“Will my smartphone work in Korea?” I have been hoping to answer this in foreeever! It’s been difficult.. since I inherited Noah’s phone from neentien toet. I had no intention of buying a smartphone, since I never really used my phone much. But since I got my Galaxy tab on contract from Mobileboo, I’ve decided to get a smartphone after finishing my contract. Luck was on my side and I’m now able to order myself n lekker foontjie next week!
It took me forever to choose between the Galaxy SII LTE (with 4G – available all over Korea next year), the Galaxy SII and the iPhone 4S. I’ve always wanted an iPhone. I decided to go with that. A lot of Android apps are blocked in Korea, so getting the apps you want… mission! With the iPhone I will have access to both Apple and Android app stores. Bonus!
I was all eager-beaver to order last night until I read the following on the Mobileboo site:
Will my smartphone work in XYZ Country when I take it with me?
All smartphones and tablets sold through Mobileboo are already unlocked. The SK Telecom network uses W-CDMA technology, and it will be up to you to find a compatible carrier which in most cases is not a problem. However, some countries have carriers that use an older or proprietary wireless technology based on GSM. You would not be able to add your device on that kind of network.
Nooooooooo! I knew SA was a GSM network for sure, but I still asked about 12 people – hoping that SA had some sort of revolutionary change since I’ve been here. Turns out, they didn’t. Apple on the other hand, did. The iPhone 4S is a “World Phone” which means it is compatible on all networks (GSM as well as CDMA and all the others). CDMA is like in America, where they program the actual phone with a number. GSM is like in South Africa, where your number is programmed onto a simcard. (This is my “basic” explanation because I’m NO expert!)
It boils down to this: Most people confuse “Jailbreaking” and “Unlocking” your phone. If the phone is unlocked, it means that you can use it on any network. (GSM or CDMA for example). (Edit: This will only be possible if the phone that you are unlocking, is a dual phone – Compatible with BOTH GSM as well as CDMA networks – like the iPhone 4S) . You will therefor be able to insert a Korean simcard into your smartphone and it should work. (I’m saying should, otherwise some people might sue me if it doesn’t work, plus, I’ll only be able to check this myself in January when I take my phone to SA) Jailbreaking on the other hand has *nothing* to do with where you can use your phone.
This is how my Apple-friend explained it to me: Jailbreaking means, your phone is literally in a jail and you’re breaking it out. Unlike Android, which allows any user to upload any app, Apple has a very strict system when it comes to approving apps for their App store. Apple wants its apps to be safe (malware-free) so they “jail” their phones so you can only download / buy Apple certified apps. By Jailbreaking your phone, you are telling it to accept ANY app. Apple certified or not. By doing this you ARE voiding your warranty on your device, however should something go wrong (like you downloading an app with malware) you can easily restore the factory settings, which would make it “jailed” again.
Whether you’re into berries or apples, the point is this: You need to have your smartphone UNLOCKED before coming to Korea. The phone you unlock MUST be compatible with GSM as well as CDMA networks. Then it *should* work. If it makes anyone feel better: I have a friend who just took his “Korean” iPhone home and it’s working. Someone else took an iPad. And there are a number of Blackberry users from South Africa in Korea.
I’m hoping that the information here is right, but this all makes sense to me. My “Apple-friend” worked for Apple for quite some time, so I’m pretty sure it’s accurate. Will let you know if all of this is true in about 4 weeks… when I go HOOOOME!!
PS: If you’d rather get a phone here, I highly recommend Mobileboo. Excellent service – in ENGLISH! It is possible for foreigners to get a two year contract with them, and you don’t pay half your savings to cancel after one year. Check out their site for more info!
EDIT: Sooo it worked!! I took my unlocked Galaxy S2 LTE to South Africa last week and it was soooo easy! I bought a simcard at the airport and had it RICA’d with my passport. HOWEVER… I wasn’t registered until the next day, when I took the phone back to MTN. (Vodacom was offline when I tried buying a SIM there first… Welcome home, Mari). I was told that for some reason the SIM didn’t complete registration. After popping the SIM into a South African phone (the MTN lady’s blackberry!) SIM registration was complete and it worked immediately. The mobile internet in SA is a bit shocking once you’re used to Korea’s awesome networks! I was quite disgusted when I realized that I have 4G internet in Seoul but sometimes only managed to get a single G in SA! Haha! Either way, it worked, so hopefully SA will improve their mobile internet in the near future! So to conclude: Yes, you can use your Korean phone in South Africa! *obviously you have to have it unlocked and all the other stuff I mentioned before.* xx