I keep talking about taking my iPhone to Israel.

On one hand, I want to be able to check emails throughout the day when I am roaming the streets and doing tourist-like things. On the other hand, I don’t want to be hit with a huge bill when I get home. Since AT&T has yet to support an international plan designed for Israel and the iPhone (they have for the Treo and Israel), I don’t plan on making calls from my phone or using data.

But what about the wifi option? Can I get away with using just that?

The iPhone Tips for International Roamers describes how you can use Wifi to get data on your iPhone while traveling internationally. But what scares me is the language is not very encouraging…

When I go ahead and look at Keep Data Roaming “OFF” section under Settings > General > Network > Data Roaming, it reads:

When abroad, turning off data roaming may avoid roaming charges when using email, web browsing, and other data services.

The word “may” is what concerns me. Here is a picture:

iPhone Keep Data Roaming "OFF"

If I was in Israel today, I bet I would follow the instructions, and try to just use Wifi only and make sure the data roaming is off. But I know I would check my AT&T account the day after to see if I was being billed.

Website Comments

  1. Tamir
    Reply

    I took my iPhone to Israel, and found out painfully what everyone else who took their iPhone outside the US found out – you are billed for wifi usage exactly the same as data usage through the cellular network. After 2 weeks in Israel, with not a single called made or received, but using the phone daily mostly in free wifi spots (cafe’s, private offices and friends homes) I got a bill from AT&T for over $500 in data roaming charges. This is the only instance of a cellular carrier charging for wifi usage on your phone. It does not happen when using wifi on any other device (Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, etc.).

  2. Louis
    Reply

    hi barry – did u get charged by at&t for using wifi on ur iphone in israel? im going next week…

    thanks

  3. Xande Macedo
    Reply

    Hi Tamir, I believe you were charged only because you did not turn the data roaming off like shown on the picture above. Using data on the iPhone, even on WI-FI will sync data over the cell network (i.e.: Maps application uses cell phone signals and wi-fi spots information to average out your location on a map and I am sure that are another behind the scenes processes that will tap on your cell network without you noticing.

    My advice is turn airplane mode on and turn OFF data roaming and you should be golden. I am going to Israel on June and I will bring my iPhone with me to use as a Wi-Fi device.

  4. david pereque
    Reply

    yooo
    im in israel i dont have an iphone but i brought my itouch
    wifi work great the only thing is that the maps dont only satellite images no roads n its a real bitch
    does anyone know how to get maps to worl for israel??

  5. Brad G
    Reply

    For all you who complain about ridiculous charges, Fees etc…I have one solution.

    JAILBREAK AND NETWORK UNLOCK YOUR IPHONE. (Google it!) THEN GO AND GET A PRE-PAID PACKAGE FROM ANY ISRAELI CELL PROVIDER (IF YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO BE THERE FOR A SHORT PERIOD) OR SIGN UP FOR A PLAN (IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE THERE FOR A WHILE/MOVING THERE) AND USE THAT WITH YOUR UNLOCKED IPHONE. EVERYTHING WORKS BRILLIANTLY AND THE BEST PART IS…

    NO INTERNATIONAL ROAMING FEES/CHARGES!

  6. No Name
    Reply

    Hi, just want to confirm that Xande Macedo is correct. With data roaming off, no charges are incurred. I confirmed this with AT&T. I have not turned Airplane Mode on yet, but I’m sure he’s accurate that this ensures wifi usage without any charges. Thanks Xande!

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