Temporary mobile phone
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Aug 4, 2013 3:35 AM Last Post By: Sennew
Aug 2, 2013 11:56 PM
Aug 3, 2013 1:11 AM
1Yes, you can. Chips can be purchased on every street corner. However to use it you will need to go to a telco retail outlet and present either a CPF or a passport. I'm not sure if everywhere accepts the passport as an alternative. I use TIM but they are all much the same. You will need a 3G compatible and unlocked phone of course. You can refill your account by buying credit at any newspaper stand or a Lojas Americanas outlet. Just be aware that calling outside of the city you are in can be quite expensive.
Aug 3, 2013 1:32 AM
2Yes, it is possible, but not always simple.
As a local, I dont have to deal with the hassle visitors sometimes encounter, but going to a TIM store used to be the easiest way for a visitor.
Maybe other phone companies are catching up. FYI, the other 3 mobile companies here are Claro, Vivo and Oi.
If you are starting your trip in Sao Paulo, there is basically a TIM store in every mall (same for other companies); just go there with your passport and lots of patience and you will eventually come out with what we call a "chip pré-pago", a top-up SIM card.
You can use this link to find their store locations (dont go to the International Visitors Quick Guide, that is mostly about roaming using your home country sim card):
You will probably wait in line and then some more until they find someone who speaks English to help you (in case you dont speak Portuguese).
Like mobile companies everywhere, there are a gazillion different plans; just tell them which Brazilian states you will be in (from your itinerary, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and one or two of the Mato Grossos) and what your calling needs are (local calls only? SMS? long distance within Brazil? international calls? data packages?) and hopefully they will steer you to the appropriate choice.
Other tourists have been successful at this retail chain called Lojas Americanas, it is also in every mall and sells sim cards for different operators. The catch is always finding an English-speaker.
I assume that you have unlocked GSM phones and that you have checked that your phones are tri- or quad-band so that they work with the same bands used in Brazil. Google can help you figure that part out easily. I have used my phones while in Europe, so I assume the opposite is true, but always better to check.
And hopefully you do not have an Iphone 5 (or ipad mini), as a nano sim card is more difficult to find... even an Iphone 4 or 4S (and regular ipads) and their micro SIM cards may make things a little bit more difficult, but at least there is always the do-it-yourself option to cut down the sim card to fit the slot.
Aug 3, 2013 2:56 AM
3And hopefully you do not have an Iphone 5 (or ipad mini), as a nano sim card is more difficult to find... even an Iphone 4 or 4S (and regular ipads) and their micro SIM cards may make things a little bit more difficult, but at least there is always the do-it-yourself option to cut down the sim card to fit the slot.
I concur. I went around to every store I could find in Rio to find a Micro Sim for an iPhone 4S. Reckon I could find one? Not on your life. Most had iPhones for sale - with plans. Its ridiculously hard to get a sim though for these phones.
The other option - get a friends CPF and use that to buy one.
Aug 3, 2013 6:06 AM
4The whole thing is a big pain for just a few weeks IMO. You'll be paying big long distance charges if you buy a SIM in one city and use it in another, as mentioned above. Also reception in the Pantanal is not likely to be great. Surprisingly to some, there is a phone booth (orelhao) on every block in the cities. And phone cards are sold at every corner kiosk to make local calls or in-country. There are also internet cafes, especially in tourist areas, so you can arrange to use Skype or their WIFI point to talk to folks back home. Much less hassle IMO.
Aug 3, 2013 11:56 AM
5Depending on your needs, TIM has this package called Infinity Pré that has become very popular here. Now, with popularity it may come congestion too...
For R$0,50 (fifty cents) a day, you can use the web all day. You only pay the R$0,50 on the days you use it. Same works for SMS within Brazil. R$0,50 for unlimited SMS on the same day.
For phone calls, Brazil is tricky. If you are calling a mobile or landline number that is from the same company (even if it is in another city) then it is not usually expensive. For example, in the case of TIM's Infinity Pré, each such call would cost R$0,25 and you can talk as long as you want.
Now, you would not know which number belongs to which company. Brazilians will usually tell that info to each other when giving out phone numbers. And this feature (huge price difference if you are calling same or other company number) is what caused many people (particularly younger, working class folks) to have multiple phone numbers, one from each company. And many people have phones that can hold 2 or even 3 sim cards, one from each operator.
Another quirk in the Brazilan phone system (both landline and mobile and payphones too) is that you have to dial a 2-digit code for which company you want to use for long distance service every time you call. After that you dial the city code (also 2 digits) and then the 8-digit local number (except if it is a SP metro area mobile, which already has 9 digits, something that will slowly spread to all mobiles in Brazil).
So, in the TIM example, you need to dial the 41 company code to get these rates I mentioned. Other companies require the same with their own codes (21 for Claro, 15 for Vivo, 31 for Oi).
If you are in SP and want to call a number in Rio using TIM, you would dial 0-41-21-XXXX-XXXX, where 41 is the company code and 21 is Rio dialing code.
Reception varies from region to region and different companies have better coverage in different areas, As mentioned, Pantanal will be the worst, but in SP, Rio and Florianopolis you should be able to use a mobile for phone calls from any company without major hassle. The web surfing quality is the part that will vary the most company to company and place to place.
The problem I find more and more with the orelhões (payphones on the streets) is that their maintenance has gone downhill in recent years, at least in major cities where vandalism is more of a problem. Sometimes you have to try 2 or 3 before you get one that works. As everybody and his brother now has a mobile phone (and people often have 2 or 3, one from each company), phone companies like Oi and Vivo, which own most of the payphones in Brazil (and also have mobile operations), have really lost interest in payphones. .
Aug 3, 2013 5:01 PM
6There are also internet cafes, especially in tourist areas, so you can arrange to use Skype or their WIFI point to talk to folks back home. Much less hassle IMO
I agree with Amobr, most hostels have free computers and wifi....just saying.
Most phones these days are capable of using wifi - use that. I was sending texts via skype, whatsapp, viber (there are a lot more) when at the hostel and using the free wifi. Best and easiest way to stay in touch.
Plus you don't want to be 'that' guy constantly checking his phone.
Aug 4, 2013 3:35 AM
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