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Bringing Cell Phone overseas, just to use Wi-Fi?

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  • Jun 2nd, 2013 9:44 am
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Newbie
Sep 2, 2011
82 posts
10 upvotes
KANATA

Bringing Cell Phone overseas, just to use Wi-Fi?

Hi all,

SO I will be traveling to Hong Kong and China (Nanjing/Shanghai) in mid June, and am debating taking my phone along, not to use to call/text, but to surf on wi-fi. I don't want to bring my chunky laptop for space and security reasons, and unfortunately I don't have a tablet/ipad either.

I don't want to run into problems with roaming etc. Is there a way just to use the phone (I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 HD LTE, with Bell) with WiFi and to disable the "phone part" and data?

I guess if it is too tricky, or won't work, I can always find an apple store, internet cafe, or if I stay at a hostel they have a communal computer. I just want to use it to facebook and check email occasionally (don't need it for business or serious reasons!)

Thanks all in advance for the help/advice. :)
16 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jul 28, 2010
1101 posts
350 upvotes
Montreal
Airplane mode, activate Wifi?

If it's unlocked you can easily get data sim cards in Sham Shui Po in HK or any 7-11 and you will have data/phone to use as well if you're travelling with family and want to split up shopping or whatever
Deal Addict
Nov 30, 2011
1489 posts
522 upvotes
GTA
If you don't want to use the phone as a phone you should be able to just remove the sim card. If you then turn on wifi and connect wherever you find free wifi.
Deal Addict
Nov 6, 2003
3334 posts
248 upvotes
You should turn off data roaming when travelling. In fact, I turn off data roaming even in Canada. With data roaming turned off while travelling, you will be restricted to wifi only and you still can use your cell phone for emergency or to see who called you from home.
[OP]
Newbie
Sep 2, 2011
82 posts
10 upvotes
KANATA
haha wow thanks guys. 3 simple different answers. I am not great with tech, so thanks!

I think I will disable the data (found out how to do that just now), then also do the airplane mode and turn on WiFi (didn't know you could do that!), just in case. I'd rather not take out the SIM card and end up losing it! :S

Just curious, will the GPS still work? and is there a way to get directions/use maps without data or wifi and just GPS?

THANKS!!!
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 25, 2005
3831 posts
283 upvotes
North York
Free wifi is actually quite rare in HK. Outside the airport, you'll need to find government buildings and libraries to use wifi. I believe McDonalds wifi are limited to 30 minutes only. If you have friends in HK, it's better to borrow their password provided by their internet service provider.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Oct 4, 2004
3443 posts
351 upvotes
Vancouver
If you're a young person like me and can't live without their phone for a day, then just unlock and use an HK sim card. Data is seriously cheap there. I would do that, simply because technology these days gives us the blessing of a map, walking instructions, a tour guide and the internet all in the palm of our hands. I believe that the GPS does NOT work in airplane mode.

If you're with Rogers, one very cool feature is Rogers One Number which lets you log-in with your computer or tablet anywhere in the world and access your texts and call home for free. You can even use this at home to call in the day without using up your daytime minutes.
[OP]
Newbie
Sep 2, 2011
82 posts
10 upvotes
KANATA
WhatADeal! wrote:
May 29th, 2013 6:20 pm
Free wifi is actually quite rare in HK. Outside the airport, you'll need to find government buildings and libraries to use wifi. I believe McDonalds wifi are limited to 30 minutes only. If you have friends in HK, it's better to borrow their password provided by their internet service provider.
I might be staying at a hostel, and I have read up most have free WiFi. I just want to check in once in a while via email and FB with friends back home and in HK/china.
But thanks for the tip especially the McDs!
Sr. Member
Feb 18, 2004
646 posts
96 upvotes
goaliegirl6060 wrote:
May 29th, 2013 7:00 pm
I might be staying at a hostel, and I have read up most have free WiFi. I just want to check in once in a while via email and FB with friends back home and in HK/china.
But thanks for the tip especially the McDs!
Actually free WiFi in Hong Kong is readily available. Goverment properties such as public libraries, public enquiry service centres, sports venues, cultural and recreational centres, cooked food markets and cooked food centres, job centres, community halls, major parks, government buildings and offices, all have free WiFi access. You can search for them here:

http://www.gov.hk/en/theme/wifi/location/

And that's not to mention all the malls, some MTR stations, even phone booths, provide WiFi access. See here:

http://www.discoverhongkong.com/us/plan ... /wi-fi.jsp
Jr. Member
Dec 28, 2006
128 posts
19 upvotes
Victoria
I do it all the time. As soon as the plane takes off, I cut off roaming. I use wifi for skype and facetime, and it's great! Saves me tonnes.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
3742 posts
297 upvotes
Toronto
If you follow my method, you will be able to call home, text, and receive calls without the expensive roaming charges.

