Are you currently using Skype? Would you need the iPhone for anything outside this trip.
The response was as follows:
Arthur, we each have skype on our PCs and our son has an iPhone, iPad iMac etc and he uses skype to communicate as he is bedridden. We mainly want to show him what we are seeing as we travel around. It would be handy if in an emergency he could call us, but mainly we will call him. We need to connect by wi-fi wherever we can, and we don’t want to be bankrupted in the process.
I then responded with the following advice.
I would love to tell you that there is a simple and affordable solution out there that is very easy to use but there isn’t.
These are your options:
If you buy an iPhone on a plan, you need to pay it out and unlock it to use anyone’s else’s sim card (see options below). If you take your contract mobile phone overseas you will pay min $10- $20/MB for your data and lots for each call you make and receive. I really would not recommend that you take a contract mobile phone with you.
If you have an unlocked iPhone or other phone you can buy a roaming sim card from here and use this sim card in your phone for pretty much every country you travel to. These sim cards cut out much of the painful roaming charges. The way they work is that they have you dial a number before you make your local or international call. This makes the calls divert via a specific country through which the cheaper phone calls can be made.
As an example, calling from the US to Aust with gotalk’s Travel Sim will cost you $1.08 per minute. Calling from say Norway is 45c/min. Receiving calls will cost you $1.03 when in the US and 40c when in Norway. 30c flagfall also applies.
Data from these countries is as follows:
- US: 13c/100KB (1MB is about $1.30)
- Norway: 6c/100KB (1MB is about 60c)
In terms of using Skype, I think this is a good call but bare in mind that this is how much data you will be using when Skyping
- Skype-to-Skype: 50kbps or around 3MB for one minute of calling
- Calls to landlines or mobile numbers: 6-20 kbps or around 1MB for one minute of calling
- Video calls between two mobile devices: 500kbps or about 30MB a minute
- Video calls between a mobile device and a computer: 600kbps or about 35MB a minute
So Skype is great but not cheap either if you plan to use Video. Sending photos via your phone is fine but ensure the files size is also small, otherwise each photo could be costly.
The final option is to use an unlocked iphone or equivalent smart phone with a Skype application and to then buy a sim card in the countries that you travel to. Depending on where you start your cruise you could pick one up from there and see how the charges go. Being prepaid you can only spend what you put on the card, so you can protect yourself. You can also buy a phone card in each country and make your calls that way. This will be by far the cheapest option for calling your son. You can then save your iphone (or even PC) for emailing photos and maybe an occasional video chat.
Hope this helps. Happy to assist with any other questions you might have.