Expat Tech: iPhone 4 in Argentina

UPDATE (5.4.12): I should have updated this post earlier, but iPhones are no longer available in Argentina from the mobile carriers due to import restrictions put on them by the Argentine government. You can buy them from Mercadolibre and other sites, but they are 2-3 times the price that they would be in the States.

UPDATE (26.9.10): The iPhone 4 has been released in Argentina.

Apple has done it again.

Today they announced their newest iPhone – the iPhone 4. And it is cool. Super cool. And a whole slew of people now want the latest and greatest iPhone, myself included. The iPhone 3GS, just released last year, seems like an ancient relic.

What makes it so cool? Here’s just a few of the new features:

  • now even thinner
  • front and back made of glass for improved reception with a stainless steel border that also doubles as the antenna
  • 5mp camera with flash
  • HD video recording and iMovie for the iPhone
  • new iOS 4 includes multitasking, folders and more
  • it has a freakin’ gyroscope, which means better augmented reality and games
  • the best mobile screen ever seen
  • front facing video camera with noise canceling microphone
  • FaceTime – iPhone to iPhone video chat
  • and more…

Of course, one of the major drawbacks of living in Buenos Aires is being able to acquire new technology. As I’ve mentioned before, prices are about double what they are in the States and things arrive here later too.  The good news from today’s announcement was that Apple will be rolling out the iPhone to other countries faster than ever before. The iPhone 4 will be available on June 24, 2010 in the States but should be in Argentina by September 2010.

I’ll have to suffer through July and August, but I’m definitely not signing up for a mobile contract until September. And yes, I’ll pay the Argentine premium for the iPhone too. It’s worth it.

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  • Pablo

    agreed. u sure its september though. hope so

    • That is based on Apple's announcement of when they were rolling things out. Since the 3GS is already in BA, I figure they will get the 4 at the latest roll out date.

  • Can you tell me, when I arrive in BA with NYC/ATT iPhone and IPad, who do I go to in order to switch over to a local company for connections. Any advice on how to utilize my iphone etc. with BA carrier would be helpful and appreciated.

    • Joy – The only way to be able to use your iPhone in BA is to jailbreak and unlock it, otherwise it is tied to ATT. If you have an iPhone 3GS with the latest updates from Apple, there currently is no way to unlock it right now. (coming soon though)

      Not sure how long you will be in BA, but your best option is to only use WiFi. There is a lot of free WiFi in Buenos Aires. Do not use ATT data, and make sure to completely turn off calls while you are in BA. You will get charged for incoming calls even if you do not pick up. You can turn on "unconditional call forwarding" to have cell phone calls forwarded to a local NYC number instead.

      If you need a cell phone in BA, I'd recommend bringing an unlocked one or even renting one here. It will be much cheaper.

  • Do you know where I can get iPhone support for the 3Gs here? My phone was unlocked but wifi connection wasn't happening so I tried to reset and now it's just a black screen with the logo for 2 days.

    • Hey Kim,

      Try posting for support on the BA Newcomers group at Yahoo! They usually give pretty good advice. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BANewcomers/

      • Thanks Dave!

        • You can also try to put your iPhone into DFU mode and restore the OS. I had to do this today with mine when I locked it up. Make sure you only restore to a version that can be jailbroken though.

  • Steve

    My little sister is staying in BA for 6 months starting in August. I have an iPhone 3G that I'm letting her take down there. I'll unlock it to work on local networks, but i'd like to pre-order a sim that I know will work, and so she'll have a phone the moment she steps off the plane. Any advice on this?

    • Pre-ordering anything from Argentina is not going to be easy. The best bet is to have her get a pre-paid SIM from Movistar or Personal when she gets here. You might want to get her a MagicJack too so that she'll have local US calling right away.

      • Steve

        I'll tell her those company names for when she arrives. I think I'll just install Skype on the iPhone for the local US calling so she doesn't have to lug the computer around. Thanks Dave!

  • Christian

    mmmm…Movistar or personal should work great with iPhone 3G. Tell her to be careful while using the phone in Buenos Aires, it's a cool but dangerous country

  • ezequiel

    I DaVe,

    I have an unlocked iphone 4 that i was given in australia. Is there any company in argentina offering the service for it. You know that it works with a mini-sim card. DO you have any info for me? Thanks a lot

    • DaVe

      You can use any of the mobile companies here, but you will have to cut their SIM card down to make it a micro SIM. There are a lot of YouTube videos and web pages that detail this. Check out http://www.ihackintosh.com/2010/04/convert-mini-s… for one. You can also buy a specific cutting tool if the do-it-yourself is too much.

  • I am from Brazil and will be travelling to BA in September (but I can choose the dates). Could you please, tell me the address of any store that will be selling iPhone 4 and – more or less – when it would be happening?
    Thank you very much for your support…

    • DaVe

      It looks like it may be delayed until October and from what I know, you will need to buy a service plan too.

