Will Your Phone Work in India ?

Before buying a SIM card, it will be important to see if your mobile phone will work in India.

In India, the compatible GSM bands are as follows:

  • 2G capabilities: GSM 900, GSM1800
  • 3G capabilities: UMTS 900, UMTS2100
  • 4G capabilities: LTE 850 (5), LTE1800 (3), LTE 2100 (1), LTE 2300 (40), LTE 2500 (41)

This means that for your phone to work in India, it must be compatible with these frequencies on a GSM network. Europe (click for band detail) and Asia Pacific countries runs on similar band like India but GSM carriers in America and Canada operate on 800/850 MHz and 1900 MHz frequencies.

Click to know your phone band details

You can unlock your phone using this video

Getting a SIM Card

It is better to buy a SIM card and get connected with internet to make your travel easy. The major telecom companies here are

  • Airtel
  • Reliance Jio
  • Idea
  • Vodafone
  • BSNL

All of these operators have a 4G network and decent browsing and downloading speed. The first four are private companies whereas Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is a government-owned company.

Documents required

  • Original Passport Photocopy
  • Visa
  • Passport picture
  • Local reference (may not be needed when bought at the airport)
  • Accommodation detail (may not be required when bought at airport)

Where to get a SIM card in India ? (For Foreigners)

Airport: You will be provided with a pre-paid SIM card which means that you will pay in advance for the package you want. This would be the easiest way to get a SIM card. Find the telecom operators near the exit gate of the airport. Provide them with a copy of your passport, visa, and a photograph and the card will be activated in 10 minutes or sometimes an hour. It will cost around 400 INR for a month package.

Local Shops: You can also buy the SIM card for a little cheaper price (300 INR per month) from the local shop. You may require a local referee (an Indian person phone number and address). The operator will call him/her and then your card will be activated.

The prices are around 400 INR and it includes unlimited talk-time, internet, and SMS for a month. Some service providers has an unlimited internet (high speed capped at 1 GB/day and then unlimited low speed) whereas others have a limit of 1-1.5 GB/day which will be more than enough.

How to Activate

Most of the time the SIM card is activated automatically. But the government imposes a change in rules and you may have to call a certain number (59095) and give detail about yourself to activate. Before you leave the shop, ask all the detail on how to activate

Where to Recharge

If you run out of credit on your phone, you might continue to receive incoming calls, but will not be able to make calls or send messages. You can recharge the SIM from a local shop or go to the mobile company page or using apps like Paytm, Freecharge, Google Pay, Flipkart etc.

Which SIM card to opt for

Airtel, Vodafone and JIO have decent networks all over the country. BSNL is often lagging behind on this race and is known for poor network but in many remote places like Spiti Valley, only bsnl connection works. So if you are planning to visit a remote location then do some research and find out which network will best suit you. Some of these statistics will help you choose your perfect SIM card.

Vodafone is topping the list with a total number of 433 million subscribers with tough competition from Airtel.

Network Speed Comparision

Overall Mobile Network Experience – November 2018 Report – Open Signal

Video Call Comparision

Availability of 4G Signals

Download Speed of Indian Mobile Networks

Click here for regional details of the networks

Tips

  1. Roaming is free in India but make sure to enable data usage while roaming on your phone
  2. If your phone is not 4G enabled then don’t opt for 4G SIM, rather take 3G SIM
  3.  Your SIM will be deactivated once your visa validity is over
  4. If you run out of internet and need some information (ATM location, currency exchange shop, bus stop) then call just dial (8888888888) and they can help you with the information via a text. They are mediator to connect customers to companies and its free.
  5. Make sure to check if your phone will work in India or not

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