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O T - Overseas Sim Cards For Iphone 5S

Don Hudson

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Has anyone tried to use their phone with a SIM card purchased overseas?

I bought one from Vodafone for a month in Great Britain and the instructions to get it working are confusing. I thought you just plug the card into the device, (here, an iPhone 5s, and/or a new iPad Air) and it worked.

Apparently you have to set up an account.

But setting up an account with Vodafone requires that your phone work using the UK SIM card. Apparently no one at Vodafone has read Catch-22.

The sequence in dealing with Vodafone "help" both in England and now here at home, was, roughly:


All I want is to use my mobile while travelling. It's their system and I'm just trying to use it as a naive, new customer who's walked through their door.

Everything on their website points to how easy it is to do so.

But I quickly learned that they're almost as bad as Rogers, (I thought nobody could beat Telus at pixxing off the customer, but frankly they're much better these days).

These various communications companies are really, really long on promises and selling their stuff, but they're very short on their actual delivery of service. Tried everything including chat sessions but lo', nothing lights up my new Vodafone SIM card.

The iPad is unlocked. The iPhone needs to be unlocked - that much I know!

I would welcome any insights into how one actually gets a their mobile phone going in G.B. and/or Europe with a SIM card purchased just for that purpose.

Hoping for a :Clap-Hands:


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Is your phone unlocked, Don? If so, using it in the UK should be a breeze. I have no experience with Vodaphone, but I have used both EE and THREE (both major providers) in the UK, and it involved no more than putting their SIM in the phone, powering the phone off and back on, and I was up and running. There was no tinkering, no settings to adjust or any other hassle.

The WH Smith stores in most of the LHR arrival areas sell SIMs for visitors from several providers. If you can wait until you get into town, visit either a Carphone Warehouse or Phones 4U shop, and they'll ensure that whatever they sell you is working before you leave.

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The phone will be unlocked shortly - it was the iPad I was trying to install the SIM card on. I turned it off, installed the card, turned it back on and though the vodafone network was indicated at the top-left of the iPad screen, nothing worked, (no text, no phone capability, nothing from Vodafone).

Thank you very much FA@AC, your experience is very encouraging and I may just dump these for something from another carrier. The Vodafone experience was, in a word, atrocious in its lack of competency, assistance and simple comprehension of the problem I was having.

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The Vodafone experience was, in a word, atrocious in its lack of competency, assistance and simple comprehension of the problem I was having.

Sounds about typical for communications providers, yet people complain so much about airlines! :)

I haven't tried connecting directly to a foreign ISP on my iPad. You've probably already considered it, but what I usually do in the UK is get a SIM for my iPhone from Three (they're everywhere), and use it to tether to my iPad on wifi via the IPhone Personal Hotspot. Three will give you 30 days of unlimited data for about 15GBP. That includes coverage in Ireland (the Republic, at least) in case you're headed there in your travels. I'm sure other carriers have similar plans.

Have a great trip!

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Guest longtimer

Sim card for an iPhone? Didn't think it could be done, please explain, anybody??

From the Horse's mouth.


iPhone: Understanding SIM cards

This article discusses the SIM card in your iPhone, and how to use it to import contacts and other information.

Note: This information applies to devices that use a SIM card.

Just like most cellular phones, the iPhone uses a SIM card to determine the phone number, carrier, and features are available for the account. However, the iPhone does not store contacts and phone numbers on the SIM card.

Importing contacts stored on a SIM card

While iPhone does not use the SIM to store contact names and phone numbers, you can still copy your contacts from a SIM card to your iPhone. You can use your old phone's SIM card (if your old phone is not an iPhone) to transfer the primary phone number for each of your contacts from the SIM card. Ensure that the old SIM card you're going to place into the new iPhone is the same type of SIM card. Failure to do so may result in the SIM card becoming stuck in the new iPhone. Additional numbers may not import, or may import as more than one contact. Follow these steps to import the information off the SIM card:

1.Remove the SIM card from your iPhone and replace it with the SIM card from your old phone.

2.Your phone may need to reactivate. If so, connect to iTunes.

