By Ken Hegan for MSN Travel

TRAVELLER RULE #44:

“Avoid roaming fees, for they are the work of the devil/Mafia/Yakuza.”

Ever felt that bitter rage when you discover a surprise roaming charge on your phone bill? These harsh charges are punitively expensive. And even worse, they don’t appear until a month after your travel tan and happy holiday memories have faded away. That’s cold.

But now there’s a solution, thanks to an innovative travel accessory called the SIMPLcase. It’s a minimalist iPhone case that’s discreetly stashes up to 3 extra SIM cards.

Case

Basically it’s the iPhone case for globetrotting SIM switchers like 007, Dancing Matt, Waldo, and Lara Croft the Tomb Raider.

Here’s how it works:

1) Board a plane bound for Thailand (and immediately turn your iPhone to Airplane Mode)

2) Sleep on the plane. You’ll need all your powers when you arrive in the chaos that is Bangkok.

3) Arrive in Thailand. Grab a beer as it’s currently hot, sunny, and 30 degrees Celsius.

4) Buy a Thailand SIM card and data plan with unlimited prepaid data. They’re sold at mobile phone shops, convenience stores, and bodegas. Or if you need to give people your Thailand phone number before you arrive, you can pre-order a Thailand SIM card here.

5) Remove your iPhone from its SIMPLcase (Note: it’s built for the iPhone 5 but they’re taking orders for iPhone 4/4S here). Now remove your SIM card from your iPhone. Careful, though, because the SIM tray is tiny & tricky and the iPhone 5’s nano SIM card can be damaged if you poke at it with a needle or safety pin. So instead…

6) …use the SIMPLcase’s handy ‘tray eject tool’ to remove your Canadian SIM card. Swap this card with your Thailand SIM card, tucking the Canadian SIM card (and the eject tool) back into your SIMPLcase.

Case tray
7) Snap your case back onto your iPhone. Turn off your Airplane Mode and —

8) Congratulations, you now have a cheap local phone! You avoid paying ridiculously-high roaming fees. Somewhere back in Canada, an accountant at Rogers/Fido/Bell/Telus will shed a silent tear.

Bonus: SIMPLcase has a thin slot built into the back. Slip a frequent flyer card (or your Visa if you’re feeling risky) into this slot and, voila, your phone now stands upright for hands-free viewing, horizontally or vertically. So you can watch a podcast while eating a sweet and spicy Thai burger.

Stand

SIMPLcase was designed by Simon Kwan & Ed Dean, two designers/entrepreneurs who say they “want to create and bring innovative and logical products to the world – solving problems and making life a little easier.” They wanted to provide a product that let you safely stash your SIM card…so you don’t lose it and turn your iPhone into a lowly iPod.

You can get your SIMPLcase in either black, white, or a limited run of tungsten grey. According to their site, it will be made from “polycarbonate thermoplastic resin, which is the same engineering grade polymer used in shatter proof safety glasses and durable shells for mobile phones and laptops.”

Image

To raise the $20,000 they need to distribute SIMPLcase, their Kickstarter campaign began February 12th and ends March 29th, 2013. The first 500 backers can pre-order this case for $12 which includes free (!) international shipping. After they reach 500 backers, the price goes up to $14.

And if you pledge $5,188, Simon and Ed will invite you to their home base of Shanghai, give you a guide tour of Hong Kong, and show you their manufacturing facility in southern China.

A small price to pay for saving dozens of dollars in roaming charges. Right?

— Ken Hegan

 

Read more of Ken’s travel stories here and follow him on Twitter: @KenHegan

Photos courtesy Lgcl Designs

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