It’s not only easy to get an iPhone sim card in Bali, it’s also extremely good value. Here’s a rundown of how to get your iPhone working in Indonesia.
It used to be a bit of a hassle, but now it’s relatively straightforward to get an iPhone 4 micro sim card in Bali these days. Getting a local Indonesian SIM card means that you can have internet access and cheap phone calls not only in Bali but across all of Indonesia too.
There are several brands of sim card but the biggest company – and the one I’ve always used – is Telkomsel. I can’t really comment on the others.
How Much Does An iPhone Sim card in Bali cost?
As of August 2012, you can get a Telkomsel sim card for around 55000 Rupiah (around $6 USD) and by adding 100,000 Rupiah credit (around $11) and selecting the correct package, you will have unlimited internet access on your iPhone for one month. If you want to make calls and send texts as well, you will need to add further credit. By purchasing the unlimited internet package, you spend the 100,000 rupiah credit immediately, leaving you with zero credit on the phone for calls and texts.
You can also get a 2 week unlimited internet package for 50,000 rupiah plus the cost of the sim card.
Where To Get an iPhone Sim card in Bali?
There are literally thousands of shops selling sim cards in Bali – the issue is finding a vendor who will provide a smooth service to set up your iPhone with an Indonesian SIM card. I had a stroke of luck finding this guy’s shop in the heart of Seminyak (see photo above), about 100 metres up the road from Cafe Bali (walking away from the sea) on Jalan Oberoi.
First, he tested our iPhones with an existing sim to check they were unlocked and so could use an Indonesian sim. This is important that you check before you leave home – if your phone is locked to your existing network at home, then it won’t work with any other telcom’s sim card.
Finding our iPhones to be unlocked, he got the standard Telkomsel sim card and cut it down to micro sim size to fit into the iPhone sim card tray. He added 100,000 Rupiah of credit to the sim and then went through the text commands to purchase the 1 month unlimited internet package.
You can press *888# to see the sim card’s credit balance for yourself. You can do the text commands yourself if you wish, but it’s all in Bahasa Indonesian so it’s easier to let the vendor do it.
He then handed the phone back over so we could check the internet was working. It usually takes a minute or two for the sim card to kick in and start working even though it’s displaying the TSEL reception bars in the top left and the 3G icon.
Total Cost Of An iPhone Sim Card in Bali
In all, getting the iPhone sim card with 1 month of unlimited internet cost me 180,000 Rupiah – about $20 USD. That’s 100,000 Rupiah for the internet package, 52,000 for the SIM card and then 28000 Rupiah as his mark-up or commission – around an extra $3. I had absolutely no problem with that as he was very helpful and did everything – we were in and out of the shop within 10 minutes.
How Good Is The Internet On Your iPhone In Bali?
In Bali your iPhone has 3G internet access (as shown by the little 3G icon in the top left of the screen), and while it’s not fast, it’s certainly good enough to get your emails and do some light web surfing. Telkomsel’s sim card also currently lets you use the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot, so you can tether iPads and Macbooks – and any other wifi device – to your iPhone and use the internet on them too. This can be pretty slow so don’t expect too much from it and if you need to do ecommerce stuff like make hotel or flight bookings I would definitely recommend using an internet cafe with a decent connection instead.
Be aware that the internet is still pretty flakey across Bali so don’t rely on your phone to be always updating with new emails, tweets etc. Sometimes you need to restart the phone to regain a connection. Sometimes it’s quite speedy, sometimes it slows to a crawl – it’s very temperamental.
How Well Does An iPhone Sim Card Work Across Indonesia?
As you move away from the built up areas of southern Bali reception will become worse and 3G will drop to Edge – meaning you can still get email and other data but it will be much slower. This is true for the rest of Indonesia too. You will get coverage in most places but it will be slow. Still, it’s certainly better than nothing.
As for the unlimited internet claim, I’ve been using my sim for 3 weeks now across Indonesia and it’s still working fine, so there doesn’t seem to be any limit to the amount of megabytes you use downloading email, browsing the web etc.
For the convenience of having your iPhone work through your travels in Indonesia, even if it is a bit flakey, $20 for a month of unlimited internet access is an absolute steal.