SIM cards in the Philippines
There are two phone companies in the Philippines
- Smart including Sun Cell and Talk ‘n Text
- Globe includes Touch Mobile
2G GSM to 2.5G (or EDGE) is on 900mhz and 1800Mhz, 3G up to HSPA on 850Mhz on Smart and 900Mhz on Globe and on the 2100Mhz bands both networks. 4G/LTE in the Metro Manila area on Smart at 2100Mhz and Globe on 1800Mhzand 2500Mhz
2G pretty much covers all islands but is hopeless for data connection because the network is overloaded everywhere. The 3G coverage is okay for short term use but often drops out and pings and latency is very poor.
In the Philippines, depending on the area you are will depend on which network is better. Globe or Smart ? Compared to most first world countries, they are pretty damn bad.
Before buying a SIM card and some credit (or LOAD) it’s best to ask some locals in the area you are or will be visiting which is the best as they will know and advise you accordingly. You might want to get two SIM cards as most phones these days are dual-SIM capable so you can have both a Globe and Smart SIM in the phone at the same time and easily flick between the two to make sure you have a constant connection to the internet.
SIM card registration
To get your SIM card activated you do not need to provide ID or any details when getting a prepaid SIM. Just stick the SIM in your phone and it will be self activated ready to go, most android or iPhone handsets will automatically fill in the APN settings and network settings for you so it’s just plug and play.
Smart is the number one carrier in the Philippines with the largest amount of customers. More than 90 million people in the Philippines use Smart. Smart was also the first carrier to have 4G in the Metro Manila area in 2011.
SIM card availability
You can buy prepaid SIM cards pretty much everywhere you go. Corner shops, convenience stores, sari sari stores, shopping centres / malls. You just need to know what type of SIM card your phone takes as now there are a few different types. You have some phones that use normal SIM cards, some that use Micro SIM cards, some that use NANO SIM cards. The best place to find out what type of SIM your phone uses is to look at this website.
Recharges for credit or load are for sale on every street corner. 15 pesos is the minimum top-up value and the shop attendant will send it from her computer or phone to your phone via the network. Very simple.
Smart has a heap of data offers
- unlimited data for 2G/3G/4G
- Large calls and text plans called “Always On”
- Some plans have unlimited Facebook offers
The rate for data usage is around 5 pesos for 15 mins browsing.
Unlimited data (including those using 4G/LTE)
These unlimited rateplans have no hidden limits like most other countries where unlimited* doesn’t mean unlimited
- Unli Surf 50 is 1 day for 50 pesos. Text the word Unli 50 to the number 211
- Unli Surf 299 is 7 days access for 299 pesos. Text the word Unli 299 to the number 211
- Unli Surf 999 is 30 days of access for 999 pesos, text the word Unli 999 to the number 211
These data plans called “Always On”
|Always On 10||10 MB||10 P||1 day||ON 10|
|Always On 15||20 MB||15 P||2 days||ON 15|
|Always On 20||45 MB||20 P||1 day||ON 20|
|Always On 30||70 MB||30 P||1 day||ON 30|
|Always On 50||150 MB||50 P||7 days||ON 50|
|Always On 99||100 MB||99 P||30 days||ON 99|
|Always On 199||250 MB||199 P||15 days||ON 199|
|Always On 299||700 MB||299 P||30 days||ON 299|
|Always On 499||1.5 GB||499 P||30 days||ON 499|
|Always On 995||5 GB||995 P||30 days||ON 995|
|Always On 1799||10 GB||1799 P||30 days||ON 1799|
To activate, text the code to the number 2200. Once your credit is used up it goes to default rates of 5 pesos per 15 minute blocks.
Social Messenger rateplans (such as unlimited Facebook, etc)
- unlimited Facebook for one full day is 10 pesos
- unlimited Yahoo Mail or Messenger for a day is 15 pesos
Check your balance
- to check your service balance send a text ?1515 to the number 214
- hotspot or tethering can be used
- VoIP is also allowed but because of the slow data speeds makes it irritating to use
- APN to access data is the word ‘internet’
Globe is the only other carrier in the Philippines, so there is not really much competition. It is owned by SingTel and has around 50 million customers in the Philippines. Because less people are on this network it’s often the best in terms of data speed as it isn’t as congested as Smart.
