Oregon State University

Taking Your Smartphone or Mobile Device Out of the Country

Taking your smartphone or mobile device out of the country can be very useful. However, if you do not order an international voice and data plan from your provider, or if you accidentally go over the limit for the plan, the resulting phone bill could be an unpleasant surprise. Applying standard international roaming rates, it could cost you $400 to download a 20 MB Word file. Sending it back with edits: another $400. Even if you're in Canada.

There are some general steps you should follow when taking your phone out of the U.S. You can read the details here:

General Steps for International Phone Use

We have also provided device-specific instructions that explain how to disable international roaming and how to track your talk time and data usage:

 


General Steps for International Phone Use

  1. CONTACT YOUR CELL PROVIDER! Before leaving, you should make sure and get all the details on international phone use. This includes possible international calling/data plans and overage charges should you exceed the limits of the plan. Make sure you think carefully and consider the possible risks of overage charges before going with a plan. Be sure to discuss which countries you are visiting with your provider--you may find the region you are travelling to is not covered by an international plan.


    Note: If you use an OSU-owned phone, you can contact Telecommunications for any questions you have about using your phone out of the country. They can be reached by calling 541.713.3440 or by sending an email.

  2. Make sure you understand how your phone works. All smartphones are capable of using cell data, even when they are just sitting idle in your pocket. Any apps that are set up to periodically check for new stuff (mail, news, updates and such) will automatically activate (and use data) even if you aren't using it at the time. If you are concerned about accidental data usage, make sure you read the guides below to turn off data roaming or cell data in general. You should also make sure you understand your phone settings, and how each app accesses data automatically.

  3. Set up your phone prior to leaving. You can follow the guides below to do things like disable data roaming and track call times and data usage. Some of these steps require some initial setup, so make sure you have your phone ready and working prior to leaving the country

  4. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible while out of the country. Your phone will automatically use Wi-Fi for all its Internet needs if you are connected to a network, so waiting to do online tasks until you are connected to Wi-Fi can save a lot of data.

 


Apple iPhone and iPad

Disable Automatic Data Roaming:

To turn off automatic data roaming altogether when you are abroad:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click on General
  3. Click on Network
  4. Slide the Data Roaming slider from On to Off
  5. If you want to disable all data except for Wi-Fi, you can slide the Cellular Data switch Off

Track Your Minute Usage (iPhone Only):

If you have an international plan from your provider, you will want to track how many minutes you use so you don't go over a certain limit. To track usage for your phone:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click on General
  3. Click on Usage
  4. Scroll down to Call Time (on some models, you may need to click on Cellular Useage)
  5. You can click the Reset Statistics button to set the Current Period counter to 0. You can then come back to this page, and check the Current Period any time you need to see how many minutes you have used

Track Your Data Usage:

If you have an international data plan from your provider, you will want to know how much data you use so you don't go over a certain limit. To track data for your iPhone/iPad:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click on General
  3. Click on Usage
  4. Scroll down to Cellular Network Data (on some models, you may need to click on Cellular Useage)
  5. You can click the Reset Statistics button to set the Cellular Network Data counter to 0. You can then come back to this page, and check the Cellular Network Data any time you need to see how many minutes you have used.

 


Android Devices

Disable Automatic Data Roaming:

Important: Data roaming settings vary from phone to phone. In general, they can be found under Settings. If you don't know how to turn off data roaming, call the OSU Computer Helpdesk at 7-3474 and we'll help you out.

You should also note that while you can turn off data with the above steps, some Android apps have permissions to turn these settings back on automatically, without alerting you, when the app needs Internet access. If you don't want to change settings for each app, or are unsure of how to do it for all your apps, then you may want to consider not taking your Android-based device out of the country. Otherwise, your device might connect to the Internet without you being aware of it.

Track Your Minute & Data Usage (using third party apps):

If you have an international plan from your provider, you will want to track how many minutes you use and how much data you use so you don't go over a certain limit. Please Note: OCH does not support third party apps. If you choose to use them, you may want to test them out prior to leaving the country. Your results may vary.

Call time apps:

  • Stats Tracker
  • Droidstats

Data usage apps:

  • 3G Watchdog
  • My Data Manager

 


Blackberry Devices

Disable Automatic Data Roaming:

To turn off automatic data roaming altogether when you are abroad:

  1. On the home screen, click the Manage Connections icon
  2. Click on Mobile Network Options
  3. Change the While Roaming field to Off
  4. If you want to disable all data except for Wi-Fi, you can change the Data Services field to Off

Track Your Minute Usage:

If you have an international plan from your provider, you will want to track how many minutes you use so you don't go over a certain limit. To track usage for your phone:

  1. Click the green Dial button on your phone, which will bring you to your call history
  2. Click the Blackberry (Menu) button, which will bring up options for this page
  3. Scroll down and click on Status
  4. This brings up the Phone Info page, which shows your last call length and total talk time. If you check total talk time before you leave, you can keep checking this page and see how much it has increased by, which will tell you how many minutes you have used.

Track Your Data Usage (using a third party app):

If you have an international data plan from your provider, you will want to know how much data you use so you don't go over a certain limit. Blackberry does not have a built-in usage monitor, but you can install third party apps which will monitor it for you. Please Note: OCH does not support third party apps. If you choose to use one of these apps, you may want to test it out prior to leaving the country. Your results may vary.

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