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Postal Mar 18th, 2005 04:14 PM

Mobal Cell Phone - Great!
I'd like to thank the people who recommended I buy a Mobal cell phone for $49 before leaving for Germany, since I needed to have a phone number before I left the U.S.

My Nokia (a great little phone) was $49 with no shipping charges, arrived in 48 hours, and less than an hour after arriving in Germany, I received the call I'd been waiting for. After a couple of days of using the phone for only one or two minutes per day (at $1.49 per minute), I bought a 30 euro SIM card from a local T-Mobile store and my price per minute went down considerably. My son in Germany is keeping the phone, so it was definitely a great buy!

ira Mar 19th, 2005 05:45 AM

Glad it worked out, Postal.

nonnafelice Mar 19th, 2005 11:02 AM


Did you have to unlock the phone before putting in the new SIM card, or was it good to go?

We got a Mobal for our last trip to italy, and it was great for emergency use, but I was wondering about the possibility of putting in another card if I should want to use it more than just occasionally.

xyz123 Mar 19th, 2005 11:37 AM

Apparently the phones they are sending at this time are can find out easily enough by borrowing somebody else's sim card and putting it in the phone. If you don't get a message to the effect the phone is locked to another carrier, even if the phone doesn't register on any network, then it is unlocked. If it is locked you will get a message and this is the first thing a mobile phone checks when it is turned on!

djkbooks Mar 19th, 2005 11:45 AM

Note that Mobal is currently issuing SIM cards free of charge. If you are visiting only one country and not planning to make a lot of calls, using Mobal may be more economical than a local SIM. And, your phone number is e-mailed to you once your order has been processed.

xyz123 Mar 19th, 2005 12:03 PM

Just to amend the previous post should say if you are not planning to make or receive many calls outside the UK as Mobal charges an arm and a leg to receive calls outside the UK...

Do remember that local sim's and Riiing sim's include free reception of calls in Europe. Have to do the math to see if it makes a difference.

Postal Mar 19th, 2005 02:37 PM

Yes, the phone WAS unlocked. And I was glad to get rid of the U.K. phone number since I was in Germany. The SIM card from the T-Mobile store was a local German number and had free incoming calls.

djkbooks Mar 19th, 2005 03:19 PM

xyz123 - Thank you for the amendment.

Your many posts have been invaluable in sorting out how to acquire and use cell phones for travel in Europe.

Since my husband and I need phones only for occasionally keeping in touch while out and about and the odd restaurant reservation, the Mobal SIM will be much more economical for the two of us than a French SIM.

On our first trip to London, we rented one phone through our Verizon service at home. Made maybe three short calls. Next time, we had two phones we'd purchased and bought Virgin SIM's. I don't think we used up 15 minutes total between the two of us in 12 days.

The nifty thing about a free SIM, is that you can hit the ground running, then buy a local SIM if you find you'll be using your phone(s) more often.

wannabe Apr 1st, 2005 06:15 PM

People here on the forum have been saying that they purchased a Mobal cell phone and replaced the sim card with one purchased in Europe. I'm a bit confused because when I went to the Mobal website it said their cell phones were locked and couldn't be replaced by any other sim card. You had to use their sim card. Is this true or do you think they want you to believe that so that you only purchase/use their sim cards? I need to purchase a cell phone for my upcoming trip to Italy and don't want to pay a lot for calls. The Mobal deals seems sweet for only $49.00 but if I have to pay 1.25/minute for outgoing/incoming calls it will get expensive. But if I can replace it with a cheaper sim card once I get to Italy, it would be worth it....Any info much appreciated...thanks, Pat

xyz123 Apr 1st, 2005 06:51 PM

Yes the site says the phone is locked but...

oh about 2 or 3 months ago, somebody posted about Mobal. I said to him the problem might be the phones are locked. He said the phone he got was not locked. So I figured, what the hell, my son needed a phone for a trip to Europe and since it was a Nokia I knew I could unlock it anyway so I ordered one and guess what, the phone arrived unlocked. Another clue is this. They basically use O2 sim cards a UK carrier who for years sold phones in the UK that were not locked.

