How to get an iPhone on Tigo without a plan

I’ve finally got my iPhone alive & kicking on a pre-paid Tigo chip! Yes, both voice and data. Why is this so kick-ass? Because AT&T’s international data plan is both limited and super-expensive, and the iPhone contracts available here in Guatemala aren’t any better. The whole country is on pre-paid chips, amigo- and you can be too, even with your super gringo phone. Here’s how:

1. Jailbreak and unlock your iPhone. Easier said than done, and step-by-step instructions are beyond the scope of this post. Don’t fear, a Google search will yield several decent tutorials for you. For my iPhone 3G, which is on firmware 3.0.1, I used redsnOw to jailbreak and ultrasnOw, downloaded and executed via Cydia, to unlock.

2. Insert a Tigo SIM chip into your iPhone. There is no “especial cheep” or some esoteric 3G frequency that only Movistar operates on- just put in a plain old pre-paid chip like you get at the Bodegona! It can even be a previously activated chip from another phone.

3. Power off your iPhone, click your heels three times, and then power back on. “Comcel_GSM” should display where the AT&T logo used to be, in the upper-left hand corner of the screen. You should now be able to make calls.

4. Call Tigo service at *611. Tell them you got a new smart phone and you need them to switch on the data functionality for your number. This is where it helps to speak Spanish. Anyway, they’ll be like, “Bueno dude,” and tell you to turn off your phone, wait five minutes, and turn it back on.

5. Turn off your iPhone, wait five minutes, and turn it back on. Sounds silly, but your phone needs to receive the new configuration from Tigo and this will only happen after it re-connects to the network.

6. Send an SMS message to: 102, with the body of the message: Tigo

7. Navigate to Settings/General/Network/Cellular Data Network and enter: in the Cellular Data/APN field and the MMS/APN field.

8. Launch Safari, check your email or watch babies dance on YouTube to verify that your iPhone is indeed receiving data on the Tigo 3G network!

Please note that jailbreaking your iPhone will void your Apple warranty, could possibly permanently damage your Iphone and God will kill a kitten. Maybe I should have put that at the beginning of this post. Anyway, buena suerte!

17 comments on “How to get an iPhone on Tigo without a plan”

  1. This is great to know. Mike wanted to get me an iPhone for my birthday last August be I decided is was just too expensive to have a US iPhone down here in Mexico, but now that Christmas is coming…

    Take care you two.

  2. This just in: unlocking your iPhone renders the voicemail button useless. But there’s a fix! Simply dial *5005*86**77# and hit call. Now your voicemail button will dial Tigo voicemail in Guatemala. This code will work in other countries too, except you’ll need to replace *77 with whatever the carrier’s voicemail code is, i.e. *86 for Mexico.

  3. Hey Brad, thanks for the voicemail tip, I allways dialed *77

    Btw, so you mean it when you say will post the instructions 😉

  4. One important fact that Braad forgot to include is that there are no 3G data plans without contracts with Tigo. Once your phone chip/sim card/telephone number is data-plan-enabled, you can use your phone and pay by the byte, megabyte really. That’s Q25/1MB of 3G data transfers (that’s about $3 per 1MB) with Tigo. The other Tigo option is WAP data transfer for a daily fee of Q5/50MB ($0.60 per 50MB of transfers). If you opt for the WAP data transfers, you must send the word WAP to the number 805 to subscribe and Tigo will deduct Q5 everyday from your saldo (airtime). You have to make sure you only use the WAP TIGO server and not other, unless you want to incur per megabyte charge. 🙁

  5. HEY Thank you so much for the voicemail code…I’ve been looking for a while!

    ***FYI***Tigo doesn’t have 3G***

  6. @Liz, Tigo DOES have 3G or rather 3.5G connectivity. And to update my previous comment, Tigo does have pre-paid 3G data plans (no contract).

    You can pre-pay one hour, one day, one week and one month. For the month plans they have three options, the Q125 basic plans is more than plenty for a mobile phone. If you plan to use your smartphone as a USB-Tethering modem, then the Q75 per week is the best option.

    To purchase any of the plans above, you go to this URL – once your have enter in the Cellular Data/APN (read step #7 in the above post).

  7. Thanks for this guide. I spoke with three different CSR guys at Tigo with no luck. All of them give me instructions for WAP navigation and I want 3G. Now I have 3.5G navigation with my smartphone.

  8. Maybe you could edit the webpage title How to get an iPhone on Tigo without a plan | Newmaya | Adventures from Guatemala and the Road Ahead to something more suited for your content you make. I enjoyed the the writing all the same.

  9. Quick Facts- yes the title “How to get an iPhone on Tigo without a plan” just does not describe the content, i.e how to get an iPhone on Tigo without a plan at all. How much do you charge for SEO optimization? You must be a social media expert!


  11. Does anyone know what the email settings should be for a loaded Broadband tigo modum (dongle) that I am using with windows mail? yes, the dreaded vista..that I had modified in the us so it is useable…
    I can get on line. have gotten my email before with this computer and Broadband Tigo but I forgot what settings I changed.almost a year ago to get it working..

  12. Hey! I am going to be visiting a brother in Guatemala sometimes next month, (June, 2011). Is it possible to use my iPad through the broadband Internet connectivity?


  13. @Ms. Lewis- yes, you’ll find plenty of wifi networks in places like La Antigua and Guatemala City. In less techy areas you’ll still be able to find plenty of internet cafes. Be careful with that iPad though- you won’t be safe taking it out anywhere but the most exclusive hotels and cafes. Personally I’d leave it at home!

  14. Hey brad,

    I have an iphone and was just going to let the guys at the tigo store make it “liberado” for 100 Quetzales. Then i will be able to use a tigo plan for calling and texting. Will I be able to use the 3G data network in Guatemala too? Or do I have to complete your instructions before I can use the web without wifi?


  15. Hey Frankie- Yes, you should be able to get 3G on a Tigo plan. That’s kind of funny that they’ll jailbreak/unlock your device, ha. I’m assuming this is the Tigo store in Guate?

    At this point, my instructions above are outdated. I lost my iPhone a while back so I haven’t kept up with the latest jailbreaks/unlocks since iOS 4.2.1. I highly recommend a visit to Redmond Pie for the latest. And of course the Dev Team’s blog.

    Anyway, sync all your info before handing over your iPhone to two spiky haired jovens at the Tigo store…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *