iPhone in Mexico: A Follow Up

iphone in mexico: A Follow Up

I wrote this post last year about the iPhone coming to Mexico (if/when). The post still gets comments daily, most of which point out that indeed the iPhone is available in Mexico, albeit not officially supported by any of the major carriers.

I thought I’d follow up with some up-to-date facts:

  • Yes, if you’re coming from the US and want to use your iPhone in Mexico, it’ll work on the Telcel network (edge). You’ll get voice and data.
  • If you’re in Mexico, you can buy an iPhone, have it unlocked/chipped and use it on Telcel’s network and Movistar’s (assumably Movistar’s network is edge, also).

These are what 90% of the commenters seem to be saying. But no one is commenting on how the iPhone works once you actually get it up and on to the network. And more importantly, how much it costs to use the iPhone.

What I’m interested in are the following:

1. Typical voice and data costs for iPhone usage.
Voice and data in Mexico are both considerably more expensive then the US. This is compounded by the fact that iPhone users tend to spend a lot more time connected to the web then say Blackberry users. Data usage includes sms, email, browser, iTunes downloads and apps like iPhone’s You Tube and Google Maps apps. Assumably, if you use an iPhone in Mexico, your data usage is going to go up (way up). Apple seems to have anticipated this massive jump in usage and made deals with AT&T to create iPhone-specific accounts with lower data fees (and a flat-rate account as well, albeit expensive). Unsanctioned carriers don’t have any deals like this in place. You may be able to use the iPhone on Telcel’s network, but I assume you’re paying through the nose to use the data services. For those of us that don’t enjoy $200USD phone bills, until the data costs come down, it kinda hobbles the functionality. Imagine having the iPhone and not being able to use half of the features because if you do, your billing goes through the roof. Now imagine that the iPhone’s functionality just increased by 1000%. The recently released iPhone SDK will essentially create this order of magnitude of functionality.

2. The Pros and Cons of unlocking/chipping your iPhone
If you’ve unlocked or chipped your iPhone, do software updates work? One of the iPhone’s killer features is that you get regular software updates that enhance/fix functionality and add new features (how many Blackberry owners can say they get iPhone quality updates?). I honestly don’t know if chipping/unlocking the iPhone screws with updates. I’ve read no with unlocking, yes with chipping.

These seem to be the problem areas using the iPhone over non-sanctioned servers. I’m sure these questions are the same in every country/territory not-yet-blessed with an official carrier. If you’re using the iPhone on one of Mexico’s unsanctioned networks, let us know what your experience is, beyond unlocking/chipping and getting it running. What the operational cost is and how is the experience different, broken or less-then-optimal? Pull back the curtain for us and let us know what your typical bill is running and possibly even how much data usage has gone up, since being connected with an iPhone versus a Blackberry or Windows CE.

I’ll highlight any especially informative comments as they come in.

Update – interesting comments:

  • Visual Voicemail does not work (as it’s a feature specifically programmed for the iPhone by AT&T (and presumably other official carriers do this as well).

7 thoughts on “iPhone in Mexico: A Follow Up

  1. hey ed, great blog.

    i’m a fellow expat cali surfer, unfortunately i’m based in df and not bucieras.

    i’ve had my 8gb iphone here for about 8 months now on telcel and everything works great. dont use data since i have wifi everywhere i go (office, house, neighborhood). the only feature you lose operating in a non-apple sanctioned network is the visual voicemail, which isn’t the end of the world. actually, the unlocking process is terribly simple these days and since you have to jailbreak/unlock by default to use it in mexico at the end of the day you gain some functionality (all the great installer.app programs, there are a ton of useful ones).

    I guess this will be the case until the sdk comes out, at which point i am sure it will take the iphone dev community a month or so to catch back up to where apple is…


  2. Hello Ed, I stumbled upon your blog under unfortunate circumstances. You see today I was given the news that my grandmother (who lives in San Luis Potosi) has passed away. I am in the process of planning an emergency trip to the country where I was born.

    I stumbled upon your blog while trying to get a better idea if I should take my phone with me or not. I plan to leave tomorrow night and plan to be there over the weekend. My phone is unlocked so I will probably add the intl. $20/20mb plan from AT&T to the phone so I can stay in touch with email, and swap out SIM cards to make local calls to relatives while there.

    I’ll come back later to update you on how things turned out.



  3. I’m back in the states and happy to say that my iPhone experience in Mexico was great! (might be a different story when I get the bill)

    Everything worked exactly like it did in the states (Youtube, mail, voice calls, internet, & even the psudo-GPS location). What I enjoyed the most was that Google maps has been updated to provide road information for Mexico! I checked this feature about a month ago and there was no road data for Mexico.

    The only thing that did not work for me were the directions in Mexico. I would drop pins and try to get directions from two places and I was never able to get it to work. Other then that my experience with my phone in Mexico was outstanding. However it seems like most people over there don’t even know the iPhone exists, most people thought it was a bulky iTouch.

  4. Perhaps some of you can be of help.

    I already own an iPhone (2G) which I have unlocked and have been using in the UK with a non official carrier for sometime.

    I have, however, shifted to Mexico for the next year. I attempted to sort out a contract with Telcel which would include some kind of unlimited data plan but they told me that because my iPhone was not bought in Mexico (and not configured as such) I would end up paying per kb for data usage, even with an unlimited data plan.

    That seems inaccurate to me, as it’s not that difficult to change the APN settings but before I go any further I hope some of you might be able to clarify what I was told.

    Thank you!

  5. Thanks for sharing the info here. I looked into getting an iphone in Mexico in January of 2010 and to get one without a contract was around $800 USD. They did offer pay-as-you go service wtih an unlimited data plan that seemed reasonable at the time, but I can’t quote on the prices from memory. Right now I am looking for an unlocked iphone to take to Mexico when I return, but I’ll do some more research to see if people have had success doing that.

    jb – did you buy the iphone in mexico or in the US?


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