Research released today reveals that almost two thirds (62 per cent) of smartphone owners have received an unexpected and large mobile phone bill on returning from a trip overseas.
Although EU regulations have lowered the cost of calls and texts, the increasing use of smartphones for internet access and data use is catching users out, with 80 per cent of 2,000 people questioned admitting that they received a bill at least £100 more than expected.
However, almost all of these extra costs could have been avoided if the users had checked their own network data roaming charges before going abroad. 89 per cent didn’t even though cost-saving bundles from operators are available.
Use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and other data intensive online resources such as Google Maps and You Tube are the cause of an increase in costs for many people.
Mobile phone bills can easily ramp up when the user is abroad as they are costed by megabyte (MB) and just opening an image can use an MB. If as a user you are unaware of the cost of an MB or how easily and quickly one can be used, your bill can increase very quickly.
Matt Stringer, UK MD from The Carphone Warehouse said, “We’ve seen a real increase in smartphone users over the past year. However, even though adoption is high, the findings highlight the potentially high costs associated with using smartphones abroad. Data users should keep a look out for Wi-Fi spots where they can connect to the internet without using the local 3G network.
The Carphone Warehouse has issued the following top tips for holidaymakers to refer to before they travel:-
• Be aware of ‘roaming charges’: Roaming means the use of your mobile phone abroad. Unless stated otherwise, roaming charges are NOT included in any Pay Monthly allowances or packages, so make yourself aware of call, text and data charges for your destination before you travel.
• Do your research: Speak to an independent retailer such as The Carphone Warehouse before you travel. They’ll be able to tell you if there are travel bundles or roaming packages you can purchase to help save money and monitor your usage.
• Optimise your settings: Smartphones are constantly connecting to the internet so make sure you turn ‘data roaming’ off when you’re abroad. The same goes for email; keep it switched off to avoid expensive chargers.
• Avoid using data intensive applications: Recent smartphones have data intensive applications built-in such as Google Maps and YouTube, which use a large amount of data. In general, it’s a good idea to keep these switched off whilst abroad. iPhone users who can’t resist connecting to the internet abroad can take advantage of the free Onavo app which compresses the data used for web browsing, emails and apps. It’s expected to be available to Android smartphone users in the coming months.
• Keep an eye on your apps: Many apps such as Facebook and Twitter use the internet to update. Avoid using them whilst on holiday and resist the temptation to download any news apps which will likely prove very data intensive and therefore expensive.
• WiFi: If your phone has WiFi built in, it’s a great way to surf the web on your phone, update apps and use programmes such as Google Maps.
• MMS: It's worth checking with your network provider how much the cost of a multimedia message is compared to that of a standard text message. Often it can be cheaper to send a MMS which can contain photos and up to 1024 characters whereas a SMS has a maximum of 160 characters in a single message.
• Turn off voicemail: When abroad, you are normally charged roaming rates every time you listen to a new message. Better to leave a greeting explaining you’re abroad and ask the caller to send you a text message. It won’t cost you anything to receive this.
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