London cell phone

Old Jan 1st, 2007, 10:21 PM
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London cell phone

Can anyone tell me what would be the most economical method of making/receiving cell phone calls while on vacation on London this February? I've read other posts and it looks like a mobal GSM phone for $49 dollars lets me receive free incoming calls from the US AND I can use it while in Ireland. I was wondering if I bought a SIM card from mobileworld carphone warehouse and used that (also free incoming calls and cheaper outgoing) in the UK, and then took it out when I went to Ireland and used the Mobal SIM card, would that scenario work? Are the SIM cards interchangeable in the Mobal phone? Any info would be appreciated, as well as any other suggestions. Thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 04:47 AM
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ira
 
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Hi M,

The Mobal phone is good if you will be using your phone for emergencies.

If you want to actually use the phone, enter <cell phone> in the "search tis forum" box.

You will learn all that you need to know.

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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 05:52 AM
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Mobal phones can't be used with anything but a Mobal SIM. Incoming calls to a Mobal phone are free in the UK, but not anywhere else; in Ireland and in western Europe, they cost $1.25 per minute. Mobal is good as your primary cellphone provider only if you don't expect to do much calling.
I'd suggest going to carphone warehouse when you reach London, buying an inexpensive unlocked GSM phone with European frequency bands, and asking the sales person what he/she would suggest to solve your calling problem. If you want to have a number to give to people in the States before you leave, you could buy a Mobal SIM (without the phone) before you leave. The SIM along costs $10 if ordered from the Mobal site, and you can bring it along with you and have the sales person help you install it when you buy your phone in London.
Alternatively, you can buy an unlocked GSM phone on the internet before you leave. A new Motorola v190 costs about $100 on Ebay, and welectronics.com or samstores.com are selling new Nokia 6610's for $150.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 11:13 AM
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I purchased a cheap cell phone (Siemens A57) at a Virgin store in London for £19.99 and it came with a Virgin SIM card with £5 credit on it and a top-up card. Probably a cheaper way to go. If you buy a phone from a Virgin store, ask a sales person for the cheapest phone - they don't ususally have them on display.

Be cautious about buying phones on ebay. I purchased a supposedly unlocked GSM triband phone and when I got to London it did not work - every SIM I tried (and I pretty much tried them all), the phone/SIM said "No Service."

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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 11:35 AM
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Kayb95...

Doesn't sound to me you had a locked phone...let me make this clear...when you turn on a gsm phone it boots up much like a computer does and follow a sequence of steps.

1. First thing it looks for is there a sim card in the phone...if not you will immediately get a message please insert sim card.

2. Now secondly it looks to see if the sim card is authorised...this is where the idea of locked or unlocked comes in...if the phone is (sim) locked to a carrier and you don't have that carrier's sim card in the phone you get a message to the effect unauthorized sim card...it is this bit of programming that locks th ephone and when the phone is unlocked, it is removed. So since you did not get that message, the phone was not locked.

3. Now it looks for the service provider of the sim card...if it finds it, it registers.

If it can't find the service provider of the sim card, in essence it starts knocking at the door of the various carriers it finds and asks, so to say, will you register me....the sim card may have preferred providers on it...if at some point it finds a carrier with which it can register, it registers and you see the name of that carrier in the display.

I believe your problem was a frequency problem...did you buy a phone with both 900 and 800 mhz. frequencies? I have read of cases where unknowing people, for example, have bought a so called world phone in the USA which most unfortunately in this day and age if it is a tri band carries the 850, 1800 and 1900 frequencies and lacks the 900 frequency and then tries to insert the sim card of a carrier that operates on 900 and gets the no service message...

In the UK Virgin uses T Mobile UK towers and operates on 1800 for the most part so such a phone would work with Virgin Mobile...Mobile World uses O2 towers so either an O2 or Mobile World sim card will not operate on such a phone in most areas of London...

When you are roaming using T Mobile USA say in the UK, this is not a big problem as the phone will find some carrier operating on 1800 but company specific sims have this problem.

What frequencies does your ebay purchased phone have and what sim cards did you try?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 11:39 AM
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I've had good luck buying phones on ebay by 1) only buying from sellers with lots of feedback and 99% ratings or better, 2) buying phones that work in both the US and Europe (quadbands or 900/1800/1900 tribands), and 3) trying them out as soon as I get them. If your cell phone operator in the US is not T Mobile or Cingular, you won't be able to try your phone out here , and in this case I'd follow Kayb95's suggestion.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 01:17 PM
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Thanks everyone for the responses. I think I'm going to go with carphone warehouse when I get there. I can do without a phone for a few days while I'm in Ireland. Thank you much...
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 01:51 PM
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I bought a Sony Ericsson T610 tri-band on EBay and it worked just fine in London and Paris. It's a terrific phone, so I purchased two more on EBay (from different sellers). Reception and battery life are excellent.

You do have to be careful about purchasing phones with the proper frequencies.

The T610 has 900/1800/1900. However, other models come up with a search for T610, such as the T616 which has 850/1800/1900.

As mentioned above, you need 900 & 1800 for Europe. So, when shopping for a phone on EBay, you must check and not just assume that any "unlocked tri-band" will work for you.

We've also used Mobal SIM's with no problems when we carry the phones just for emergencies and do not plan to make or receive a lot of calls.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 02:13 PM
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Here's where the problem comes in and I've seen it on ebay...

