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Aug 22nd, 2013, 08:12 PM
  #1
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Cell Phones

My mom and I are taking a trip to London next April and it's my first time going overseas. I plan on taking my Galaxy S3 but only using it on the wifi for browsing (no texts or phone calls). But I want my mom and I to be able to contact each other if we are separated, or when we need to call any local businesses or our family friend who lives right outside of London.

My mom's phone is an ancient flip phone from Verizon, so I can get a local sim card for her. My phone doesn't have a sim, so maybe I can find an old phone around the house or one that my friends no longer use.

So when I get to London, what's the best course of action? Find a shop that sells UK sim cards? Will it work in any cell phone that takes sim cards? Do I need to be a local to buy a local sim card?
rackfocus is offline  
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 08:27 PM
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What ever phone you decide on will have to be unlocked. I would check eBay to see what's available. Your mom's moms ancient flip phone will also need to be unlocked, if it is indeed a GSM phone. If not, then forget it.

You can wait until you arrive in London, or purchase a sim ahead of time. There are several sources available online.

No, you do not need to be a local. All you'll need is your passport and a credit card.
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 08:36 PM
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Okay, so it needs to be a GSM phone, and it needs to be unlocked. Those are the two criteria for being able to use a UK sim card?
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 08:46 PM
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Does it need to be on a carrier? Can I just take any old unlocked GSM phone to the UK, pop in a sim card, top it off somewhere, and be good to go or do I have to have it activated through a cell carrier?
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 11:29 PM
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Okay, so it needs to be a GSM phone, and it needs to be unlocked. Those are the two criteria for being able to use a UK sim card?

The phone has to be GSM because there are only GSM networks in Europe.

The phone needs to be unlocked so it can accept SIMs from other carriers than what the phone was originally sold for.

If you have a GSM phone but it is not unlocked, don't fret: there are probbaly hundreds of shops in London that will unlock your phone for you for a few quid. It has been my experience that most places that sell used cell phones and SIMs offer this service.


Can I just take any old unlocked GSM phone to the UK, pop in a sim card, top it off somewhere, and be good to go or do I have to have it activated through a cell carrier?

You just need a topped off SIM. The network carrier stuff is already done for you.
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 11:32 PM
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Great. I misplace an i or a / somewhere in my formatting and my whole post is ruined.

Can someone remind me why there is no short-term edit function on this forum?
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 11:33 PM
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To operate at all in UK, the phone must be GSM with 900mhz and 1800mhz.

To use a UK SIM, the phone must be unlocked if you are taking a US phone.

My mom's phone is an ancient flip phone from Verizon, so I can get a local sim card for her. Verizon operates on CDMA in the US and not on GSM. So an ancient Verizon flip phone is probably CDMA only. Are you sure it can take a SIM = GSM phone? Verizon does have CDMA/GSM dual phones, but these are high-end phones, e.g. Blackberry, iPhone 4S and up, etc.
greg is offline  
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Aug 23rd, 2013, 12:12 AM
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You can pick up a used flip phone for less than 10 GBP so that concern should go away.
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Aug 23rd, 2013, 03:39 AM
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Verizon flip phones do not have SIM capability and neither do qwerty phones. You need something much more sophisticated.

Follow sparkchaser's advice and buy a phone when you get to your destination.
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Aug 23rd, 2013, 03:44 AM
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QWERTY phones most certainly can be GSM capable.
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