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This morning I received an email from one of our readers, asking me how the iPhone works when traveling internationally.

If I travel to Costa Rica can I use my iPhone there? Do I have to get a special SIM card – or is it like when you go to Europe and it just “works” without doing anything? Also, is it free to e-mail pics using Wi-fi if I am connected there? Gracias!

You don’t need a special SIM card to use your iPhone outside of the US. Straight off the plane, your iPhone will work anywhere there is coverage, since AT&T has partnerships with carriers in pretty much every country. Your iPhone will automatically pick up the local carrier and you will be able to receive/make calls, and send text messages. Same for data (Edge or 3G). It will work as well without you having to do anything, assuming that you have Edge or 3G service where you are.

The Costs Of Phone Calls And Text Messages Outside The US

Now be really careful because making calls from outside the US is very expensive. Even more expensive is the use of the data for Internet connection. Depending on where you are in the world, a one minute phone call can cost you between $1 and $5. Text messages are a little more affordable and it will only cost you $0.50 to send a text message. Received text messages are deducted from your monthly domestic data plan.

AT&T has a nice little tool that lets you see how much it will cost you to make calls depending on what countries you’re visiting. I suggest you have a look at it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find pricing about international data roaming but I know for sure it is very expensive…

What To Do To Avoid Being Charged Extra

To make sure you don’t go over budget, you have several options:

First thing you can do is to put your iPhone in airplane mode. This is not the recommended option as it will pretty much turn your iPhone into an iPod Touch. You will not be able to make/receive calls and you will have no access to the internet whatsoever. This is a solution recommended for people who are paranoid about their iPhone usage abroad and want to make sure they will not spend a dime on extra charges.

If you don’t want to make calls from abroad and you just want to check your emails and update your Facebook status from time to time, the best thing to do is to look for wifi. Most hotels and airports offer wireless Internet and using your iPhone over wifi won’t cost you anything at all. If you have Skype or Fring installed on your iPhone, then use those apps over wifi to make international calls. This is clearly the best way to make cheap calls from abroad.

AT&T International Data And Voice Packages

I think we took everything into consideration. If in doubt, please call AT&T to talk to a rep and have a clear idea of what you’re getting into when using your iPhone abroad.

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Traveling With An Iphone: My Experience In Vietnam

A woman welcame me and asked me what I wanted. As usual, I was pretty clear that all I wanted was a good data plan for my iPhone as well as a few minutes of communication so we can call hotels, etc, in the country.

For about $8, I got a SIM card, 100,000 Dongs of talk time and an extra 50,000 Dongs of bonus time. To activate the data plan, she took my iPhone and sent “3G on” as a text message to the number 161. I immediately got a text message back saying that 3G was activated. Very good.

Now what I wanted to know was the cost of 3G. She was unable to tell me and after calling her own customer support, she came back to me saying they didn’t know but that I shouldn’t worry too much about that because 3G is very cheap in Vietnam. Ok, not really the answer I expected but there was nothing I could do.

On my way to the hotel, I tried to call Viettel customer service myself, only to be turned down several times in Vietnamese. Since my taxi driver spoke English, I asked him to tell them I wanted to know the cost of 3G and if there was any monthly plan I could sign up for. They didn’t know. Hmm, I started wondering if they knew anything at all. Anyways.

A big thank you to Thy for telling me about custom APN for Viettel and VinaPhone. Without him, I would have probably been incapable of tethering my iPhone while in Vietnam.

Those of you interested in downloading the custom APN settings to tether your iPhone in Vietnam on Viettel or VinaPhone should go to chúng tôi The site is very slow and all in Vietnamese but it clearly says “Internet Tethering” at the top. Then you just need to select your carrier and install the custom APN, then reboot (don’t forget to reboot).

While I can’t say I’m impressed in any way by Vietnam (no offense to my Vietnamese friends but many bad things happened to me there), I have to admit that their network seriously kicks ass! It is my far the best network I’ve seen so far in my travels. That’s mostly due to the fact that their network is so new that they pretty much have the latest and best technology available.

