iPhone 5 and 5s rates with local nano SIM vs. basic unlocked phone rates

Hi guys, moving to Europe for job and will receive a stipend for cell phone so would like to not just throw that money away. Anyway, I was wondering how much the rates were using a local Nano SIM in an iPhone 5s (and 5) compared to a basic unlocked phone. Is it more expensive per call and text? If so, how much? I researched for a while and couldn't find it. Also, do these nano SIM cards cover you for data? If not, how do I go about that? and about how much are the rates? What are the odds Verizon would unlock my phone a year into the contract? Does jail-breaking the iPhone technically "unlock" it? If so, is that a good idea? Just to clarify, once my phone is "unlocked," I can use any country's local SIM card in the phone to make calls? Lastly, once I "unlock" my phone with Verizon, am I still under contract with them? If it is too much, I was just thinking of bringing my iPhone and using it where I could find wifi and getting a basic phone. Sorry for all the questions, just kinda nervous! TIA

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

Jailbreaking is the same thing as unlocking. If the phone is unlocked you can use any SIM card in it. But yes, if you have a contract with Verizon, you still have a contract with Verizon. A local SIM will cost the same per minute, no matter what phone it is in. You will just have to find one with rates that you like. Same for data - shop for a SIM once you arrive so you can compare their rates. Something to keep in mind: with a local SIM you will have a new phone number, not your Verizon number. When I travel in Europe, I use my regular Verizon phone on wifi only for my apps and such. If I need a phone for calls, I use an unlocked phone with local SIM (my Verizon phone doesn't work for calls abroad).

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

Any contract you have with Verizon remains. My understanding is that Verizon phones operating on 4G LTE (high speed data) such as iPhone 5, 5c and 5s, are unlocked. is there a techie out there to fill in details?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Landon, I'd suggest that you speak with Verizon to verify whether your iPhone is locked or unlocked. It may already be unlocked, as according to the following website "all Verizon 4G LTE smartphones come unlocked out of the box." The website is: news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57598544-94/confused-about-locked-vs-unlocked-phones-ask-maggie-explains/ Calls and text will be exactly the same price, whether used in an iPhone or a cheap basic phone, according to the cellular plan you subscribe to. The Nano SIM cards will cover data if you elect that option. YES, you are still under contract with Verizon even with the phone unlocked. That's another thing you'll have to deal with before you depart for Europe. You may have to "buy your way" out of the contract. Again, speak with Verizon about this. Which country are you going to be based in? Happy travels!

Posted by Lisa
White Plains, NY, USA
491 posts

The SIM slot of a Verizon iPhone 5 and 5s is unlocked. In the U.S. Verizon uses a CDMA network but the iPhone 5 (s and c too from Verizon) has both CDMA and GSM radios. Only GSM is used in Europe, so you should be able to use a European SIM in the iPhone. You still have to deal with Verizon about your contract though.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Landon, Which part of Spain? If in Barcelona, time to start practicing your Catalan! I was there in June and the language issue (especially in Barcelona) was somewhat "challenging". I do much better in Italy. Good luck!

Posted by Landon
Atlanta
3 posts

Thanks everyone for the responses. I think I will just buy out of my contract when I leave since it won't be too expensive. That way I'll have no obligation but I'll still get to keep my phone. And to answer Ken, I will be in Spain. Can't wait to get over there!

Posted by Todd
Binche, Hainaut, Belgium
8 posts

You can find cell phone businesses in Europe that can "unlock" your phone (not sure if Apple stores will do this, but I would trust them over others). I have a friend in Brussels that took a "US locked" gifted iPhone 4S and had this done successfully. As far as services, there are tons of plans depending on what you want your phone to do. Most countries have pay as you go type services where you can get a 15 Euro credit and once it is spent, you will go by another 15 Euro credit and recharge the phone. You keep the same number. It works like the Verizon phones you get at Target or Walmart in the states which is what I do if I am home for an extended period of time. Frankly, it depends what you are going to be using your phone for. If you are going to be traveling outside a certain area, ask the folks at the store what is best for your situation. I would avoid getting anything with a data plan. There are WiFi hotspots almost everywhere in Europe (cafe's, department stores, etc.) Starbucks generally always has free WiFi, as does most nicer hotels in their lobbies and restaurants.

Posted by Landon
Atlanta
3 posts

Thanks Todd. That sounds like good advice.. pay as you go data doesn't sound like it'd be of very good value considering all the hotspots like you said. Ken, I will be in Madrid! Any tips or pointers for me? Still not sure where to live. My buddy goes over a lot and says you can find apartments for 270 EUR that aren't bad. That's half of what i'm paying right now...

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17789 posts

Landon, I was in Madrid for a few days in June, but unfortunately I've never looked for apartments there so can't offer any tips on that. It's a beautiful city and I'm sure you'll enjoy it there. Be sure to practice your Spanish and also Catalan if you plan on visiting Barcelona. ¬°Buen viaje!