Anyone who has traveled abroad with an iPhone will, by now, be very familiar with the “Data Roaming” switch; the magic button that prevents your iPhone running up huge bills as it downloads email and updates over 3G data in the background.

However, that magic button also turns your Smartphone into, well, just a phone really. Without the ability to browse the web, download music, check email or post to twitter and Facebook your smartphone suddenly looks like it’s stepped out of another decade. If there’s free Wi-Fi nearby then you can always hook up your phone, iPad and laptop but Wi-Fi isn’t always available, it’s not always free and the speed isn’t always great.

Cellhire have answered this problem with a solution that is elegant, lightweight and above all, reasonably priced. Rent a Mifi device from Cellhire and you’ve got a pocket sized device with a decent battery life giving you wireless data wherever you travel and it doesn’t cost the earth. The Mifi comes with a data SIM card inside designed for the country you’re visiting and most bundles are 3GB or above. If you’re travelling around Europe you can take a 1GB European card that will work in multiple countries avoiding having to swap SIMs from different countries.

This clever approach to roaming data has 3 big advantages

  • Data from the device can be shared by multiple devices, so you can connect your iPhone, iPad and laptop to the same unit at the same time. If you travel with a partner, they can also share the data connection.
  • Connection is via wireless (WiFi) so there’s no software to load onto your laptop.
  • If your iPhone is locked to your domestic network (e.g. AT&T) then you can still get data abroad without having to unlock it to insert a local SIM card.

The device comes secured with a passcode so only you will be able to use it but the range is pretty impressive. It’s possible to have the unit at one end of a hotel room and use it perfectly well at the other.

For example, four weeks rental of a UK Mifi is only $74, for this you get 5GB of data – more than enough for a month away. All of this comes in at a price point of less than $3.50 per day – less than a coffee and a newspaper.

In addition to the UK and European Mifi, there are also Mifi units for France, Germany, Spain, Japan and China. Many come with no overage charge so even if you go beyond your bundle limit, all that happens is the speed reduces. This is the ultimate way to avoid bill shock when using data abroad. Once you’ve tried one you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.