Their prepaid SIM card is available practically at every street corner. It is sold for 40 Pesos. There are two kinds of SIM cards sold: the SIM that has a pre-assigned mobile number and a special prepaid SIM to allows the subscriber to choose their own number.
For he “Choose Your Own Number” SIMs, upon activation, the phone will display a list of mobile phone numbers where subscriber can choose as his/her mobile number. Alternatively, he/she may also elect to create his/her own number (based on the subscriber’s desired last 4-digits of the mobile number, subject to availability).
In the market, there are two kinds of Globe SIM cards sold: the older 3G only SIM cards and 4G/LTE-capable prepaid SIMs (for those subscribers who have 4G/LTE-handsets). These SIM cards may also come as single-cut (mini, micro, or nano-SIM cuts) or multiple-cut SIM cards (dual-cut SIM having mini and micro SIM cuts, and tri-cut SIMs having all cuts present in one SIM).
You may adjust your APN configuration manually, if data doesn’t work. Reloads are available in every outlet of Globe all over the country from PhP15.
Data outside of packs is 5 pesos for 15 mins. All packages are on 4G/LTE too if available. Their internet packages are called GoSURF and SuperSURF.
|P 10||1 day||10 MB||Basic – 200 MB||GOSURF 10|
|P 15||2 days||20 MB||Basic – 300 MB||GOSURF 15|
|P 30||1 day||50 MB||Basic – 200 MB||GOSURF 30|
|P 50||3 days||250 MB||Basic – 400 MB||GOSURF 50|
|P 99||30 days||100 MB||Basic – 1 GB||GOSURF 99|
|P 299||30 days||1.5 GB||Premium – 1 GB||GOSURF 299|
|P 499||30 days||3 GB||Premium – 1 GB||GOSURF 499|
|P 999||30 days||5 GB||Premium – 1 GB||GOSURF 999|
|P 1799||30 days||10 GB||Premium – 1 GB||GOSURF 1799|
|P 2499||30 days||15 GB||Premium – 1 GB||GOSURF 2499|
All GoSurf packs come with a Spotify package. To activate a plan , text the code to the number 8888. Check your balance by texting “GOSURF STATUS” to the number 8888.
Globe doesn’t really have unlimited like Smart does but the SuperSURF plans might have something similar, check when you buy your SIM. Usually they limit you to only 800MB a day.
- 1 day access 50 pesos, activation SUPERSURF 50
- 3 days access 120 pesos , activation: SUPERSURF 120
- 5 days access 200 pesos, activation: SUPERSURF 200
- 7 days access 250 pesos, activation: SUPERSURF 250
- 30 days access 999 pesos, activation: SUPERSURF 999
To activate these plans, text the code to the number 8888 or type *143# and pick the one you want.
There are addons for the following message apps – Google Messanger,Facebook Messenger, WeChat, KakaoTalk, WhatsApp and LINE.
- unlimited access for 1 day will set you back 25 pesos, text UNLICHAT 25 to 8888
- unlimited access for 30 days will set you back 299 pesos, text UNLICHAT 299 to 8888
For specific messengers, they have the following packages:
- Viber, unlimited 1 day, P 20, text VIBER20 to 8888
- KakaoTalk, unlimited 1 day, P 20, text KAKAOTALK20 to 8888
- Facebook Messenger, unlimited 1 day, P 20, text FBMESSENGER20 to 8888
- Whatsapp, unlimited 1 day, P 20, text WHATSAPP20 to 8888
Check your balance and settings
- to check your service balance text the letters “BAL” to 222
- Hotspot and tethering is allowed
- VoIP is Ok also, but good luck with the slow speeds
- internet APN: http.globe.com.ph
- Username and password for the APN is ‘globe’
So there you have it. These are the SIM cards in the Philippines and the plans you can avail yourself.