iPhone Worldwide

Mark's iPhone

In the months leading up to our trip (only two months left!), I have had a keen interest in determining the best and most useful gear for us to bring on our journey. We are both iPhone owners, and while we would love to be able to use the iPhone in all of its glory around the world, the thought of paying $3000 a month to stay connected internationally is a bit of a deterrent. On top of that, I have to say that I have no desire to have constant access to my phone or email while I travel. I do love my iPhone—but the addiction has to stop somewhere!

Because we have made the decision to track our journey through this website, we will not be able to travel completely unhooked from our technology. With that in mind, I hope to turn the gadgets we bring with us into useful tools rather than deadweight anchors. My mission: to turn the iPhone into a pocket-sized digital swiss army knife, without personally keeping Fido in business in the process.

I should warn everyone that my inner geek is about to come out. Read on at your own risk!

The iPhone does have some very useful features that we would like to be able to take advantage of on the road. GPS is the one that I am most excited about, but of similar significance is the ability to access the internet through a wifi connection. The wifi capability will let us check in on the website more conveniently, and from more locations. Our updates will be prolific! As for the built-in GPS, I hope to use it not only for the occasional bit of navigation when we get lost, but also to help us geo-tag our photos as we go.

One of the first problems I ran into was trying to find a way to use the GPS and wifi without allowing the phone to connect to cellular networks. When switched into airplane mode, the iPhone disables the GPS, so that was a no-go. I have since discovered that removing the sim-card from the phone allows it to use both wifi and GPS, while disabling the phone and data-plan-accessing aspects of the device. Success! Now I am able to see my location as a pulsing blue dot on a blank white map. Hmmm.

I have been scouring the App Store for useful programs that don’t require constant connection to the internet to function. Stay tuned to find out which ones make the cut.


    If you do want to use your phone abroad, you might want to look into having it unlocked. Then you can slap in a SIM card from one of the local carriers.

    I’ve been thinking about that too. I do like the idea of being able to drop a sim card into it, but I also like getting Apple’s updates as they roll out, rather than waiting for the latest jailbreak to surface. I also have an embedded paranoia of inadvertently turning my iPhone into a brick in the process. If we find we need a phone somewhere, I think it would be just as easy to pick up a pay-as-you-go handset locally.

    After posting, I was curious about how one might go about unlocking an iPhone. It appears there are software unlocks for both versions of the phone. However, its unclear to me if operators would give you a SIM card without first selling you an iPhone. I also read an article about a guy who unlocked his smart phone to switch service providers, only to have the new provider lock his phone to their network without telling him. Don’t you just love the wireless industry?

    As long as you’re in Wifi range, you should be able everything that you need to do without connecting to the cellular network (data roaming is *brutal*, trust me, I know). Then you can get skype installed on your phone then you can make calls everywhere without having to pay anything…

  1. Jess Gough

  2. Hey Mark,
    You could always look at picking up a new cheaper iPhone contract in the UK? I can bolt on extra phones to my business contract for pretty cheap (starting from £14/mo). Then for £10 a month you get 10mb of international downloading included in that.

    You wouldn’t want to miss out on some of these amazing looking new aps now would you? http://mashable.com/2009/06/08/iphone-30-apps/ Just think of it as your compass!

    You’re so helpful Jess. You should go on a world journey too. Mark’s been playing with removing his SIM card and using if for WIFI and GPS. So far so good. He’s even been able to make crystal clear Skype calls.

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