  • Danielle

    I’m from Australia, and brought my iPhone 4 with me too Argentina… it was really hard to get a Prepaid sim card from any network – as they put the sim in the phone to activate it. They wouldnt let me buy it and take it home to cut it into size like i did back home. So i gave up, use my iphone 4 for location and wifi purposes and just use cheap prepaid phone for calls etc

    • DaVe

      Really? Movistar sold me a SIM without having my phone (about a year and a half ago). Guess you could use a different phone to activate it and then cut it to size for the iPhone 4, right? I'm using my SIM in my 3GS, but plan to cut it for my iPhone 4 which comes next week.

  • John

    What are the hurdles to setting up a plan if you're from out of the country?

    I'm an American who will be here for a year and would like to set something up that's nicer than the cheap prepaid route. But I've heard it may not be as easy as it would be back in the States.

    • DaVe

      John – it's basically impossible unless you can do it through a business account or get an Argentine to set it up for you. You need a DNI and permanent residency in order to get a plan here. This basically is to ensure that you do not skip out without paying. (In the States, you need a social security number too, so it's not that easy for foreigners.)

  • Chantal


    I have a friend in Buenos Aires who is looking to buy a iPhone4 here in Canada. Will he be able to use it in Argentina? Thanks

  • DaVe

    No problem. I just got my unlocked iPhone 4 from the UK and am using it here. He will have to cut the SIM down to size.

    • AMcG

      I'm moving to Buenos Aires, Argentina from Canada and have the iphone 4. sorry for my tech ignorance. What do you mean by having to 'cut the SIM' down to size? Will I have to have the phone unlocked in Bs As and get a new SiM card?
      Any help is appreciated!

      • DaVe

        Is your phone already unlocked? If not, you will need to jailbreak and unlock it.

        Also, since the iPhone 4 takes a micro-SIM, the regular SIM card wil not work in it until you cut it down to size. You will need to sign up for pre-pago (pre-paid) service here and they will most likely not give you a micro SIM card.

        • mary

          how do you unlock it in BA?

  • Alicia

    I heard that if you own property here and have a CUIT # you can get an account. You neEd to bring proof of property ownership and your passport. I was at Macstation today and they said that ONLY the phone carriers will have the Iphone4 and they didn’t know when. Anyone else know anything?

  • Ben

    What all do I need to do if I have a U.S. iPhone 4 and want to use it with data plan in Buenos Aires?

    • DaVe

      If it's from the US, it is locked to AT&T's network. You will need to jailbreak and unlock it before it can be used. You can look at http://www.jailbreakmatrix.com to see if it is possible to do that with your iPhone based on what software version it is running. Instructions for doing this if it is possible are all over the web. Once it is jailbroken and unlocked, you will need a pre-paid microSIM from one of the carriers here.

  • Eleonora

    Si lo desbloqueo funciona con Movistar Argentina?

    If I unblock it does it work for Movistar Argentina?

    • DaVe

      Si. Necesitas jailbreak y desbloquear.

  • I have an iPhone 4 from Canada, I am now living in Buenos Aires. I have look and asked everywhere for someone to unblock, jailbreak, desbloquear but no one has been able to help me yet.
    Does anyone out there know of a place that can do it??!?!

    • P.S. I have an iPhone4 version 4.2.1

    • DaVe

      You can do it yourself, but it is relatively technical. If you're looking for someone to help, there is an expat here who can do it for you.

      Josh Johnson, aka
      [email protected]
      mobile: (15) 3948-3398

      • Thanks! I got in touch with Josh but my phone is the newest version and they haven't found a way to unlock it…..yet. Thanks for the help, will check back in a month or so.

        • Robert

          Hi, I can help you, go to Settings>General>About and check Modem Firmware if its 02.10.04 or 3.10.01 you will have to wait 🙁 because there is no unlock yet for those firmwares. If you have other firmware then reply me with the number and I`ll help you!

          • Amelia

            I have an 03.10.01. Have you heard any news on unlocking it?

  • fallingfree

    I am traveling in Argentina for 3 months, and have an Iphone 3G. Two days ago, the wifi stopped working, and I am trying to find out where I might go to have a technician look at it. I have gone through all the software/router trouble shooting. Tried many networks, and restored the Iphone. The Wifi was working perfectly and then two days ago, it stopped, giving the message "Unable to Join the Network XXXXXX". I have worked with AppleCare in the US, and had already done all the trouble shooting items they suggested. At this point they can only suggest a technician looking at the issue. So are there Apple Iphone technicians here in Buenos Aires?

    • DaVe


      Josh Johnson, aka
      [email protected]
      mobile: (15) 3948-3398

      He has fixed a lot of iPhones for expats here. You could also try the MacStation stores throughout the city.

      • fallingfree

        contacted several of the MacStations and all so far have said they don't service Iphones.

