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iPhone Sim Data Question (UK, Italy, France)

iPhone Sim Data Question (UK, Italy, France)

Mar 28th, 2014, 12:51 PM
  #1  
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iPhone Sim Data Question (UK, Italy, France)

Hi All,

I am hoping to use my phone with a prepaid data sim card. I have little use for voice. Can I take my normal phone and use it in UK, Italy, and France without it having it be unlocked. If I did want to use the voice component would it need to be unlocked?

Can I just go to Tmobile UK or 3 and just buy one without issue? I have seen decent pricing for data which should help me avoid hotel wifi usage.
ucsun is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 12:56 PM
  #2  
 
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No, you cannot use a SIM other than the one issued from your original carrier if the phone is still locked to that carrier.
Seamus is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 01:02 PM
  #3  
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Just spoke to ATT and they said the same. Maybe I can purchase a used unlocked Android phone as I think Android's can turn into hotspots easy too.
ucsun is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 01:39 PM
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Some Androids, not all. Remember that Android is just the operating system, there are all kinds of phones with various features that use Android OS. But you can certainly have a ball browsing around on eBay for an unlocked quad band phone!
Seamus is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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You could turn mobile data off, and just rely on WiFi hotspots. Lots of places offer free WiFi.
If you buy an unlocked phone you may have a problem with roaming with a prepaid SIM. You need to check that with different providers, or buy a SIM in each country.
I know Vodafone NL allows international roaming on a prepaid, and to top it up abroad, but maybe not all providers allow it.
hetismij2 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2014, 02:41 PM
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You can get a cheap unlocked GSM Android phone on EBay or Amazon for around $100USD or here in Italy for about €80.

I think any Android phone with later than version 2.2 or so can be used for tethering, but a lot of data plans specifically forbid tethering. Mine, which is a very basic plan forbids tethering. I've done it for short periods and they haven't complained about it. I imagine that if I did it on a regular basis they would figure it out and make me pay more, but if I did it regularly, I'd need a more expensive plan anyway, because I only get 1 gb a month with my plan. It's enough for a phone, since I use wifi a good deal of the time, but tethering to a laptop, for instance, would use a lot more than that in a month.

If you can find a provider in your first country with good inter-EU roaming, including data roaming, rates, you might be better to just buy the one SIM card and use it everywhere. My Italian provider, TIM, has several excellent options for data roaming in Europe and in the US. It would pay you to do a little research on the various providers in your first European country to see if there's one with good roaming rates within Europe. The EU has mandated that providers have to cut their inter-EU roaming rates, but when I've looked into it, I don't see that other providers have cut them as much as TIM has.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 10:14 AM
  #7  
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To have it work with 3G at least what specific bands should the phone have..definitely looking for an android.

I'm ok getting 2 SIM cards to cover my travels. First in London we can use one...then in Italy get one that we can roam with. But it will be far cheaper than hotel wifi. and the benefit of having GPS/nav/google as we walk around.
ucsun is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 12:06 PM
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Any quadband phone will work with 3G.

I need to update my earlier comment. I happened to check my phone plan's rules yesterday and see that TIM no longer forbids tethering with their most basic plans. It never made sense, as long as the user stayed within the limits of the plan.

Also, all of TIM's bundles for smartphones allow you to add another gb of data for €5 a month. Since all of these bundles have more talk time and text messages than most tourists would ever use, it's probably best to get the cheapest (TIM Special Start, €15 per month) and add a gb of data. That would give you 200 minutes of talk, 200 text messages, and 2 gb of data, to be used within a month, for €20.

CAVEAT: everything I say below may be out of date by the time of your trip. TIM is planning to revise its plans in early April. I don't think Fodor's has any way to send a private message; it would be good if you could send me a message just before your trip, so I can check up on these plans for you. I can only suggest that I use the same screen name on TripAdvisor, so if you can find me there, usually in the Rome Forum, you could send me a private message there. Anyway, I wouldn't expect any big changes.

As things stand now, the best TIM plan for roaming within Europe and the USA, if you'll be using more than a little data, is Tim in Viaggio Pass. This costs €10 per week of use outside of Italy. It gives you 250 minutes, 250 texts, and 500 mb of data to be used within a week, which starts when you first use the phone outside of Italy for texting, talking, or navigating. The plan expires at the end of a week, but can be reactivated by sending an SMS with the words "TIMINVIAGGIOPASS ON". If you don't renew it, your fall-back plan will be the more lightweight, pay for consumption, TIM in Viaggio Full, which lets you make calls within Europe and the US to any other covered country for 16 cents a minutes, with a 16-cent connection charge. If you connect to 3G, it charges you €3 for that day, for 25 mb of data.

