Using Mobile (Cell) Phones in India – A Tourists Perspective

sim-card-being-placed-into-a-mobile-phone copy

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1) GSM band

The GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) frequency band for India is the same as Europe and most parts of the world at GSM 900 and GSM 1800. The US and Americas GSM is different so your US mobile cell phone won’t work in India. Also, it is best to get a local Simcard so you will require an unlocked phone that can take new Simcards.

2) Mobile Phone and Simcard

You should be able to pick up both a phone and a Simcard from the airport when you arrive. I highly recommend doing this because it may not be possible to get a Simcard anywhere else. They usually require an address and a letter from a local Indian organization stating why you need the Simcard. The airports are more relaxed so definitely do it right when you arrive. You can get basic local phones for around 1000 rupees (US $20) and if you’ve brought your phone from Europe or Australia it should work without a problem. An advantage of buying a cheap Indian cell phone is that it will be more resilient to power fluctuations when charging and you won’t mind so much if it gets lost or stolen.

3) Simcard has limited life

Usually a Simcard will stop working after 3 months of inactivity. They claim this is to stop terrorism. It is a bit annoying if you plan to come back next year. One way around it is to lend it to your friends who may be going to India within the 3 months after you get back.

4) 3G Simcard with data

It’s now possible to get simcards with plenty of fairly high speed Internet almost everywhere in India. You can also get USB mobile Internet dongle for your laptop which is really nice. Again it can be difficult to get outside of airports but ask around and you should be able to find some solution.

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3 Comments on “Using Mobile (Cell) Phones in India – A Tourists Perspective

  1. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away free. I love seeing website that understands the value of providing a quality resource for free.



  2. I think your recommendation on phones was true a few years ago, but I believe that most smart phones currently sold in the US and the rest of the Americas can operate on multiple GSM bands. I am taking a Galaxy S4 and an iPhone 4S with me next week. I checked their specs and they both said they can use the 900 and 1800 bands. I hope that means they’ll work in India. I’ll find out!

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