Last Update: June 2018
Be sure to secure your iPhone or Android Smartphone before you travel. Precautions will help prevent disaster.
The iPhone or any Android Smartphone is an essential tool when traveling to Mexico and Cancun for tourists of any country.
- Language translation
- Google maps
- Restaurant Reviews
- Travel guides
- Social Media
- Other apps
Verizon Phone Warning
Many apps are extremely useful. We used them all the time. Using our American AT&T iPhone in Mexico was fine, after we unlocked it. Older Verizon iPhones from the USA do not work internationally, since they use CDMA technology. Verizon does sell several “World Phones” which work with SIM Cards. Check your phone before leaving.
We have done the research on our last trip and are sharing the findings with you.
We also have articles on using prepaid SIM cards in other countries:
- Using iPhones in Hong Kong
- Using iPhones in China
- Using iPhones in France
- Using iPhones in the UK
- Using iPhones in Japan
Foodnut.com’s Cancun Mexico Restaurant Reviews:
Here are some tips on using your iPhone in Mexico and Cancun
You can only use foreign SIM cards in an unlocked iPhone or Android Smartphone. A locked smartphone only works on the original cell phone carrier. Most cell phone carriers in the US, including AT&T, allow you to unlock Smartphones after your 2 year contract has been fulfilled. T-Mobile requires 18 months of payments before they will unlock a cell phone under contract. You can alternately purchase an unlocked Smartphone from Amazon, eBay, etc.
If you prefer to unlock your iPhone, you can try jailbreaking it. Jailbreaking and unlocking iPhones are not easy tasks. One slip and you may have bricked your expensive smartphone. You can buy a pre-jailbroken/unlocked used iPhone from eBay or Craigslist. Unlocked iPhone 6’s typically cost around $150.
This article also applies to using prepaid SIM Cards in the iPhone X, 8, 8+, 7, 7+, 6. 6+, 5s, 5c, 5, and iPad with 4G or LTE. Android Smartphones utilizing GSM technology are also supported.
Different Smartphones use different sized SIM cards. Most foreign cell phone carriers sell smaller micro-SIM (iPhone 4, 4S, older iPad) and nano-SIM (iPhone X, 8, 8 Plus, 7 Plus, 7, 6 Plus, 6, 5, 5s, 5c, iPad Pro, mini and Air) for use in a variety of Smartphones. Newer places have 3 in 1 combo packs to accomoate all sizes. You should remove the SIM card from your phone before you attempt to purchase a prepaid SIM card in another country.
Main mobile carriers in Mexico
The main cellphone carriers in Mexico are
- Virgin Mobile
These carriers support GSM900/1800/2100 frequencies.
Mexico SIM Card
You can purchase Prepaid SIM cards in Mexico from any convenience store including 7-Eleven, Circle K, or Oxxo. We purchased our SIM (Mex $29) from the 7-Eleven across the street from the Marriott Cancun. (Behind Pemex Gas) They do not advertise the fact that they sell them, you just need to ask the cashier. We choose Telcel as our wireless company because they are the largest provider.
After purchasing the SIM, we also purchased Mex$200 additional credits. These were used to select a data plan with 1 GB to be used within 30 days.
After you insert the SIM card in your unlocked smart phone, you will need to hit *311# SEND to configure your phone plan. If you do not, you’ll blow through the data really fast.
The screens are in Spanish, but are not difficult understand. If you need help, go to a local Telcel store and they can help you figure it, otherwise you can work with your hotel’s concierge.
- Select 3. Paq. Internet Amigo
- Select 2. 1500MB x 30 dias $200
- Select 1. Comprar
After we configured the data plan, the phone working. We placed this Telcel Sim card in our mobile Wi-Fi device and found that it worked for a while, stopped, and then worked again. So be aware of this.
Share the Connection with Mobile Wi-Fi Router
This Mexico Tourist SIM Card also worked in our Mobile Wi-Fi (Mi-Fi), a HUAWEI E5577. We connected 4 phones to this via Wi-Fi! No need to get 4 separate SIM Cards.
You can rent mobile Wi-Fi devices at the airport, but beware that they sell out during holidays like Tet New Year.
These instructions should work for other smartphones including Android smartphones that support American GSM networks from AT&T and T-Mobile.