The only time I didn’t have signal was when I was 30 feet underground visiting the tunnels of Cu Chi. At all time I had coverage, with at least Edge and in most cases 3G. 3G is burning fast too, which was really handy when looking for hospitals… but that’s another story…

I had to recharge my SIM with 150,000 Dongs, which is about $8 and this last me forever. Definitely the best and cheapest data plan I had been on.

As a side note, it is very easy to find free Internet everywhere in Vietnam. 90% of hotels, bars or restaurants have free wifi available (not even password protected). Vietnam is the most “Internet friendly” country I have ever visited (except for the censorship of chúng tôi in North Vietnam).

I’m now back in Thailand and I am typing this post from the airport, tethering my iPhone thanks to the great (but slow) DTAC network. The network is not as good here as it is in Vietnam but I don’t mind it if I can get my health back. We’ll be in Thailand for about 3-4 weeks, then heading to Kuala Lumpur to catch a flight to Paris.

If you’re traveling with an iPhone in Vietnam, I hope this article will help you figure things out, especially for tethering your iPhone.

Wirelessly Streaming Files To Your Iphone With Wi

You just preordered the new iPhone 5, but did not want to splurge on the 32GB or 64GB model. While you wait for Friday to arrive, you are growing more and more concerned about the lack of storage space on your shiny new iPhone. After all, you are going to want to watch widescreen movies in their 16:9 glory, but alas, you need all 16GBs to store family vacation photos to show Grandma on your Thanksgiving trip home.

Critically, you scoff that she doesn’t have WiFi at the assisted living center, so you can’t pull them from iCloud or Dropbox. This Thanksgiving, be thankful for Kingston’s Wi-Drive, which will store everything needed in a compact design and wirelessly broadcast the files without an existing network. Even the nagging kids in the backseat can simultaneously enjoy different movies…

Design and App

The drive is smooth black plastic with rounded edges and approximately the exact size of an iPhone 4S. The included mini USB to USB cable provides data transfer and charging capabilities for four hours of streaming. The battery life is clearly dependent on how many users are continuously accessing content, which is limited to three simultaneous devices.

The drive is accessible via web browser from MacBooks and iMacs by using the device’s IP address and via the Wi-Drive app on iOS devices. The app uses a simple file structure system to navigate the loaded content. Quick tabs on the bottom of the screen will quick file types for videos, pictures, and music. A built-in media player will show pictures, play music and display video content. The app works very well and even remembers the playback location of video files if it is not force-closed from the multitasking panel. Album artwork displays for song files during playback even continues to play in the background while other apps are open. To my surprise, the app offers Air Play features for Apple TV and Airport Express.

I only found a couple frustrations with the built-in media player. If a video is played after a song is “paused,” the music will automatically play again. It is a replicable issue, which I found annoying, but easily stopped. Second, the native movie player cannot stream DRM’d iTunes movies. Thankfully, the drive’s IP address is accessible via mobile Safari and the movie can be streamed through the web browser’s plugin. Kingston politely included an instructional video.

Overall, the app is simplistic at the surface, but will allow the user to bridge the Wi-Drive over a local wireless network once the initial firmware is upgraded. Bridging the drive, essentially makes the Wi-Drive a NAS device and is a simple process even non-techy consumers can handle with this instructional video from Kingston. Bridging the drive means it will be accessible to any iOS device connected to the same wireless network. Otherwise, users must directly connect to the Wi-Drive’s self broadcasted network, which comes in handy in the car or at Grandma’s house. If you are looking for the extra details, they can be found in Kingston’s data sheets.


I am extremely pleased with the Wi-Drive’s performance and functionality, especially considering it currently starts on Amazon at $78 for 16GB. It will behave as any other external hard drive when attached via USB, storing any content dragged-and-dropped to its window. The ability to access the files wirelessly, on-the-go is the ultimate functionality. Next time you are headed out of town, or just want to share files with friends, load up the Wi-Drive and save the storage space on your iPhone for personal items. Grandma will appreciate it if you bring all those cute photos of the children and you don’t have to be worried about her internetless living accommodations.


Thanks to Amazon, price is a pro!

