My mobile phone provider is cheap but has no international roaming support. When I saw an advert for GO-Sim, a cheap SIM designed for use while travelling, I thought I'd give it a try. I've now used GO-Sim in 3 countries: France, New Zealand and Australia.
Note that I have no connection with GO-Sim, I'm just a customer. I'm writing this review to help other people make an informed decision about the product. There isn't too much info out there.
The main features of GO-Sim are:
- No contract. The system is pre-paid with credit that never expires; great if you travel infrequently.
- Cheap calling rates from most countries.
- No charge for receiving calls in many countries.
The SIM costs £29.99 and comes with £10 of credit. It arrives with an instruction sheel and a page detailing the call rates per country.
The first unusual thing I noticed is that the phone number assigned to the SIM is Estonian. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps they get cheap numbers there. It's important to realise that when people call you they will be charged whatever their telco charges them for calling an Estonian mobile.
The SIM adds an extra submenu to your phone's menu (I have a beaten up old Nokia 6300). The GO-Sim menu allows you to make calls, send SMS', check your balance etc. Why do they have call and SMS options in a special menu? Well making calls isn't completely straight-forward.
When calling using GO-Sim you dial as you would normally except the call is immediately disconnected. 10-60 seconds later you receive a call back. When you answer, an electronic voice tells you how many minutes you have in the call (based on your balance and the country you're in) and then another 5-15 seconds later the call is connected and the other end starts ringing. This is all a bit inconvenient and disconcerting at first, especially when the callback time delay is long. You begin to wonder if something went wrong.
Still, this jiggery pokery is required to get the cheap calls. I'm fairly certain they're using some sort of VoIP hack to bring the call costs down. You get used to the callback system after a bit of practice.
Back to the extra GO-Sim menu in the phone... in some countries it seems the standard trick of just dialing a number and getting a call back doesn't work. In this case you need to use the Call option in the GO-Sim menu and dial from there instead. In my own experience this method was only needed in France. It's inconvenient because your standard phone address book isn't available. The GO-Sim functionality can only read contacts that are on the SIM card, not in your phone's memory. You'll need to enter numbers manually or copy any numbers you need to the SIM card. This isn't too hard to do on most phones but is annoying.
Call quality was variable. Sometimes it was excellent, other times there was significant delay or noise. I'm guessing this due to how busy their VoIP links are. It's something they need to work on.
SMS seemed reliable enough. Again in France I did have to use the SMS option in the GO-Sim menu rather than the standard SMS function in my phone. The same issue with needing to copy address book entries applies.
I have mixed feelings about GO-Sim. The cheap call rates and not having to worry about the cost of received calls while roaming is great. The finicky nature of making calls make it hard to recommend the product to less geeky types who aren't prepared to fiddle. I'll probably keep using the SIM when I'm travelling for now.