3.Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Import SIM Contacts.

Import SIM Contacts

4.Remove your old SIM card from your new iPhone and reinstall the SIM card that came with it.

SIM cards provided by a CDMA-network provider

If you purchased an iPhone 4S (CDMA model), your device may include a SIM for use when outside the country of purchase. Find more information about using your iPhone in another country. If you need to obtain another SIM card for use while traveling, please contact your carrier.

Additional Information

When troubleshooting any phone-related issues, please check that the SIM card in the device is from a supported carrier.

See this article for information about swapping the SIM card.

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I use a G3 Wireless for traveling, yes there is an AC discount for initial set up. You'll find it in the employee discounts.

To get cellular data to work when roaming you must change the cellular data settings APN to openroamer.com for most service providers or download a certificate to set the APN on iOS devices in some countries.

Here is a new one that we also get a discount. Seems much simpler that swapping cards. http://www.knowroaming.com

Also on the employee discount site.

Both offer great rates for roaming voice and data

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Hi Don, don't know if this will help, but I take my Samsung into the shop where I buy the sim card (O2). The fellow behind the counter does the magic button pushing and I walk out with it set up and basically ready to go. Saves me figuring out the reconfiguration. Enjoy the journey.

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Hi Super 80;

Re, "Did you enter the pp.vodafone.co.uk APN on the iPad?"

It was entered automatically.

Partial :Clap-Hands: today. Unlocked the phone today, put the SIM card in it and the Vodafone network recognized that it was online. Still won't send/receive email or messages however. When I try, it doesn't recognize the phone # that was given to me when I bought the SIM card in Bath...it says I don't have an account.

Floyd, I'll try that when I get back to England, thank you.

Thanks AMEfirst - I'm all for keeping it simple!

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Thanks JO, I just got the cards (1 for my phone, 1 for the iPad) last Friday in Bath.

The frustration comes from the glitzy PnP adverts from service providers that over-promise and under-deliver for non-resident visitors and the subsequent inability to get support from the service provider as one goes around in circles on websites just adds to the confusion and the emoticons.

Seems a ubiquitous characteristic, (both Telus and Rogers, now Vodafone - I suspect this is their world), though the unlocking of the iPhone with Rogers went smoothly enough..., for $50...

The "back-room" of this industry IS complicated to be sure and expectations can be unrealistic as they are typically informed only by internet marketing efforts and not by those who really know what they're doing and can help. I can't imagine the number of switchings that have to go right to make it all happen without error, and generally, amazingly it does work! And competition drives service which is generally poor because it can be and they can still make money. They're very good at downloading their problems on a knowledgable user-base, (us!), while raking in the cash. At least that's the (unrealistic?) impression I have at the moment.

I think the iPhone is maturing and on it's way to knowing who it is. It may even discover itself in travel, but the poor iPad is still lost in space, pining for its wifi fix every so often.

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My wife travels to the UK at least once a year to visit relatives. She has taken Blackberries and iphones all with little or no issue getting them going over there. I have not tried the iPad as mine is Wifi only but I suspect it should be no different than the iPhone to get it going. It is not locked to a carrier is it?

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boestar, thanks, that's encouraging. We're returning next week so I should be able to sort it out at a Vodafone store. I began with the iPad, (which is unlocked) and it logged onto the Vodafone network but wouldn't do anything else. That's when the "use your phone to activate your SIM card by signing into your account" hamster wheel began. I'm getting the sense that iPads themselves are different animals, (I've learned from my IT guy that SIM cards aren't different for these devices...a micro SIM card is a micro SIM card). What I haven't had a chance to try yet is the iPhone over there so it may just light up, as described.

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I have loaded SIM cards into several different Tablets for a project at work and they all see to recognize it immediately. IOS, Windows, Android. I never seemed to have an issue. I cant see why simply being in the UK should mess it up. When you get back try (with the SIM card installed) holding the HOME button and the power button at the same time for about 6 seconds. This will force a hard reboot of the device. That may get it moving. (CTRL-ALT-DEL for IOS)

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