A mobile phone for travelling in the US

I’ve grown a bit tired of returning from trips abroad to find that I’ve racked up another substantial three-figure mobile phone bill.

This isn’t data usage, you understand, or anything fancy. It’s from using the phone for that good old-fashioned thing: talking to people. And not even international calls, just calls in-country.

So, on my current trip to the US, I decided to do the sensible thing and buy a cell phone in New York and thought I’d share my experience in case anyone else found it useful.

After a bit of internet research I chose the AT&T GoPhone Z221. It’s nothing special – in fact in many ways, it’s a throw back, but it does what I need it to do perfectly: it calls the US without going via the UK (and of course I do use it to phone the UK, too, sometimes).

The important thing is not really the phone, but the package. AT&T’s GoPhone package is a pay-as-you-go deal. In the UK you can a SIM card for £10, but in the US it’s a little more complex and the GoPhone package seemed the simplest, best value for getting a US phone and phone number without a contract. Pay $100, and you get the number for a year, with calls at 10 cents per minute. Top up $100, and the number remains in service for a further 12 months from that moment, with your balance carried over. I have no doubt that I’ll spend at least $100 annually on US calls, so that was a no-brainer. Reaction to the $40 handset so far: it makes calls; the battery lasts. 5 stars. (If you’re a heavy texter you might like something swisher, or faster, thinner fingers than mine.)

AT&T gets some bad press, but I have to say that Dennis, at their store on 1330 Avenue of the Americas, was brisk, friendly and efficient. I had my phone in about 5 minutes, with Charles Jennings on hand to capture the moment for posterity.

And the bonus – that pleasant feeling when you get to pick a new phone number. One leapt out at me from the list, because it can be expressed purely in terms of powers of two. In this case 2^6,2^2+2^1,2^8,2^6+2^2,2^6+2^1. Yes, that did jump out at me. Perhaps I need to get out a bit more.

3 responses to “A mobile phone for travelling in the US

  1. *every* number can be expressed in terms of powers of two

  2. Lol. Thank you Steven. Of course it can.

  3. I have also found that owning a USA broadband USB, also comes in handy as it it is cheaper than some hotels charge you and with 4G coverage growing I don’t have to worry about getting wireless access when I visit clients (sometimes problematic). I got a Virgin stick from Walmart, paid for itself in 5 days at the hotel !

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