Mobile phones

Will a european mobile phone we buy in Turkey work (changing SIM cards of course) in all european countries, including turkey, greece, macedonia, albania, montenegro, croatia, Slovenia, france, denmark, switzerland, italy, germany? Any suggestions given that our US phone does not work in Europe. Thanks.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

Cienega, A mobile phone purchased in Turkey should work fine in all the countries you mentioned. However, if you're planning to use it with SIM cards from different countries, you'll have to ensure that the phone you purchase is unlocked. One point to note is that each time you change SIM cards, the phone number changes. You'll have to make sure that you keep all your contacts apprised of the current number you're using. Happy travels!

Posted by Cienega
Albuquerque
5 posts

I didn't realize the number would change. This will work then. If there IS a better way to do it, do let me know. Thanks!

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1632 posts

You won't have to change your SIM as soon as you cross a border. It will work in the next country but at more expensive "roaming" rates. So wait until the credit runs/is about to run out before buying another SIM.

Posted by Cienega
Albuquerque
5 posts

Thanks for that important piece of info.. Use up the SIM card..... And get the phone "unlocked" when we buy it. Got it. Thanks. C.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Most foreign, pay-as-you go phones come already unlocked. Still best to check and be sure when you buy it.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

Phones in Europe use the GSM system (as do AT&T and T-Mobile in the US). The SIM (subscriber identity module) is the "brain" of a GSM phone. If you put in a Turkcell SIM, you have a Turkcell phone, with a Turkish number and Turkcell's rates. Of course, just as here, there are various deals; usually, you want the simplest pay per minute rate, not some "10 Lira a month for unlimited calls to other Turkcell phones, but double the normal rate for calls to non-Turkcell phones" plan. I find it useful to look at http://www.prepaidgsm.net before I go, so I can familiarize myself with the plans available and make sure I'm getting the one I want. Continuing with the Turkish example, when you are using a Turkcell SIM, you will have a Turkish phone number. Receiving calls while in Turkey, no matter where they originate, will be free; calls to your cell from the US will be expensive (more expensive than a call from the US to a Turkish land line). The caller will also have to know how to make an international call. Making calls within Turkey will be reasonable. Calls to the US (or to other countries) vary tremendously with the plan; some are high, while some have special deals that actually make it cheaper to call the US than the "home" country. Texting from the US is much cheaper than calling. If I want to be reachable, I'll e-mail or text my new number to my family. They then text me, and I call them back. continued..

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

continued.. If you leave Turkey with your Turkcell SIM, you are roaming. You no longer get free incoming calls, and your rates for outgoing calls are higher. You have to check with each provider to see what the rates will be; for roaming within Europe, they're usually not too bad (roaming with a European SIM in the US is usually ruinous). If you then change from a Turkcell SIM to a Lebara SIM in France, you now have a French phone with a French number, and with Lebara's rates (very cheap, by the way - much cheaper than other plans in France). As already said, you need an unlocked phone to change SIMs. If you put a "foreign" SIM into a locked phone, it won't work (you'll be asked for you SIM 2 PIN, which you get when you unlock the phone). If your main concern is outgoing calls, changing SIMS is fine; if you want to be reachable, it's a pain to keep having to inform everyone of your new number. If you find a SIM with good rate for roaming, and if you can figure out how to recharge online with a credit card, it may be easier to stay with one SIM for the trip. Be aware that recharging online is not always easy (I never could get it to work for Mobiho, another French provider). You can do research on www.prepaidgsm.net, which has much more info than you can absorb about all the plans offered in each country, and the costs. Finally, if you are only making a few calls and don't want to hassle with changing SIMs, you can get a T-Mobile prepaid phone in the US. This will roam in Europe, and the rates are high ($1.50 per minute whether calling or receiving a call, $0.50 per text sent, $0.10 per text received). But you have one number, and for callers from the US, it's a domestic call. I know - clear as mud. Ask more questions if you need help.

