How iPhone works in Mexico (and elsewhere overseas?)
Since I’m on my honeymoon, I told myself, my wife, and Dennis that I wouldn’t be writing much until my return. But I wanted to share an interesting discovery with you now.
We’re honeymooning on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, and of course, we took a couple of iPhones along. So I now have some answers as to whether and how the iPhone works internationally—for AT&T customers. And I also better understand a few things about U.S. service for the iPhone.
You’ll notice on the screenshot above that iPhone comes up with the word “Movistar” rather than the AT&T name. That’s actually one of two different networks it’s been roaming on in Mexico. Within the very same hotel complex, we’ve seen the iPhone switch multiple times from the Movistar network to another one, called Mx Telcel GSM.
The interesting thing about iPhone’s display of the Mx Telcel GSM name is how it attempts to accommodate the carrier’s longer title. Certain screen refreshes lead to the name scrolling in the limited space of the upper left part of the screen, before becoming and remaining “Mx…” It looks like Apple has enough space up there to keep the full name Cingular (with variable-width letters) or its equivalent, but will shorten other names when they exceed a certain width limit.
Data services using EDGE on both networks are markedly slower than they are on AT&T’s recently upgraded EDGE network. In fact, I’d go so far as to guess that the reason David Pogue and others griped so much about the EDGE speeds of their pre-release iPhones was that they didn’t know or believe that AT&T’s data network upgrades were about to take place. Over here, web pages and e-mails take a lot longer to load, as does anything else that’s data dependent. We’ve also found the Google Maps feature to be pretty unreliable at serving map art, whether satellite or drawn, for local locations.
We’ve also more than occasionally encountered this “No Service” banner. In all the times I’ve used iPhone in the United States, I’ve never had this come up, thanks most likely to AT&T’s coverage. Obviously, when you lose service, the phone can’t do much more than play back stored content, and let you fool around with the interface.
Generally, though, the experience has been very similar to using iPhone in the States. Call quality has been basically unchanged, but with a super-cool added perk: “International Assist” mode. As found in the Settings > Phone menu, “International Assist automatically adds the correct prefix to US numbers when dialing from abroad.” My existing contacts can be called without any hassle—iPhone just dials them properly. At one point, I did see a message pop up about unavailability of Visual Voicemail, telling me that I needed to call into a standard voicemail box to retrieve messages, but the Visual version seems to be working now; I don’t know if I’ve missed any messages, though. SMS messages definitely work. And e-mail seems to be working flawlessly, though slow, everywhere I go.
Based on what I’ve experienced here, my feeling is that Apple’s deals with various international telecom partners may be complicated not only by its demands for certain profits, but also certain network performance guarantees that some companies might find hard to swallow. Visual Voicemail, speedier overall EDGE performance, and perhaps some tweaks to boost connections to Google and YouTube hosted services might all be required in order to make the iPhone experience special for customers. It’ll be interesting to see whether iPhone performance quality changes once it officially comes to Mexico, and other countries.
Back to my honeymoon. See y’all on the other side. :-)
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- iOS bug allows peculiar string of characters in Messages to reboot iPhones
- iOS 9 Transit feature to launch in select cities
- Report: iOS 9 to feature Force Touch support, updated keyboard
- Microsoft confirms Cortana coming to iOS this year
- Apple creates Chief Design Officer role for Jony Ive
- Report: iOS 9 will bring new security features, improve legacy device support
- Report: Apple’s push for local content may delay Apple’s TV service
- Adobe dropping Photoshop Touch in favor of more focused apps
- Report: Dual app viewing, multiple logins coming to iPad
- Transit coming to Apple Maps in iOS 9?
- Griffin WatchStand for Apple Watch
- Apple iPhone Lightning Dock
- Witti Notti and Dotti
- PhoneSuit Elite 6 and Elite 6 Pro Battery Case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- Wren V5US Speaker
- Skech Base for iPad Air 2
- Anova Culinary Precision Cooker
- Phiaton MS 100 BA Earphones
- Olloclip Ollocase for iPhone 6
- AKG Y50 On-Ear Headphones
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Is there a point to having both iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Photo Stream enabled?
- Why can’t I set a longer passcode timeout on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Can I turn off Message Read Receipts for only some users?
- How do I share one iCloud Photo Library within a family?