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Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: trisho.
Date: January 20, 2011 05:27PM
Hi forum folks, long time no read. Sorry this became so long...whew!

I'm planning to take several long trips to Brussels, Belgium later this year. First would be 3 weeks in July and the second would be 2 months spanning mid-September to mid-November. During that time I'll visit a few friends in Portugal and Italy, with a stop in Paris as I've never been there before. Now that I've set up the situation, my question is this:

Is it possible to have an American iPhone or Droid used as a prepaid phone while I'm in Europe? If so, I'm sure the charges would be insanely high due to data rates for its smartphone capabilities. I'm a user who would be sending email, text messages, images, checking into FourSquare, etc from my phone. I would have my laptop, yes, but would like to keep my smartphone habits while abroad. Has anyone else done this? Do you know if it's possible to just get an iPhone or Droid over there and use it as prepaid? I've always just used a prepaid SIM in a friend's decrepitly old phone while there but that's only been for a week at a time.

I'm currently on Sprint with a family plan here in NYC with a sh!tty Palm Pre. I'm going to move to the Samsung Evo or another Droid equivalent in May when my cycle comes up to get $150 off a phone, etc. Seeing as how Sprint's CDMA, I know it won't work in Europe. With iPhone finally coming to Verizon, another option may be to jump ship in May as well and just swap SIM cards while in Europe. Or to get an iPhone through ATT and do the same thing. It would depend on specials/sales running at the time.

I'm wary of giving up my long LONG 10 year customer history with Sprint, which is why I'm thinking of just getting a prepaid smart phone while I'm in Europe. After this year, I'm intending to spend 4 months out of the year in Europe anyway, living there part time.

Okay, so what do you folks think? What solutions have you heard about and how much do they normally cost? I won't be paying regular rent here or while in Europe (just maybe 200 Euro / $270 to my friend out of courtesy) so I can afford to spend probably the $90/month for iPhone type costs.

Thank you so much for the help and for reading!



trisho.
----------------
Official Card-Carrying Mother Earthin' Sl*t.
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: January 20, 2011 05:36PM
....I believe the iPhones in Paris (and London) are unlocked....might be pretty expensive though....



_____________________________________

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: kj4btkljv
Date: January 20, 2011 05:44PM
Yikes! That's a tough one, and I can't imagine what you're going to do.

I'm staying tuned to this thread, to hear what everyone else says...

popcorn smiley

Jeff
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: IronMac
Date: January 20, 2011 05:47PM
Ok, this might be something stupid but make sure that the iPhone over there or whatever iPhone you have that its SIM card matches to the prepaid SIM card that you will be buying in-country. This sound confusing? Okay, let me give you an example. I have an unlocked iPhone purchased in SG and when I went to Malaysia I thought that I could purchase a prepaid data Internet plan so that I could tether my MBP to. Well, it turns out that the Malaysia data sim card is not compatible because the iPhone uses a micro-SIM!!!

Grrrr....



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/2011 05:48PM by IronMac.
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: trisho.
Date: January 20, 2011 05:53PM
IronMac, good to know. I never thought about that. And you're right, the SIM cards I've used in Brussels do actually match the American iPhones. We took one over there last May and bought a SIM for it and it worked just fine. I should ask my Belgian friend about possible smartphone recommendations in Belgium.

And while thinking about this a bit, I realized I completely left TMobile out of the equation....Hrm.

ETA: BTW, BASE is the name of the Belgian company we used to re-up our phones while there in May: [www.base.be]. Looking around at a few sites, they seem to be the least expensive for data and they have great customer service from my personal experience. And yes, an iPhone really does cost 599 Euro there ? $720. That's why my Belgian friend bought his iPhone over here and put in a Belgian SIM....

Hrm, thinking about this more...I should ask him if he bought one from Apple outright or a discounted phone from ATT. If the latter, maybe I should/could pick up one of the on sale ones and just slip in European SIM instead of even worrying about buying a smart phone over there.



trisho.
----------------
Official Card-Carrying Mother Earthin' Sl*t.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/2011 06:12PM by trisho..
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: Gareth
Date: January 20, 2011 06:02PM
Be aware that any iPhone/DROID you buy and want to use abroad with a local SIM would need to be unlocked. That is becoming increasingly difficult with the iPhone (probably impossible for the moment with any new iPhone you buy today). Best bet would be to buy a used one that is already unlocked off of Craigslist or eBay, or buy one in Europe that is factory unlocked. For an iPhone 4, a European factory unlocked phone would probably cost a few hundred more than a US one that has been unlocked. But this means you'd probably be spending around $1,000 on the phone. Note that there is no unlock for US iPhone 4's running 4.2.1, so you're stuck at 4.1 or 4.0. A used iPhone 3 or 3GS would probably be a few hundred pre-unlocked.

