A few weeks ago, we asked you “How Does Your Location Affect Your Life As A Power User?”. In the days that followed, members from all over the world shared their stories and experiences of life across the globe. Allow me to introduce the true story of what it means to be a power user on this pale blue dot.


Africa & Oceania: Indonesia, Libya, Madagascar, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa,
Americas: Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Martinique, United States, Uruguay
Asia: China, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand
Europe: Germany, Italy, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland
Comparative data, Editors note

Africa & Oceania ^

Indonesia ^

“Here in Bali there are no subsidized phones on the market, an iPhone 6 costs you about $950 unlocked. Most general consumers opt for Samsung or dual-SIM phones even at the cost of lower specs, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone using Nexus devices here. 4GB data plan costs you $10 although an Unlimited data plan is a joke with fair usage policy of 4GB, then you get capped to 64kbps until next month. Warranties exist, but sometimes you must fight your way through the “You must be the one who broke it” mentality. Most companies opt to trick people into waiting for repairs rather than replacements (even in manufacturing defect cases). Root is seen as ‘evil’ and no matter what, they always blame the users if you root even when you had a malfunctioning screen. Hardware warranties are 1 year, but the battery inside it lasts between 3 to 6 months.

Pirated apks are offered in almost all major retail shops (sometimes they insert an SD card bonus with pirated games inside. There are a massive amount of selfie sticks all over the place. There is a general lack of interest in developing ROMs here and we rarely get updates for phones other than Android One or Nexus users, my I9500 still stuck at 4.4.2 when rest had 5.0.1 we miss out on a huge amounts of services.” – XERW

Likewise in Jakarta the story is similar, here superbonto shares his experience.

“In Jakarta, signal reception everywhere is mostly a joke, you can get 3G, or even 4G in some areas but that’s it, no data traffic at all, you can only make calls and texts especially when you wander around rural areas. This leads to a massive battery drain upon travelling. The “root voids warranty” mentality is sunk deep in to people’s minds and as a result the developer community may not be as vast, whilst Android is looked down on compared to apple devices. There are few android tablets from global brands available here. Tablets are mostly used as a toddle’s toy, you can find some cheap $70 tablets with horrendous quality.

Music streaming services are quite limited, there is no Google Play Music or Spotify etc. The only music streaming I’ve ever used is Nokia’s Mix Radio (and the songs there were…. not my cup of tea)”  – superbonto

Libya ^

“Here in Libya, shipping is no problem but getting a credit card is quite a hassle. Only two banks offer visa cards and you need to wait a month for you to get it because they have to send your application to France to their partner bank/credit card company. Another problem is that it’s only valid for 1.5 years and then you have to go through the same process again. There is a company called Aramex that open 12 post-boxes for you in 12 different counties. When you pay for something online, you just give the seller one of those addresses. After they receive the package, it only takes 7 days at most for them to ship it here to Libya. Other shipping companies (FedEx, UPS…) work here as well but their services are not as good.

As for local sellers, There are many but when a new phone is launched, it will take 2-3 months for it to reach the international price (unless you’re prepared to pay 20-25% extra to get the phone in the same week of launch). For other electronics, there are lots of sellers and you can get a laptop/desktop/TV’s/DSLR cameras for the same international price (almost). But things are not looking good and it might get worse if the civil war reaches Tripoli.” – AgEnT x19

Madagascar ^

“3G coverage is limited, and the bandwidth is comically bad. 4G/LTE is in the same situation, except one order of magnitude worse. Wi-Fi availability is mostly restricted to large company offices, hotels and restaurants catering to non-native (or well-off) tourists, and private homes.We get most devices even before more developed countries sometimes, but with a 1/3200 and increasingly bad exchange rate with the US dollar, it’s safe to say that most of us are limited to low-to-mid range devices, or high-end devices from 5 years ago.

