The Mobal GSM World Phone lets you avoid expensive phone rentals when you travel by providing you with your own phone for $49 which works in over 140 countries – including those in South East Asia.
Recently Seven Reasons To Go Travelling Solo, one of Travelhappy’s better articles, was mentioned in the Mobal Members Travel Newsletter. I have to confess I had no idea what Mobal was until I investigated their main website, which explains they sell the $49 Mobal GSM World Phone.
Mobal’s logic is that buying a $49 phone is a lot cheaper than renting one, especially if you go to more than one country. Certainly it could be a worthwhile investment if you go to more than a couple of countries, as investing in different SIM cards each place you go and changing your number each time can be a hassle. (I’ve written previously on how to find and install a Thailand SIM card in your phone to make cheap calls home). The Mobal works in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, so it would be fine for a South East Asian trip. There is no monthly subscriber cost either, so you buy the handset and then only pay for the calls you make.
While the handset is cheap and there’s no ongoing costs, the calls themselves are pretty expensive – a call from Thailand to the USA is $1.95 a minute, for example, and nearly $4 a minute to any other country – plus incoming calls cost around $1 a minute too. (See the “coverage and calls” link on the Mobal website for more details. The handset is also locked, so you can’t swop the SIM card out and use a different one. Worst of all, the Mobal is not available outside North America, so as a British bloke, that’s me off the list.
Even so, this idea has got merit, and it’s a got a lot of rave reviews on the Mobal website from the likes of the Washington Post etc. It definitely seems like a no-fuss solution for having an always-on emergency handset that you can use to call pretty much anywhere without any preparation or forethought. It’s definitely a good idea if you have friends or family that worry about you, or if you like having the security that you can call home anytime you need to – a useful psychological crutch.
Anyone who owns a Mobal and has a view on the call charges etc, please leave a comment. I’d be interested to know if it’s as good as it sounds.