OT:  Going to the UK and Italy and want to bring my US iPhone4 ... need advice

  • Posted: 04 June 2012 10:55 AM

    Leaving in a week with the family for Europe.  I’d love to bring my AT&T iPhone4 and just get SIM cards for the countries that I’m going to but have never tried anything like that.  From what I understand I have to first “Unlock” the phone.  Then buy SIM’s in the countries with a “Pay as you Go” plan ...

    Any help would be appreciated.  Most of our Hotels have included WIFI so I can check email and use “Facetime” ...  So I’d probably use it more for local calls to help trip planning but I would also like to be able to make some quick calls to the U.S. if needed.

    If you are in London or Italy I’d love to know where is a good place to get a card from.


    Thanks in advance

         
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    Posted: 04 June 2012 11:20 AM #1

    You can buy an inexpensive basic GSM mobile phone when you get over there, then buy prepaid airtime for that phone for making telephone calls. You will have a ‘local’ mobile phone number associated with the local SIM service.

    And you can purchase a prepaid long distance calling card for making long distance calls back to the US and elsewhere. Both are widely sold in Europe. Do some homework before you leave so you know which companies will match the costs you are willing to pay.

    Mobile data is possible in several ways. You can buy a mobile hotspot device that accepts SIM cards and provides a personal and mobile WiFi ‘hotspot’. Pocket sized and battery powered, these things are becoming popular for many uses.

    An AT&T locked iPhone is not going to work with any SIM card other than a genuine AT&T SIM card. You can ask AT&T how much it will cost to operate your iPhone using the AT&T roaming charges while overseas.

    You can also ask AT&T whether they will unlock your iPhone to allow non-AT&T SIM cards, or you can pursue the unofficial ‘Jailbreak’ style unlocks.

    Some prepaid mobile phones and SIM cards in Europe may offer mobile data but you need to figure out if your iPhone can actually link to the prepaid phone and use the Internet data through it.

    Consider buying a used/refurb iPhone that is an official Apple factory unlocked iPhone. Use it for your travels, then sell it afterwards. Apple sells unlocked iPhones directly from their stores and online. iPhones sold through the carriers tend to be locked to the carrier.

    [ Edited: 04 June 2012 11:25 AM by K447 ]      
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    Posted: 04 June 2012 12:01 PM #2

    As long as you have good WIFI access you can use Skype to call any phone. This is very cheap when doing it between US and Europe and that is what I am using most of the time when being in USA and calling back to Europe.

         
  • Posted: 04 June 2012 12:15 PM #3

    Gtrplyr - 04 June 2012 01:55 PM

    Leaving in a week with the family for Europe.  I’d love to bring my AT&T iPhone4 and just get SIM cards for the countries that I’m going to but have never tried anything like that.  From what I understand I have to first “Unlock” the phone.  Then buy SIM’s in the countries with a “Pay as you Go” plan ...

    Any help would be appreciated.  Most of our Hotels have included WIFI so I can check email and use “Facetime” ...  So I’d probably use it more for local calls to help trip planning but I would also like to be able to make some quick calls to the U.S. if needed.

    If you are in London or Italy I’d love to know where is a good place to get a card from.


    Thanks in advance

    To do exactly what you asked there is two ways:

    One is buy unlocked phone directly from Apple with a full price ( I hope this is possible in the USA, it is in Canada)

    Second way is this: jailbreak your iphone, ( it’s currently good time) or pay someone 10$ to do it for you. Then you unlock it, ( another hack)
    Then you can use any SIM. BTW.. not really topic for finance board.

         
  • Posted: 04 June 2012 12:24 PM #4

    Note that some carriers block Skype. They’re not allowed to but some do it anyhow. I think that Deutsche Telekom does.

         
  • Posted: 04 June 2012 12:57 PM #5

    mstefa - 04 June 2012 03:15 PM

    Second way is this: jailbreak your iphone, ( it’s currently good time) or pay someone 10$ to do it for you. Then you unlock it, ( another hack)
    Then you can use any SIM. BTW.. not really topic for finance board.

    There is no need to jailbreak an iPhone if all you want to do is to unlock it. Many people seem to confuse jailbreaking and unlocking. These are two separate procedures, with different purposes. Jailbreaking allows installation of applications outside of the iTunes App store method. Unlocking only applies to GSM iPhones (and is irrelevant on Sprint and Verizon models) and it allows using the phone with a SIM card from any carrier.

         
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    Posted: 04 June 2012 12:57 PM #6

    Gtrplyr - 04 June 2012 01:55 PM

    Leaving in a week with the family for Europe.  I’d love to bring my AT&T iPhone4 and just get SIM cards for the countries that I’m going to but have never tried anything like that.  From what I understand I have to first “Unlock” the phone.  Then buy SIM’s in the countries with a “Pay as you Go” plan ...