The set up is rather easy. Here's what I did when I traveled to Hong Kong last year:

1. Download Fongo and an sms forwarding app. Android and iOS have Fongo and a variety of sms forwarding apps. Fongo gives you a free Canadian number that can make and receive calls for free over Wifi or a data plan. An sms forwarding app forwards your sms from your regular phone to your Fongo phone.

2. Forward all calls and sms to your Fongo cell phone number.

3. Pay $2 to activate 1 month of unlimited sms in Fongo, OR download text plus or textme which also gives you free unlimited sms with a free telephone number. I prefer to pay the $2 just to avoid the hassle of dealing with several telephone numbers.

4. Before you leave, take out the sim but do bring it with you for emergencies only.

5. When you arrive in HK, buy a local sim card with data.

6. Launch Fongo. This app works anywhere in the world with a data plan or on Wifi.

7. Enjoy! If done correctly, anyone who calls you from Canada will have their call forwarded to your Fongo number. And since it works anywhere in the world, you receive the call anywhere in the world as a local call. Same with text messages. To make a call back home to Canada, simply use Fongo and dial away! This does not use any of your minutes and is completely Free.

Skype is good too but not so good since the other caller needs Skype as well.

Skype, whatsapp, and We chat are all great for file sharing and video chat.

Other voip apps you can use (but I have never personally tested them in Hong Kong) are Viber and Vonage.

Callers had no clue that I was in Hong Kong and kept on asking me if I was aware of the expensive roaming charges. I lol'ed and said no worries!
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 9, 2009
4782 posts
708 upvotes
NEMESIS_2008 wrote:
May 30th, 2013 2:51 am
If you follow my method, you will be able to call home, text, and receive calls without the expensive roaming charges.

The set up is rather easy. Here's what I did when I traveled to Hong Kong last year:

1. Download Fongo and an sms forwarding app. Android and iOS have Fongo and a variety of sms forwarding apps. Fongo gives you a free Canadian number that can make and receive calls for free over Wifi or a data plan. An sms forwarding app forwards your sms from your regular phone to your Fongo phone.

2. Forward all calls and sms to your Fongo cell phone number.

3. Pay $2 to activate 1 month of unlimited sms in Fongo, OR download text plus or textme which also gives you free unlimited sms with a free telephone number. I prefer to pay the $2 just to avoid the hassle of dealing with several telephone numbers.

4. Before you leave, take out the sim but do bring it with you for emergencies only.

5. When you arrive in HK, buy a local sim card with data.

6. Launch Fongo. This app works anywhere in the world with a data plan or on Wifi.

7. Enjoy! If done correctly, anyone who calls you from Canada will have their call forwarded to your Fongo number. And since it works anywhere in the world, you receive the call anywhere in the world as a local call. Same with text messages. To make a call back home to Canada, simply use Fongo and dial away! This does not use any of your minutes and is completely Free.

Skype is good too but not so good since the other caller needs Skype as well.

Skype, whatsapp, and We chat are all great for file sharing and video chat.

Other voip apps you can use (but I have never personally tested them in Hong Kong) are Viber and Vonage.

Callers had no clue that I was in Hong Kong and kept on asking me if I was aware of the expensive roaming charges. I lol'ed and said no worries!
Skype users can call out to landlines for a fee depending on where you're calling. I used it for 2 months in El Salvador to call home. The first month was a free trial and the 2nd month was $2.99 for unlimited calls. The service worked great.

How do you forward SMS messages to Fongo?
Deal Addict
Dec 13, 2004
3485 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
I brought my phone to HK recently. Note that McDonalds/Starbucks only give you a 20min limit for wifi use. I had wifi at my apartment so I mainly used it there.

That being said if you have an unlocked phone getting a data plan is not that expensive.

In Shanghai there was a lot of wifi spots where you could buy a prepaid card in advance to use it. I was only there for 2 days so I didn't bother.
Deal Addict
Dec 31, 2007
3574 posts
437 upvotes
Richmond Hill
I bought a cheap phone in HK to use. I figured I'd use it when I'm travelling and can put local SIM cards. So whenever I travel, I bring my travel phone instead of my regular phone. Saves on headaches with roaming and/or travel plans (when going stateside).
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 25, 2005
3831 posts
283 upvotes
North York
I recommend having Skype installed on the cell phone for travel use as well. I had to call back to a Toronto landline while in Macau. I used the wifi in my hotel to initiate the call, and was charged only 3 cents per minute. Call quality was good too.
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