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best phone for trans-Pacific life?

 
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Eedoryeong



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Location: Busan

PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:27 pm    Post subject: best phone for trans-Pacific life? Reply with quote

This is a question about living in Korea.
But it's also a question about visiting overseas.

I have decided I'm finally going to dive into the iphone/Android market. The 3 year contracts kept me away for a while but now I'm resolved.

The thing is I don't know which is best for using in the US as well as in Korea. Does it matter if I get it in the US will it not jive with Hangeul script/font when I'm in Korea? If I get it in Korea will it not work well in the US, or have all Korean-only menus?

Now that new Apple stuff is on the way and people have lived with it for awhile, what is the scenario re: how helpful each phone is for life in Korea?
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Kimchifart



Joined: 15 Sep 2010

PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apple phones are all the same. The question would be are they unlocked.

Most Samsung Galaxies and smartphones will work in both places. There is a list somewhere that tells you which ones are compatible in Korea.
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Troglodyte



Joined: 06 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure about the iphones because I've never had one. I have owned a couple of Androids. When I was in Europe, I used a Korean Galaxy S1. It worked fine with local SIM cards. It wasn't locked to the original Korean carrier either (so no need to unlock it).

Although the Galaxy S is sold in many countries, there are in fact about 4 or 5 different phones that use that name. They are almost identical but the hardware in them is slightly different. To the best of my knowledge, the Korean model is only officially sold in Korea so it has some features specific to Korea and it's own little quirks and benefits.

If you go abroad, you'll find that you can't use the original text messenger to send messages over 80 characters (80 bytes to be specific) even if the local network allows 160. It does not allow you to send regular SMS larger than that or to even split a larger message. Larger than that, you need to use MMS (which prepaid cards might not allow, or will certainly be more expensive to send). But you can get around this by installing a messaging app like Go or Handcent. The other annoying thing is the shutter noise on the camera. In some places like museums or theaters you're supposed to turn off the sounds and flash for your camera. So you'll get a few ugly stares if you use your Korean phone with it's permanent shutter sound. A minor thing, while you're out of Korea, and have a foreign sim card in your phone, when you make a call, it will ask you "Call Korea" or "Call other countries". You have to click "Call other countries". I have no idea why. If you click "Call Korea" then it doesn't work. In most of the world there is no DMB, so the digital radio and TV are useless. You'll occasionally find the odd radio channel or maybe even TV but it's nothing like in Korea. If you get a Galaxy from most other countries, they come with an FM radio instead. On a good note, I think that most Galaxies abroad don't allow you to record the phone call. Apparently it's illegal to do so in some part of America without prior permission from the person on the other end (probably similar laws in other countries too). The Korean Galaxy makes it a piece of cake with a simple on screen button.

I've occasionally come across an app that wasn't available for the Korean Galaxy but they are rare. As far as making calls, sending messages (with an 3rd party app) and using wifi for web browsing or emailing, the Korean Galaxy functions perfectly abroad.


On a similar topic, a friend of mine just came back from Europe and he brought a simple dual band (plus 3G) GSM phone back with him. He tried putting his Korean SIM card in it, and it worked. He could make calls and send texts. He didn't have to register the phone or anything, so I don't know if it's now possible to use foreign phones here. I remember hearing that you have to pay a very high fee to get them registered in Korea.
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heynice



Joined: 15 Jan 2008

PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even on a contract, your Olleh contract iPhone can be unlocked by the company. They'll send an unlock signal to it which will allow you to sign up a month-to-month service plan in the states. I completed my contract in Korea, so I pay a monthly rate. When I land in America, I pop in my AT&T SIM chip and reactivate my phone. Suspend it when you leave, and you shouldn't have any problems.

good luck!
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Eedoryeong



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Location: Busan

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is all extremely helpful and I can't say enough about it.

