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Old 12.10.2009, 09:47
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Mobile phone to use in the US

As my iPhone is currently locked, I'm looking for the best way to organise a cheap mobile phone to use in an upcoming trip to the United States. Has anyone got any good ideas of how it can be done from over here before I go, or is it better to wait until I get there and pick up a cheap PAYG one?

I've always used an unlocked phone for trips abroad until now, and as this will be my first trip to the States I'm not yet up to speed on any clever ideas or shortcuts to do this.
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Old 12.10.2009, 10:06
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Re: Mobile phone to use in the US

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As my iPhone is currently locked, I'm looking for the best way to organise a cheap mobile phone to use in an upcoming trip to the United States. Has anyone got any good ideas of how it can be done from over here before I go, or is it better to wait until I get there and pick up a cheap PAYG one?

I've always used an unlocked phone for trips abroad until now, and as this will be my first trip to the States I'm not yet up to speed on any clever ideas or shortcuts to do this.
Hi,

It depends a bit where in the US you go to. If you stick to the bigger cities, you might be able to bring a (quad band) GSM phone from Switzerland and try to get a SIM card (T-Mobile or AT&T - those are the only major GSM networks) in the US. The problem is that (like here), you need to register for SIM cards and they might not even sell you one if you don't live in the US. Last time I simply gave them my hotel's address and they never checked :-)

Unfortunately, GSM coverage pretty much ends as soon as you leave the metro areas. Outside it's predominantly CDMA (Sprint, Verizon and a plethora of smaller providers). Those networks don't use SIM cards so there's no point in bringing a phone (should you find one that does both GSM + CDMA)

If I needed a phone there again, I'd pick up a PAYG with country-wide free roaming and free access to 1-800 numbers (so you can use calling cards to place calls to Switzerland / Europe).

Peter
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Old 12.10.2009, 11:09
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Re: Mobile phone to use in the US

Useful info, thanks Peter. I'm going to be based in NY so coverage should be ok there, but also travelling out of town a few times. I'll keep digging online to see who's offering what.
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Old 12.10.2009, 11:18
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Re: Mobile phone to use in the US

You can go to any Walmart, Walgreens, CVS or Reade and pick up a Net-10 phone. Phone and 300 mins of talk time is US 20. This gives you access to virtually every where in the USA and you can also make international calls and SMS .. The phone can be reloaded over the internet or from any of the stores or you can pickup another for the same price. Also most times you can buy a US 20 dollar phone card and get a second one for free.
I try to avoid using my swiss quad band as the roaming charges and sms messages are expensive.
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Old 12.10.2009, 11:28
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Re: Mobile phone to use in the US

I totally agree with dawiz. Apart from that, I'd like to warn you against using a phone from Europe in the USA without an American card. With all the roaming charges it's extremely expensive.

For instance, if you forget to completely switch off your answering machine (the one from the GSM service provider, not a physical one at your office in Switzerland), it can cost you a fortune because every call to your European number is redirected to the USA, where you can't answer because you are outside of those GSM ghettos, then it is redirected back to Switzerland and recorded on your voice mail, where again you have to listen to it from the USA. Each of these redirection processes (three in that case) costs you several bucks a minute.
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Old 12.10.2009, 11:29
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Re: Mobile phone to use in the US

Thanks for the advice. That's exactly why I started the thread - my local phone's going to be switched off for the whole trip, I'm not taking the risk!


EDIT: I've just done some some digging and found out that on an iPhone using OS 2.0 you can turn on airplane mode and then re-enable WiFi. This is excellent news as my hotel has free WiFi, but I thought I wouldn't be able to use the iPhone on it, as I wanted to make sure all incoming / outgoing calls are switched off (including voicemail). So it turns out you can avoid roaming charges but still connect to WiFi whilst abroad using an iPhone.

This may be old news for some, but just thought I'd mention it in case anyone else wasn't aware.

Last edited by Ed Pummelon; 12.10.2009 at 12:58.
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Old 12.10.2009, 23:29
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Re: Mobile phone to use in the US

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... This is excellent news as my hotel has free WiFi ...So it turns out you can avoid roaming charges but still connect to WiFi whilst abroad using an iPhone...
This is really good news as you now even can make free calls via Skype. Download Skype for iphone here. I use Skype via WiFi on my Windows Mobile phone, it works like a charm. That'll be a Bud, please
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Old 13.10.2009, 15:26
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Re: Mobile phone to use in the US

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EDIT: I've just done some some digging and found out that on an iPhone using OS 2.0 you can turn on airplane mode and then re-enable WiFi.
yes, that works great. I'd suggest you also look at boingo.com They have a WiFi hotspot roaming solution that'll let you use all Boingo hotspots (and there are lots of those in the US) for about 8$ per month (for the iPhone version). Can be canceled at any time online. I've used that service many times and saved a ton of money (WiFi at Starbucks, McDonald's, your hotel etc. usually isn't free - I usually got those 8$ back in less than a day...)

Boingo has an iPhone app - just connect to a partner hotspot and log in through the app.

Boingo also works in Switzerland, btw. (and no, I don't work for them :-)

Peter
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