As for apps, many are unavailable here due to region-locking. For the apps that are available, local financial laws involve so much red tape that it is usually easier to just move abroad and buy from there instead (if remaining on the legal side of things is a concern of yours). The only good side? Attractive local and international call rates.” – Franck P. Rabeson

New Zealand ^

“We have some of the highest average speed LTE in the world but terribly low data caps. I have over 50 MB/s LTE where I live but a 4.5GB monthly cap and that is considered large for mobile. We have a very low population density and rugged terrain so mobile coverage is poor if you live too far from a town. National broadband speeds are good but being an island our international data transit is expensive and limited. For these reasons cloud storage is not an option at all for most mobile users and we tend to not trust it anyway. We have a lot of competition between providers, there are several hundred ISPs for a population of 4.5 million and 3 mobile networks with several more resellers. We are in the middle of a nationwide FTTH rollout that should cover over 75% of our population and our average speeds and data caps have been shooting up for the last couple of years. I’m pretty sure carrier locking is illegal here, along with a few other things like region locking. There is a fee for breaking phone contracts but you are free to leave and take the phone to another carrier. Carrier bloat is unheard of, usually you get a single removable app for account information that is actually useful.

Media services such as Play music, Netflix etc tend to be very late to arrive if they do at all, we have just got Netflix in the last couple of months, but it has about 1/8th the content of the US version. There are some downsides mostly with pricing and availability of services but on the whole we have it pretty good.”  – Aborto

Nigeria ^

“3G is available in the big cities, but not everywhere. While in some places mobile networks don’t have coverage. We have 4 major network providers MTN, AIRTEL, GLOBALCOM (owned by a Nigerian) and ETISALAT. Calls are quite cheap, because there is competition, but no unlimited calls, we only have night-time calls to same network providers (MTN – MTN) (GLO – GLO) etc… with terms and conditions applied. SMS is the same price to other networks 4 Naira standard (some mobile plans could be less). Data is quite expensive, and most times you don’t get what you paid for. From network providers 1GB = 3000 Naira ($16), more data is subsidized as you buy. so we have 10GB for 10,000 Naira ($50.1). But Blackberry users OS7 below, get more than android users and iOS, they get 3GB for 1000 NAIRA ($5.10) with no valid reason. Smart Nigerians do find a way round the data difficulty, (I’m on unlimited data) and the internet speed varies with network providers, so far ETISALAT is still the fastest, where they have 3G coverage. but their plans are expensive.

Most phones get here early, but a little bit expensive (but most times it is cheaper to buy here, than importing to save you the stress but if you can deal with it, No Problem). We have mostly Mediatek phone users (Tecno, Infinix, Gionee, Solo, Itel, Samsung , Apple, Huawei, LG, Sony, Nokia etc. One can get an android phone for as low as ₦9500 ($50 approx.) I’ve not heard of any restrictions so far, we are allowed to use credit card, Paypal just got in, but not with full access. We do not have Netflix, but a VPN can help with that. We have broadband providers also, some claim it’s 4G, but a snail is faster than the speed they provide. We have warranties for most of the devices, I’m not sure about Idevices though. Apps can and should be on the Playstore, but we have few devs” – Iammykhael

South Africa ^

“South Africa here. Most smartphones here go for close to double their price in the US. No Google Play devices as well and usually a small selection of devices in general. And except for Samsung and Apple, product launches are typically three months later than elsewhere. Imports can be ludicrous here. The infrastructure of our mail system is so bad that they have considered shutting it down completely this year. Places like Amazon refused to ship to SA due to all the packages going missing (meanwhile they have opened up) but shipping rates are sometimes ridiculous (think about paying $800 shipping fee for something that costs $1000, and that is without tax and import duties).

