A naive phone-in-France query again

Jun 22nd, 2012, 07:30 PM
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A naive phone-in-France query again

Intimidated by the level of expertise around, so hoping for a bonehead answer for a non-techie. In Paris/Lausanne 6/30-7/14. I've read that IPhones are the most adaptable but Verizon is the worst provider and those are what I got..
Options: (1) Do what they tell me at Verizon store. (2) Attempt to get Verizon dumbphone unlocked and buy SIMcard at CDG. (3) Buy phone at Virgin store in Paris.. (4) Buy an unlocked global phone (e.g.Samsung E1080 "Unlocked GSM Phone - International Version - NOT for use in the USA" - Amazon $35).
Thank you. Thank you.
vputin is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 07:47 PM
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Don't feel bad, I'm dumber aoout phones than you. Interested in the answers.
tomboy is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 07:58 PM
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As you already had in mind, buy a cheap unlocked phone on Amazon (if you have enough time) or buy it when you get to your destination, buy a local sim, pop it into the phone, and you are all set.
mrcamp is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 11:41 PM
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You could do 1, 3 or 4 but 2 won't work (assuming by "Verizon dumbphone" you mean some older/less robust phone you have through Verizon). This is because Verizon is a different technology that doesn't use sim cards, except in their advertized "global" phones and in the iPhone 4S.

As for your option 4, you don't need to get a phone for use "only in Europe". If you'd rather a more versatile phone, look for a "quad band" one that will work on both US bands and European ones. (You should still be able to find an inexpensive one.) However, I'd say that this is more important for AT&T or T-Mobile (sim-based providers) than if stateside you're Verizon only...

Oh and option 1 will probably be the most expensive!
ggreen is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 12:49 AM
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You can purchase European band phone at places such as Virgin or Phonehouse or other independent outlets in Paris with SIMs and talk credit for as little as 30€. If you already have a mobile phone solution for the USA, there is really no compelling need for you to purchase a quad band phone.
Sarastro is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 01:12 AM
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I'm very dumb about cell phones and hardly ever turn mine on but I have Verizon service/flip phone and I do know that they do not have SIM capability so option #2 is a no go.

My niece (on the same Verizon plan) bought a cheap phone when she got to France and loaded it with minutes when she needed to. It seemed to work out fine.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 06:19 AM
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It seems to me I have read that Verizon will unlock your iPhone for you if you've been with them for 6 months or more. You can then use *any* SIM. If you have one of the Verizon phones that is CDMA (in other words, the wrong system for Europe) you'll need to buy or borrow an unlocked Quad band GSM phone.

I like my iPhone so if possible I'd take it ... you can always use it with WIFI if it's CDMA. If it is GSM and Verizon gives you the run around you can get it unlocked yourself. Google your town name and 'unlock iPhone'. Where I live it costs 25 dollars for a 3GS and 50 for a 4S.

The one thing I would not do is agree to the outrageous rates many providers charge for international roaming. And be sure you have data switched off unless you pop in a for SIM.
ParisAmsterdam is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2012, 09:50 AM
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We phonedummies are always warned to have "data switched off".

Does this mean not using the browser?

If I use it (I've an LG500G) only to access a Bing map, how many minutes on my Tracfone would be used up?
tomboy is offline  
Jun 24th, 2012, 10:41 AM
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Thanks for all the helpful and tolerant replies. Glad to know that several options are feasible, with 3 & 4 well on top. Should have made it more clear that I do have an iPhone4S with Verizon; sounds like the downside is looking at $50+ for unlocking it (I know there are much cheaper routes for more advanced techies which is nearly everyone).

ParisAmsterdam (aka Thalys?) is the 4S "CDMA"?

Thanks all and glad to know others enjoyed the replies.
vputin is offline  
Jun 24th, 2012, 11:10 AM
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Called Verizon in preparation for Italy trip. They shipped us 2 global-capable phones for $20 each. They put 2 of our family plan numbers on a plan for $5.99/month. Fees would be 99 cents for talking and 99 cents for listening---so $1.98 for a minute connection. Texting was 50 cents. OK, after all, we were not goinig to call home or each other to have long conversations---just a quick update about meeting where and when later, etc.
THE PHONES NEVER WORKED AT ALL. Got a total refund, though.
annettafly is offline  
Jun 25th, 2012, 08:59 AM
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It seems to me I have read that Verizon will unlock your iPhone for you if you've been with them for 6 months or more. You can then use *any* SIM.

PA, just to be very clear (and apologies for being redundant), older version Verizon iPhones will not work in Europe. But for the 4S, yes this is true.

We phonedummies are always warned to have "data switched off". Does this mean not using the browser?

tomboy, even we "seasoned" global phone users need to be reminded of this! The reason is because we all have a tendency to (a) leave data on all the time, and (b) have all sorts of "bells & whistles" set up on our phones that use data without our really realizing it (checking for new email and providing a notification, for example; GPS location is another one).

If you don't have any of these things set up on your smartphone, you could leave the data "on". But IMO it's better to get in the habit overseas to have data off by default, then turn it on when you want to use the browser, map, etc. in a place where you don't have access to wifi - and remember to turn it off again afterwards.

Also note that a number of apps (such as Google Maps) will let you store things offline. For example, you could load up a map of the 1st arrondisement of Paris, then save it locally, so it's stored on your phone for use without data at a later time.

As for the cost of using the data, it will vary by provider and I'm not familiar with Tracfone. I can tell you that data is measured by volume (bits); voice is measured in minutes; and texts are measured per 160-character message. So if your data plan charges $1 per KB (kilobit) and $1 per minute for voice, these are equivalent...

You could get a rough idea of how many bits are needed to look at a map by going through the motions at home; your screen should indicate (at the bottom maybe?) how many bits are being downloaded. You also can look at your current usage to get an idea of how much data you use in a month; this should be available under Phone Information or Account Information, and also in your account information on the service provider's website (Verizon, AT&T...).

// vputin, do try and see if Verizon will unlock the phone for you. (Even if you've had it less than 6 months, you might be able to make a successful petition!)

From what I understand, the iPhone 4S has hardware inside for both CDMA (so that it works on Verizon's network in the US) and GSM.
ggreen is offline  
Jun 25th, 2012, 09:14 AM
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I use a good old faithful Motorola Razor bought from Telestial with a global Sim card. I have used it for years with absolutely no problems. Most incoming calls are free and the rates are cheap enough for me. The most expensive so far was calling from Russia. It cost .79 per minute.
scatcat is offline  
Jul 5th, 2012, 01:58 PM
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Thanks all for the posts. I bought an unlocked Samsung from Amazon about $40. A supersaleswoman at Relay in CDG installed the SIM & checked it out, about $30 with 20 euro worth of time. This phone is 2X smaller, 2X more versatile and 10X more intuitive than my dumb-phone from the Verizon store at home (who BTW said no reasonable way to get them to unlock an iPhone4S). The only bad part was getting deluged with ads in French from SFR then ignoring the important one about running out of time (after about 40 1 min calls).
vputin is offline  
Jul 6th, 2012, 06:24 AM
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Thanks for the update, vputin. Too bad about the messaging situation! (I hope you weren't charged for the ads!)
ggreen is offline  

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