Upon arrival at the airport in Delhi I bought a Vodaphone SIM card for my Galaxy S4. It came with 300 rupees talk/sms credit and 300 rupees of data… the phone and sms worked but I never did get the data to work. If you go to India and buy a local SIM, get Airtel. That seems to be the only network that has data.
My travel partner had T Mobile with free worldwide data and it picked up the Airtel networks. They were weak, but they helped us navigate around without much trouble.
Wifi in India seems to be where it’s at. Hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and cafes have good wifi, and it’s free with your purchase of a chai. So I was able to upload pictures, use my travel apps, check my email, US voicemail and sms at points throughout the day.
My mobile app tips
I wound up with a dozen travel apps throughout the trip, but most were installed then soon deleted. There were really only a handful that proved useful throughout the trip.
- Google Voice
I set this up before leaving the US. I turned my phone number into a Google voice number so all voicemail and sms messages sent to my US number would be stored on Google. I was able to easily check via my Google account from my wifi connected phone, or any computer.
- xe currency
I had this currency converter at the ready whenever we were out and about. I liked it better than other apps because it was so simple, no extra crap. It could switch conversion from rupees to dollars with one tap. (I was converting an IT worker’s annual salary here.)
- Google Docs
With the “Keep on device” feature I was able to access and edit our itinerary, expense sheet and all my travel notes no matter where we were.
This is my first trip abroad where we based almost all our accommodation choices on TripAdvisor. And having it on my phone was helpful in making some last minute decisions.
My one frustration point was since I was wifi dependent, TA couldn’t help when I was walking around looking for places to eat.
It would have been great to be able to store info and a map snapshot in the mobile app for offline use, like with Google Docs. Even when I looked something up while in a wifi hotspot, it didn’t remain cached. So if I couldn’t find the restaurant from memory, or my badly drawn map, I was out of luck.
This app was pretty good, notifying me of upcoming reservations, prompting me to write reviews at the end of a stay, and it had pretty good search capability when I was trying to find hotels on the fly. I found accommodations on here that I didn’t see on TripAdvisor – though this is about their participants, not the app. Similarly, Booking.com doesn’t have as many reviewers or photos as TripAdvisor.
Good website with great hotel deals but the mobile app is meh. I tried to make one change to a reservation through the app and it seemed to forget. Apparently, it just sends an email to the proprietor and that’s it. I was billed for a night I wasn’t there and had to get in touch with customer service to resolve. I think this might be the case for their desktop site too.
I didn’t bring a camera on this trip, just my phone. Just in case something happened to it- like if it was stolen, or I dropped it off the camel and he stepped on it, or it fell in the Ganges- I periodically uploaded all my pictures to Picasa. I don’t like Picasa for sharing, but since it’s part of my Android’s system it was just easy backup option.
Local travel apps that weren’t so helpful
This is an Indian travel website that offers tons of deals and coupons on hotels and flights, but their mobile app totally failed. Our flight was changed the night before and this app never reflected the change, even with manual refreshes, and we were stuck at the airport paying for a new flight. You do get a coupon just for installing, which might be the only reason to install it.
- Ola cabs
Registering for this local competitor to Uber was a shit-show. It created an infinite registration loop that seemed to spontaneously resolve itself, only to discover I needed an Indian credit card to use the service 🙁
This local airline’s desktop site barely worked, and the mobile app was even less helpful. When we made a change to our itinerary it didn’t update on the mobile device. I quickly uninstalled this one.