Luckily we only get international versions of phones (unfortunately only Exynos flagship Samsung) and usually only have one storage option available (except for Apple devices). Data and call rates are somewhat steep, and without dedicated data bundles networks typically charge R2/MB and R2/min (about 0.17$)” – Xdadevet

Americas ^

Brazil ^

“Good phones are expensive here, the most expensive in the world, phones like Asus Zen5 or Moto G are fairly mainstream. Data plans are way too expensive. I work in IT with 6 others and only I have a monthly more than 1Gb plan. The problem is that it is too expensive even to those of us who love technology. 3G speeds are OK in my city but this can vary greatly. I can use both Google Music and Spotify with almost no issue. 4G seems to be great where there is coverage, since almost no one has 4G sets. If you use a phone to make calls you must have a dual sim (or more), since call to someone who is not the same cellphone network as you will be expensive.

Whatsapp is the only app you must have. Maybe with Facebook, to those who have more than 10MB of daily limit. You see more windows phone than Apple devices If you choose to import a device it will cost you 3 or 4 times the original price, take months in customs, and you will have no warranty. The exception is for Apple devices which are even more expensive than this.” – aristofeles

Chile ^

“Cellphones are very expensive (“el dólar a luca”, like we say here), however a lot of people have them with Motorola and Samsung being very popular. Old (new, with no use) cellphones almost never reduce their prices, but the new ones that arrive are very expensive.

You can’t buy apps or claim free books, movies and music in Play Store, without a credit card and not everyone has one here, no other payment methods. Cellphone plans are expensive too. There are 3 big carriers and several other small ones. Our phones are not carrier locked but we rarely get updates.
In cities there is always signal however in isolated places there isn’t any at all.” – skrlet13

Columbia ^

“We recently had contracts eliminated so this mean no more subsidized phones. Prices are just a little bit higher but that’s mostly due to conversion rates. There is no unlimited data but monthly plans are ok, it’s about 60 USD for unlimited calls, text and 8GB of data. Updates don’t work here so you have to do it yourself. It’s good in general, the only complaint is the cost of the smartphones, but I guess that is a problem with the manufacturers rather than the country. Most of our major cities have LTE and it’s usually pretty good, although that is carrier dependent.

Services such as Netflix, Spotify and Google stuff work great here but some content is blocked, not much though.” – rj.camargo

Costa Rica ^

“The market here is full of Samsung and now Huawei, but we also can find Sony, LG and iPhones. New Phone models usually launches a couple of weeks after USA but are almost 100% more expensive than in the USA, fortunately it is easy for us to buy on Amazon and import it the Import fee is around $40. In case of warranty we can also return the phone to USA by mail. There are 3 main carriers, one of them is of the government (Kolbi) and right now is the one with best coverage. 3G plans are all unlimited with top speed of 5mb/s and 4G plans are with a top speed of 10mb/s but limited to 6GB. It cost is $12 every 3 months. Due to the mountains, the terrain and forest we use the 1800 band (Kolbi) and there is coverage in 80% of the country. But tethering is free.

We do not have access to some apps like Hulu or Paypal (this only works with PCs), but we are ok with Google Music, Spotify and Netflix even if the content of Netflix is limited” – Dany

Guatemala ^

“There is no Google hardware store here, if we want it we get it imported or through other retailers that ramp up the price. There are Samsung and Sony stores around and also an authorized distributor of iDevices, so you can get factory unlocked phones; most of the time though, you get them through one of the three providers (subsidized most likely). we have varied mobile plans, but no unlimited data we do have unlimited voice and/or sms on some of them though. Prices are pretty good from what I’ve gathered, compared to other countries, we might have one of the cheapest rates on mobile in the region, as a matter of fact. The market is flooded with cheap phones and tablets which make up most of the smartphones on people’s hands but that also means that almost everyone has access to social networks and the like. Many of the online retailers don’t ship directly to here, but there are a lot of proxy services to get them from Miami to the city although costs for that service varies between companies.

4G has just been implemented in two of the three carriers, mostly in our capital city; coverage depends on locations as most rural areas have some trouble getting 3G, some however have perfect connection. It depends how far you go into the country. Flagships tend to come pretty quickly here (a couple of months at most after the global launch, but the costs are really high compared to the average income, that is. Past year flagships don’t really drop that much in price, since they are still sought after even if a new one is present; carriers do get them out of circulation to focus on the new device.

