So you’ve booked your flights and hotels, you’ve created a list of the “must see” tourist attractions in London and you’ve downloaded the best UK travel apps to your phone. But will your Australian mobile phone work in the United Kingdom?
In order for your smartphone to work in the UK, there’s three things to check:
- It needs to be technically compatible
- It must be network unlocked
- You need to have the correct UK SIM Card for your phone.
In this handy five-minute guide, we’ll provide you with the necessary information to ensure your smartphone will work when you reach the UK so that you can keep a seamless connection on your vacation in London. (HINT: all iPhones are technically compatible — so if you have an iPhone you’ll just need to check that it’s network unlocked).
If your mobile phone works in the UK then that means you can buy the best UK SIM Card from us and get it delivered to your home or office anywhere in Australia. You’ll be good to go as soon as your plane lands in London!
First up, your mobile phone needs to be technically compatible to work in the UK.
What does “technically compatible” mean?
It means your phone is able to operate on the cellular frequencies used in the UK. If it’s not technically compatible then it can’t connect to the network, meaning you won’t get any connection on your phone (no calls, no texts, no 4G data).
Thankfully, though, most of today’s smartphones are considered “world phones”, meaning they can operate in different countries on different cellular networks using different cellular frequencies.
It wasn’t that long ago that your mobile phone operated perhaps on just one or two frequencies, and was only compatible with your regular home network. It might not have even been compatible with another mobile network in Australia!
The good news is that all iPhones (including iPhone X) are technically compatible, so you don’t need to check technical compatibility if you’ve got an iPhone.
And most other smartphones are also technically compatible (as many are considered “world phones”) but you’ll still need to check technical compatibility. It will need to operate on 4G/LTE 800MHz and/or 4G/LTE 1800MHz and/or 3G 2100MHz.
You can refer to your phone’s specifications, or just use the search feature at the Will My Phone Work website: all you need to do is select “United Kingdom” as the country, then select “3” from the carrier list. If it says your phone is compatible, then you’re on your way to being able to use your phone in the UK. The next step is to check it’s network unlocked.
Read more on the topic: How To Check If Your Mobile Phone is Compatible With Using a UK Pre-paid SIM Card?
So your mobile phone is technically compatible? Awesome! The second thing you need to check is if it’s network unlocked.
But what does “network unlocked” even mean?
First, a bit of background. Many mobile phones are network locked. This means they’re restricted to work only on one single network. Not only is a locked phone prevented from working overseas, it won’t even work on a competing network here in Australia. For example, if your phone was locked to Telstra, it simply wouldn’t work on Vodafone.
But why would a mobile phone be network locked? Many smartphones are sold on a contract basis, heavily subsidised by the carrier. The full price for your phone might be $500, but your carrier sells it to you for $99, and then puts you on a 12 or 24 month contract and “locks” the phone to the carrier’s network. And this is fair, because the carrier has given you a heavily discounted phone, so requires you to stay with them (just as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch!).
In contrast, if your phone is network unlocked then you can use it on another network. It’s effectively been let of gaol and can be used on another network (either domestic or international).
It’s worth noting that your phone may already be unlocked. Some phones are sold already unlocked (sometimes called “SIM free”), meaning you’re free to use any SIM Card you want.
In any case, you must ensure your phone is network unlocked to use it in the UK. If your phone’s locked to your home network in Australia, it won’t work in the UK (and it won’t work on any other network anywhere in the world).
So how do I get my phone unlocked? If your cell phone is network locked, all you need to do is contact your phone provider or click on these handy links to unlock your Telstra device or Vodafone device. If you have an iPhone, then the Apple website provides instructions on how to unlock your iPhone.
Read more on the topic: How to unlock your mobile phone or check if it’s already unlocked
Choose the correct UK SIM card
So your phone is technically compatible and it’s network unlocked? Super awesome! This means you can use your phone in the United Kingdom on your upcoming holidays.
It also means you can buy a local SIM Card, rather than relying on expensive international roaming. You can now buy a UK and Europe SIM Card and get it shipped to your home or office so everything’s good to go from the moment your plane lands in the UK.
There’s a lot of reasons why it makes sent to buy a UK and Europe SIM Card:
First, you’ll get a much more generous allowance of data (in fact you’ll get a huge 12GB of high speed 4G data). And you’ll need lots of data to update Facebook and Instagram, send pictures and videos on Whatsapp, use Skype or FaceTime or navigate your way in London using Google Maps.
Second, you’ll get an allowance of minutes and texts to call and text local numbers. For example, calling for a taxi, booking a restaurant, calling your airline to check your reservation or updating Uber with your new number.
Third, and most important, is you’ll have a local phone number. While global roaming has its benefits, you’ll still be using your OZ phone number, which can be a burden if you need the tour operators, hotels or people you meet on your trip, to call or text you. A good example is using Uber – a local SIM card means a local phone number. You can update your Uber profile with your UK cell number and that way your Uber drive can call and text you (or vice versa). Try getting a London Uber driver to call your OZ mobile number: no way!
The best local SIM card offering is from UK Pre-Paid SIM Card. You’ll get a local UK mobile number, 12GB of high speed 4G data, minutes and texts. And if you’re travelling to Europe too, you can use your allowances in 34 European countries including France, Italy, Germany and Spain. There are no overage charges, no contracts and it’s 100% pre-paid.
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