Looking to buy a cellphone for international travel? There are plenty of unlocked quadband GSM phones to choose from. You can get a very basic model for about $125. Expect to pay about $250 for a phone with a camera, and around $300 and up for full-featured phones such as the Motorola RAZR V3. InTouch Smart Cards offers a wide selection of unlocked GSM phones. The phones below aren’t all unlocked, but all work well abroad.
The International Travel Phone
National Geographic’s International Travel Phone (photo, right) offers coverage in 100 countries, with unlimited free incoming calls in 65 of those countries. You can purchase Cellular Abroad’s Talk Abroad Package for $199, which includes the NG Quad-band GSM phone, an international SIM card and 30 minutes of outgoing calls. (You can, of course, add more talk time to the phone when you’ve used up your first 30 minutes, at about $29 for each additional 30 minutes of talk time). Check the website for rates for calls to and from specific countries. You can also rent this phone from Cellular Abroad for $50 a week.
If you rely on email as much as you do voice calls, take a look at the Blackberry 8800. You get a phone, email access, personal-organizer applications, web browsing and instant messaging, among other capabilities. The integrated GPS helps you find your way anywhere, and makes it easy to search for the nearest hotel, pub, cafe, or gas station. There’s even a media player for your video clips and music. AT&T offers an international unlimited email plan for use around the world and in the U.S. for $69.99 per month. BlackBerry International with Voice runs $64.99 per month for voice service only. You can activate the international plans as needed. Prices for the Blackberry 8800 vary widely according to the data plan you choose, from $99 to $500 at Amazon.com, with an AT&T data plan.
Motorola RAZR2 V8 Black (unlocked)
This sleek, slim phone (photo, right bottom) is dressed in black with a stainless steel frame and metal details and easily slips into a pocket or bag. It has dual display screens (one on the outside of the flip case, the other inside), which make it easy to read text messages and email and browse. Also onboard are good multimedia features, including a 2.0 megapixel camera, video capture and playback, USB 2.0 high speed for fast music file transfers, Windows Media Player 11 synchronization for music file management, and up to 2GB of internal memory to store image and sound files. $545.00, available online at Cellhut for $375.00.
Nokia N95 8GB (unlocked)
The ultimate phone for gadget lovers. Besides the usual voice, text, web browsing and email features, there’s a built-in TV-quality digital camcorder, plus a 5 MegaPixel digital camera with an excellent Carl Zeiss Optics lens, a broadband speed WiFi/WLAN adapter, a GPS receiver with a built-in map application that covers over 100 countries, and even an FM radio. The large touch-screen LCD display slides up to reveal a standard phone dialing keypad and slides down to reveal the MP3 player controls. The phone easily stores slews of videos, photos, and music files on its 8 gigabytes of internal memory. You can even upload photos instantly to your Flickr account, play videos on compatible home-electronics devices, and stream music wirelessly to compatible headphones, home or car stereo. Make sure to have lots of batteries on hand — all these multimedia features drain power. The price is pretty hefty, but its brand new, so look for discounts to pop up online soon. $799.00, from Nokia.
For more cellphone talk, see Cellphones Abroad: How to Keep the Conversation Going