Small and compact

Broadcasts its own wireless signal

Connect 3 devices simultaneously

Easily browse content via Wi-Drive for iOS

Setup your own file structure via OS X

Set up as wireless NAS

Compatible with Kindle Fire and Andriod 2.2, Windows 7, Vista, XP, Linux, and OS X


Mostly thanks to Apple, the app cannot natively playback DRM’dx movies

Minor audio playback glitch explained in the article

Only 3 devices can connect at once

Have you ever considered a WiFi external drive? Do you think this is something that would come in handy, or just another useless accessory?

Fixing Common Problems With Charging Your Iphone Or Ipad

Not only did Apple spend a ton of money and time in the research leading up to its proprietary reversible Lightning cable for charging, but they’ve also made the software that handles charging your iOS device intelligent too.

Nevertheless, charging your device can sometimes be followed by some frustrating problems, and they’re all too common. In this piece, we’ll go over some of those problems charging iPhone and iPad, and what you can do to troubleshoot them.

Common problems when charging iOS devices

When it comes to iOS devices, there are a number of issues that can arise. I can honestly say that I’ve experienced every single one of the issues I’m about ro cover, and as a result, I’d assume most of you have experienced at least one or more of the issues outlined below:

Device won’t charge

Device is charging slower than expected

iPad displays a “Not Charging” indicator in the Status Bar

‘Accessory not supported’ pop-up messages get displayed

If you’ve ever had any of these problems charging your iPhone or iPad, you’ve come to the right article, because we’ll be talking about how to troubleshoot these issues and get your battery all charged up for a day’s worth of use.

What to do when your device isn’t charging

I’ve had scenarios with Apple’s OEM Lightning cables simply don’t get recognized by my iPhone or iPad when I plug it in, as well as with third-party Lightning cables. It seems to be some kind of fluke, but typically is pretty easy to fix.

Re-seat the Lightning cable – If you plug in a cable to charge your device and your Status Bar doesn’t seem to recognize that the device is connected to power, try unplugging and plugging the cable back in again. Sometimes the electrical contacts on the Lightning cable wear out over time and they simply don’t get a good bite on the Lightning connector in your device.

Let it charge for a bit – If you’ve plugged the device in and the screen is completely black, the battery might just be too dead to show anything, so try giving it 30 minutes to an hour to see if anything comes up on the screen after the battery has some time to collect a little juice.

Possible Lightning port damage – Other times, you might have a damaged Lightning port and the Lightning cable isn’t getting gripped tight enough. In this scenario, there is too much play and the contacts can’t stay seated for the device to charge. You may need to contact AppleCare to resolve this problem, and it usually comes from over-using your port or from being hard on it.

Clean the junk out of your Lightning port – Your lightning port could just be full of lint and dirt that is keeping your Lightning cable from being plugged in all the way. Try to remove the junk with a nylon or wooden toothpick (non-conductive), but don’t use anything metal like a paperclip, as this could cause electronic damage in the event of electric or static discharge.

Possible Lightning cable damage – Just like the port itself, the cable may have sustained damage. Apple’s cables aren’t exactly known for having durability built into their design. They’re thin and the part of the connector where the wire meets often gets damaged. Look for signs of tears or frays in the cable.

Bad power outlet – If charging with a power outlet, it may not be providing electricity. If charging with a USB port on your computer, the same could happen. Try a new power outlet or a new USB port.

What to do when a device is charging too slowly

In some cases, the problems charging your iPhone or iPad might not be with the device not charging at all, but rather with the device charging too slowly. Here are some things you can try in this scenario:

Check for cable damage – A charging cable with damage may be resulting in a slower charge. There is a certain amount of conductive metal in the cable, and when any part of that metal gets frayed, the volume efficiency is reduced and the amount of electricity that can travel through the wire is reduced, which may lead to less power getting supplied to the device.

Check for port damage – With a visual inspection, make sure that none of the contacts in the Lightning port are damaged. Also, look for any signs of dust that may be blocking critical contacts and try to fish them out with a nylon or wooden toothpick (non-conductive).

What to do when the Status Bar says “Not Charging”

Sometimes when you plug in an iPad, which requires a higher power output to charge, and the charging accessory you’re using doesn’t support the higher amount of power output, your iPad might display the words “Not Charging” in place of the battery percentage. Here are some things you can do to fix this:

Use a higher-power USB port – Computers often have both high-power and low-power USB ports on them. On PCs, it can he hard to tell the difference, so you’ll have to refer to your computer’s manual, or contact the manufacturer. On modern Macs, USB ports support higher power output, so you shouldn’t really ever have this problem when using your Mac to charge an iPad unless it’s a dinosaur.

