Will My iPhone Work in Italy?

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Preparing for an international trip is stressful enough for most travelers, but visiting a foreign country without a working cell phone is a narrative fit for nightmares. To set your mind at ease before your flight, you may wish to know whether your iPhone will work in Italy. 

There are several ways to limit the cost of using your iPhone in Italy. You can activate your iPhone’s Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi connection to allow you to communicate with other iPhone users through FaceTime and iMessage, and with non-iPhone users through free messaging apps, such as WhatsApp.

There are numerous ways to stay connected when traveling while still avoiding exorbitant cell phone bills. It is best to do some research into which option best suits your vacation and your budget.

You will be able to use your iPhone while visiting Italy; however, it will come at a hefty cost. Suppose you plan to use your iPhone abroad and do not make an alternative arrangement before you travel to your destination. In that case, your service provider will charge you additional data roaming fees. 

Roaming is the term used to describe the use of your phone while it is connected to a foreign network. Travelers who use data roaming are charged a higher rate for using the data, making calls, and sending messages.

However, these charges do not apply to tourists from EU countries outside of Italy. EU roaming regulations allow these travelers to use their monthly service plan at no extra cost. Tourists visiting Italy from outside of the EU will need to arrange their service plan to suit their travels to avoid paying exorbitant roaming fees in Italy. 

Your service plan bill skyrockets because the roaming charges increase as you exceed your monthly usage allowance. Non-EU travelers could be charged as much as $9 per GB of data outside of their allowance.

Furthermore, service providers charge a ‘fair usage fee for customers who are roaming. This fee allows your provider to limit your data usage allowance below what you normally receive at home. Therefore, you can ring up an enormous bill if you exceed the lower limit of your service plan.

Each network has a unique fair usage policy, depending on which service plan you subscribe to. To limit charges, contact your provider to confirm their roaming rates and consider alternatives to roaming while visiting Italy.

Travelers can avoid these fees by simultaneously turning on the Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi settings. Activating Airplane Mode ensures that you will not be charged for cellular data. 

However, you will need to ensure that you are in an area where you can connect to a Wi-Fi network. The municipalities of the main Italian cities offer free Wi-Fi in the city. Furthermore, most hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers offer network connections to their customers. 

How to activate your iPhone’s Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi simultaneously:

  1. Open your control center, where you will find the Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi icons. 
  2. Click the icon to activate Airplane Mode, then turn the Wi-Fi on.

To ensure that you won’t receive any data charges while traveling:

  1. Open your iPhone’s settings.
  2. Open the cellular data settings.
  3. Turn off the cellular data connection.

It is important to note that applying these settings means you will not be able to place or receive phone calls. However, by following the steps below, you will be able to use iMessage and FaceTime without any additional charges. 

  1. Connect your iPhone to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Open your iPhone’s settings.
  3. Open the messages settings and activate the iMessage setting
  4. Open the FaceTime settings and activate the FaceTime setting

If you have recently switched your SIM card and used a different phone number, your iMessage may not activate. Restarting your iPhone may fix this problem. Alternatively, you can use iMessage and FaceTime through your Apple ID details. Your contacts will see your email address as your ID instead of your phone number. 

To use your Apple ID details for iMessage and FaceTime, follow the steps below:

  1. Open your iPhone’s settings.
  2. Open the Messages settings.
  3. Open the Send & Receive setting to choose to use your Apple ID details for iMessage and FaceTime.

Using iMessage and FaceTime without any carrier charges only works if you are communicating with another iPhone user. However, there are several messaging apps that you can use to communicate with your contacts while visiting Italy. 

Italians prefer to use WhatsApp since networks in Italy charge a fee per text message. You can download WhatsApp for free on the App Store and use it for messaging when connected to a Wi-Fi network. Your phone number activates your WhatsApp account, which will continue to work if you freeze your phone number or change your SIM card. 

WhatsApp can be used to send messages, images and videos, voice messages, video calls, and audio calls.

Your Facebook account may prove useful for more than just sharing your vacation pictures. The Facebook Messenger app can be used to send messages, images, videos, and call when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network.

What Does It Mean When an iPhone is Locked?

A locked iPhone will only connect to the network carrier through which you have a cellphone contract. This is usually in place if you purchased your iPhone at a particular carrier. However, you can unlock your iPhone for international use by requesting it through your carrier. This allows you to purchase an international SIM card and connect to foreign networks while abroad.

The convenience of an international SIM card comes at a cost. If you are traveling abroad for more than a month, it is advisable to freeze your regular cellphone service plan. You can easily freeze your plan online or by calling your carrier’s customer service. Your carrier might charge a small fee to allow you to keep your account open with them, but this will still save you significant costs. 

Purchasing an international SIM card is ideal for travelers who plan to stay in Italy for longer than a month. However, before buying a SIM card, make sure that your iPhone has a sim card slot and that you have contacted your carrier to unlock your iPhone. 

To use an international SIM card while abroad, follow the steps below:

  1. Travelers can buy an international SIM card once they land at an airport. Alternatively, most cellular carriers have stores that stock international SIM cards. Ensure that you purchase a SIM card in the correct size. Most iPhones are compatible with nano-SIM cards. SIM cards are cheap, but carrier charges in Italy can get pricey.