The Verizon iPhone doesn't support GSM/SIM cards, so that's a no-go. There are Verizon DROID's with GSM support, but I don't know if that's just for roaming, or if they support other carriers' SIM's.

And yes, the iPhone 4 uses Micro SIM's. But you can cut a regular SIM down to Micro SIM size. There are small, cheap cutters you could bring with you so you don't have to do it with scissors and a template.

I got an AT&T International Data Plan for my iPhone 4 while I was abroad earlier this month. It's ridiculously expensive ($60 for 50MB, there is one cheaper and a few more expensive plans), and a I used it only for e-mail and a little web browsing.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/2011 06:03PM by Gareth.
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: IronMac
Date: January 20, 2011 06:09PM
Actually, factory unlocked iPhone 4 are cheaper overseas than any found in North America. There is a site around that has a chart listing the prices. HK and SG are among the cheapest.
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: vision63
Date: January 20, 2011 06:14PM
I thought Verizon just came out with it's "World Phone?"
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: rgG
Date: January 20, 2011 07:24PM
Consider an unlocked BlackBerry. My daughter used her unlocked TMobile BB with a local prepaid SIM card while in Spain last summer. She only used the phone for talk and text though. You might check into how much the BB BIS plan is to use in Europe, if you have it trough TMobile here in the states, or maybe your friend can check into how you could get BB BIS service while in Europe.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: January 20, 2011 08:25PM
Some Sprint devices have a sim for international capabilities. You would have to research this carefully.

With Verizon, their global capable phones tend to be Blackberries. I don't know if their Droids have it. Should be relatively easy to find out.

I would probably look to a used (contract free) quad band gsm phone that is or can be unlocked. Then get a prepaid sim for Europe. FYI, in most of Europe, incoming texts are free.
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: IronMac
Date: January 21, 2011 04:53AM
I'm with macphanatic on that...get a used Nokia E71 and you're good to go in Europe. I've been able to use one to tether to my MBP for Internet access.
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: trisho.
Date: January 21, 2011 09:49AM
Thank you so much to everyone for your help. I'll go through & respond accordingly.

IronMac, what's the name of the site listing prices of unlocked phones?

rRg, how much did that BlackBerry set up cost you & your daughter?

I'll answer more later. I'm on my crappy phone



trisho.
----------------
Official Card-Carrying Mother Earthin' Sl*t.
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: rgG
Date: January 21, 2011 03:03PM
trisho,
My daughter had her BB Pearl already on T-Mobile, it is an older BB, so all we had to do was call CS and get them to give us the unlock code. They will unlock a phone for you, if you have it on their system for a certain amount of time, and we had been with them for a while.

Once she got to Spain, she bought a local SIM card, actually it came with a cheap Nokia phone, for IIRC about 30 euro. It also came with something like 10 minutes of prepaid airtime. She just popped the SIM out of the Nokia, put it in her BB, and she was good to go. Be sure all your contacts are stored on your phone as well as the SIM card, so that you will have them when you change the cards. She just purchased more minutes/airtime as she needed them.

She then had a local Spanish number and could send and receive calls and texts. She did not use any data services, so I can't say how much that would be, and I assume it would vary by carrier. Your friend in Belgium can probably find you the best deal, since he/she will no the local sources.

If you want to keep your Sprint account here, I know T-Mobile allowed us to "pause" my daughter's US account but still hold her number and it cost something like $10 a month. The world would surely have ended if she had lost that phone number, grinning smiley, so it was a good thing we could keep it without having to pay the full monthly bill.

I know you can buy unlocked GSM BlackBerries from places like Newegg, and others, so you might give them a look see. I have no idea how much getting BB BIS service in Europe would cost, but maybe your friend could also find out if that is possible with a prepaid setup.
HTH

Rhonda





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: Prepaid iPhone or Droid to work in Europe (Belgium)?
Posted by: IronMac
Date: January 21, 2011 03:53PM
Here's the link:

[www.flickr.com]

The prices seem to be from August 2010 but it should give you an idea.
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