What is a World Phone?

Such a seemingly simple question but one which does not have a universal definition. The simplest definition would describe a world phone as a cell phone that will work anywhere in the world (for the purposes of this discussion we will ignore satellite phones which work where there is no cell phone network coverage). However, the phrase “work anywhere in the world” is somewhat vague and in need of further consideration.

Firstly we have to consider that a cell phone is in fact a combination of the phone itself (or handset) and the SIM card inside. For a phone to work everywhere it must operate on a frequency that is supported by networks around the world. In the US, the CDMA network and frequencies are common but in the rest of the world it is the rival GSM frequencies that are most commonly supported. For a phone to be genuinely worldwide it ought to be at least tri-band (supports 3 frequencies and typically these would be 900/1800/1900 Mhz).

We must then consider the SIM card. The SIM card gives the phone a number and belongs to a single phone network from one country. Most SIM cards are designed primarily to be used in their country of origin. So a Sprint or Verizon SIM card will work well in the US and provide good low cost calls. It is possible to take the handset and SIM abroad and in most cases this will continue to work. The phone is now “roaming” and it will connect to foreign networks to allow calls, SMS and data. Some providers may bar roaming by default and require this bar lifting and the reason for this is the same reason an iPhone has the “Data Roaming Off” switch – roamed calls and data can get very expensive very quickly.

So where does a World Phone come in? What magic property does it have to make it ideal for a global traveler? We’ve already established that the handset must be compatible with the world’s networks but what really makes a world phone a world phone is the SIM and tariff provided by the network. A number of networks around the world produce a SIM card which is designed specifically to be used in many other countries. The SIM still comes from a single country (e.g. the UK), and still has a single phone number (e.g . a +44 number for a UK SIM card). However, the costs for roamed calls and data are much-reduced making it a cost-effective card to use around the world.

This solution typically comes with a small monthly fee and it won’t be as cheap as using a domestic SIM card in each country (e.g. a Spanish SIM in Spain then a German SIM in Germany) but it will be considerably cheaper than using a US SIM in those countries whilst roaming.

There is one further consideration – an international SIM card of this nature may be optimized for calls back to one country. So, for instance, a solution intended for the US market may make calls back to the US better value than calls to, say, China. A solution intended for a UK market would make calls back to the UK as cost-effective as possible at the expense of calls to other countries.

So to summarise, to be genuinely termed a “World Phone” a cell phone must have

  • A handset that supports GSM and ideally is tri-band or quad-band (frequencies)
  • A SIM card with a tariff/plan designed to be used roaming across the world at reasonable cost
  • A SIM card that has call costs optimised for outgoing calls back to your country of origin

To buy a World Phone click here


CDMA vs. GSM: What’s the difference?

What is CDMA?

CDMA which stands for Code Division Multiple Access is primarily used in the U.S. and small regions of Asia. Each handset is tied to a particular network (such as Sprint or Verizon).

What is GSM?

GSM which stands for Global System for Mobile [communications] and is the world’s most widely used phone technology. Approximately 80% of the world uses GSM technology when making wireless calls, this equates to almost 3 billion people using the technology.

GSM has the advantage of using a SIM card which is tied to a particular network (such as T-Mobile or AT&T) rather than the handset being tied to the network. This allows users to move networks with their existing handset by swapping the SIM. Some handsets are ‘locked’ by the network on a post-pay contract, but can almost always be unlocked on request.

International Cell Phones

For practicality GSM offers the widest international roaming capabilities. GSM can be used in over 138 countries worldwide, compared to CDMA which can only be used in 2 countries worldwide. This makes GSM the perfect technology for traveling.

With CDMA the user would need to purchase a separate GSM European cell phone or international cell phone specifically for traveling as CDMA handsets work only in limited countries. With a GSM handset no additional purchase is necessary, it is possible to continue using it while roaming internationally in most countries. However, this can be expensive and a much cheaper alternative is local SIM card rental. Simply swap the U.S. SIM for an international SIM rental and a user can carry on using their handset as normal at greatly reduced call rates.


How to Improve your iPhone’s Battery Life

With iPhones being used more and more, whether for travel as an international cell phone or at home for everyday life, there is no denying that iPhones have become an essential part of life.

Are you finding that your iPhone’s battery is constantly drained? Are you looking to improve its daily lifespan?

Cellhire has a few tips and tricks to squeeze a little more juice out of your device.

  • Disabling Push Email will give your iPhone a chance to rest, rather than waiting around for a new message. Sure, you may not receive the email a few seconds after it was sent, but if immediate delivery isn’t needed, you should set your iPhone to check mail servers less often.Turn Off Push Email
    • Tap Settings 
    • Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendar
    • Tap Fetch New Data
    • Set Push toggle to OFF


Now emails that you get on your iPhone will come in based on the global Fetch settings, instead of instantly. You can still hop into your Mail app to check them once in a while too.

