There are numerous factors that will determine whether you will be able to use your smartphone on safari, including whether your cell phone provider covers international calling.
Double check the call rates to avoid amassing an exorbitant cell phone bill due to roaming fees and remember that it’s generally more affordable to text than to call. Since outgoing call and Wi-Fi access will be limited, consider leaving your smartphone on airplane mode at all times to prevent accidental roaming charges. In the case that the camp or lodge you are staying in has Wi-Fi access, you can use third party apps like Skype and WhatsApp to send direct messages to other app users with Airplane mode still activated.
You will rarely be able to access Wi-Fi or call functions on your smartphone while out on safari game-viewing drives. It may behoove you to purchase a lanyard chain to wear your smartphone around your neck, as game drives can be quite bumpy the last thing you want to see is your smartphone flying off the vehicle unexpectedly.
Ultimately, the best use for smartphones on safari is for taking pictures. Purchasing a smartphone tripod is a great way to steady your phone camera during bumpy game-viewing drives. Smartphones are capable of producing epic wildlife shots while on safari, so you may also consider obtaining a wireless smartphone charger so your phone battery doesn’t run low and prevent you from capturing memories of a lifetime.
You will need to contact your smartphone service provider to activate international calling since this feature is not automatically enabled on cell phones. You should ask your service provider about what data charges you can expect on your smartphone while you’re traveling overseas.
Regions where you can expect to make outgoing calls and receive and send text messages and incoming calls include most urban areas in South Africa like Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Nairobi. Other regions in Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, and Northern Tanzania have pretty good cell phone service.