Mobal Cell Phone

Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:16 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 63
hmmmm - what did we do before cell phones....
Amee is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:57 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Hmmm..

What did we do before jet airplanes?

What did we do before credit cards?

What did we do before television?

What did we do before automobiles?

What did we do before the steam engine?

Technology marches on and life gets better for all!
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 03:54 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
XYZ123 - So, if I go to Paris, then to a phone store and buy myself an unlocked GSM phone, I'm assuming the manual will be in French, and that when I turn the phone on all the menus will be in French. How exactly can you "set the menu to English"? Is this done via the SIM card?

If I then go to say, Russia, I would need another SIM card? Would that be in Russian? Can that be set to English?

djkbooks is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 04:25 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Depends on the country and the company..

Example on my Dutch Vodafone NL SIM, you can have all the voice prompts set to English. The sales person did it for me when I bought the SIM pack.

On my French Orange FR, some of the voice prompts but not all can be set to English by dialing a certain code.

The manual, if you buy the phone in France say may or may not be bilingual. The instruction pack that came with the SIM card was indeed only in French.

Somehow I don't think German SIM cards allow English prompts.

Certainly the sales person can give you a quick tour of the phone's features.

The phone's internal menus can always be set to English...Again the salesperson will be able to do this for you.

BTW I have never had this problem with the SIM cards I have purchased in the UK.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 04:25 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
djkbooks,

This should answer any of your questions:

http://telestial.com/instructions.htm
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2004, 07:22 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Thank you, thank you, thank you xyz123 and AAFrequentFlyer.

And, may I take this opportunity to acknowledge your many, many magnificent contributions to this Forum!
djkbooks is offline  
Sep 7th, 2004, 03:19 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 122
After discovering this service as a result of nonnafelice's question, we have decided to try it. There's no question that the per call charges are high, but we won't require many calls, and the simplicity seems to make up for it. We bought the $50 Nokia, and feel it should be more than adequate for now.

I haven't left the country yet, but I thought I would report that so far their customer service has been excellent. We received the phone promptly, with good, detailed instructions on how to get started. When I emailed them with one question, I got a very helpful personal phone call in response.

One other thing I have learned. Callers trying to reach you do indeed have to dial an international number, but they can get a special rate through the phone company which brings down the cost to them dramatically. In our case, a rate plan which costs $2.95 per month brings the cost of calls down from $1.50 per minute to $0.07-- the monthly fee is paid for in 3 minutes of calls. This would also be meainingful if you plan to buy your SIM card locally-- it saves anyone calling you a lot of money.

I'll report again after putting them to the real test!
rsb99 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2004, 05:32 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 22
Has anyone used
Cells4rent?
the prices seem low
$15/month to rent with low min rates.
Almost sounds too good
cells4rent.com
pittitaly is offline  
Oct 1st, 2004, 10:25 AM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
What do you consider low calling rates? And check out a thread on MBNA where a person found what should have been a small bill from a rental phone company turned into a $700 horror...for a month when you would probably be using the phone, you're far better off picking up a cheap dual or tri band GSM phone and using prepaid plans, this is very close to being a no brainer.

And please don't let anybody tell you it's a hassle with prepaid plans. It's as close to a piece of cake as there is.
xyz123 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2004, 03:21 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 122
Here's my follow-up report on Mobal. The phone worked perfectly everywhere we were. Because the company is based in Britain, the service searches for a local provider when you turn the phone on. In our case TIM was always easily accessible. For our very limited usage I think this was a fine solution. We did feel some pressure to keep our calls short (because of the rates), but I expect our total bill to be no more than about $50 (plus the initial purchase of the phone). Voicemail is available, but we did not need it.