    Hi Gtrplyr, I’m not sure about AT&T’s iPhones. I think you may have a problem getting it unlocked through the carrier. I purchased a Verizon iPhone 4S while I was back in the States since I was planning on spending a few months in France and was told that they would unlock it for me *officially* so that the SIM slot could be used for any GSM carrier outside the US—BUT not the GSM carriers in the States. Somehow they have that under control. I think AT&T might be adverse to unlocking your phone for you unless your two year commitment is up.

    If you happen to be going to France, I use a month-to-month Free.fr plan that costs 19.99 euros a month for unlimited calling, including unlimited international calls to the US (although each international call is limited to 3 hours in duration), plus 3GB of data on their 3G network. SFR.fr also has a similar plan although the 19.99 euro version is limited to 500 MB. They both charge you 1 euro for the micro-sim card.

    Enjoy your time in Europe!

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    Posted: 04 June 2012 01:02 PM #7

    How about an iPod Touch instead.

         
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    Posted: 04 June 2012 04:28 PM #8

    When I went to Italy last year, I used my AT&T phone for calls and got a local SIM from TIM for the iPAD.  My phone was locked so a local SIM wouldn’t work. You can go into about any cellphone store and get a SIM.  The signup took a little time but it worked around the country.  AT&T should unlock your phone if your current contact is up, but otherwise they have an international plan which is pricey but will give you calling capability.

         
  • Posted: 05 June 2012 12:08 AM #9

    Thanks for all the responses.  I am going to check into unlocking my iPhone and just trying to buy a local SIM card.  I found plenty of places on the net who would “Unlock” my iPhone or I can do it with software for about $20.  I know I can use the wifi to make calls but if I’m out of my hotel I’ll have to track down free wifi or pay to use it somewhere.  Also thinking about renting a car for a day or two and want to have access to google maps or some other navigation.  My wife speaks fluent Italian so she can do the talking for me : )


    Now I just need APPL to go up to around $600+ while I’m on vacation !  Europe is EXPENSIVE ... especially with two kids in tow.

    Best to all,

    Gtrplyr

         
  • Posted: 05 June 2012 06:01 AM #10

    If your iPhone4 has completed its linked carrier contract, AT&T will unlock it.

    Of course if you buy an iPhone in an Apple store in the UK or Italy, it will be unlocked. So if there’s a good market for used AT&T-locked iPhones in the US, that would be an alternative too.

    It requires your carrier’s cooperation for an official unlock; the iPhone needs to be unlocked on Apple’s internal database, or it may risk becoming locked again when you update. The lock is the “property” of the carrier you bought from. The process is that your carrier updates Apple’s database to set your iphone to unlocked. Therafter, when you connect to iTunes, the phone unlocks. No need to visit the carrier. Once unlocked on Apple’s database, the carrier can’t lock it again.

         
  • Posted: 06 June 2012 03:33 AM #11

    sleepygeek - 05 June 2012 09:01 AM

    If your iPhone4 has completed its linked carrier contract, AT&T will unlock it.

    Of course if you buy an iPhone in an Apple store in the UK or Italy, it will be unlocked. So if there’s a good market for used AT&T-locked iPhones in the US, that would be an alternative too.

    It requires your carrier’s cooperation for an official unlock; the iPhone needs to be unlocked on Apple’s internal database, or it may risk becoming locked again when you update. The lock is the “property” of the carrier you bought from. The process is that your carrier updates Apple’s database to set your iphone to unlocked. Therafter, when you connect to iTunes, the phone unlocks. No need to visit the carrier. Once unlocked on Apple’s database, the carrier can’t lock it again.


    THANKS !!!  I would never have thought to just call them.  I did and they unlocked it for free… I’ve still got 29 days on my contract but they let it slide.  All set ... when I get to Europe I’ll just get a plan with some local minutes,  limited internet and buy a calling card.

         
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    Posted: 06 June 2012 02:11 PM #12

    Don’t forget to actually update the iPhone using iTunes. You should see (only once) a message saying something like “phone is now unlocked”.

    Also update to the latest firmware version while you are at it.

         
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    Posted: 06 June 2012 02:58 PM #13

    Gtrplyr - 04 June 2012 01:55 PM

    Leaving in a week with the family for Europe.  I’d love to bring my AT&T iPhone4 and just get SIM cards for the countries that I’m going to but have never tried anything like that.  From what I understand I have to first “Unlock” the phone.  Then buy SIM’s in the countries with a “Pay as you Go” plan ...

    Any help would be appreciated.  Most of our Hotels have included WIFI so I can check email and use “Facetime” ...  So I’d probably use it more for local calls to help trip planning but I would also like to be able to make some quick calls to the U.S. if needed.

    If you are in London or Italy I’d love to know where is a good place to get a card from.


    Thanks in advance

    In Italy you can get a pre-paid SIM plan from the major carriers. I suggest TIM or Vodafone, since they have the better coverage. Wind and 3 are limited to major cities, but do rather poorly on the highways or rural areas.

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