AT&T offers U.S. iPhone users tips for minimizing international data when traveling abroad

AT&T has sent email messages to iPhone customers to remind users that international data usage is not covered under your existing U.S. data plan.

Your iPhone provides access to email, Visual Voicemail, Web browsing and other applications that can use a significant amount of data. It’s no surprise that you might find yourself using more data than you thought. AT&T wants to let you know of some easy ways to help minimize data usage charges when traveling overseas.

• Turn Data Roaming “OFF”: Be sure to download and install the latest version of iPhone software from iTunes. These software updates will enable the ability to turn on/off data roaming when traveling outside the U.S. By default, this setting will be in the “OFF” position. turn data roaming “ON/OFF” tap on: Settings>General>Network>Data Roaming

• Utilize WiFi instead of GPRS/EDGE: WiFi is available in many international airports, hotels and restaurants to browse the Web or check email.

• Turn off your iPhone’s “Auto-Check” Function for Email: Data usage from email can accrue quickly. Check email manually using WiFi instead of having emails downloaded to your iPhone automatically. This way you can control the flow of data coming to your iPhone. To turn off the Auto-Check functionality tap on: Settings>Mail>Auto-Check and select Manual

• Learn More about AT&T’s International Data Packages: Before you travel to one of the countries AT&T covers, learn more about their international data packages to reduce the cost of data usage abroad.

• Reset the Usage Tracker to Zero: When you arrive overseas, you can track estimated data usage in Settings.

More info via AT&T’s online “Travel Tips” here.


  1. I would bet they get a lot of complaints as it is so easy to use the data features that they do add up quickly. It is so hard to use these features on any other phone that you just don’t use them.

  2. The iPhone should have a “travelling abroad” setting that bundles all these changes, just like MacBooks have different setting groups for AC power or battery, rather than making you change all the settings individually.


  3. For all the bitching people do about AT&T;, I’ve had much better customer service experience with them during the last 10 months with my iPhone then I did in 6 years with Sprint. This is another indication that they are trying to keep the iPhone users happy.

  4. Despite my trying to only use wi-fi on a recent trip to Grand Cayman, I ended up with an additional $100 of “roaming” data charges… gotta be careful – some data roaming is mind-bogglingly expensive. It also took 45 days to show up on my bill. Guess that I what I get for playing with Google maps while on a boat in Singray City…

  5. There’s another way for a user to cut down on data roaming: let the poor bastards who have bought an iPhone and are therefore stuck with Apple’s draconian conditions, swap out their SIM card when they are overseas and use a card issued in that country. Until Apple drops its extraordinary and unique restriction that ties every buyer to one and only one carrier in the whole friggin’ world, I will never buy an iPhone! Sales tactics like this are more the mark of assholes like Microsoft.

  6. 84 Mac Guy –

    My wife and I have been with AT&T;(formerly Cingular) since August 2003. We’ve never had a problem with dropped calls, weak signals, or poor customer service. In fact, the few times we’ve had to call customer service they immediately fixed the error (we weren’t on a national plan and were on the edge of our service area and our phone call was picked up by a cell tower out of our area).

    We are fortunate enough not to live in a big city, so our experience is not with using our phones in subways, buses, tall buidings, etc. but rather in rural / suburban settings.

    I realize our experience may be atypical but we’ve never had any compliants with Cingular/AT&T;. (Mileage may vary.) Our Motorolla phones on the other hand…


  7. I just spent a couple weeks in China, and did all those things above, and got the $25 20Gig international data plan.

    I turned off any of my extraneous email accounts, and turned off auto-check. The big data hog was really when I used Google Maps! But it was worth it knowing where I was. I used 19.6Gigs of data during my stay. Next time, I’ll get the 50Gig data plan and not worry about it.

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