When making your purchase, it is imperative to note that: 

  • Cellular carrier stores may require you to present your passport.
  • Do your homework beforehand since SIM carriers vary in their coverage and pricing.
  • If you are visiting multiple countries, you could go with a general European carrier, such as Vodafone, that will recharge your data or minutes outside Italy. 
  1. Since your temporary SIM card is connected to a pay-as-you-go account, you will need to purchase data from the same store where you purchased your SIM card. Alternatively, you can top up on data at most convenience stores.
  1. Switch off your iPhone when removing the old SIM card and replacing it with the new one. 
  1. Once you have inserted your new SIM card, switch on your iPhone and load the purchased data. After activating your data, you will have an Italian phone number, and you should be able to use your iPhone just as you normally would.

Should you prefer not to purchase a SIM card once you have landed in Italy, you can opt for adding an international service to your existing cell phone plan. The fee that service providers charge for extending your service plan varies. There are several options to consider:

• Verizon International Service

• AT&T International Service

• T-Mobile & Sprint International Service

To use your extended plan while traveling, you must activate your roaming settings by following the steps below:

  1. Open your iPhone’s settings.
  2. Open the cellular data settings.
  3. Turn your cellular data on.
  4. Open the cellular data options and turn your roaming on.

While your iPhone’s settings are open, turn on the free Wi-Fi calling function:

  1. Open the call settings.
  2. Turn on your Wi-Fi Calling.

Purchasing an international SIM card and using a temporary cell phone number while you’re traveling can prove inconvenient if you need to regularly communicate with several of your existing contacts. Using Tossable Digits is a far less troublesome alternative that allows you to retain your original cell phone number.

When you arrive in Italy, you should cancel your existing cell phone plan. After that, turn your current cell phone number into a virtual number by porting it to Tossable Digits. 

This allows you to retain your number while traveling and reactivate your service plan upon returning home. You will only be charged for the messages, calls, and data that you use. Furthermore, you can immediately cancel at a time convenient for you. 

What are the Alternatives to Using My Original iPhone?

Suppose you are planning stay in smaller Italian towns where Wi-Fi is not as readily available. In that case, you may want to consider using more budget-friendly alternatives to extending your phone plan. 

You can purchase a cheap international cell phone once you arrive at your destination. The burner phone will already be SIM-capable, and in some cases, it will come packaged with a temporary SIM card and data. 

Alternatively, you may opt to use your iPhone and purchase an international hotspot. These are portable devices that connect to local carrier networks to produce a Wi-Fi signal. While you will not need to purchase a SIM card for the device, it will only offer a connection where there is carrier service. 

Using a hotspot device is ideal if you’re going to visit more remotes towns in Italy for a shorter period since data charges add up quickly. There are several hotspot devices to consider:

  • Skyroam: Skyroam has a portable 4G LTE Wi-Fi device called Solis, which doubles as a power bank. Using the device costs about $9 per day. 
  • Tep Wireless: Tep has a Wi-Fi device called Teppy, which you can rent for your trip. It costs about $9 per day.

How Do I Charge My iPhone in Italy?

italy wall plug outlet charge iphone

Italy has three types of plug outlets: types L, C, and F. While most Italians use a Type L plug outlet, it is advised to bring a multi-USB adapter compatible with a type C plug point. These multi-chargers are fitted with interchangeable plugs and can withstand 100 volts to 240 volts. This makes them ideal for traveling to multiple countries since the supplied heads can be easily switched.

Furthermore, multi-chargers allow you to power more than one device at the same time. Traveling with a single lightweight multi-charger will assist in lightening your luggage and is ideal for charging your devices while you fly. 

How to charge your iPhone using a Type C multi-USB charger from an Italian power outlet:

  1. Begin by inserting the Type C USB power adapter into the Italian power outlet.
  1. Insert the USB end of your iPhone’s charging cable into the multi-USB charger and plug the cable into your iPhone’s charging port.
  1. Switch on the Italian power outlet.


Using your iPhone without any alternative arrangements while visiting Italy will come at a significant extra cost to you. Service providers charge hefty data roaming fees and impose ‘fair usage’ fees on customers who exceed their data usage limits.

By activating your iPhone’s Airplane Mode and Wi-Fi connection, you can communicate with other iPhone users through FaceTime and iMessage and with non-iPhone users through free messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Requesting your carrier to unlock your iPhone for international use allows you to purchase an international SIM card and connect to foreign networks while abroad. However, you should freeze your current service plan to avoid simultaneously paying for two plans.

Alternatively, you can add an international service to your existing cell phone plan, or use Tossable Digits, to retain your current cell phone number. Once you have returned home, you can immediately revert to your previous cell phone plan. 

To avoid contacting your network provider, you may opt to use your iPhone and purchase an international hotspot that offers a connection where carrier service is available. Some travelers choose to skip the planning altogether and purchase a cheap burner phone in Italy.

A multi-USB adapter compatible with a type C plug point is the best charger to take with you on your visit to Italy, as they allow you to charge multiple devices at once and fit easily into your luggage.

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