Having data access on your smartphone when travelling is becoming a necessity. This is especially when you need to get around with navigation apps, chat with your loved ones on WhatsApp or make last-minute bookings online.
You can subscribe to data roaming with your local telco or you can rent an overseas Wi-Fi router. The former might be expensive, depending on where you are going, while the latter means there is the hassle of picking up and also returning the router. You can also get a pre-paid data SIM card of the country you are going to before flying or when you arrive at your destination.
But there is a much easier way: the AirSIM. It is a reusable pre-paid SIM card that you can use in more than 100 countries, including the United States, Britain, Japan, Australia and even Peru.
AirSIM combines soft SIM and over-the-air technologies. This means that when you are using it overseas, it will assign a suitable local soft SIM to your AirSIM according to your location.
The AirSIM comes with cut-outs of all SIM card sizes. So there will be one that fits your smartphone.
For AirSIM to work, you need to first download the AirSIM Roam app (available on Android and iOS) to your smartphone. Follow the on-screen instructions and purchase the data plan you want before your trip. For example, if you are going to Russia for the World Cup from July 7 to 14, buy the plan for Russia for this duration.
But do not insert the AirSIM into your smartphone right after you make the purchase. Do so only when you land at your destination country. Power up your smartphone and AirSIM will automatically connect to the local telco network. You will have to wait for about three minutes, after which you might be prompted to restart the smartphone.
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COMPATIBILITY: Smartphones running Android 4.3 and above or iPhones running iOS 8.1 and above
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Do note that there is no need to turn on data roaming, even though you might be prompted to do so.
Once your phone restarts, you should be able to browse your Facebook feed, navigate the city's subway or catch some Pokemon Go critters exclusive to the region.
AirSIM works only with a smartphone. It does not work when you insert it into a SIM card Wi-Fi router or Mi-Fi. But I found that I can still use my smartphone's hot spot function to act as a Wi-Fi router, so my other devices can connect to the Internet as well.
During a recent working trip to Tokyo, the AirSIM performed admirably and without lag. Compared with the Wi-Fi routers I usually rent, the download and upload speeds using a Samsung Galaxy Note8 felt faster and the connection was more reliable.
On the downside, you have to deal with the hassle of replacing SIM cards. Plus, you will also lose your local number if your smartphone does not have dual SIM card slots. This problem can be easily solved though - if you have a spare smartphone, use it with the AirSIM as a Wi-Fi router.
•Verdict: Reusable overseas data SIM card AirSIM is a simple but superb solution for your data needs when travelling.