This is not to say that in the long run pre-paid doesn't make more sense. But for the occasional traveler (and light phone user) who wants a simple solution Mobal meets a need.
rsb99 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2004, 03:52 PM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 777
Thanks for the follow-up, rsb. We did buy a Mobal phone but don't leave for a few weeks, so I'm glad to know you had success with yours.
nonnafelice is offline  
Oct 14th, 2004, 05:20 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Do remember Mobal is a purchase but the phone is probably locked. If it is a Nokia, it can easily be unlocked and then you can use any SIM card you want in future trips to Europe.
xyz123 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2004, 07:59 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 764
Okay, I am a little slow here. Could you explain this to me? I leave for Italy in a week. I want to have a cell phone to use there but don?t want to spend a lot of money on it (less than $100 total). I might want to use this phone in the future for trips to France or UK. So, I?
(1) buy an unlocked GSM phone. on amazon how much should this cost? What should this cost if I buy the phone in a store in Italy?
(2) Buy a SIM card ? this activates the phone?
(3) Buy some prepaid minutes some how? How does this work? Do they expire or can I use them in the spring when I go back to Europe?
(4) Are there any continuing monthly fees? can i put the phone away after my trip and then use it again in 6 mos.?

I was really hoping to buy something like the disposable ?Go? phones that you can buy from AT&T here. I think for those you just buy a set number of minutes that comes with a cheap phone and when you use the minutes up, you toss the phone.

Sorry for my technological ignorance. I only want to spend about $100 total on this including phone, minutes, activation, delivery (if any) etc. Is that unreasonable. I don?t think I?ll use the phone too much. Thanks!!!

Sally30 is offline  
Oct 15th, 2004, 08:12 AM
  #34  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 777
Go back to the first message in this thread and follow the link from there. That article gives a good rundown on the Mobal phone, as well an excellent overview of various cell phone options. (Thanks to xyz123, who first alerted me to that site.)

If you don't already have a phone that will work in Europe (most Americans don't), AND you don't expect to be making or receiving many calls, the Mobal is the cheapest option I found.

Since you're leaving in a week, if you decide to go for the Mobal, order it right away, as it takes a few days to arrive. (We got ours in 2 days.)
nonnafelice is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 07:19 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 764
Thanks. The website was helpful. I have an additional question. If you buy a GSM phone in the US that comes with a SIM card, are you forever stuck with that SIM card or can you take it out and put in a different card that you buy in the European country that you are traveling in?
I see that The Mobal website lists GSM phones for purchase starting at $49 (free shipping). They include a SIM card with a UK phone number. This $49 seems like a good deal but I don't want to be stuck with a UK phone number since I"m traveling in Italy and then have to pay long distance charges for all my intra-Italy calls.

Ideally, I'd like to buy a phone in the US (so I don't have to bother in Italy) that I can use on this trip to Italy and then on other trips elsewhere in Europe. The posts above make sense when they say that it is cheapest to buy prepaid minutes. So now I'm trying to get a low priced phone with changeable SIM cards.
Sally30 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2004, 09:06 PM
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Their cheapest phone I believe is a Nokia 3310 a solid dual band phone. The phone is probably locked which means you cannot simply substitute a SIM card from any other carrier. Carriers resort to this questionable technique to prevent you from doing just that...it is not the way the phone leaves the factory but since they are subsidizing the purchase of the phone, they don't want you going out and saving money from their outrageous roaming rates.

That's the bad news.

But here's the good news...

Nokia phones are easy to unlock. No the carrier probably will not do it for you. But the calculator for determining unlocking codes has been cracked and is readilly available for free on the web. You might try a web site www.unlock.co.uk for lots of tips for acquiring this calculator and other tips about unlocking Nokia phones. You basically need to know the phone's serial number (called the IMEI number) which is available with a certain code which the web site lists and inserting the code of the locking company (in this case Mobal)...and voila you instantly get the unlocking code for FREE.

Or there are other sites which ask you to furnish the serial number and the name of the locking company and they provide the unlocking code for FREE. Other sites can charge as much as $10 to $15 to furnish unlocking codes.

While most and I'll use the term advisedly "legitemate" mobile phone stores will not furnish unlocking codes, there are many mobile phone stores and kiosks in European cities that do or they use a cable to unlock the phone which is also safe. I know walking down Oxford Street in London, I see store after store offering to unlock mobile phones for prices that range from £8 to £15. Again, Nokia phones are easy, I've unlocked many of them for me and my friends....other brands are a little more difficult as the calculator codes have not yet been cracked (of course it is only a matter of time) and require cables and software...

