Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

where to unlock phone AND buy pre-paid SIM in paris?

where to unlock phone AND buy pre-paid SIM in paris?

Old Aug 20th, 2009, 07:40 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
where to unlock phone AND buy pre-paid SIM in paris?

hi fodorites,

can you please tell me where to unlock my phone and buy a pre-paid SIM card in paris?

also, can you tell me (approximately) how much unlocking will cost? and what are the associated costs to buy a pre-paid SIM?

background: i have a motorola C123 from call in europe. the account has expired and i don't want to pay $60 to renew the line ... just to be charged for usage while in france.

i contacted CIE and they advised me that the phone is LOCKED. i could go online to see if i could use the unlock codes; but i'm not very technically savvy and would be willing to pay for the unlock service.

CIE has an option to purchase a new 'account' - basically a new SIM card with a new account ... $41US including shipping. but again, usage is not included.

FWIW, i'm arriving @ CDG, staying at an apt in the 6th, 3rd trip to pairs, and i speak passable french (although, i need to find the french translation of UNLOCK!).

thanks for your help!
lilaki is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 08:26 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When I inquired at CIE about their phones, I was advised that they are unlocked...

If your phone is locked, it's best to unlock it before leaving home. I have used this service and found them to be totally reliable. (If they, for whatever reason, are unable to provide an unlock code, your payment is immediately refunded.)

http://www.remoteunlocks.com/html/unlocking.html

While there are cheaper options, if you know what you're doing and speak more than passable French, the CIE SIM is actually a very good deal. Almost SIMs expire, so you should not be so ticked off at CIE that you need to renew yours or purchase a new one.

If your current CIE SIM is for a country other than France, it would be more economical to purchase a new SIM for France than use the SIM you have, for free incoming calls and lower outgoing rates.
djkbooks is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 08:36 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hi djkbooks,

that is interesting ... i just called CIE this morning and was advised that their phones ARE locked. weird. i also used their customer service 'chat' function and the rep confirmed that the phones are locked.

wonder how i can confirm this?

thanks for the info re: remoteunlocks.com
lilaki is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 08:39 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,335
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think that the words in French used for locking and unlocking a phone are the same as those used for locking and unlocking a door:

to lock: verrouiller
to unlock: déverrouiller

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 08:42 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You need a cable and the software from post #4

http://gsmfreeboard.com/showthread.php?t=151330
logos999 is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 08:48 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hi larry,

thanks for the translation ... but i did some digging and i think to 'unlock' a cell phone, the word is 'debloque'.

btw - i just posted a question to you in another thread about your unlocked C123s... how did you get them unlocked?
lilaki is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 09:10 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 467
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I bought a tri-phone on ebay, which was unlocked, and bought a sims card when I got to France.

You probably could also buy just a cell phone on ebay france and have it shipped to where you are staying the first night in France or to you in US, if you were willing to pay the extra postage. Buy sims card when you get to France.
jkbritt is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 09:24 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
jkbritt,

can you please provide me with more details re: your SIM card? where did you buy it? how much did it cost? how much did service cost?

tks.
lilaki is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 09:55 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you have another SIM, or can borrow, one - insert it in your phone. If it's locked, you'll get a message something like, "Your Phone Cannot Be Used with This SIM Card."

Here's a list of various prepaid SIM's available:

http://www.prepaidgsm.net/en/france.html

Click on "prepaid offer" for each for rates.
djkbooks is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 10:13 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,025
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I know of no service provider which sells phones unlocked. Unlocked phones are indeed available from third-party sources but are generally not inexpensive. eBay is a good source of unlocked GSM pones but with new phones being sold as cheaply as they are, I recommend purchasing a new phone such as that which is available for 29€ ($41) from Virgin (stores all over France). There is no setup fee and it comes with a SIM and 12 free call-out minutes. Additional minutes available in increments of 5€ with some plans starting at .27€/minute. There is no charge for inbound calls.

www.virginmobile.fr/

In accordance with French law, these phone may be unlocked after 6 months of ownership. However, while these low end models operate very reliably, they are limited to the 2 GSM bands used in Europe and will not work (unlocked or otherwise) in North America.


If you have an unlocked, GSM tri or quad band phone, purchase a Breizh SIM from PhoneHouse. Cost is 6.90€. Minutes are sold prepaid in increments of 5€. 52 minutes for 10€ or .19€/min

www.phonehouse.fr
Sarastro is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 10:16 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hi all,

thanks so much for all the info.

the motorola c123 is a dual-band (900/1800 mhz)...hence, it only works in europe. so i've got no way of testing anything before i leave.

perhaps just buying a virgin pre-paid phone when we land in paris is the easiest/cheapest thing to do.
lilaki is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 11:11 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For casual use, to me, it's just a lot easier to land with a phone and SIM with all (phone, SIM, dialing instructions...) in English. And, you can program phone numbers, along with give your number to anyone who may need to reach you, before leaving home.

As low as €.27/minute is $.378, or about the same as Call in Europe rates.

Keeping track of remaining credit, purchasing vouchers and loading them (especially if you don't know French) are quite inconvenient.
djkbooks is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 12:28 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 554
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If memory serves correctly, we've purchase SIM cards from the Relay store (magazine shop) in CDG upon arrival. It's just to the right as you exit with your baggage. The saleswoman was very helpful and quite adept at inserting the card and readying the phone. At the time we were using an unlocked, international travel phone, which only needed the SIM card of the country one was visiting in order to work. Of course that means that the phone will speak to you in French. EJ
elsiejune is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 12:44 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,335
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, lilaki. Regarding the French translation for "locked" that I gave you, all I can say is, "Don't believe everything you read on the internet." Even if it comes from a luminary like me.