So I can't buarantee you the phone will be unlocked but my guess is that it will be (unless Mobal is spying on this forum and begins to make an effort to lock the phones).

However, since it is a Nokia, you can either download the nokia unlocking calculator which is freely available all over the web or go to the web site where there is a forum where you can enter your imei # (the serial number) and the company to which it is locked and they will for free furnish you with the unlocking code.

My best guess is that it will be unlocked and if so, is probably the best deal. I wouldn't use the O2 service either outside the UK.

wannabe Apr 2nd, 2005 09:59 AM

Thanks xyz123! I was wondering if you know a website where I can find info regarding unlocking my other phone. It's a Motorola V180. I found a forum where someone posted how to unlock it but apparently I need a flash driver. I can't seem to find a downloadable version of the driver. Apparently Motorola phones have no remote unlocking I would have to send my phone away to have it unlocked. I really don't want to do that. It only costs $25.00 but what if my phone gets lost? Thought I may be able to do it with a little bit more info...anyone have any ideas? Thanks, Pat

ira Apr 2nd, 2005 10:34 AM

Hi W,

Have you tried

Enter "Unlock Motorola"

There is at least one online.

>...I need a flash driver.<

Didn't the site give you a link to download the driver?


FLJudi Apr 17th, 2005 04:32 PM

Mobal phone is now down to $29 which includes free SIM, adaptor plugs, charger and free shipping. We're going on a med cruise and will visit many countries, so this seems perfect for us - for emergencies only


ira Apr 17th, 2005 04:39 PM

Hi FLJudi
> Mobal phone is now down to $29...<

What's the link?

I went to the website and it's still $49.


suntravler Apr 17th, 2005 05:30 PM

I just received my $49 Nokia 3410 from Mobal, thanks to everyone here who recommended it.

After reading all these posts, I wanted to see if the phone was locked. The Mobal website says the phone is locked. I tried putting in the SIM card from my Cingular phone that I use here in the US. The message displayed on this Mobal phone was "SIM card not valid"

So, I am interpreting this message to mean the phone is locked. Am I correct?

(Thanks again for all the advice from the cell phone experts.)

Carmen Apr 17th, 2005 06:27 PM

suntravler: if you got the $49 phone, it is a dual band that will work in many countries, but not in the U.S. If your Cingular SIM card is for the U.S., then that would explain why it won't work. I am trying to decide whether to buy one of the Mobal cell phones (either dual or tri-band) or go the eBay route, so I will be anxious to hear more replies from Fodorites who have experience with using these phones with other SIM cards.

Travelnut Apr 18th, 2005 04:13 AM

Me, too!
I checked my recently-received Mobal Nokia 3410 - I inserted my local T-Mobile SIM and got this message: Insert SIM, which I assume means the phone arrived "locked" to Mobal's SIM.

suntravler Apr 18th, 2005 04:26 AM

Carmen...Thanks for your reply. I am aware of the difference between the bands used in US vs. Europe.

However, if I understood xyz123 correctly, there is a way to tell if the phone is locked or unlocked by inserting another SIM card and seeing what message you get. So I was just doing this little test. I'm not sure what the results mean!

Travelnut Apr 18th, 2005 05:55 AM

Suntravlr, yes, our phones are locked.
If they were unlocked, and a different sim was installed, then the phone would boot up and show the main screen, ie. 'menu' or 'welcome' or something.

ggnga Apr 18th, 2005 06:36 AM

Travelnut, I just ordered the $49 mobal phone. How are you going to unlock your phone? I have read every thread on here but I still am not sure what to do next when I get my phone in the mail. I am going to be in Paris and do most of my Europe traveling in France. I would like to have the phone to contact my apartment rental folks on arrival, then would like to buy a carte at a tabac to use it to call home.

I am sorry to ask the same questions as others but don't get it yet.

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