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iphone 5 in europe with new sim--is imessage free? texting?roaming?

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We will be in Switz and Italy. Verizon told me to buy orange/Switz and vodafone/Italy sim cards as the most reliable.
Is TIM more reliable/cheaper than Vodafone?
We want to be able to make local calls, internet when necessary.

When i put in the sim cards, do i have access to my texting? all contacts?
when i text to an iphone in the US does it use data?
does facetime use data up in europe?

To avoid the horrific verizon roaming charges, i want to make sure i turn off the rights things.
Are these the right steps?

1. Once flying out of LAX--turn off
cellular data LTE Roming and International something

2. Once have new Sim card, turn on voice roaming/ data roming/ cellular roaming/ cellular data

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    If you get a Swiss Orange SIM card, I don't think you'll need to get a new Italian SIM card in Italy. Throughout Europe, roaming charges have been coming down. Switzerland isn't part of the EU, but they've been following the same trend.

    Swiss Orange has two options that allow you to use their SIM card in the rest of Europe without breaking the bank. Go Europe (5 CHF, or about $5.50) would allow you to do voice and text roaming in Italy at the same cost as in Switzerland. Go Europe Data (20 CHF or about $22) would give you 200 mb of data to use in Italy. 200 mb is not a whole lot; for me it would suffice for two weeks, but I'm not a heavy data user.

    I don't know what the basic tariffs for talk and data are with Swiss Orange, nor what they charge for a new SIM card. I looked up only their roaming options. There may be other providers in Switzerland with better rates. Maybe someone else can advise on this.

    If you buy a Swiss SIM card, you wouldn't need to turn on roaming as long as you're in Switzerland. In fact, I'd advise you to keep it turned off, because near the borders with other countries, you sometimes pick up a foreign signal instead of the Swiss signal, and pay higher rates. Once you get to Italy, if you've bought the Go Europe options, you'd have to turn roaming on. However, I'd keep the data roaming turned off unless you need it, and use wifi wherever possible, because the amount of data with the Swiss plan isn't exactly plentiful. If you don't buy the Go Europe options (meaning you've decided to buy an Italian SIM card), keep roaming turned off until you have your new Italian SIM card installed and functioning.

    I live in Italy, so I know that situation much better. If you decide to buy a new SIM card in Italy, you could expect to spend about €30 (about $40) in total for a SIM card plus data plan. The data plans usually include talk and texts, probably more than you'd need. Vodafone and TIM are both reliable and their costs are similar. In the countryside, TIM usually has better coverage; it's Italy's largest provider.

    TIM has a special plan for tourists called TIM Welcome for €20 (about
    $27) which would give you plenty of talk (200 minutes) and data (2 gb, which is 10 times what the Go Europe Data from Swiss Orange allows) to use inside Italy for a month. You can use the 200 minutes to call both within Italy and also to the US and many other countries. The plan doesn't include text messages, but you could use something like What's App for texting, because you'd have more data than most people could use. You'd have to pay €10 for the SIM card, so your total cost would be €30 (about $40). It would probably cost somewhat less to roam with the Swiss Orange plan, but if you need a lot of data or would like to call the US from Italy, it might be worth the extra expenditure. You can see details here:

    http://www.international.tim.it/en/tim-welcome

    If you decide to buy an Italian SIM card, you wouldn't need to turn on any roaming while you're in Italy. Roaming is only used when you're using a SIM card outside the coverage area of that SIM card.

    Access to your address book contacts depends on whether you store them on the phone, as most people do. I don't know if Verizon phones always store the data on the phone, but do make sure that your address book is on the phone before leaving home.

    Facetime uses data, but texting doesn't use data services no matter where in the world you are. Before texting to the US, find out what each text message will cost you.

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