Western Phone Compatibility

If I buy a new cellphone here, will I be able to use it when I go to the West, such as Canada, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand?

This isn’t exactly the answer you were looking for, but I bought a phone in HK which I then used in Australia and now in Taiwan with no problems. That’s not an automatic ‘yes’ though, obviously.

You should be OK as long as it is a GSM phone.

GSM is the key, but also be aware that some providers ‘simlock’ the phone so it will only operate on their network.
I’m not sure if that happens here in Taiwan, but in some countries if you buy a cheap phone on a contract, it is simlocked.
Anyway, if it is simlocked, it’s no hassle to get it unlocked at an independent phone repair joint for a nominal charge.
I’ve done it myself before, using a data cable and some software.

Thanks for the info.

Depending on your phone there are also web sites where you can get an unlock code from. Price varies from free to around US$20.

The USA is the odd one out. A tri-band GSM phone bought in Taiwan should be usable in the USA, but just barely. Aside from GSM, America has CMDA, TDMA and iDEN, plus broadcast frequencies that don’t match the rest of the world.

But outside the USA, you should be fine.


A tri-band phone will be your best bet. Note that Canada uses also GSM800 aka GSM850 and GSM1900 (as in the US). Tri-band phones typically work in GSM900, GSM1800 and GSM1900 networks but not in GSM800/GSM850.

Yes. Rascal is right. I used to work for, shall we say, “a well known mobile phone maker”, and we got a lot of enquiries about this sort of thing.

For maximum compatibility, go for a tri-band GSM phone. Actually, quad-band phones also exist (which include the 850MHz band), but they’re hard to come by and hardly worth the effort unless you are spefically going to live in a country that needs 850MHz.

Hope that helps.

P.S. None of the other acronyms you see will matter for this (eg GPRS, WAP, MMS, etc). They’re for “other” features", to put it simply.

AFAIK, phones you buy in Taiwan are not sim-locked, so when you go to another country that uses GSM, just pop in a new SIM card. I’ve done it in Europe and with my tri-band in the US and Mexico.