A search on "mobile déverrouillé", including the quotation marks, returns 2,620 hits. But a search on "mobile débloqué", including the quotation marks, returns 24,300 hits. So the verb "débloquer" is preferred in this mobile phone context almost 10 to 1. So if we're keeping score on our French, it's lilaki 10, justretired 1.

Now as to how I got my unlocked phones. I have the paperwork from my original order of September 7, 2008 (I keep everything), but I don't see any mention of the phones being locked or unlocked. I have a vague recollection of being told back then that I was buying unlocked phones, but I didn't write that down at the time, so I may be remembering wrong. When I said in an earlier posting that my two Motorola C123 phones were unlocked, that is what I was remembering. I thought I had bought them unlocked - I took no action to unlock them. But read on.

I needed to check on my most recent Call-in-Europe ("CIE") order anyway, so I gave them a call. While I had them on the line, I asked if my phones, last used in Italy in October '08, were locked or unlocked. The person I spoke to wasn't sure, although he thought that they were probably locked to Call-in-Europe as a provider (I gather that's their current policy). He suggested that I test them.

So I did. I took another phone I have that is locked to provider "Orange" in France, and one of my C123 phones, swapped the SIM cards, and turned them both on. The C123, now with an Orange SIM card, operated fine, immediately searching for service. Of course, after a while, it reported "No service", but the point is, it appears that these phones are indeed unlocked. Maybe that's the way CIE was shipping them back then, and they've since changed their policy (perhaps that's why they are giving out contradictory information).

By the way, the other phone, with the Italian SIM card from provider "Tim" that I had gotten from CIE, first asked me to enter the PIN for that SIM card. Only after I did that did it report "SIM Locked" (strange wording - it's really the phone that's locked, not the SIM). If I put back the Orange SIM card, it works fine and searches for service (with no success).

I might mention that the service attached to all of these SIM cards has expired. But that's of no concern to the phone - it can't know that until it locates the service provider, and here in the US, there's no service for either Orange or Tim.

Even though there may be cheaper approaches, I still like CIE, because I have the phone as soon as I land, and I have the phone number to give out in advance of my departure.

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 01:29 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,335
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
elsiejune, you wrote:

"At the time we were using an unlocked, international travel phone, which only needed the SIM card of the country one was visiting in order to work. Of course that means that the phone will speak to you in French. EJ"

I've found that you can often change the language in which "the phone speaks to you". This can be done at two levels.

First, there are written prompts on the screen. There's generally some setup screen among the phone's menu items that lets you change those to English.

But then, there are the automated messages of the service provider that the SIM card attaches you to. It turns out that these can often be changed as well! Here's an excerpt from an earlier thread of mine:

With the carrier TIM in Italy, you dial 4916 to get your balance. I generally just listened to the balance, in Italian (the numbers were slowly spoken, and easy to understand), and then hung up. But one day, I listened on, and the system launched into a menu of other things I could do. Lo and behold, one of them was "cambiare la lingua" - change the language! I selected that, and then selected "inglese" - English. From then on, my phone communicated with me in English, which made my life a bit easier. Of course, the odd 'catch-22' is that you can't change the prompts to English unless you can first understand the prompts in Italian, in which case you don't need to change the prompts to English.

Of course, real life isn't so black and white. It's not the case that one either speaks Italian or doesn't. I understand it well enough to have followed the prompts adequately to change the language, but there were many prompts and error notifications that I didn't understand, and changing the language to English made my life with the phone much easier.

If you don't understand Italian at all, find a native speaker to help you. He or she can follow the prompts in Italian and change the language to English, and then return your phone to you.


Those comments are part of a trip report that can be found at:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-and-milan.cfm

- Larry
justretired is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 01:39 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 0
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dear Lilaki, would you mind sending me a private message with your phone number or telling me your Call in Europe customer ID so I can review your account and propose you a solution to all your questions?
Thank you!
CIE_Representative is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2009, 10:42 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,141
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bookmarking
aussie_10 is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2009, 12:33 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>

Locking a phone and locking a SIM are two separate functions. It would seem the SIM was actually locked, and not the phone. If you enter the wrong PIN/password three times, the SIM will be locked. Then, you'd need a PUK to unlock it and set a new password. Sometimes the PUK comes with your initial documentation, other times you have to phone for it. If it did come with your original documentation, you are often unable to acquire a PUK code on the phone - you'll be instructed to refer to your original documentation.

It's always a good idea to lock your phone, so that it cannot be used by others (or your personal information accessed) even with another SIM.

And, it's a really good idea to lock your SIM so that it cannot be used by others, even in another phone. This is especially critical if you have a SIM with direct billing, versus prepaid.

Phones must be carefully attended. Never put it down on a table in a cafe, etc. Always replace it in your holder/carrier, which should be one where the phone cannot be easily removed.

All of the above is particularly important for those with Smartphones, Blackberrys, etc., with DATA service in addition to phone service.
djkbooks is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2009, 06:48 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hi justretired,

thanks so much for all of your information! 10 points for you!

i purchased my CIE phone last summer so i would suspect that it may be unlocked.

since i can't actually use the phone in north america (not the right bands), i don't really have a way of testing this until i get over to europe.

so that's fine...i will bring my old motorola c123 with me. i will ask someone @ the relay store or the telephone house or virgin store to test if my phone is unlocked. if it is, then i will purchase a pre-paid SIM card. if it is not, then i will just purchase a pre-paid package (phone plus SIM) for 29 euros and go from there.

thanks again for your detailed response!!
lilaki is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2009, 08:31 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 0
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Dear Lilaki, would you mind telling me your Call in Europe customer ID so I can review your account and call you to propose you a solution to all your questions? Or you can email us at [email protected] or call us and mention this post so it is directed to the right person.
Thank you!
CIE_Representative is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:24 PM.