Google play doesn’t really restrict many apps here and you can buy them freely with your credit card; you can also get subscriptions to Spotify, Netflix and the like.” – KaosStorm

Martinique ^

“We have a fairly decent 3G network here (LTE coming in late 2015), coverage is lacking a little in some rural areas but that’s no big deal. Internet plans are ok, a little more expensive than in France, but we are used to it for €40 we can have up to 20MB/s internet, unlimited calls on landlines and mobile phones on selected countries, and TV.

My biggest complaint comes from Google itself. We are a French department and are therefore submitted to the same laws as them, but for some reason because we are overseas, Google does consider us as a separate market.
It means that we don’t have access to the same apps as the rest of the French territory, a VPN is often needed to unlock some apps on the first install and worse, we don’t have access to Google Now. Google Now was available for 1 year or so without any problem, and I had the time to really get into it then suddenly, for some reason now my Google account localizes me to a neighboring island which is also French and I can no longer access Google Now. From what I saw, regarding the issue, there is nothing I can do except wait for a change” – Crinos

United States ^

“The 4 Major Players here are: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile. Service coverage as a whole is pretty good on most major providers in the US. We get virtually unlimited options.  This is also our downfall, each carrier has it’s own version of phones. It then breaks down a step further from there: CDMA vs GSM. Most phones are available on all networks now, used to be many exclusives. (Motorola is still pretty Verizon exclusive). This makes rooting/bootloader unlocks more likely/sooner on international versions of phones. Phones can be subsidized, however this is starting to fade. (Lock into service agreement and pay lower price). Recently unlocking (not bootloader) was made law in the US, allowing phones to be used/taken to different providers provided they use the same technology (CDMA vs GSM).We have astronomically high data and voice cost compared to some other countries. (They get you on Data most though).

Most services/apps available to the US. Keep in mind though, it’s usually “Free” to us, but not really. Nothing is free. You are being data-mined.” – SyCoREAPER

Uruguay ^

“We have 3G coverage everywhere, all across the country on all 3 providers. You get H+ speeds here that’s around 3Mbps on H+.  4G (LTE) is also everywhere with just one provider (ANTEL) and the other 2 providers are expanding their 4G networks really fast. I have the cheapest 4G plan for about USD 25 and I get 2GB of 4G data and 100 minutes to calls, the data speed on my 4G plan is 20/2 Mbps. You can get better speed by paying more, but hey it’s a phone, I can wait 2 more seconds using my cheap plan. There’s a national plan by one of the providers (ANTEL) to install FTTH (Fiber To The Home), I have had fiber at home for about 1 year and a half, it’s amazing. I also have the cheapest plan, 25 USD and I get unlimited data at 20/2 Mbps (the same speeds that I get on my mobile but unlimited data). If you pay more, you can get 100/25 Mbps.

Credit cards can be used to buy online from USA stores, I usually buy phone accessories on Amazon and have them sent to Miami where I have a P.O. Box with an Uruguayan carrier that brings my stuff once a week on weekends flights. We can only buy up to USD 200 outside our country and bring it without import taxes(Customs taxes). We can have 5 of these 200 USD shipments per year, so I can only buy accessories. Buying phones from the USA and bringing them over is not allowed using this method. If I want a phone from Amazon you can buy it but when it arrives in Uruguay you’ll have to pay 250 USD to a Customs Agent + 60% of the phone cost on taxes. No one brings 1 phone because it’s too expensive.

As for streaming services we have Netflix which costs 9,32 USD and we can also use Spotify.” – Socotroco

Asia ^

China ^

“I sympathize with Iraqis and Iranians. But I think we (except North Korea) are the “winner” of the worst power user experience competition. All Google related stuff is banned, this means: You won’t be able to download your apps from the Official Play Store or keep your apps updated from the official source. You won’t be getting updates from Google even if you have Nexus line. Play services, etc doesn’t work. You can’t sign in the first time you set up your phone. The following apps won’t work due to censorship: Facebook, all the apps that start with Google, Twitter, Youtube, Reddit, Pandora, Netflix and Spotify (I am not sure). We have 3G and LTE, but good luck getting that to work on a 100MB a month data plan.