  • Tommy Ryan

    Hi, moving to Buenos Aires for min 6months, deciding to purchase an iphone from where i live ireland, or purchase the phone in BA. would anyone know the prices for iphone's on contract and the some terms connected ?ie 12 months contract, data prices and so on

    • DaVe

      Buy all electronics outside of Argentina. They will be 2-3 times more here. Get an unlocked iPhone and then a pre-paid plan here. Without a DNI and residency, you will not be able to get a contract for a phone in Argentina. Unfortunately, pre-paid will be your only option.

  • Emma

    Hi! I am going to Buenos Aires in 2 weeks and I have an iPhone 4 that is unlocked with me. I want to use a pre paid sim card for the phone while I'm there (I will be staying for at least 3 months). How does it work? And what store or mobile company would be the best to go to? I prefer not to cut the sim card – so I'm wondering if it is possible to get pre paid sim card allready made for iPhone 4 over there? I know Argentina isn't exatcly as advanced in the iPhone thing as the rest of the world- but it should be possible to get a sim card that is allready the right shape for the iPhone 4 right?? Please help me!

    • DaVe

      I would suggest Movistar. You can get a micro sim from them but make sure you add data manually or else it will eat all your credit. The best thing is to leave 3G turned off and use WiFi. The data thing is a real pain on the pre-paid plan.

  • Hi DaVe, I'm actually living in Buenos Aires and own an iphone 3g with a full Service Plan (with Claro). Do you know if my actual plan can be used with a new unlocked iphone 4 -bought in the US-?
    Like just replacing the sim card and "voila"?

    Thanks for your help!

    PS: great blog!

    • DaVe

      Yep, that's all you have to do. As long as it is unlocked it will work here.

  • Fabricio

    Hola Dave, voy a estar en Hawaii por uno o dos anios. Estoy esperando la nueva version de Iphones S4 ( unlock) q por lo q lei sale en Noviembre. Tengo una propiedad en Buenos Aires y lo que veo q necesitas q sea no solo unlock sino tambien …jailbreak, que no tengo idea que significa. Que me recomendas?? Muchas gracias de la ayuda!!!

    • DaVe

      If you buy the unlocked iPhone 4s in the United States, then it will work in Buenos Aires with no problem. You just need the micro SIM and an iPhone plan here. You do not need to unlock or jailbreak it if you buy the unlocked one in the States.

  • GGGG

    Hi, I have an unlocked IPhone 4 I'm taking back with me to Argentina. I want to get one of the fixed data plans (not the prepaid type), which I can do since I have DNI and permanent residency. My question is, is it possible to do this and still have the free chat/social network/email functions work? To say it another way, is it possible to have my emails, and fb register with the company as dpart of the plan, or would it just show up as using my data credits?


    • DaVe

      Yes, this will work. The normal plan seems to allow free email and social networking and have a limit on data. You should have no problem setting this up.

    • william

      yes you can still get email and other items free social, but mainly depends on your carrier ,its big hype with personal, and movistar, but you can also just use wi-fi to check everything and just manually push date 'ie: mail etc if you are concerned about use, I use I$ plus factory unlocked 4s as I use in the US and it's roughly 100 to 150 monthly–heavy use but can be as little as 50 if you use wi-fi , wi-fi is everywhere in many restaurants including lots of new starbucks.

  • Sadashiv9
  • Pablo

    Hi, I leave in Canada and I wanna buy a iPhone 5 unlock, can I bring it to Argentina and have a pre paid plan for a month?

    • mccomb

      I’d go with the iPhone 4S. There are no nano SIMs in Argentina, so you’d have to cut a microSIM down yourself to work in the iPhone 5.

  • Turuloforever

    everyone is answering a simple questions by portions only. I live in USA. but i also have families in Cordoba AR. I have 2 iphone 4 locked with AT&T. How do i use this thing and its full fuction with argentina carriers? email/internet/caling etc. I dont want to pay international fees with AT&T.

    • turuloforever

      Addition on above… so yes, I have access to DNI, Residency, and I do not want pre-pay… exact service usage is what i need. ie. GPS when driving…looking for place to eat… searching for solution to your friend’s calls while you talk on the phone (since AT&T iphones have capabilities to call and browse at the same time) any way?

      • First, you need to have an unlocked iPhone 4. You can buy an unlocked one from Apple or if you are out of your AT&T contract, they will unlock it for you (http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?sid=KB414532&cv=820#fbid=zFX48TIgC3s). Once you have it unlocked, you can use it on any carrier. You simply need to sign up for a data plan and tell them you have an iPhone. I have Movistar and it works well though their 3G service is not so good. You will not have access to visual voicemail and I’m not sure call and browse functionality work, but everything else will.

  • mysti

    Hi, I want to send a Samsung tablet to a friend as a birthday gift. What is the best way of doing this so that she doesn’t have to pay any custom duty etc.. I would prefer to pay all the charges beforehand.

    • Don’t do it. Electronics do not make it into the country without going through customs. She will have to go out to the international airport to get it and pay duties of 2-3 times the value of the product. It’s really not worth the hassle.