How can you save money when traveling to China with an iPhone?

I learned how expensive it is to use my Iphone in China, the hard way!

When I landed at Beijing airport and turned on my iPhone, the first text message popped up:
AT&T Free Msg: International data rate of $19.97/MB applies. Unlimited domestic data rate plan does NOT apply in this location.

I thought to myself, well, I am just checking a couple of emails and I don’t usually open those attachments, so how expensive can that be? So, I stupidly kept the roaming function ON for just the next 3 days. The usage charge for that month, which used to average a few cents every month, came to $350.

So, when in China. turn off your iPhone data roaming function. I found a link offering some very practical advice.

Here’s a summary of what to do with your iPhone when traveling to China:
Turn Data Roaming “OFF”: Be sure to download and install the latest version of iPhone software from iTunes. By default, this setting for international data roaming will be in the “OFF” position.
To turn data roaming “ON/OFF” tap on Settings>General>Network>Data Roaming
Utilize Wi-Fi Instead of 3G/GPRS/EDGE: Wi-Fi is available in many international airports, hotels and restaurants to browse the web or check email.
Turn Fetch New Data “OFF”: Check email and sync contacts and calendars manually instead of having the data pushed to your iPhone automatically. This way you can control the flow of data coming to your iPhone.
To turn off the Auto-Check functionality tap on Settings
>Fetch New Data, change Push to “OFF” and Select to Fetch Manually
Consider Purchasing an International Data Package: Purchasing an international data package can significantly reduce the cost of using data abroad. AT&T now offers four discount international data packages. The 20 MB package is $24.99 per month, the 50 MB package is $59.99 per month, 100 MB package is $119.99 per month, and the 200 MB package is $199.99 per month. See for details and international roaming rates.
Reset the Usage Tracker to Zero: When you arrive overseas access the usage tracker in the general settings menu & select reset statistics. This will enable you to track your estimated data usage.
To reset Usage Tracker to Zero tap on Settings>General>Usage>Reset

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4 thoughts on “How can you save money when traveling to China with an iPhone?

  1. You may recognize my name, I did the one month tour of China with WildChina, from Urumqi and Turpan to Kashgar/Lake Karakul and then through the Kunlun Mountains to Tibet. Just a note to add that even with ATT’s international plan the iPhone can be expensive. As you advise, following the usage tracker is critical.

    • Thank you for traveling with WildChina! I didn’t know. Sorry that it took me a while to get back into blogging. Thanks for your comments and visiting!

  2. The iPhone 4 will be the recent edition of iPhone released by Apple Inc. When you 1st obtained it, it happens to be locked and are unable to be implemented to connect with other phone network. In an effort to use other telephone network, you have to unlock it. Most people wish to unlock the iPhone 4 simply because they would like to use the sim card. The sim card is drastically more affordable review for the plan of your common phone network that is affiliated with Apple.

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