What Foreign Cellphones Work in Brazil
Bringing your cellphone from abroad might be more practical and cheaper than buying a new one in the country, but some precautions need to be taken. This article will explain which devices work properly here.
At the end of 2013, Brazil had more than 271 million active mobile phone lines. The sales of devices are also growing fast: according to the consulting firm IDC, one smartphone was sold every 68 minutes in the country. Yet, many foreigners — and also Brazilians — prefer to buy their cellphones abroad, especially due to better prices.
The Brazilian mobile network has some peculiarities when compared to the rest of the world, leading to some devices not functioning. Restrictions and regulations in this area are defined by Anatel, an acronym for National Telecommunications Agency.
Which Phones Work
There is not a specific brand whose devices don't work in Brazil, but devices that are not aligned to some Anatel specifications may be useless when arriving in the country.
As a general rule, cellphones must be compatible with a GSM network, which stands for Global System for Mobile. Countries like the United States and some Asian nations use the CDMA network, which stands for Code Division Multiple Access.
There are different frequency variations inside GSM. Each Brazilian mobile operators use a band. Simply speaking, each band is like a “road” used by different services. More specifically, there are four GSM frequencies in Brazil:
- 850 MHz
- 900 MHz
- 1800 MHz
- 1900 MHz
The best way to prevent any headaches is to check if the mobile phone being brought to Brazil works in various frequencies — in other words, if it is quadriband.
Also, cellphones that are not homologated by Anatel may suffer interferences and other malfunctions. In these cases, the agency states that any eventual service flaws presented by non-homologated devices are the responsibility of the consumers.
Which Features Work
Some services and apps commonly used abroad might not work properly. When it comes to apps, this can be partly explained by the fact that some just were not designed for Brazil. Applications involving suggestions of places to go or are based on geo-referencing are some examples.
The biggest difference felt by foreign cellphone users, though, might be related to the connection’s speed. Brazil has a 4G network, but the use is relatively limited, since many devices sold in the country are not compatible with this technology.
While most countries’ 4G operates in a frequency band of 700 MHz, in Brazil this technology is available in the frequency of 2.5 GHz.
If you are willing to bring your cellphone from abroad or if you want to buy a mobile phone in countries other than Brazil, make sure you follow the recommendations below:
- GSM technology is crucial. Make sure that the device works with this system instead of CDMA.
- Quadriband devices are a sure bet. This allows devices to be compatible with different frequency bands.
- If you want to enjoy 4G network, check the compatible frequency. This technology in Brazil works in a band of 2.5 GHz, which is different from many countries.
- Try buying a Brazilian SIM card. If your cellphone is unlocked, getting a local “chip”, as known in the country, might be cheaper and more practical.