For the life of me I don’t understand why would anyone want to use an Android in China. I’d jump ship to Apple in a heartbeat. That half a year I spent back home was terrifying in terms of getting my phone to work.” – wngmv

India ^

“As a power user who regularly uses iOS, Android, and Windows, here is brief run down of the situation in India. iOS is utterly useless in India. Most people using iOS are wannabe Apple fans who end up buying a cheap iPhone 4 that is probably not being sold anywhere else in the world and are stuck with iOS 6 to which none of the latest apps work. More than that they end up buying 8 GB versions, with iOS taking up almost 5.5 GB space, and then they complain about not having enough space in their iPhones. iOS devices are now usually available at launch, however, they are amongst the most heavily marked up products. A base version unlocked iPhone 6 that you could get for $650 in the US will cost a $1,000 here. That is the official price.

On the Android front things are improving dramatically. You can get an Android One phone for like $70 right now. The software experience on these things is amazing. After some initial updates issues, the spare Android One phones I have at home are updating at par with my Nexus 5. Unlike the US, businesses tend to advertise their Android apps first, and iOS apps get a passing mention. Also, the loosening grip of Samsung is quite visible these days as people are slowly moving towards Motorola, Xiaomi, and Oneplus phones. Windows phone’s are very hard to find, and are usually seen in the hands of Microsoft employees or people who still believe in Nokia.

On the Apps front, the greatest deficit is in the music and video streaming space. That means we have no Netflix or Spotify, or any other streaming service of repute. Frankly speaking a country that considers 512 kbps to be broadband doesn’t deserve streaming services. Broadband is a joke with caps on max data usage on 3G speeds at 15 GB. 3G speeds are decent when available.” – Harry Pewter

Sharing a similar story swayamprakash2001 gives his experience as a power user in India as well.

“Almost all devices are available at competitive prices and Android one devices are available at 4000 Indian rupees. Samsung is the current market leader in phones, they have devised a model for every price point, however Samsung devices of late have become a standard user and a not a power users choice, all Samsung devices are Exynos except Note 4. Indian players like Micromax, Spice, Karbonn have started disrupting the market and with the new brand called Yu from Micromax offering Cyanogen OS out of the box at very very disruptive pricing. Online shopping is now a big trendsetter. People also use feature phones (non-smart), though that trend is changing due to cheap android phones, Some loyal Nokia brand people use Windows phones (cheap ones).  We do not have locked devices or carrier bloat, although manufacturer bloatware is still there. The major carriers are Bnsl(government), Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance and Tata docomo.  The best service is on Airtel and Vodafone for the most part unless you are in the eastern side where reliance is good.

A lot of people however think smartphone means iPhone and even normal users sheds a lot of cash on an iPhone and then use it for standard email/text/fb/WhatsApp purpose. iPhones are very commonplace though most people buying them are wannabes since the phone is available for an arm and leg price, however even Samsung, LG, Sony have started offering similar prices for their top products.

There are no restrictions on internet access, all services are available however our Internet speeds are slow, 3G coverage is good in metros and tier-2 cities, prices are still high even for 2G data and most people go for 1Gb Internet packs for around 5 USD on average. 4G is only offered by Airtel in select cities and prices are again high although network congestion is very high in some areas at cities, hence sometimes calls get dropped. Broadband speeds offered by ISP varies largely based on state. Roaming charges apply when travelling from one state to another, incoming calls are charged, but you do not receive data roaming charges unless you are roaming with another network than your SIM provider. Mostly people prefer prepaid, corporate users and businessmen use postpaid with special corporate plans. Streaming services for music/video not available, again low Internet speeds and High data processing might be a reason. WhatsApp and FB are people’s choice for Social Networking. All new devices come with one year manufacturers warranty, however claiming on warranty services totally depend on the brand you are using and your luck”  – swayamprakash2001

