All mobile phones in Cuba are linked together by a GSM cellular network, operating in the 900MHz band throughout the island.
The 850MHz band is also operational (with limited coverage) in selected locations, namely: Havana City, Varadero, Ciego de Avila, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Holguin (Guardalavaca and in the airport area).
3G is only available for the Roaming IN service in the Northern Keys of Cuba (Havana, Varadero, Villa Clara keys and Ciego de Avila keys) and in the provincial capitals.
As side note I wanted to let you know that I wrote a new article detailing the kind of electrical outlets and plugs used in Cuba. Just follow the link if you are interested.
If you were to buy a cellphone for a person in Cuba, I would recommend acquiring an unlocked quad-band phone (GPRS compatible).
It is important for the cellular phone to be unlocked; otherwise it won’t work with the Cuban mobile operator: Cubacell. Of course, a locked phone could be unlocked, but why to bother? You can buy a brand new unlocked phone and you will save the money and the time for unlocking it after.
Quad -band phones operate in the four major GSM bands: 850, 900, 1800 y 1900 MHz. With this kind of phone you will be able to get mobile coverage in the whole island. Technically speaking you don’t need the 1800 and 1900 MHz bands in Cuba, but it does not hurt to have them as well.
Another tip: the MMS service is available in Cuba. Most people don’t know this. This service allows you to send multimedia messages containing text, images, audio y video to a Cuban cellphone. Now, in order to use this service, your cell should support GPRS technology. Note that not all GSM mobile phones support GPRS technology. It depends on the model, brand and year of production.
The MMS service is not activated by default. In order to use it, you should activate the service following these steps (in Spanish).
A final tip: it would be better if the cellphone has Android. The reason is that now the Cubans can access WIFI points to make video calls and chat with the family abroad. In order to do this they need to install an app to make the video calls. There are plenty of these apps in Android.
This service, called Nauta Internet, also allows the Cubans to access email directly from the cellphone, but again, the phone requires an email client, which is available in Android. If you want to read more about Nauta click here.
I have hand-picked below a selection of phones that you can buy through Amazon. All these phones are unlocked, quad –band (GSM) and GPRS compatible. These phones will work in Cuba. Amazon is a trustable online retailer, probably the largest and better known in the world. So, buying through Amazon is safe and painless.
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