There are many reasons why you may need temporary cell phone service and would prefer to get it without any paperwork (aka a burner phone service). So who provides this type of service, a company called ReadySim which is owned by a Canadian company called Roam Mobility. I have written about Roam Mobility before and love their service so I was intrigued when I heard about this particular service with a more privacy oriented slant.
Without delay, here is my review of the ReadySim cell phone service.
The ReadySim service looks very much like the plans offered directly under their Roam Mobility banner:
- Talk and text
- Talk, text and data
You can choose talk and text plans for 3, 7, 14 & 30 days.
You can choose talk, text and data plans for 7, 14 & 30 days.
When you compare their prices to other pre-paid no-contract providers in the USA, they are very competitive. What really sets these SIMs apart is that they are truly grab and go. IT is completely anonymous which means they never ask for a name, ID, telephone number or email address. You buy the SIM and self-activate it. When your chosen service plan expired, you simply throw the SIM away.
When you click the buy button, you are taken to an Amazon.com page where you can acquire the service. It seems to come only in one size but Amazon has a SIM card + SIM cutter combo offer.
"Our micro SIM is a re-plug able SIM that can be used as micro or standard size" - ReadySim. This means you can use the SIM in any device that doesn't require a nano -SIM (iPhone 5, 5s, MotoX, etc). Althougn they don't offer a nano-SIM yet, they do say [on their support page] "Official Nano SIMs are not yet available however if you order a SIM through our official Amazon store, you can send us a message through you Amazon account and request that we cut the SIM for your before shipping. "
Using the service
To use the service, you simply insert it into an unlocked GSM phone and text a ZIP code to 7850. The service then responds with your phone number (located in the ZIP you provided), and the expiration date of your service.
If you buy a plan with data, you have one additional step where you configure the APN for data access on your phone. It takes 30 seconds on most Android and iphones. All info is included in the SIM package.
You can find the APN configuration instructions here.
offer unlimited talk within the US, unlimited international text messaging, and
voicemail. Because there is no cash balance or top-up system, international
outgoing calls are not permitted but all incoming calls are accepted.
When I tested the Roam Mobility SIM service for Canadians travelling to the US, one of my major complaints was the fact that there was no way for me to monitor my data usage. For the Roam Mobility service, I had to email their support team who typically responded with my usage within a couple of hours. There is no way to monitor data usage with the ReadySIM service yet. They actually confirm this on their support page:
"There is currently no way to monitor your data usage, but we are working on a fix for that. "
I recommend downloading Onavo Count and monitoring your usage that way.
Like the Roam Mobility service, their ReadySim offering uses T-Mobile’s nationwide GSM network which supports HSPA+ at up to 21 MB down. This is where you may have a slight issue through. T-Mobile has started adding 1900MHz HSPA+ service to its network in key locations but it isn’t available everywhere. Unless your device supports the AWS bands, you may hit areas where the only data speeds you’ll get are EDGE (which is very very slow at 80-120kpbs).
With an AWS compatible phone, I have been able to get 8-10MB down speeds with the T-Mobile network.
Although ReadySIM is a no-contract and no-registration service, they must still follow US laws. If the Edward Snowden leaks have thought us anything, it is that everything is logged. Remember that ReadySim still keeps meta-data about every SIM used on their network (destination/source of calls, duration, frequency, sites visited when using data, etc). With the right court paperwork, law enforcement can subpoena this information.
The above is applicable to all US carriers and ReadySim actually affords you additional privacy [compared to other carriers] by not requiring registration.
As a Canadian, I still stick to their Roam Mobility US roaming service for Canadians but recommend that international travelers [to the USA] seriously consider this service. It is easy to use, very price competitive and it’s easy to keep a couple of SIM stored and ready for last minute travel.
I have looked at most of the pre-paid offerings for travelers to the US and this is the only I recommend.
You can check their website for more information here.