As an American traveling to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, I was unsure what to do with my cellphone. I wanted to be able to send text messages, use instagram, and take underwater photos and videos.
I researched AT&T’s international daily data roaming rates, checked what the official TCI website had to say on cellular data use, and checked what Amazon had to offer for waterproof cases. Here’s what I found.
Options for Cellular Data Use
- Keep your phone on airplane mode, and depend on Wi-Fi to use social media and send text messages/make phone calls.
- Pay a daily rate to use data roaming. Cellphone providers list their rates online, and they vary for each country.
- Get a new SIM card on the island.
Send Text Messages and Make Phone Calls on Airplane Mode
I chose option 1 for myself. The thought process behind this decision was that I was only going to be there for five days and I was never going to be alone, so there was no need to purchase anything to use my phone.
During this trip, I discovered that iPhones can still send text messages and make phone calls while on airplane mode as well as still access Google Maps in real time. I called a restaurant to confirm a reservation and sent and received text messages from my dad (who does not own an iPhone) all while my phone was on airplane mode.
iPhones are able to make phone calls and send text messages on airplane mode so long as it’s connected to Wi-Fi and the feature is activated. To activate this feature on iPhone, go to Settings –> Phone –> Wi-Fi Calling –> turn on ‘Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone’.
Using Google Maps while on Airplane Mode
Google Maps can still be used while iPhones are on airplane mode! The map can see where you are in real-time as well as the roads and businesses in your area. This was very helpful since I rented a car with my Plus One and we needed to navigate from the airport to our hotel and all the other places we went.
Another bonus with Google Maps is that you can create private, shared, and public lists of businesses. I created a shared ‘Turks & Caicos Vacation’ list on my Google Maps app and saved all of the restaurants, shops, beaches, and hotels I wanted to go. Those businesses all appeared blue on the map which helped distinguish them and made navigation 10x easier.
Now, while iPhone is on airplane mode, Google Maps will not load any business information nor will the ‘directions’ button work. You have to pay attention and use Google Maps as you would a regular map.
Using Cellphones for Underwater Pictures and Videos
I took to Amazon to see what affordable high quality waterproof cases were available for iPhones. I ordered both a waterproof phone pouch and phone case and brought both with me, but ended up only using the pouch. The pouch was easy to take on and off, and the camera quality was good so I didn’t even bother with the case.
Three important things to note about the phone pouch:
- The fit. My iPhone 10X with the case on fit perfectly, but my Plus One’s iPhone 10X Max had trouble fitting and they needed to take their phone case off to get their phone to fit inside the pouch.
- iPhones are sensitive to water pressure. Any time I tried to take video where I started above water then went under or vice versa, the phone stopped recording just as I went above or below the water.
- The phone will not recognize touch while underwater. This note applies to any waterproof phone case (according to the reviews I read on several different waterproof phone cases on Amazon). This means you have to set your phone on photo or video mode above water and rely on using the volume buttons to take pictures/videos while the phone is underwater.