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Thursday, March 2, 2017

ChatSim Review



One of the most challenging problems when traveling is keeping in touch with family, friends and colleagues. ChatSim claims to solve this problem. For a one-time annual fee, you can now keep in touch using some of the popular messaging apps. Let’s see if this is for real or just something that’s too good to be true.

What is it?

ChatSim is basically a pre-paid data roaming SIM card to use with your phone. It has a partnered with over 200 Telco operators and works in over 150 countries. You start out by purchasing their SIM card for US$15, plus $15 per year of unlimited chat (including Emoji) messaging. If you want to use it for data or use it for voice call and send photos they also have various plans at an additional cost. Once you get your SIM card, simply insert it into an unlocked phone, make sure data roaming is enabled and start using it.

Caveats (updated)

While you might think ChatSim is the final the solution to all your problems, there are some caveats that you need to be aware of. First of all, not all messaging apps are supported. It works with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, WeChat, BBM, Kakao, Telegram, Hike and QQI. Yes, that’s right. It does not support Viber and iMessage.  If you only use the latter then this might not be for you. While you can purchase additional plans so that you can use other apps, they can be a bit confusing. However, I did get an email from ChatSim giving me a sample of their plans. Here it is.

We can help you to understand price dedicated to exchanging multimedia contents with the additional plan.
Our recharges work in credits and we have 3 type of them:
2000 credits
5000 credits
10 000 credits
They are different only for the amount of credits; it depends on how much you want to exchange.

Example.
Country Japan:





With the minimum recharge of 2000 you can exchange untill maximum 200 photos, or 40 videos, or 80 minutes of voip calls. Amount depends on quality of contents and text messages exchanged. This is the idea of what you can do with credits in a specific country.
In Japan 1 MB is 50 credits

At the following link you can select country and amount of recharge and check what you can do with your credits

https://www.chatsim.com/plans

You also need to restrict some other apps from using data in the background by diving deep into the settings of your phone. If you use you phone either intentionally or not for other things that require data other than the supported apps, this could cause your account to be suspended. Therefore, it’s advisable to follow the setup instructions on the ChatSim website very carefully.

Verdict

I’ve been using ChatSim for over a month now. I’ve tried it in the US, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, and so far, it’s been working very well. I only got the unlimited messaging and did not buy additional plans. While I did find ChatSim's additional features plan a little confusing, you need to understand that different countries will have different pricing , that's just how roaming agreements work. So you really need to read it well. but at least it’s nice to know I have the option should I need it.

Another thing you need to consider is how you use the SIM card. Using a second phone dedicated for ChatSim would be most convenient. A dual-SIM phone will work too. That way, you don’t accidentally activate data roaming on your main SIM. It is also easier to disable apps from using data in the background on a separate phone. I’ve been using it with WhatsApp and Line without any problem. My Viber messages will have to wait till I get to a WiFi hotspot.

If you are a frequent traveler and don’t live in a Viber or iMessage world, then ChatSim is a godsend.

For more information visit ChatSim.com.

Update 03/24/2017

The nice folks at ChatSim were kind enough to send me a promo code.  Use promo code TECHAMUNA and it will give 250 FREE credits to the first 25 users. It has to be used during the "ACTIVATION" process



The Good

Price
It works!


The bad

Not all messaging apps are supported
Additional features plans depends on Zones (or countries)