Use your Iphone in Buenos Aires. Seriously.
What kind of cell phone are you using here? Is it that little Argentine brick that looks like the first Nokias (nicknamed the indestructible nokia for all of those who didn’t drown it in coke accidently…), the one with the nifty flash light at the top? If so, then you can say goodbye to the hand cramp that texting on that baby gives you because I may have a solution. Did you also bring your smartphone? Because if you have recently arrived to Buenos Aires or are staying for some time you may want to consider using it.
Why? I use my iphone in Argentina, so let me make your pro/con list for you.
.Pro #1: you already have it (or another smartphone), so why buy another?
Pro #2: it will probably cost you close to the same amount to use a smartphone as it would to use the brick. You live your life texting here to avoid expensive calls. But when you have a smartphone, you have the added benefit of having whatsap, which has exploded here between people with smartphones and blackberrys. You get to join that club and just pay for internet (1 peso per day on pre-paid plans).
Pro #3: like with regular phones here, you pay as you go, so you control how much you use. You also get 1 free number to call !
Pro #4: you get to have internet at 1 peso per day. Which means you always have your 1) subte map, 2) app to find the bus you need, 3) camera, 4) spanish-english dictionary, and 5) skype if you are in a pickle.
Pro #5: you can stay in contact with people in your home country/town!
And now for the con list:
Con #1: you may get it stolen. We all know pick-pocketers can be pretty genius here (did you hear about the time that Barbara Bush, daughter of the ex-Prez, had her purse stolen in San Telmo when surrounded by secret service?). So if you tend to get things stole maybe this isn’t the advice for you.
Con #2: 3g network isn’t thaaat good, but at 1 peso a day who really cares? I turn my phone off and on again and it works just fine.
Con #3: this scheme only works with phones that have sim chips, so if yours doesn’t (sorry to some of you Verizon users in the U.S.), you’ll have to think of something else.
Con #4: you have to go through the process of unlocking your phone if you haven’t done it already. For ATT users its easy (this page lets you send in a request to unlock your iphone and it was eaaasy), for others I’m not sure. In the past I called and they unlocked it for me, but I have heard of some carriers making you pay.
So yeah. There are some cons, but mostly it’s just the getting it stolen one that’s of real concern as long as you have the other elements in order (sim chip, unlock).
On the Argentina side, getting a sim chip/plan is just as easy as getting a sim chip for any phone. In Personal mine cost AR 30 and worked almost immediately. I put on about 30 pesos every 12-15 days and it lasts. I definitely use less credit this way; totally frugal approved.
So if you are looking for a way to use your iphone/smartphone in Buenos Aires, it’s actually much simpler than you thought. Or as our Argie friends would say, es un boludez !