Avoid USB adapters and USB hubs – If you’re using USB adapters and/or USB hubs for your computer to give it more USB ports, these hubs may not have the capability of supplying as much juice as the raw USB port from the computer itself can. Avoid using hubs or ports on your keyboard when you intend to charge your iPad.

What to do when iOS says your accessory isn’t certified

If you ever get strange pop-up alerts on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad when you attempt to charge it with the inexpensive Lightning cable you just bought from Walmart, Ebay, or Amazon, you’re not alone. After all, Apple’s OEM replacements are expensive, and third-party cables are cheaper.

The only problem with this is Apple has a little chip inside of the cables that the iOS device communicates with and it tells the device whether or not the cable is ‘Made for iPhone’ or MFi certified. If it’s not, you may get these little error messages every so often, and the wording sometimes varies depending on the scenario.

Here’s what you can do:

Try re-seating the Lightning cable – I’ve had luck simply un-plugging and plugging the cable back in again. Although I sometimes get these messages, simply dismissing them and proceeding anyway tends to work most of the time (not all the time).

Use an OEM Apple Lightning cable – If you have an OEM Lightning cable, use it instead. The pop-up is appearing because the cable isn’t made by Apple and this makes Apple cranky. Avoid third-party Lightning cables and USB adapters unless you have no real choice, as they can actually cause damage to the battery.

Reboot your device – Sometimes simply rebooting your device can wake the device up from its MFi hypnosis. Try this at least once if the pop-up isn’t going away.

Clean your Lightning port – Sweep away any dust or debris that might be hindering communications in your Lightning port. As recommended earlier, use only a nylon or wooden toothpick, as these are non-conductive and won’t short anything out.

Contact AppleCare – If the device continues to have issues, and you’re using an OEM Lightning cable, you may need to contact Apple support. It’s rare that an OEM cable isn’t recognized, but it’s not impossible; it has happened to people before. Sometimes the Lightning cables are just defective from the factory.


Hopefully you’ve been able to sort out the problems charging your iPhone or iPad after following some of these tips.

Charging glitches are far from uncommon on Apple-branded mobile devices, and I’m not saying they’re uncommon on other brands of mobile devices either, but from my experience I’ve had trouble with almost everything on this list at least once in my life. Nevertheless, it’s usually always something really stupid and easy to fix.

Also read:

Find Out If Your Hard Disk Is About To Fail With Smartreporter

If you’ve ever suffered a hard disk failure on your computer, you know how devastating it can be – especially if you haven’t been backing up your data regularly (or at all). Most of the time, there is no type of warning when your hard disk is about to go out on you; it just happens and you’re left totally frustrated and unprepared.

If you’re a Mac user, there’s a very useful application that can help to prepare you for an impending disk failure. This application is SMARTReporter, and it works by periodically polling the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) status of your hard disk drives; it’s basically like an “early warning system.” SMARTReporter uses this technology to keep you up-to-date on the status of your hard disk and lets you know right away if errors are found.

If you have a ATA, SATA, or eSATA hard disk, here’s how you can find out if your hard disk is about to fail.

Installation and Setup

First, you’ll need to download SMARTReporter to your Mac. You can download the free “TRYOUT Version” from their website, or download it from the Mac App Store for $4.99. All of the included disk checks and features make SMARTReporter well worth the $5 price tag.

Once installed, open the application and you’ll be greeted by the SMARTReporter Welcome Assistant.

Since SMARTReporter has to be running in order to predict hard disk failures, it’s recommended that you keep it running at all times. In the Welcome Assistant, you’ll have the option to launch the app at login, and you can also choose to display the app in the menu bar (as opposed to the Dock).


Now that you’re done with the Welcome Assistant, the application window will appear. Here you can see the status of your hard disk, perform disk checks, manage SMARTReporter’s settings, and view your data history.

If there are any issues with your hard disk, you will see them listed on the Status tab. You’ll can also check to see the last time a specific disk check was performed.