Posted by Cienega
Albuquerque
5 posts

Alot of information, thank you so much, it actually is pretty clear, just lots of choices... thanks for the link to prepaidgsm.net, it is great, I need to spend more time comparing, although yes a bit overwhelming. Our main use is outgoing although not completely. We are traveling at different parts of the trip with different friends so staying linked is pretty important. We just don't want to spend a fortune on calls. SO it sounds like: ** buying a global phone when we get there is still good (or question: would it be better to do that here and then just get the SIM there or does it matter?); *Be aware of the changes of in and out of country use of the SIM cards (i.e. Turkish SIM after I leave Turkey will mean expensive in-coming calls and increased cost of outgoing); *if calling USA, we call them (texting very useful in setting that up); and know that changing SIMS is a pain in the neck. And maybe I should just consider forgetting the cost, and get a t-mobile.. it will be way easier... hmmm.
Thanks. I think you've covered it.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

Cienega, "We are traveling at different parts of the trip with different friends so staying linked is pretty important. We just don't want to spend a fortune on calls" If you're frequently changing SIM cards and calling plans, it will probably be somewhat difficult to predict what your costs will be. I didn't think it would be applicable to your situation so I didn't mention it earlier, but one option would be to use a phone from one of the "travel phone" firms such as Cellular Abroad, Roam Simple, Call In Europe, Telestial or Mobal. With these you'd have relatively consistent rates throughout your trip. This would also allow you to use one number for the trip, so your contacts wouldn't have to "guess" which number you were using at any particular time. HOWEVER, it's important to note that the rates will be higher in "Zone 2" or some countries in eastern Europe. I couldn't find rate listings for some of the countries you'll be visiting, so you'll have to check with the above firms for specific information. The easiest way to keep costs as low as possible is to use text messaging. Good luck!

Posted by Cienega
Albuquerque
5 posts

Thanks. I'm beginning to think simplicity, given multiple countries and multiple friends, may be the best. i will check out some of the ones you mentioned (I think I saw some of them on the prepaidgsm site). A detail: if we do use SIM cards and change them, do all contacts in the phone go with the SIM card or stay with the phone hard-drive (or whatever the technical piece is...). Thanks to all.
C

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Contacts can be saved to a SIM card, but SIM cards don't have that much storage space. The best course is to save them to your phone and then back up the contacts somewhere, such as a computer. Then swapping out the SIM cards won't affect the contact list. The phone should give you the option to decide where to store contacts in one of the menus.

Posted by Kathy
Seattle, WA, USA
125 posts

You might want to look into a sim card from eKit (Used by Telestia, too). I bought mine on eBay for about $6. They're more if you get them on their website. Mine is for their Global Premium Service and it covers all the countries that you have listed. It is the "best plan" that I could find for sale in the US. I used them successfully in 2008 in 8-9 countries. The reason that I considered using a different card is that in 2008 my daughter's phone did not work with the card (I have since discovered that her phone was not quad band) and back them they required a min of $30 for each additional "top up". Now I can add in $10 increments if I don't do it automatically (which I wouldn't anyway). I think for ease of use and making sure that the sim works in the phone before you go this is the best way to go. You can get an unlocked quad band phone here insert the sim card and activate it before hand. There are some "quirks" about the way this works and I know others have said that they had problems, but it worked for me. PM me if you want more info.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3585 posts

You can just wimp out and get something like EuroBuzz phones. They're $29 each including SIM card, and every incoming and outgoing call - to/from anywhere in the world - is 79 cents. Outgoing texts are 79 cents, too, but incoming texts are free. It's post-paid, meaning they charge your credit card only after you've made a call. You keep the same phone number forever, and you'll have it in your hands before you leave home, so you can give out your number. You can also leave home with it fully charged, too. Stick the phone in a drawer when you get home, and charge it before your next trip! You don't need to 'top off' the minutes every few months/years to keep your SIM card active and keep your phone number. This isn't the cheapest plan in the world, but it's the simplest I've found for us. This phone works only IN Europe; you can't make calls from the States, but you can call anywhere FROM WITHIN Europe. That's why it's called EURO-Buzz. Remember: if you'll need to use a phone in the USA - or anywhere else besides Europe - you'll need to bring your USA phone with you, too! We've used EuroBuzz phones recently, as have others on the Helpline, and they worked as advertised. They are the same company as 'Mobal' phones, but those phones are usable in countries other than only Europe - and the rates are higher, too. The EuroBuzz phone will work in the countries you've listed. Shipping was super fast! Each phone has pros and cons; only you know your future travel plans and which phone will be right for you.

Posted by Colleen
Lynden, WA
97 posts

The Eurobuzz phone that Eileen mentioned above sounds itneresting. So the only costs are $29 for the phone itself, then $.79 per minute to/from anywhere worldwide? Do you still need to change the SIM card in each country? Is the coverage comparable to other options?

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

Eurobuzz is a permanent SIM card, no changing numbers. It is also post paid, meaning your calls are charged to your credit card as you make them, not prepaid where you have minutes that you can run out of.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3585 posts

Colleen - IF you already have a phone that will work in Europe (unlocked quad-band, or European dual-band), then you can also simply order the $9 SIM by itself. (I'm also sending this to Colleen as a PM, in case she isn't following this thread.)