Manila - Post Report Question and Answers

Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We use Google Fi. Also have a local sim for G Cash. - Apr 2024

I have a dual SIM phone and I have my home-country plan (AT&T) as well as a local plan which is needed for ePayments, appointments, etc. - Mar 2023

There are two cell phone companies, Globe and Smart, and they have better service areas in parts of the city/country but are mostly the same. You might want to check if your apartment has better signal with one company before commuting to a plan. - Mar 2023

They're everywhere and the plans are so cheap I'm not even sure what I pay. I would recommend getting Globe so that you can use GCash (a popular app to pay bills, send people money, etc.) - May 2022

Local sim cards are dirt cheap as is calling and data plans. - Apr 2021

We have both local providers, and kept our Google Fi plan. Mobile phone plans are cheap here, you just have to buy data and load it. - Oct 2020

Bring your favorite unlocked phone. Local sims are cheap and local services are cheap and easy to use. - Feb 2020

There are two providers, Globe and Smart, who have plans or prepay as you go. For 20 USD/month I have unlimited data. Calls are inexpensive but it's a pain when you run out of load. My unlocked iPhone works fine. - May 2018

As with internet access, cell phone coverage varies wildly across Manila (and the country as a whole). Globe and Smart dominate the market, and locals usually settle for whichever offers less poor coverage in their home neighborhood – or just buy a phone with two SIM slots, and get a number for each carrier. That said, prepaid service is very popular in the Philippines, and, once you learn how the pricing plans work, it’s possible to pay 75-80% less for service here than in the US. As a rule, texting is significantly cheaper than voice or data, so texting is the dominant form of communication across all levels of society. - Feb 2017

We used a local, pre-paid plan. Most people seem to do the same. - Jul 2016

Pay as you go sim is easy to find and affordable. 20USD for 30 days internet. - Jan 2016

SIM cards are readily available and affordable. Phone and internet servicare is absolutely dismal. - Jan 2016

buy a local sim - Sep 2015

Bring an unlocked one, or buy locally. You can pay as you go, or get a pre-paid plan. - Aug 2015

It's easy to get a local SIM put in with renewable charges. Prices aren't that bad. Bring a phone with you if you want a smart phone, though, as prices are high for the equipment. If all you want is a cheap SMS and phone call kind of mobile phone, those are available very cheapy. - Aug 2015

Fairly easy - just ask someone about plans in your neighborhood. - Sep 2014

Prepaid minutes are used with smartphones and cell phones. I would not recommend a plan because they are hard to cancel and you will end up paying more money. SMART or GLOBE is the most common provider. - Dec 2013

Everyone uses prepaid minutes, or "load." Most use a cheap phone, but smart phones with data plans are available. Coverage is excellent throughout the country. - Nov 2013

Bring an unlocked phone or if you've hired help have them go get your phone unlocked or you'll be overcharged. We tried to get a 2 year plan for me so I could get an iPhone but the process was a little ridiculous. They also wanted to charge my husband a ton to unlock my phone and so he paid a little more to get me some bright yellow Nokia thing and a Smart SIM card. - Aug 2013

Sim cards are very cheap, and you can reload with prepaid credits very easily at any Seven Eleven store. - Apr 2013

I use my phone provided by the embassy. - Feb 2013

They are cheap. Buy a SIM card from Globe or Smart and just top it off as necessary. Go prepaid. - Sep 2012

There are lots to choose from here. Globe seems more popular than SMART. - May 2012

Most embassy people get a prepaid SIM (for P40 -- about $1) from either Globe or Smart, and use that for their time here. Postpaid you need to be tied to a 2-year contract that cannot be broken without costing a lot. With prepaid there are even internet plans you can sign up for using your minutes for P300 (about $7) for 300MB/month of usage. We spend about P500 (about $12) for a phone card a month. Most people here use texting, instead of calls (think doctors appointments, salons, friends, vets, etc), so one card goes a long way. - Mar 2012

Cheap, lots of plans, and EVERYONE texts. - Jan 2012

Pre-paid plans are available but most people go with a pay-as-you-go plan. Talking and texting in the country is cheap. Get Skype or another internet-based service for calling back home. - Jul 2011

The Philippines is the top sender of text messages worldwide. You can get cheap unlocked phones here & SIM cards for a song (about $1 for the card + "load" -- credit for calls & texting). - May 2011

Many things are done through texting, so get a phone ASAP. - May 2011

If you bring a cell phone, make sure it is unlocked. You can buy knock-offs everywhere in the Philippines, but they are unreliable. Cell phone usage is very inexpensive, and most communication is through texting. - Feb 2010

You will need a cell phone here. You can purchase here, purchase a SIM card, and buy load for it. Only costs a peso to text and terribly expensive to use as actual phone. Texting will become your life here. You can buy load in different increments. I usually get 500p which is about 10 dollars and that lasts me at least a month - Jan 2010

Everyone texts in Manila, and most people purchase 'load' cards instead of purchasing a calling plan. - Jul 2009

You need one immediately. Oh, and texting (SMS) is a way of life here so remember that when buying a cell phone. You can also do pre-paid phones here instead of obnoxious contracts like in the U.S. - Apr 2009

You need one. Most people send text (SMS) messages rather than calling, and you'll learn to text quickly. Prepaid cards and subscriptions are available everywhere. - Jun 2008

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