Just one more thing:

is it true that the iphone has tons more apps than the androids/ galaxies/ smartphones, and is that a major factor in transforming its total usefulness to you? Or do they have more or less equal numbers of applications? (I think I recall hearing that one has billions of apps now?)
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Troglodyte



Joined: 06 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are 3 main operating systems (and a bunch of small ones) - iphone, android and windows mobile. I think that there are still more apps available for the iphone, but it's a relatively mute point because the VAST majority of apps are basically just clones of each other with a different skin. I downloaded an app for recognizing songs - there were about half a dozen doing the exact same thing. Another one for recording info while jogging - again plenty to choose from, all doing the exact same thing.

A lot of apps to interact with a specific company (e.g. the bus company, the newspaper, etc) are now developed with an android and iphone version.

A good thing about Android is that there are many phones that can use it. Anything from cheap Chinese made phones to a brand new Galaxy Note. So.... there are more phones out there using this operating system. The market for Android apps is growing and because of it, so are the number of apps. Apps made for the iPhone will only work on the iphone, ipod or ipad. That's it. Only one company makes devices that use those apps.

As far as revolutionizing your life... apps aren't really that important. They are minor conveniences. I can check my email if i'm waiting for a message to arrive, I can keep my shopping list on my phone instead of a piece of paper (which i still do anyway), I can check facebook or play a game if i'm bored on the bus. The only apps that I frequently use are the map (great for getting around and finding places), a text messaging app (i don't like the one that came with the phone), and email. The rest if really just stuff that I use when I'm bored.
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Kimchifart



Joined: 15 Sep 2010

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Troglodyte wrote:
I'm not sure about the iphones because I've never had one. I have owned a couple of Androids. When I was in Europe, I used a Korean Galaxy S1. It worked fine with local SIM cards. It wasn't locked to the original Korean carrier either (so no need to unlock it).

Although the Galaxy S is sold in many countries, there are in fact about 4 or 5 different phones that use that name. They are almost identical but the hardware in them is slightly different. To the best of my knowledge, the Korean model is only officially sold in Korea so it has some features specific to Korea and it's own little quirks and benefits.

If you go abroad, you'll find that you can't use the original text messenger to send messages over 80 characters (80 bytes to be specific) even if the local network allows 160. It does not allow you to send regular SMS larger than that or to even split a larger message. Larger than that, you need to use MMS (which prepaid cards might not allow, or will certainly be more expensive to send). But you can get around this by installing a messaging app like Go or Handcent. The other annoying thing is the shutter noise on the camera. In some places like museums or theaters you're supposed to turn off the sounds and flash for your camera. So you'll get a few ugly stares if you use your Korean phone with it's permanent shutter sound. A minor thing, while you're out of Korea, and have a foreign sim card in your phone, when you make a call, it will ask you "Call Korea" or "Call other countries". You have to click "Call other countries". I have no idea why. If you click "Call Korea" then it doesn't work. In most of the world there is no DMB, so the digital radio and TV are useless. You'll occasionally find the odd radio channel or maybe even TV but it's nothing like in Korea. If you get a Galaxy from most other countries, they come with an FM radio instead. On a good note, I think that most Galaxies abroad don't allow you to record the phone call. Apparently it's illegal to do so in some part of America without prior permission from the person on the other end (probably similar laws in other countries too). The Korean Galaxy makes it a piece of cake with a simple on screen button.

I've occasionally come across an app that wasn't available for the Korean Galaxy but they are rare. As far as making calls, sending messages (with an 3rd party app) and using wifi for web browsing or emailing, the Korean Galaxy functions perfectly abroad.


On a similar topic, a friend of mine just came back from Europe and he brought a simple dual band (plus 3G) GSM phone back with him. He tried putting his Korean SIM card in it, and it worked. He could make calls and send texts. He didn't have to register the phone or anything, so I don't know if it's now possible to use foreign phones here. I remember hearing that you have to pay a very high fee to get them registered in Korea.



Have you tried flashing it with a custom rom? Might solve some of your issues.
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ghostrider



Joined: 27 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think an iphone would be best for your needs. I don't think the android smartphones sold here are compatible with the 850/1900 MHz 3G network in North America. GSM iphones are compatible with the 3G networks in both countries.
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