The most important section is the Disk Checks tab. You’ll need to go through each section and customize them to suit your own  needs and preferences. For instance, you can tell SMARTReporter how often to check your hard disk for errors. There are different options for each section, and you can also enable/disable notifications on an individual basis.

In the Settings tab, you can change the menu bar appearance or Dock appearance, depending on which one you’re using. You can also choose to receive a daily status email and useful notifications.

Finally, in the History tab you can view a graph and log regarding your data and the activities that SMARTReporter has performed on your computer.

Final Thoughts

Even though no hard disk will last forever, we often have the “it will never happen to me” attitude about them. It’s time to change that attitude because you never know when it will happen to you. SMARTReporter is the perfect tool to help you keep your hard disk in check. Not only will it help to alleviate most surprise disk failures, but it will also get you better prepared for when it does actually happen.

Charnita Fance

Charnita has been a Freelance Writer & Professional Blogger since 2008. As an early adopter she loves trying out new apps and services. As a Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS user, she has a great love for bleeding edge technology. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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With Iphone 13 Reviews Out, Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Trade Ins

The iPhone 13 was announced last week, and now the reviews are out! Chances are you’re thinking about upgrading, but how do you make sure you get the most you can for your device in time to get the new model? Here’s everything you need to know about trading in or selling your old iPhone now that pre-orders are open.

Tip 1: If you can, sell ASAP

The first thing you need to know is that trading in your device is time is of the essence. The second Apple showed off that iPhone 13 on stage at the event, trade in values for devices are dropped across the board. It’s too late to trade in pre-event, but you can still lock in the best value by trading in or selling your old device as soon as possible, or at least using a trade in site that will guarantee your rate.

Of course, this is going to mean a few extra steps. Some people keep an old iPhone sitting around for just this purpose: so they can have a stopgap device between their annual upgrade. This way you still have a phone to use between snagging the best price for your old device and making sure that you get your iPhone 13 shipped to you as soon as possible.

If you’re already planning on selling your device through a trade-in site, here’s all the latest values from top trade in sites that we recommend.

iPhone trade in values by device Tip 2: Sell it the right way for you

As we’ve discussed in detail in our ultimate guide to trading in your iPhone, you have lots of different options for going about this, spanning from selling your device in person through Craigslist to using our own trade-in partner which will take care of everything for you, including shipping you a prepaid label and box. There are also options in between, like eBay or Swappa, which let you sell your device directly but give you more control over who your buyer is.

Tip 3: Protect your data and prepare your device!

One thing that most people forget: If you want to sell your device before you have the new iPhone 13 on hand to transfer all your data to (to lock in the best second hand or trade in price!), you need to make sure you back up all your data either to the cloud or to a personal computer. Apple themselves have put together a great guide for what to do to before you sell or trade in your iOS device.

Tip 4: Sell or trade in other devices you don’t need

It’s easy to remember to sell your old iPhone before you buy the new iPhone 13, but what about other devices you have laying around that can help you pay down the balance on that new phone? We have guides on how to trade in your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, and even your AirPods to pad our your down payment on a brand new iPhone 13. If you have older stuff that you might just want to recycle, you can use our trade in portal for that, too.

If you have an older device that isn’t an Apple device, you can check out our roundup of some of the best trade in values over at 9to5Google — there you’ll find prices for Samsung Galaxy and Pixel devices you might want to ditch in favor of an iPhone 13.

Best carrier trade in deals

Carriers are one of the best places to trade in your old iPhone this time around, especially if you’re going to add a new line or switch carriers. To paraphrase my colleague Blair:

Top iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 trade in values Special deals and trade-in coupon codes for 9to5Mac readers

For a limited time, get 10% extra through Decluttr (max $30) w/ code 9TO5MAC (valid til 12/31/21)

If you’re looking to trade in an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, you can find all the top trade in values right here:

Top iPhone 12 trade-in values Top iPhone 12 Pro trade-in values

Note: Apple does not accept trade ins for the latest model iPhone until after the newest model is announced.

Top iPhone 11 trade in values Top iPhone 11 Pro trade-in values Read more about the new iPhones:

Be sure to check out the following guides for more detailed information on your device trade in options:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

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