Aussie travellers: which phone is best for your next adventure?


WhistleOut
26 June 2015


You have plenty to think about when planning an overseas trip; you need tickets and passports, you need to know where you’ll be sleeping, you need to pack enough socks and undies.

In 2015, with Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat at our fingertips, you also need to make sure your phone will work overseas before you leave the country. So which smartphone is best for travelling?

Beyond superficial considerations, like whether the camera is good enough to leave your dSLR in the hotel room, the more important question is whether your phone is compatible with the networks at your destination.

Here are the best new phones to travel with:

iPhone 6
Samsung Galaxy S6
HTC One M9

2G Networks:
800/900/1800/1900 MHz

3G Networks:
850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz

4G Network Bands:
Aus. bands: 1,3,5,7,8,28,40

Search iPhone Plans

2G Networks:
800/900/1800/1900 MHz

3G Networks:
850/900/1900/2100 MHz

4G Network Bands:
Aus. bands: 1,3,5,7,8,28,40

Search GS6 Plans

2G Networks:
800/900/1800/1900 MHz

3G Networks:
850/900/1900/2100 MHz

4G Network Bands:
Aus. bands: 1,3,5,7,8,28,40

Search One M9 Plans

Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Sony Xperia Z3
LG G3

2G Networks:
800/900/1800/1900 MHz

3G Networks:
850/900/1900/2100 MHz

4G Network Bands:
Aus. bands: 1,3,5,7,8,28,40

Search Note 4 Plans

2G Networks:
800/900/1800/1900 MHz

3G Networks:
850/900/1900/2100 MHz

4G Network Bands:
Aus. bands: 1,3,5,7,8,28,40

Search Xperia Z3 Plans

2G Networks:
800/900/1800/1900 MHz

3G Networks:
850/900/2100 MHz

4G Network Bands:
Aus. bands: 1,3,4,5,7,17, 29

Search LG G3 Plans

Why are they best?

For phones bought in Australia to work overseas, they need to be able to connect to the radio frequencies of the networks in other countries. Unlike an FM radio, you can’t dial new frequencies into a smartphone. Instead, phones have dedicated radio transmitters tailored to the different frequencies — the more networks it can communicate with, the better a phone is for travelling.

To find out which networks your phone is compatible with, you can find your phone here using our Phone Picker, oyou'll need to visit the handset manufacturer’s website. Look for the phone’s Specifications (or Specs) and find Networks. Make sure you are looking at an Australian website, as this information will vary from country to country.

There are two key bits of information here:

  • GSM Networks — these are older network types, used across the world for calling and messaging.
  • HSPA / UMTS / LTE — these are data networks, used for browsing the internet.

Try and match up the network frequencies for your phone with the frequencies available at your destination. For example, an iPhone 5s is compatible with GSM 850, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz. The AT&T network in the U.S. uses GSM 850 and 1900MHz for calls and messages, so you can use an Australian iPhone 5s in the U.S.

All in all, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find compatible networks when travelling to common overseas holiday spots. If you look at the Top 10 travel destinations, according to latest numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, you can see that our phone will work in most of the places we want to visit.

Here are our favourite tourist destinations and whether there are phone networks the same as we have here in Australia.

Destination

2G networks

3G networks

4G networks

New Zealand

Yes

Yes

Yes

Indonesia

Yes

Yes

No

USA

Yes

Yes

Yes

Thailand

Yes

Yes

No

UK

Yes

Yes

Yes

China

Yes

Yes

Yes

Singapore

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fiji

Yes

Yes

Yes

Malaysia

Yes

Yes

Yes

India

Yes

Yes

No


Do you know how much Roaming costs?

International roaming is what your telco calls using your phone overseas, and it can be very expensive. Aussie telcos need to pay overseas telcos for the use of their networks, and this extra expense is passed on the customers.

Before you board the plane, make sure you know exactly how much your telco charges to use your phone in the specific country you are travelling to. If you don't want to worry about the cost too much, consider switching to a Vodafone RED Plan, where you pay $5 per day to use your phone while on tour.

Traveller phone image via Shutterstock


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