Iran ^

“Almost every thinkable device is available in this market since it’s official launch. At first it comes with an astronomic price which can sometimes be 50% higher than global price and it gradually reaches the normal price as the device becomes more available and hype vanishes; sometimes you have to wait until the next-gen is announced! There is no shipping to Iran and we can’t get credit cards so no online purchases either. Again there is no “global warranty” available and you have to pay extra for a local warranty. Recently network operators announced 4G but it comes with a very high price relative to average income ($400-600 per month) and is very crap. A lot of online services and social media are unavailable because of sanctions, censorship and filtering.” – hadi_fotovati

Giving an alternate view, ahuramajdi  talks about their concerns with Google’s thoughts on Iran.

“As a power user and someone who loves Google’s style and way of thinking almost everything is not available for us from Google itself (Like Google Now, Location Services, Maps is literally just Maps) and is not censored by the government. An Iranian once asked Eric Schmidt about it in I/O 2012, Schmidt explained that this is because of US sanctions and isn’t something he can do anything about. “I’m with you but prison is like… there’s no bandwidth”. So as an Iranian I was pretty offended, to fight for my beliefs and country I joined a campaign with most of the android users in Iran to not use android and the Google services. It was good for 3 months until my course at university began (i’m studying IT) and needs for a smart phone compelled me to buy a Galaxy S4 as I couldn’t buy an iphone. The damn thing sells for almost double the price here and there is no guarantee for it, Windows phone was (and is still is) just sad.

Now i’m rooted and running gearcm (android 5.1.1) and pretty happy about it but the lack of these services and the continued comments of Google’s high rankers about Iran is verrrrrryyy humiliating and hard.” – ahuramajdi

Iraq ^

“Nothing is available in my country for power users. You cannot buy anything online due to the lack of credit cards and even if we did have credit cards, there are no shipping companies that will ship here. Most phones cannot be found even in stores. We are unable to sell apps on the Play Store and since Google bought Songza and limited it’s use here, we now no longer have any music subscription services. 3G has only just become available on our networks and whilst some countries have even had 4G for ages now, our plans suck! Most people who repair phones have no prior experience in the field so it’s very hit and miss. We don’t even get warranties here! Our internet usage is not monitored nor censored in any way. I think we’re the only country where ISP’s don’t block a single service at all, though after ISIS controlled Mosul, Facebook was blocked for about 3 weeks and that’s it. Though I’ve stumbled across websites that block connections from Iraq.”  – Beaner

Israel ^

“Cellphones face about 35% tax added to their price, in terms of market share. It feels 50/50 Android/iOS. We don’t have official LTE but there is “limited testing” due to regulations. Meaning that all big cities has LTE coverage. Communication has undergone some major changes lately and we’ve seen several new players (including a subsidiary of French company Free) meaning that for $30 we get unlimited texts and calls even for US and European landlines and up to 45 days a year of roaming with 6gb per month. And here you get unlimited data that gets throttled when you reach 20GB. Regarding ISPs, the new players are priced at $30 for 100 Mb/3 Mb VDSL though the limits are mostly infrastructure related especially within cities and rural areas limiting to 15Mbit. These are the highest prices you can get much cheaper rates for less bandwidth / monthly usage.

