The Pan American Highway from above, outside Quito, Ecuador
While traveling to the Galapagos Island I traveled with not 1 or 2, but 3 different cell phones. I like to be prepared. But the results of how well they worked were a bit surprising and I thought worthy of writing a post about them. As a point of reference I was on a G Adventures tour on the Monserrat in September of 2015.
The three phones:
iPhone 6 Plus on the AT&T Network with International Plan
Overall data service in the Galapagos Islands was severely lacking, often relying on the Edge Network. The first half of my trip was a “Southern Galapagos” itinerary and had a decent level of coverage. The second half of the trip was “Western Galapagos” and had very little cell coverage. We landed on Baltra, which did show a signal, but it was extremely weak. In Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island we had the strongest signal for our whole trip. The Island of Isabel had some weak service. Other than that, there was little to know service while in the Galapagos, just occasional spotty service. I would usually check my phones at night or in the morning when we were stopped and I think the longest I went with absolutely no coverage was around 24-28 hours.
iPhone 6 Plus:
The international plan I had included unlimited texts and 120 mb of data. I turned the data off for all of my applications to keep from accidentally using the data, this kept me to using only about 30 mb of data during my almost 2 weeks in Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands. While in the Galapagos Islands I was never able to send a text with a photo. If I had 3 or more bars of cell coverage, I was able to send texts with only words. That only happened a few times.
At some point late in the trip my service plan ran out, that also corresponded with the period of the least internet service. But it didn’t really matter, I never used the phone for texts and outside of Puerto Ayora, it never downloaded emails, or worked on Facebook. It might have worked once with the Twitter app.
I only used my blackberry for email and if there was a cell signal, it would send and receive emails, including emails with smaller pictures. Aside from the 24-28 hour gap with no service, it usually worked when I checked emails in the morning and at night, though not every time, but at least one a day.
When you leave for the Galapagos, let everyone know they might not hear from you. But, if you NEED to keep in contact with the outside world, take a Blackberry, it’s your best chance.