But don't let anybody tell you or suggest to you that you are doing something either legally or morally wrong. The ones who are doing something morally wrong are the companies that sell you a phone and deliberately disable one of the most important advantages of GSM i.e. the ability to use a SIM card of your choice.

It is a piece of cake and believe me well worth doing as Mobal prices are outrageously high.
xyz123 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 07:46 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 764
Thank you for the response and the tips on unlocking the phones. I prefer to just buy a GSM unlocked phone since I have limited time and technological ability! The cheapest unlocked phones on ebay look to be about $100. Do you think I'm better off buying one of those or trying to find a GSM unlocked phone when I get to Italy? Is it common for cell phone stores in Europe (Venice specifically) to cell unlocked phones. I am happy to go to a phoen store when i get there (and having the phone isn't a dire emergency anyway) but don't want to spend a whole day trying to sort out the phone business. Any other suggestions for online places to buy an inexpensive phone? Thanks again.
Sally30 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 07:55 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,260
xyz123, you are a very patient person, explaining the same things over and over. Your place in heaven is assured ;-)
lobo_mau is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 08:27 AM
  #39  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 777
Re from xyz123:
" You might try a web site www.unlock.co.uk for lots of tips for acquiring this calculator and other tips about unlocking Nokia phones."

I was curious about this, even though I didn't plan to try to unlock my phone right now, as I don't expect to use it enough to justify the cost of a SIM card in Italy. So I went to that site and put in the Nokia model that Mobal sent me (#3410). The list of networks that pops up for unlocking does not include Mobal.

I'm wondering if there is a chance that the phone is actually not locked? The phone comes with a separate Mobal SIM card, which has to be inserted. Its instructions say that to insert it (you can buy the Mobal SIM card separately), you have to start with an unlocked GSM phone. Nothing in the material with the phone tells me whether the $49 phone I bought has been locked in some way to work only with the Mobal card.

But it does say that the Mobal SIM card provides access to over 320 GSM networks in 140 countries. I think it's possible that someone who was traveling to different countries might want the Mobal service for convenience of being able to use any network, and be willing to pay the high per-call cost for that convenience. Maybe Mobal isn't actually a network itself, but rather a "door" into other networks.

Anyway, if anyone knows for sure whether the Nokia phone that Mobal sells is locked, I'd love to know.
nonnafelice is offline  
Oct 18th, 2004, 08:45 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
You're right about mobal not being listed; but evidently they are teaming up with some British carrier as receiving calls in Britain only is free so that part of the advice goes out the window but the phone can easily be unlocked with a cable as explained on the web site.

The other thing to explain is when it says it can be used on x number of providers that is the way roaming works. You don't roam on your carrier if your carrier does not have service in the country you're roaming in.

Example, T mobile USA allows roaming in France. If you have signed up for international roaming (it's free with T mobile USA after you've been a customer for 3 months BTW), as soon as you step off the plane in Paris and turn your t mobile phone on, provided it is a tri band and includes the frequencies used in France (900 and 1800) the phone will search for a carrier which allows it to register i.e. a carrier with which T mobile USA has a roaming agreement (what your literature is talking about)...in the case of France it could be SFR, it could be Orange FR or it could be the third one whose name escapes me right now (see I don't know everything, only almost everything) it doesn't matter, rates are the same but the phone will not read T Mobile as it does at home but whatever network you are roaming on.

About the only way to tell whether or not a phone is locked is to insert a SIM card of another carrier. If the phone boots up, even if it is unable to register on a network, the phone is unlocked. If the phone is locked, it will not boot up rather you will get an error message of some sort indicating the phone is locked; it doesn't even matter if the phone doesn't have a frequency used in the country you are in contrary to the opinion of others. It doesn't start looking for carriers until after it has booted up.

So if you have a friend with a GSM carrier in the US (assuming you are in the US) say T mobile, Cingular (some models) or AT&T WS (some models), while the Nokia 3410 which is a dual band phone with frequencies 900 and 1800 will not work in the US, if the phone doesn't give you a message saying to insert the proper SIM then it is unlocked. If you get such a message then it is locked.
xyz123 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:05 AM.