In terms of content, Only iTunes has a fully functional service. All others provide only apps (eg. Google Play) and we have no Spotify or Netflix etc. Most users will download through torrents or use YouTube for streaming.” – ttg

Malaysia ^

“Malaysia has pretty expensive data subscriptions, there are 4 major carriers here: Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U-Mobile. Almost all have unlimited internet quota but after reaching the quota the speed is capped at 64kbps. The price of home internet is expensive. The culprit here is TM which is government based and almost all the networks here rely on it. For 5Mbps unlimited you have to pay about $40 a month which is quite expensive here. There are other network providers too like TIMES, which are much cheaper than TM but the coverage is very limited.
Although 4G LTE is available, the coverage is quite lacking. Celcom has the largest LTE network here which covers more of the country than the other competitors. 3G is still spreading in rural areas. There is almost no censorship here, some sites that are blocked include Porn sites and Illegal Download Sites. There are no carrier specifics device here, so no bloatware and the devices are unlocked so you can easily swap the sim card. Warranties are varied some are good, others however are not.

Almost all Google Services like Youtube etc are available here except Play Music, Movies and the Device store. But we have many alternatives. For music we have Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and many more that are available here for about 5USD a month. For movies some people use Netflix, it is unavailable here but can easily bypass by using VPN. We can get Nexus devices easily here unofficially, but they are quite expensive compared to US prices.” – muhammadnajmi96

Philippines ^

“Pricing is critical to us, especially for off-contract phones. We condemn phones when they’re too expensive for the specs it offers for example anything with a Mediatek 6592 apparently must cost under 150 USD here or it will not sell. There are practically only 4 kinds of phones over here – dumb phones (old Nokias,) cheap Android phones (Cheap is relative here; I include the local phones as well as the flagship killers Meizu, Oppo, Lenovo.) Samsung Galaxy’s (from the A3 to S6 Edge) and iPhones (5S’ and 6’s.) Once in a while I see a Lumia, but these four phones are what I see most often. And accessories and after sale support reflects this as such.

There are essentially only two mobile networks here, they compete over who can (violate net neutrality rules best) package more services into an ‘internet promo’ bundled with call and text services. Data speeds are decent at best and non-existent at worst, it’s a 50/50 chance you’ll suffer within the day. Only the big cities and tourist centres have 4G LTE spots. Some areas have 4G HSPA+ (really 3G.) In the highways only 2G, there are even places you can only get GPRS and dead reception areas. The speeds are bad. We have one of the worst internet speeds in the world. Apparently India has ever so slightly better Internet speeds than us. The networks appear to be allergic to unlimited data plans, they charge (monthly) 60 USD for 18 GB data and 25 USD for just 4.5GB? T-Mobile can get away with charging a fixed rate of 80 for truly unlimited data. There is a very aggressive throttling policy as well, which is compounded by ridiculous data caps  and overage charges. There is no censorship, torrent services are not blocked. Nothing is blocked. However, reports of clampdowns on illegally downloading local shows pop up sometimes.

We recently got carrier billing for Apple App store and Google Play. Clash of Clans is very big here; T-shirts of the damn thing are sold in actual stores. Spotify is a big deal here. We do not have Netflix, but iFlix (Malaysia-based) is being pushed aggressively, it carries the entire CBS catalog, even old shows and is 4 USD/month for now, worth it.” – Paolo T.

Sri Lanka ^

“The situation here is now OK and is still improving. We have 3G coverage for nearly any reachable place and decent speed too even in very rural areas. There is no price difference in Mobile 4G and 3G, if you have a compatible 4G device – 4G will work on the same package and our internet speeds are improving all the time. It is cheaper as well now 40GB on ADSL costs around $11 (LKR 1490) and for $0.75 (LKR 100) per day we get fully unlimited Data during 12 midnight to 6AM. Considering we are a small country we have five mobile operators, so competition is very high and the calls, SMS, internet charges are very low.

Newer models are never available on the launch day – it will take around 2-3 weeks to arrive here, most of the time prices are the same but it is hard to find a place offering international warranty, most places offer their own warranty which is very unreliable. There are so many counterfeit mobile phones available in the market, if you are not buying the product from an authorized seller, there is around 90% chance that you have bought a counterfeit device I have even seen some people selling counterfeit iPhones running Android. Most of the fake Samsung phones are marketed here as Korean version made by the OEM, which they are not. There is no censorship on our internet except for some porn sites. As developers we cannot sell apps on Google play store because no merchant accounts are allowed here, We have no streaming services like Netflix and Spotify although Deezer was activated recently.

