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….