It's almost impossible to top up your credit outside of Italy, so make sure you have enough credit to renew your plan, or to pay for calls and data as you go, before leaving Italy.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 12:08 PM
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GSM protocol on the 900/1800mHz bands.

Any SIM you purchase in country A will be in roaming, at higher rates, while in country B. The cheapest option is usually to obtain a SIM for each country as SIM cost is low and recharging a UK SIM while in France, for example, can only be done if the UK SIM can be recharged on line. You plan is fine assuming your time in France is short.

GPS usage on a smartphone has two concerns, high battery usage and very high data consumption (downloading the maps as you move about). There are apps that let you download maps in advance, then your position is displayed upon maps in your database.
Sarastro is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 12:14 PM
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If you had T-Mobile as a service provider, and the iPhone, there wouldn't be any need to purchase a local sim card. Messaging and data services are free in at least 100 countries and if you need to make a call, locally or back home, the charge is only $0.20/minute.
Robert2533 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 12:36 PM
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"As things stand now, the best TIM plan for roaming within Europe and the USA, if you'll be using more than a little data, is Tim in Viaggio Pass." This has been outdated since T-Mobile started offering their Simple Choice Plan: Unlimited Talk + Text. There is noting that compares for anyone who has access to the service.
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Mar 31st, 2014, 12:39 PM
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Also, T-Mobile is now offering free Wi-Fi calling on those phones equipped with the feature.
Robert2533 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 12:39 PM
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T-Mobile Free Wi-Fi Calling gives you unlimited Wi-Fi minutes, unlimited high speed data and when travelling internationally free calls back to the USA – all at no additional cost.
Robert2533 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 12:42 PM
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My daughter has T-Mobile. She was thinking of switching back to Verizon because of horrendous coverage problems at home, but she kept it because of a planned trip to the UK. Unfortunately, she was never able to connect the whole time she was there.
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Mar 31st, 2014, 01:01 PM
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I was told at the verizon store Verizon iPhone 5 and 5s both came unlocked. I didn't believe him naturally because Verizon doesn't do anything for free. I did put my daughter's T-Mobile SIM into my phone and it turned on with the T-mobile banner. The guy in the store told me that the Verizon international plan is very expensive and that my best bet was to buy a local SIM when we get to Italy, that is exactly what I plan to do.
jscarbary is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 01:08 PM
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bvlenci, We've been to Ireland and Spain since switching back to T-Mobile from AT&T and not experienced any problems using the iPhone for talk, messaging or data. Was your daughter's iPhone set up properly?
Robert2533 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 01:18 PM
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I'll assume you have, just checking, but have you requested AT&T unlock your phone via the online form? I had no problem getting the unlock code + instructions via this route (which I think is the only route). Took 2 or 3 days after submitting to receive the info in an email from them.

https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/client/en_US/
(check box and bottom and press agree)

If you were denied, what was the reason?
bluestar is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 02:27 PM
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The US Tmobile plan is on 2G when international I believe?
ucsun is offline  
Mar 31st, 2014, 03:41 PM
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2G is about right, except when in a Wi-Fi zone. You can always buy a high-speed data plan (designed for business travelers) if you really need to do any streaming (but why?).

The 2G is fast enough to check the iPhone mapping system, which is better than Google Maps, and great for checking emails. It also works fine when uploading photos to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or anything else you happen to use.

And it's free!
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Apr 1st, 2014, 07:38 AM
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My daughter's phone is an Android phone, not an iPhone. She bought it in Italy a few years ago, and has used it both there and in the US since then.

2G is not very useful for data services. It's OK for email, but I don't see how you could use it for uploading photos. We spend part of our summers in an isolated rural area in Italy, where we have to get by with 2G, and my only word is "PAINFUL"!

Also, Google Maps allows you to download maps in advance when you have wifi availability. I've used Google Navigator side-by-side with my daughter's (the other one) iPhone mapping app, and even she says Google Navigator is hands-down the better app.

The EU has clamped down on high roaming costs within the EU, so I imagine that wherever you go, it's no longer true that it's best to buy a new SIM card when traveling between EU countries, especially for short visits. Starting in July 2014, the maximum amount that can be charged for a phone call while roaming in the EU is 19 cents a minute. Data will be capped at 20 cents per mb. My Italian phone provider (TIM) already has roaming rates well below those limits, and the same rates are applicable in the US, where I visit fairly often, so I really never buy a new SIM card any more.

Whenever you buy a new SIM card, you have to consider the cost of leaving credit unused on the old one, in addition to the cost of setting up the new one.
bvlenci is offline  

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