Our top budget smartphone pick just got an upgrade, more details about the free Indian SIM card available for tourists, and China flexes its muscles in both the physical and online world. Also, on a more personal note, this site just got a makeover!
Yep, it’s Travel Tech News time again.
Our Favourite Budget Smartphone Just Got Better
The annual Mobile World Congress has just wrapped up in Barcelona, along with the usual flurry of announcements. The Nokia 3310 refresh got all the nostalgia geeks excited, but it was another update that was most useful for travelers.
We’ve been recommending various models of the Moto G for years now, and one of the two upcoming G5 versions looks like it’ll be another good choice for budget-minded wanderers. While the base Moto G5 sadly won’t get people very excited, the G5 Plus is a different story.
It comes in slightly different flavours depending on where it’s sold, but the most common configuration has 3GB of memory, dual-SIM slots, and 16 or 32GB of storage. There’s fast charging, the always-vague “all-day battery”, and a slimline aluminum design.
With a 5.2″ screen, 12MP camera and “splash resistance”, plus one of the least-bloated Android versions you’ll find on a phone not made by Google, it looks like Motorola’s produced another winner. Due to start shipping within the next month or two, it’ll be priced at a very-reasonable $229 in the United States.
The Lowdown on That Free Indian SIM Card for Tourists
Last year we mentioned a proposal that was doing the rounds in India, offering free SIM cards to inbound tourists. Given how hard it can be for foreigners to buy SIMs in the country, it sounded like a welcome change.
More details have emerged recently, and they look promising. Initially available at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi international airport, the scheme will eventually be rolled out to 15 other airports around the country. Tourists using the e-visa program will just be able to roll up to one of the India Tourism Development Corporation counters at the airport to collect their SIM.
Service is provided by government-owned BSNL, and SIM cards will be preloaded with 50 rupees of data and 50MB of data. Obviously that’s not enough to last an entire stay, but since topping up SIMs is much easier than buying them in the first place, it’s definitely a good start.
There’ll even be a 24-hour help line, available in a dozen languages, for when you (perhaps inevitably) run into problems.
China Jails Three People for Using Their Phones on Planes
If you’ve ever thought the rules about not using your phone in-flight were pretty much ignored these days, think again… at least in China. Three people were jailed within a one month period, all for flaunting those regulations on local airlines.
In one case, a woman refused to turn her phone off and continued to make calls throughout the flight. That obstinance cost her five days in a Beijing jail, so let’s hope those calls were really worth making.
A passenger on a different flight to the capital was jailed for three days for inappropriate phone usage, and the next day, a man who insisted on playing songs during takeoff and landing also found himself hauled off to the lockup for three days. No word on whether his musical taste played any part in the decision.
Many aviation authorities around the world are loosening the regulations around using electronics during flight, but China isn’t one of them. Put your phones away, people!
Meanwhile, VPN Use in China Gets Even More Difficult
For years now, China’s “Great Firewall” has done a very effective job of blocking Internet users inside the country from accessing sites the government would prefer they didn’t see. Tech-savvy users, though, have long played a cat and mouse game with the authorities, using various VPN services to get around the censorship.
About a month ago, those authorities announced a renewed crackdown on the use of such services, lasting through until March next year. While there’s some debate about exactly how much foreign VPNs will be affected, you can bet that these latest measures aren’t going to make using one faster or easier for visitors to the country.
If you’re planning to use a VPN while visiting China (and you absolutely should, for many reasons), do your research ahead of time to make sure your preferred choice still works there. It’s much harder to download a new client once inside the country, so have it sorted out before arrival if possible.
And Finally, We’ve Spruced Up the Site!
If you’re reading this on the site, you’ll probably already have noticed that things look rather different around here. I’ve been working away behind the scenes for the last few weeks, in preparation for launching this new design over the weekend.
Overall, everything is now much cleaner and less cluttered. There’s an entirely new home page, and every other page on the site has either been tweaked in some way or redesigned from scratch. It’s faster, with a more modern design, and looks much better on mobile devices.
I think I’ve caught most of the glitches, but if I’ve found them all, it’ll be an absolute miracle. So, if you see anything amiss, please either leave a comment on the page in question, or drop me a message so I can fix it!
Hope you like the new look. 🙂