Can I Use My Phone in Samoa?
Plugging into one of Samoa‘s two cellphone networks when arriving is a necessity if you want to keep phone and internet expenses to a minimum. Unless you want to pay extortionate roaming rates, you will have to get yourself a SIM card and a new Samoa phone number. In order to get a Samoa SIM, you will need to make sure your phone is compatible with the GSM and data frequencies and is unlocked for all phone networks. We go through all of that and more in this guide to checking your phone will work in Samoa!
Can You Use Roaming in Samoa?
Many overseas phone networks (but certainly not all, so be sure to check) offer roaming in Samoa. However, this is by far the most expensive way to use your phone, even if the phone plans in Samoa aren’t exactly “cheap”. We recommend getting a local SIM card in Samoa for cheaper access to calls, texts and data than what your overseas provider can offer. See The Best SIM Card in Samoa for Travellers or more details.
Is Your Phone Unlocked?
If You Purchased Your Phone Unlocked
Good job! Your phone is ready to go. As long as it meets the conditions in the two sections below, you will be able to use your phone in Samoa.
If You Purchased Your Phone Through a Network Operator
Generally, when a phone is purchased through a network operator, it will come locked to the network you bought your phone from. This means that you will only be able to use it with a SIM card from said operator.
To be able to use a phone on a different network than the one you purchased it from, such as the local networks in Samoa, you will need to unlock it. To do so, refer to your contract and see what is the fee to unlock your phone, as well as the timeframe. In many cases, phones can be unlocked for under $50 if you have been with an operator for 6 or 12 months.
You can also unlock phones through phone unlocking stores that can be found pretty much everywhere – probably at your local mall! This is usually more expensive than doing it through your network operator but is typically quicker and more convenient.
Is Your Phone Compatible with Samoa’s Network?
Samoa’s phone networks use GSM technology. This is the newest cellphone network technology as opposed to the older CMDA one. You’ll find that almost all phones use GSM technology since around 2017.
To make sure that your phone will work in Samoa, it will need to support GSM technology.
To find out if your phone supports GSM technology, refer to your user manual (which will likely be on your phone). One more thing; a phone working on a CMDA network could be supporting GSM as well, as many phones have dual compatibility (dual-band). Phones that have tri-band and quad-band compatibility will also work in Samoa.
You will also want to be able to browse the web and use SamoaPocketGuide.com throughout your entire trip, right? Not only are WiFi hotspots limited in Samoa, but there is almost always a fee for using WiFi (except at these free WiFi spots). Accessing the internet is more reliable and cheaper through a local phone network.
In order for your phone to use the internet (data) in Samoa, it must be compatible with the following frequencies:
- 2G: 900 MHz
- 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 700 MHz & 1800 MHz.
Note that 5G is not yet available in Samoa.
Samoa uses the ITU Regions 1 & 2 (European frequencies) for 2G and 3G and ITU Regions 1, 2 and 3 (3 is American frequency) for 4G/LTE. What this means is if you have bought a phone in the Americas or the Caribbean, and the phone doesn’t have tri-band or quad-band, then your connection will be limited to areas of Samoa that only have access to 4G/LTE.
Even then, some areas like Latin America and some nations in the Pacific and Asia sell phones where the “Band” isn’t compatible with Samoa (it should be Bands 12 and 13).
In short, you’ll have full access to Samoa’s phone networks with tri-band or quad-band phones, but less so without. On the plus side, portable modems are available to rent from Samoa’s local phone networks, which provides an easy solution. Learn more about portable modems in How to Get Internet & WiFi in Samoa.
Will My Apps Work in Samoa?
Most apps will work just fine in Samoa. Apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, Google Maps, TikTok, etc. all work. Bear in mind, however, that if you are using a local SIM, you will need to confirm your new phone number on apps like Whatsapp that are connected to your phone number.
Note that some apps are geo-locked and will only work when linked to a country-specific SIM so be aware that some apps may not work in Samoa. You may need to create a different account here in Samoa and subscribe from here. This is mostly true for apps dealing with copyright work like music or videos, such as Spotify.
A Word of Warning
Apple, Google and Outlook accounts have an auto-detection system that will trigger a security check when connecting from a different country. Make sure that you have another option than a phone number for that security check. Otherwise, you might be locked out of your accounts. Security questions are the way to go.
More About Using Your Phone in Samoa
That’s it for our guide on checking if your phone will work in Samoa. For more tips on staying connected in Samoa, check out the following guides:
- The Best SIM Card in Samoa for Travellers
- How to Get Internet & WiFi in Samoa
- 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Samoa