Most UK phone networks lock their iPhones in order to prevent customers from using alternative SIM cards, but you can ask the network provider to unlock your iPhone. This could prove difficult, however, as they are not always keen on you doing so, as having a locked phone forces the user to pay their high rates.
However, there are lots of small, independent mobile phone stores and online unlocking specialists who will be able to unlock your iPhone. Unlocking your iPhone shouldn't cause any problems either in the UK or abroad.
Use a MiFi to reduce data roaming charges
Alternatively, if you don't want to (or can't) unlock your iPhone, you could use a MiFi device. MiFi lets you create your own personal WiFi hotspot, which will allow you to run up to five WiFI-enabled devices from that point, coming in handy for groups or families while abroad.
At present, Dataroam is selling the Globalgig International data SIM card and MiFi for £49.99. With it, you get 1GB of 3G data for 30 days, and a reduced charge of 15p/MB for additional data, which is much cheaper than standard network rates abroad.
Compress data to reduce charges while abroad
To reduce data charges while you're out of the country, but also while you're still at home, you can get the free Onavo Extend iPhone app from the iOS App Store. The app promises to increase the amount of data you can get out of your data plan by 500 per cent, by compressing your data and providing a leaner version of the web.
While it doesn't mean you'll get no data roaming charges at all, it does mean that, while you're abroad, you'll be racking up a bill that could be five times smaller than it would have been if you didn't have Onavo Extend.
Plus, Onavo Extend also gives you monthly data usage reports to help you manage your data consumption, too.
Download your maps to save on data charges
Most of the time, if you're abroad, you probably aren't familiar with your surroundings like you are when you're at home in the UK. Therefore, you'll want to whip out your iPhone and use Apple Maps or Google Maps to get around town.
You can cache Apple Maps and Google Maps offline before you head out for the day. If you know where you'll be going, you can search for that area and view it in Apple Maps while you're online, then that data should be stored in the app ready to view when you're offline. You can zoom in and out to see data such as road names too.
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