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Yet Another iPhone Question

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Going to France next week with family and five Iphone5s among us. At the Apple store this afternoon, the fellow told me that my phone is locked here in USA but unlocked in Europe; therefore, we can buy SIM cards in France that will enable us to inexpensively text, phone each other when not together. Sounded good.

Soooo, I walked down to the other end of the mall to the AT&T store (our provider), and the clerk there said that unless I paid ~$600+ for the phone (I did not), it is locked both here and abroad. He suggested that we all buy cheap phones over there just to use for the couple of weeks that we will be gone.

Can anyone help me sort this out? Since our entire immediate family are going to be on this trip, calls to USA would be minimal; however, since we'll have 3 rental cars, we will probably need to call/text each other over there, from time to time, for where to meet, what time, etc. if we are out separately. Also we'll want to make local calls.

The guy at the AT&T store seemed to think that buying a phone over there is even better than buying the AT&T international plan, which is not much of a savings. I looked into the international plan when going to France last fall and decided against it. That trip I only made a couple of calls home, pictures to friends, FB, etc., and think I paid about $20 extra that month. But this trip is a different scenario, touching base with those we're traveling with.

Thank you for any advice about your experiences with this.

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