Q Will my Samsung Galaxy II work as a phone while in Japan?
A Yes - but be circumspect about how you use it.
Let's start with the phone aspect. The EU is applying downward pressure on roaming charges within Europe: by 2014 it will cost only 15p a minute to make a call, 4p a minute to receive a call, and 5p per text.
In contrast, charges outside the EU are astronomical: my provider, Orange, charges £1.50, 90p and 50p for the corresponding services from Japan. You can buy a “travel bundle” that slightly reduces the cost. My strategy is to leave the phone on, in order to receive urgent calls, but never to make calls - and never, ever, to use roaming data services.
The technology deployed in smart phones such as the Samsung Galaxy constantly uses for emails, software updates and social media, unless you disable it. Which you can do as follows: click “menu”, “settings” and open the “wireless and network” folder. Touch on “mobile networks” and you will be faced with a “data roaming option” - un-tick this to disable the feature.
In Japan you will be spoiled for Wi-Fi choice, at cafes, libraries and public spaces. Sign up for Skype before you leave for Japan. This will enable you to make calls either free (to other Skype users) or for a few pence per minute (to land lines; mobiles are slightly more expensive).
If you are expecting calls from Japanese numbers, spare callers extra expense by investing in a Japanese SIM card. This will also allow UK callers to ring you at no cost to you, so long as you let them know the number.
Additional research by Emma Munbodh
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