An American Windows Phone in Europe, part two

Last August, I wrote about my experiences using a prototype Windows Phone in Germany in An American Windows Phone in Europe. This week, my family is visiting Madrid, Spain on vacation, which explains the quiet around here lately. But it’s also providing me with a chance to see how things have improved with Windows Phone from an international roaming standpoint.

This time around, the phone is a production model Samsung Focus, which is of course tied to my AT&T wireless account. As with the previous European trip, I logged on to AT&T’s web site before the trip and enabled two new options for my account:

  • AT&T World Traveler $5.99 – Slightly discounted international calling (99 cents vs. $1.29 per minute)
  • 50 MB Data Global Add-On $59.99

As with previous European trips, I’ll disable both of these features when I return home.

So the phone works fine, of course. I’ve easily connected to local 3G networks in both Madrid and Toledo, and the Cellular option in Settings lets you toggle the data connection on the fly. (I turn it off at night, for example.) And I’ve used Maps a few times to find the way.

You have to manually enable roaming: Windows Phone is smart enough to turn this feature off when you go international. (Unlike, cough, iPhone.)

One of the nice things about traveling internationally with various iPhones previously was that AT&T provided a handy AT&T myWireless app that let you track your data usage while away. That is, in addition to providing tracking for your normal features (calling, messaging, and data), it also provided an entry for that data global add-on, so you could track your international usage on the fly.

AT&T now provides a myWireless app for Windows Phone too. And the international data info is there, but you have to really dig in to find it: You tap the Data entry on the main Summary page (which doesn’t seem like a hot-link) and then navigate to the Data page. Annoyingly, I also have had trouble finding this on the AT&T web site as well, using my PC browser (which is connected to the hotel Wi-Fi).

One area where the Windows Phone has been far more reliable than the iPhone is in switching between networks, and in switching the data connection on and off. With the iPhone, I’d often have to reset the device to get these changes to “take.” That’s not been the case here in Spain with Windows Phone.

So far so good….

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20 Responses to An American Windows Phone in Europe, part two

  1. Rafael says:

    Lol, greetings from Toledo Paul! Hope your stance here were of your pleasure!

  2. It’s sad to me, that MS doesn’t tout this type of stuff, like easily switching between networks, etc…. This is easily something they could have posted on an engineering blog. These types of engineering decisions and designs are part of what makes WP7 great in many ways, yet since so little information is coming out of the WP7 team, all we are left to really talk about is what the phone doesn’t do. This type of refinement if you will is important, as are all the others that they haven’t done. Yet lack of information leaves us not knowing that the phone is refined in certain ways, OR that it will ever be refined in other ways that even feature phones are.

  3. besharp26 says:

    I have had trouble with WP7 switching between networks. I am also using a samsung focus. My internet at home went down this weekend. I had to turn wireless off on my phone in order to get internet access on the phone over 3g. Thats annoying but understandable.

    Next I clicked on the hardware search button to look something up in bing and I got a list of results as expected. However, when I selected a page to open in IE instead of pulling up the correct page I got a message from my u-verse router telling me I had a problem with my internet connection and that I needed to call my ISP. The other apps I bothered to check (facebook app/people hub and netflix) seemed to be getting internet.

    Eventually I had to remove my wireless network settings from the phone and restart it for IE to work correctly.

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I wonder sometimes if this is locale related. I seem to recall some issues in Germany. So far here in Spain, it’s worked well.

  4. vhaakmat says:

    Paul I noticed something strange as of Thursday. Randomly added pinned contact tile has disappeared from the main screen. I added it again, and noticed that others have the same problem too. Everyone says it started Thursday. are they testing some update?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      A few others have emailed me about something like this. I have not experienced this myself however.

    • davidwbrooks says:


    • WOW, I had the exact same problem…thought I was going nuts or something. Even restarted the phone to no avail. Very strange that this happened to others around the same time, I thought it was just a random bug, but it’s appearing to be not so random.

    • I wonder if this could be the sign of the first virus caught through IE Mobile, or a trojan horse, on WP7…I sure hope not!

    • hashpot666 says:

      this happened to me too, i only have my wife as a pinned contact. It not only disappeared, it also un-linked her Live contact from her FB contact.

    • stebet says:

      Yup. Happened to me too this weekend. I also had to reenable my online presence to several of my Windows Live Messenger contacts. Pretty weird.

      • besharp26 says:

        I had the exact same problem with pinned contacts on the phone and online presence in messenger. My mother also lost her pinned contacts. She doesn’t use IM, but I’m definately going to have her log in to messenger now to see if she had the same problem.

  5. davidwbrooks says:

    What are you doing for a power supply? I’m traveling to England soon without a laptop, and I assume I’ll be able to get a UK-style plug with USB juice output. Is that true in Spain?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Yeah, I’m plugging the USB + power adapter that came with the Focus into an adapter. It switches fine, no problems.

  6. hashpot666 says:

    Paul, I also have a Focus that I got launch day and I visited Japan just two weeks ago. I had absolutely no issues, however, I did shut down my data connection because I didn’t want any roaming data charges. The phone automatically picked up networks in Tokyo and Osaka and i had no trouble making and receiving local & international calls and also connecting to WiFi networks. The person traveling with me had an iPhone 3GS which did not connect to any network until the last day of our visit!

  7. urpert says:

    Paul – I don’t know if US iPhones are set up differently, but every UK iPhone I’ve ever owned has set international data roaming to “off” by default.

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