“What’s the best approach for using a phone overseas?” is a common question I get. There are a number of options — buy a local SIM or work with your carrier to get a loaner phone, for example — but Handy’s business model may be one of the more attractive ones I’ve seen in a while. The company allows you to lease a phone for about $8.75 a day and you pick it up right at the airport. The downside? It’s a service specific to Hong Kong.
If that’s your destination, this may be worth a look. According to the Springwise blog, you get your choice of a Samsung Galaxy Note or Google(s goog) Nexus 4 handset; both of which are decent performers.
A spare battery, charger and USB cable are also included. So too are the service options: unlimited voice, texts and 3G internet access, which includes the use of the phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. International calls in 17 countries are included. That means this service is likely far less expensive than paying for overseas minutes or web access through your carrier; at least here in the U.S., that is.
While the voice and web access is important, so too is the software: Handy includes a city guide on the phone to help you find points of interest, reviews of local businesses and even discounts on products or services. You can, of course, install your own apps as well, but Handy pre-loads the Android handsets with useful travel and communications apps such as Skype(s MSFT), Kayak,(s KYAK) XE’s currency converter, BBC News and more.
The deal seems limited in terms of locations, but I’d love to see more companies do this on a widespread basis around the world. Even better might be a global phone rental service that lets you return your phone wherever your destination is: The phone could then be reset and reloaded with apps specific to the area.