An added benefit of disabling Push Email is reducing your data usage, this can be especially helpful for international data roaming.

  • Disabling Push Notifications will stop your iPhone from lighting up every time you have a notification, you probably don’t need notifications from the majority of apps.
    • Tap Settings
    • Tap Notifications
    • Tap each app you want to manage the notifications for
    • Turn Notification Centre toggle to OFF

Another way to make this happen for all your apps is by turning on Do Not Disturb manually.

  • Tap Settings
  • Turn Do Not Disturb toggle to ON
  • Clearing the Multitasking Queue so you don’t have an endless trail of open apps eating small amounts of battery life.Multitasking iPhone
    • Double-Tap the Home button
    • Press and hold an app in the queue
    • Tap the ‘-‘ in the apps corner

Top 3 Things to look for in an International Cell Phone

Take just a passing glance at travel blogs and forums and it’s quite clear that there is a lot of customer confusion about the term “International Cell Phones”. I’ve seen many people question whether such a product exists and others even declare outright that they do not.

Clearly, international cell phones do exist and they are there to help travelers that visit more than one destination either in a single trip or through the course of a year; travelers that want a low cost way of keeping in touch when abroad.

However, there are 3 distinct types of phones which could all technically be described as an “international cell phone” and each is significantly different. Forewarned is forearmed so below we will look at all 3 types of phone and how they might be right for you so you can make the best choice when you travel abroad.

Option 1: A cell phone that roams when abroad

Many cell phones will roam. By “roam”, we mean that when you go abroad your phone will pick up a foreign network and allow you to make calls and/or use data (the internet). These calls are often charged at a significant premium and data even more so. Such a device really shouldn’t be described as an “international cell phone”. Yes, it will work internationally but it is not optimized for doing so and could easily cost you a small fortune. Please note, that roaming on a foreign network has nothing to do with unlocking a phone. A phone that is locked to, say, Verizon simply means that only a Verizon SIM will work in the phone. That Verizon SIM may, or may not, then allow you to roam into somewhere like Canada, Europe or Japan and make calls.

Option 2: A cell phone from one country which works in surrounding countries

If you were traveling to Europe you may find that a cell phone with a UK SIM inside will give you excellent rates whilst in the UK and will give OK rates when in other western European countries like France, Italy and Spain. This is a little like option 1 but instead of having a regular US SIM card inside the phone, you have a UK SIM.

Typically this solution is great if you’re staying predominantly in one country but perhaps briefly visiting others. Your phone would have a UK number and people would dial a +44 number to reach you. The UK SIM effectively roams when in other European Countries so you do still need to watch out for higher call costs especially in more unusual countries (e.g.  say you used a UK SIM whilst in the US). Also check the rates to call internationally back to the US. If the product is aimed at, say, the Australian market then the calls back to Australia may be at a great rate but calls back to the US may be very expensive.

Option 3: A cell phone with a dedicated roaming SIM

A number of networks produce SIMs connected to specific international roaming plans. These tariffs are designed for travelers intending to visit multiple countries and can rightfully be called “international cell phones”. Sometimes they may be worldwide, sometimes they might be targeted at a region; Europe or South America for example. The UK networks produce some very competitive SIMs for travel around Europe and the Mexican networks produce similar products for the South American countries.

What you tend to find with these products is that while the rates aren’t as competitive as buying a local SIM in each country, they are much lower on every type of call than using your local SIM roaming (option 1). So if you are traveling to a number of countries, a solution like this is a good alternative to finding local SIMs in each country. It will also usually work out cheaper than taking a SIM for one country and then roaming in the others (e.g. when compared to Option 2: a UK SIM roaming in France).

An international cell phone like this will typically have just one phone number – so it might be a +44 number if the SIM is from a UK network or perhaps a +52 number if from a Mexican network. One must also be vigilant to check the international rates once more. Ensure that calls and SMS back to the US aren’t prohibitively high.

Finally a word on pre-pay

You may see the term “pre-pay” or “pre-paid” when looking for solutions. Essentially this just means that you must first load up an amount of credit on your cell phone before it can be used. You can then make calls until that credit runs out. The plus points are that it helps control spend – the phone just stops working when you run out of credit. The negatives are that… the phone just stops working when you run out of credit, and you have the inconvenience of constantly having to recharge it which can be both annoying and time-consuming. The alternative is a “post-paid” solution whereby you settle your bill later and just pay for what you use.