I try not to be a product evangelist but this was the first international trip i’ve taken with my iphone, and man has it performed in ways that I didn’t anticipate.
1. WIFI — enough said; ATT’s international roaming plans will cover you for some emergency email checks, tweeting, or mapping, but beyond that, tapping into hotel or conference wifi has proven invaluable for uploading photos, downloading messages, checking flight information, and most importantly, making phone calls (see 1B)
1B. SKYPE — in Turkey, ATT’s best roaming plan (at $6 for the month) brought the voice rate down to $1.99/min (from $2.99/min); nice to have for emergency use, but otherwise Skype has saved me; at point-zero-something-per-min to landlines, i’ve talked as long as i’ve wanted on clear connections and barely made a dent in my skype credit (just lookout for unstable wifi networks that drop your calls); pair this with free incoming on an inexpensive local SIM chip (cost me less than $20 for a number + some minutes) and I probably didn’t even need to tell my clients i had left the country; although the 7 hr time difference on email may have tipped them off.
2. VIDEO — i recently upgraded to the 3GS, but the video was incidental for me; not anymore; having video has been a cool way to capture unique stories or experiences as they happen; i’d never travel around with a camcorder (i eventually abandoned my Flip after a several-month honeymoon was over), but when there’s one on your cell phone, you’d be amazed at what starts to be come video-worthy all of a sudden.
3. MAPS — English is not so prevalent here, even in Istanbul, as most people had me believe. As in, I have yet to find a cab driver who knows where my hotel is. But everyone can read a map of their own city, so shoving a screen in a driver’s face has proven to be remarkably effective. (Or if you’re suspicious of the results of your exchange, follow along on GPS to see if you’re heading in the right direction.)