Category Archives: problems solved

How I got my US T-Mobile phone to work in the UK: Samsung S4, 2013 edition

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 running Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.2). In July 2013 I took it to the UK, where I installed a UK SIM card with pay-as-you-go credit.

Recursive self portrait

Me and my phone.

Here’s what I did.

1. Request a SIM Unlock

A few days before you leave the US, call T-Mobile and tell them you intend to use the phone with a non-US SIM chip, and ask them to file a “Sim Unlock Request”. You will need the phone’s IMEI, a 15-digit number most likely found in Settings under “My Device”. On my S4 it’s under Settings > More > About Device > Status.

The SIM Unlock Request takes 24 hours to process. You’ll receive an email with instructions on how to enter the SIM unlock code once you have your foreign SIM card. Print out the email! You won’t be able to access your email on your phone 🙂

2. Buy and install a UK SIM card

T-Mobile is branded as EE in the UK, so find an EE store, and get a £10 pay-as-you-go SIM card. This will get you 1GB data, 400 texts and 100 minutes for for 30 days. You can top up your SIM card at any shop where you see the “top up” logo.

Remove your US SIM card and install the new one. Your phone will prompt you to enter the SIM unlock code from step 1, which you’ve printed out for offline reference.

3. Restart your phone

When I took my phone to the UK in 2011 I had to do a lot of manual configuring on the phone: How I got my US T-Mobile phone to work in the UK. Now, all you do is restart your phone and it figures out the network by itself. And that’s it! Ask the store personnel to double-check your settings, and make sure you can get on their wi-fi, and you’re good to go!


How I got my US T-Mobile phone to work in the UK

Note: this was the process for a MyTouch 4G in 2011. The process is a lot easier now. Read here: How I got my US T-Mobile Samsung S4 phone to work in the UK  ( July 2013)

This is hard-won knowledge. I had to figure out this process by myself with trial, error, calls to technical support and repeated visits to T-Mobile stores. If there’s a similar guide anywhere online, I couldn’t find it. So here you go:

I live in the US. I have a T-Mobile MyTouch 4G, made by HTC. This phone works abroad as-is, but with crazy data roaming charges: $15 per megabyte. So here’s what I did to get cheap UK service on my US phone. I recommend completing all three steps in a single visit to a T-Mobile store. Just stay there until your phone works – you will need to be physically present in front of T-Mobile staff for Step 3.

1. Pay As You Go SIM card

First, go to a T-Mobile store and buy a SIM chip with at least £10 credit on it. The SIM card is technically free: what you’re buying is credit to use on pay-as-you-go phone, text, and data. I selected the International Plan (2p a minute to the US!) To activate the International Plan, text INT to 441.

T-Mobile Pay As You Go Tariffs for UK service

You can get data service with a T-Mobile Pay As You Go Internet Booster. Limited internet costs £2.50 for 5 days (text WEB to 4410, or £5 for 30 days (text WEB to 4410) Read up on T-Mobile’s UK Internet Fair Use policy. Short version: there’s a monthly limit on streaming video and audio.

2. Manually add a new APN

OK, so now your phone can access make calls, send texts, and access the internet. Or can it? No, it cannot, because you need to tell it what servers to connect to in the UK. You need to manually create an APN: “Access Point Name”. The T-Mobile website and the store staff may try to send the new APN settings automatically to your phone. That didn’t work for me, but entering the settings manually did.

Depending on what phone you have, the settings will be different. For my MyTouch 4G, the generic HTC phone APN settings worked.

To create a new APN, click Settings, Wireless & networks, Mobile networks, Access Point Names, then click the Settings button to pop up a menu with “New APN”. Click “New APN” and enter these settings, leaving the other fields unset. The settings are case-sensitive.

Name: T-mobile
Username: t-mobile
Password: tm
MMS Protocol: WAP 2.0
MCC: 234
MNC: 30
Authentication type: PAP
APN type: default

When you’re done entering the APN settings, before leaving that screen, click “Settings” again, and “Save” on the popup menu. Then, on the screen that lists the APNs, click to select the APN you’ve just created.

You can also find your phone on this page: T-Mobile phone support: find your phone, click “View all help”, “Manuals”, “Connecting to the Internet”, and “Setting up the phone for Internet surfing”, then follow the instructions.

Now you should be able to connect to the internet. If not, check that you’ve entered the correct APN settings with correct capitalization and that the new APN is active, then try restarting your phone.

3. Remove content lock

Now your phone can access web pages! Or can it? No, not all of them, because your UK SIM card assumes that you are a child trying to view dirty pictures. Flickr, YouTube, and other sites of questionable morality are locked and inaccessible. To remove the content lock, you can visit the T-Mobile website with a UK credit card (which you probably don’t have), or you can show T-Mobile store staff your passport or your obviously adult face and get them to remove the content lock from your phone.

And that should be it. After I had discovered these tasks and completed them my epic quest for connectivity was complete, and my phone worked fine for the rest of my trip. I hope this post will save someone else some time and frustration.

You can get your phone credit topped up with cash anywhere you see a “Top Up” sign: UK phone top-up sign News agents, corner stores, Radio Shack, etc.

Happy travels!

How I got my 8-week old baby to sleep through the night

1.) I gave birth to a unusually calm and quiet baby.

2.) I put her in her crib at night.

If you follow these two steps, you also will enjoy having a baby who magically sleeps through the night.

Seriously, I have a particular Bedtime Process:
1. Around 6 or 7, give the baby a warm bath. She tires herself out kicking and splashing.
2. Feed and swaddle in a Kiddopotamus SwaddleMe
3. Cuddle & rock in a dark room til she falls asleep. Takes 5-15 minutes. Put her in the crib.
4. At 10:30, take her out of the crib and feed her without waking her up. She can drink from a bottle while sleeping if you get it far enough in her mouth. After a few weeks she learned how to nurse without waking up, so we nurse and then top her off with a bottle. Feed her until she’s so deeply asleep she can’t swallow any more. If she’s really relaxed she won’t have swallowed any air, so just burp her a little.

If all these steps are followed the baby sleeps until sometime between 6:30-8:30am, but I suspect it only works because she’s a freaky easy baby.