ALTHOUGH MOST AMERICANS who lament their use of their iPhones while roaming overseas have caused their own headaches, I think it's important to outline how it's possible for your iPhone to stick you with several hundreds of dollars of roaming charges even though you've switched off data roaming while overseas. I've made my observations while chatting with visitors to Peggy O'Neill's B&B and after hearing some reception staff tell stories about iPhone users connecting to their hotel wifi. The problem often starts when your American iPhone detects an unsecured, but not free WiFi hotspot. You're prompted to open Safari and then your browser takes you to the WiFi hotspot's login page. While you're logging in, the iPhone seems to think you're connected to WiFi (the service you want) but the poor phone cannot connect to the internet via wifi. So without asking, the iPhone reverts to 3G over-the-air pricey data roaming. I don't see that kind of behaviour on my Nokia handsets because I've set the data connection to "always ask" and they pop up nag screen every time I try to use a different data service. My advice to those traveling to Europe with an American handset: change the phones APN address--just add your initials to the end of the APN. Do that and it doesn't matter what you forget to switch off. Plus, you don't need to depend on your operating system picking up on whether you've changed data services. Then when you get home, just revert to the proper APN by removing your initials.
But if proper 3G data services are essential, get yourself a Maxroam SIM and know you'll be able to connect to wifi or 3G no matter where you're visiting in Europe.
Photo of Peggy O'Neill's B&B down the street, comfort sleeping for all nationalities.