Until about two years ago, T Mobile USA when they sold international tri band phones sold phones with 900/1800/1900 perfect for use on their network in the US and with both European frequencies.

However, T Mobile USA has been sort of forced for competitive reasons to sign roaming agreements within the USA with some smaller providers which operate on 850...since then the tri band phones pushed by T Mobile USA have been 850/1800/1900 which leads to two problems

1. In some European countries the predominant frequency is 900 and these phones would be useless there even if unlocked.

2. It cuts down on what is available in the USA in terms of tri band phones as GSM is by no means the most popular technology (Verizon is the largest mobile provider in the US and is most assuredly not GSM)...this being the case the kinds of phone available in the USA on the GSM networks are very limited and do not have many of the bells and whistles of GSM phones available in the rest of the world. Models available in Europe for months still are not available in the USA as the manufacturer's really are not committed to the USA market...Americans are very late in the mobile phone game somewhat because of the predominance of non Gsm carriers such as Verizon, Nextel and Sprint as well as the very well built up landline system within the USA.

A further problem is caused by Nokia, a very large mobile phone manufacturer. Nokia has not really embraced quad band phones....their international phones are almost all tri bands...of course their first committment is to the worldwide (as opposed to the North American) markets and their tri bands are invariably 900/1800/1900 which are nearly useless on Cingular USA and okay but somewhat limited on T Mobile USA (whose naitive frequency is only 1900 but does roam within North America on 850)...this being the case European (and say Australians) coming to the USA who roam with their own phones are restricted pretty much to T Mobile USA which is okay in all the major cities and along most of the interestates (motorways) but can be a problem in some more rural areas of the USA.

Now here comes the stinker...Nokia does not use different model numbers for its tri band phones made for worldwide use (900/1800/1900) and North American use (850/1800/1900)...thus you will find many merchants on ebay advertising an international Nokia 3220 (a cheap camera phone about 3 years old)...but it is really the 3220B (they almost never list the B) which is the model made for North America and lacks the 900 band (instead it has the 850 band).

Of course the solution is quad band phones but most of these are made by motorola and frankly from what I've read, many do not like Motorola phones (I've never had one but this is based on second hand evidence).

To their credit, as the previous poster noted, at least Sony Ericsson uses different model numbers for their true international phones as opposed to the bastardized North American phones...The T610 (about 3 or 4 years old) is an okay model with a camera (long since obsolete in some places by later and better models but certainly a phone that works and may be available more cheaply than later models) is a true international phones and if you buy one, you can be sure the model will have 900/1800/1900; SE makes the same phone the T616 which is essentially the same phone except it has the North American frequencies (850/1800/1900) and if you want to use such a phone with a local sim which has predominant 900 service (say O2 or Mobileworld in the UK) you will most likely get the no service signal...if you're roaming with an 850/1800/1900 usually you will get a signal from some carrier which operates on both 900 and 1800 so it isn't that big a concern...in some rural areas of Ireland, for example, I found there was only 1800 service available and lacking the 900 band meant the phone was useless there and such areas exist throughout Europe.

So if you go to Ebay, yes you can bet good prices, yes the phones will generally be unlocked but if you intend to use the phones outside North America you have to make sure, if it is a tri band, that it is 900/1800/1900 and sometimes the merchant doesn't make it clear or frankly doesn't know the difference.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2007, 03:34 PM
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I second your choice to hit a Carphone Warehouse upon your arrival (they are everywhere), in which you can get a pay as you go phone for 10-20 quid and then purchase top up minutes - which can be purchased at Boots and other chemist shops, not just at the Warehouse. Very convientant. I have one from my last UK visit and was told that I can purchase a new sim card on my next trip for around 5 quid (apparently they only last 6 months if you don't continue to use them). I think it's very economical and easy compared to buying a phone off from Ebay and worrying about whether it's locked or not or a true international phone. If you want to price phones first, go to the Carphone Warehouse website and have a look before you go. Someone posted on here that the really cheap ones are not well posted - that's true. My phone was only 9.99 and I had to ask the clerk for that one.
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Old Jan 7th, 2007, 11:46 AM
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Looks like Carphone Warehouse's cheapest is 25 quid including 10 quid airtime.
I will be in London for 8 days and want 3 phones so each of the 2 kids can have one for in-case-I'm-lost. I will probably never use the phones again. Does anyplace rent them?
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Old Jan 7th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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Some suggestions...

You won't find rental phones all that much cheaper...

Maybe one of your friends has an old gsm tri band phone you can borrow....maybe they are a phone geek and have upgraded to one of the latest models...maybe you can find and borrow a gsm phone and then you can buy a prepaid sim which will be dirt cheap or

perhaps one of your friends on either cingular (assuming you're in the USA) or T Mobile have a family plan and can lend you a phone and you can text message with the kids (you'll pay them back of course)....where there's a will there's a way.
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Old Jul 11th, 2007, 01:47 PM
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ttt
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Old Jul 12th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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If you are calling home you could also use Ja Jah

You basically go to their website and enter your phone number and the other person's number and then both phones ring.

OK i know you are thinking "but i'd have to get to a computer" yes you do but you can book the call to be made later in the day.

The costs are less than 2p a min to the states and if the person calling also has a Ja Jah account it's free.

And no i don't work for them. I used it when travelling around South America last summer.

There will be times when you need to use your cell phone but if you make regular calls home it does work.

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