As credit cards are available we can buy items online and for items not available here there are private businesses which will bring most of the permitted items to import from US or UK markets at a very cheap commission. We can import most of those products ourselves from US or UK markets even those Amazon sellers who only ship to US.” – madushan92

Syria ^

” Most of Google’s products and developer related services are blocked due to US sanctions. The Play store is not accessible and you can’t download/update using it. Cell phone prices are a bit high, but for local currency it is way too high, like you have to save your complete salary for about 6-7 months to even be able to consider a galaxy or a high-end. You cannot 3G on the same sim as a talking line, 3G is only available as a data sim only. and of course there is no LTE. My 3G bundle is 2GB/month for around $5. The ADSL connection is crappy, I am rocking 1Mb/sec at home and consider myself to have a fast connection in my city (Damascus). As for repairing we have a dedicated market for all types of cell phone, of course we used Chinese non-original repair parts due to high costs.

Samsung, Nokia (Symbian), Sony, HTC and the hated iPhone are taking the market at the moment. There is no sign of Blackberry, Windows phones or Moto, there is of course some LG out here.” – sami-shalhoub

Thailand ^

“IT malls have all major brands for the standard international price and there are thousands of unofficial shops selling original and fake parts and provide repair services for a low price, accessories can be found everywhere cheap. We have fast and cheap 4G and high coverage in cities. There are Wi-fi access points across the country provided by network carriers.  Prepaid phones can be topped up at places like 7eleven. The country does however focus a lot on iPhone, everyone saves money to buy an iPhone, no matter how much better or price worthy an Android could be. No one here has heard of Xiaomi or OnePlus etc. People use mobiles phones for only two things, LINE messengers and simple social games. We do have virtually no free speech, ISPs have to block websites criticizing the monarchy or the military government we also have lèse-majesté law” – Jan ยาน

Europe ^

Germany ^

“Well I guess we have almost no Censorship regarding our phones and or apps. Devices are for the most part available. Of course they are not always the same as in the US, but still we have a good amount of phones here that are are affordable, maybe $50 more than in the US but not always. We have 3 Main Carriers (T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2). In this Case O2 has always been the worst of these three. But there has been a forth one (EPlus), which has been bought by O2 and their Services were merged together, so O2 really got better. I don’t know how much a Phone call is, due to me having a flat rate, but I guess it isn’t that much. Unfortunately we have almost no possibility of getting an Unlimited Data Plan, I would need this a lot. 10GB are just not enough for one Month if you are have LTE.

The LTE network is quite good, at least in the bigger cities. I even have LTE in the Subway. You have LTE almost everywhere and that is actually really great. My experience as a power user here in Germany is, that there are not many people interested in it. So most of them don’t even know there are possibilities beyond buying the Phone, taking pictures, Whatsapp, Facebook, Phone and SMS.” – esok44

Italy ^

“We get 3G in almost all of Italy although in big cities we have 4G but it’s expensive from some companies but it’s really fast! At home we have difficulty with only having 7mb/s connection, 100mb/s connections are only available in big cities, but it’s very expensive. I have a 10mb/s connection and I pay 40€/month. Prices of mobiles are slightly higher than other European countries. But online you can find very good offers. Warranties are very good if you buy online, but with some physical shops sometimes you have to wait months until you see your phone again. The state postal service is horrible, for getting a package outside Europe you have to wait 1 month (3 days to arrive in Italy, 27 days to arrive at your home, if it arrives at all, because untraceable parcels very often do not arrive). Couriers are awesome, if you buy online 99.9% of the sellers ship the parcel with them.

We have difficulty in accessing services such as Netflix etc. We do have similar services like that with some big TV companies, but it’s expensive and you can see about 2 TV series in total. As a developer if you want to start a company it’s very difficult because taxes are very high.” – simoneluconi

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