Use of iphone 5 in Europe

Does anyone have any experience using the iphone 5 in Europe? Would it be better to use the Sim card already in it(it can be used in Europe) or cheaper to buy a Sim card in Europe? I plan to be in Europe(different countries) for about 3 weeks.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1354 posts

hi, you may want to check with your provide and the cost of using it overseas and what fees/charges they will shaft you with. i used carphonewarehouse.co.uk to look at the rates overthere in the UK. just so you know, most of the users over there do Pay As You Go (PAYG). also, if youre going to use any sim from over there, make sure you verify (by doing) that you can add minutes to your sim. Im having issues adding minutes to my UK sim card. My Neatherlands sim card i can do over the www. happy trails.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Joseph, As Ray mentioned, your first step will be to check with your home cell network to determine the costs and other details for roaming. Some networks in the U.S. offer "travel packs" for voice, text or data which provide slightly cheaper rates when travelling. For occasional use, that's a reasonably cost effective method. You won't be able to use European SIM's in your iPhone 5 unless it's unlocked. You can check with your carrier on their policies for unlocking phones. As you're going to be travelling in different countries, using European SIM's may not be the best idea. When you leave the country where the SIM was purchased, you'll then be "roaming" so your minutes will deplete more quickly. Also, topping-up may be an issue when you leave the country where the SIM was purchased. If you have an unlocked phone, a third choice would be to use a SIM from one of the "travel phone" firms such as Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Call In Europe, Telestial, Mobal, EuroBuzz, One Sim or Max Roam. They usually use a U.K.-based number, provide consistent rates across many countries, and some use post-paid billing with calls charged to a credit card (ie: no need to top-up). If you roam with your home network, it would be a really good idea to disable cellular data (ie: no internet access except for Wi-Fi) as data roaming costs can be HUGE (ie: five figures)! Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Thomas
Snyder, Texas
503 posts

I have used my iPhone on several trips. Be sure to get a data plan for overseas travel from your provider. Texts will cost about a dollar each regardless of the data plan -- maybe more. You can use wifi free though. Keep your data turned off except when you need it. Turn off the push and automatic download features. Otherwise you'll get a lot of stuff when you turn on the data. I take mine for business reasons. You can sign up for the plan online (at least I can with AT&T) shortly before you leave. When you get back you have to wait a month to take it off because there is a lag in billing. Even with a data plan and being careful with your usage, it will still cost a few hundred dollars for 3 weeks. I would say between 200 and 400 -- if you're careful. I use it for convenience and because of my business. If you are wanting the cheapest route, using your iPhone is not it. Most of the suggestions I see on this site are to buy a throw away over there.

Posted by Joseph
Henderson, NC, USA
12 posts

Th
anks so much to all of you for the information and the various options to look into. I am assured by Verizon and also by Apple that when you buy an iphone 5 it arrives unlocked and it remains unlocked.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

"I am assured by Verizon and also by Apple that when you buy an iphone 5 it arrives unlocked and it remains unlocked." Per the Apple Store website, unlocked iPhone 5 prices start at $649, while locked versions start at $199 and require a two-year contract with Verizon, Sprint or AT&T. All use a nano-SIM. Will carriers unlock the iPhone 5 while under contract? Techies chime in please.

Posted by Elle
Iowa
19 posts

I spoke with the global representative at Verizon and was told that all iPhone 5s are unlocked. Yes, I can buy a sim card (ultra small, I think)in most European countries. I asked 5-6 different Apple staff members about this and got various answers. I went to a Verizon store here in Scottsdale, AZ and one staff member didn't know, the other said, "He was 99.5% sure they were unlocked." He told me to call the global rep at Verizon. That's what I did. Obviously, Verizon wants you to use their sim card and pay-up. But, the bottom line I believe is it will be much cheaper to use for data if I buy a sim card in each country. So, that's what I plan to do. Good luck. This is such basic information that you would think all Apple employees and all Verizon employees would know the answer. What are they trying to hide?!

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1354 posts

hi, when i bought my Tmobile sim card in the UK, it had both size cards. just have to be careful in how you remove the one you want since the smallest card is nested in the next largest. at least thats how my sim was made. im not sure this will work, but if your phone provide is Verizon, i would think that if you put in a different provider sim card (tmobile or?) it should work if the phone was UNLOCKED, right? happy travels.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

This morning, an Apple Store employee explained that the iPhone 5 phones at $199+ and with a two-year contract (At&T, Verizon or Sprint) are locked. Period. Unlocked units start at $649 and are without a contract.

Posted by Joe
Houston, TX, US
28 posts

Does anyone know if imessage works in Europe if you are immessaging to U.S.? Is it free if you see the blue? not the green shading which
signifies a text being sent?

Posted by Joseph
Henderson, NC, USA
12 posts

After 3 chat sessions with Verizon and getting 3 different answers regarding locked or unlocked phones and carefully checking the Apple web site, I am convinced you cannot have an unlocked phone and deal with Verizon. It clearly states on Apple that Verizon and Sprint are CDMA carriers and unlocked phones will not work with those carriers. An iphone 5 unlocked phone is model A 1428 and you can buy and use with AT&T. The iphone 5 that you get with Verizon or Sprint is model A1429. You can use the Verizon model internationally but you have to use their global plan. You can't insert other sim cards. I'll probably stick with Verizon since 99% of the time I am here in the US.
Also I looked at some of those international sim card sites(roam simple, eurobuzz and a couple others) and while doing that got hit with 7 Trojan viruses that shut my computer down requiring a recovery mode. I don't know which site did it but it went right by Trend security so be careful when you look at those sites. Thanks to all for your advice and imput.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Joseph, I'm really surprised to hear that you had Virus problems when checking the "travel phone" websites. I've never experienced that although I tend to look at some of them frequently and others only occasionally. I use MAC's most of the time, so that may be a factor also (although the Netbook that I use for travel is Windows 7, but I have robust Virus protection software loaded on it). I'm not exactly sure what a "Trojan virus" is, but it doesn't sound good. Hopefully you were able to get your PC back to normal easily.

Posted by Cindy
San Jose
39 posts

Message costs are provider dependent. But that is texting and usually around $1 per text depending on where you are at. iPhone5 by Verizon is both GSM and CDMA. It is unlocked and usable in Europe. However, in the US the CDMA is technically locked so you can't use another CDMA provider (in the US). Is that half-locked? In Europe you'll be on the GSM side and another providers sim card will work OK.

Posted by Chris
Tyler, TX
145 posts

Here is the link regarding Iphone 5 unlock: https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/client/en_US/ I have traveled with my att device locked for several years now and only use it sparingly for calls to US....mostly I text which is .50 per text sent and .20 received unless you add a global messaging package.....picture texts run $1.30. I used to switch sims but became too much of a hassle and didn't really save much if at all when wanting to contact friends and family...I enjoy the freedom now of just using my phone without using special codes or numbers and receiving calls/texts in timely way. My data roaming however is turned off and I rely on hotel or public wifi which has worked well. In a 3 week trip to Spain and Morocco my AT&T bill was only an additional $50 with many texts sent and received and judicious phone calls.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

With AT&T you can get 50 international texts (outgoing) for $10 and all incoming are free. I added the international plan for this which is only about $5 and you only have it for the time you are out of the country. You just have them put it on when you leave and take it off when you return. I do it all the time and have had no problems. Also with international plan calls are only about $1 a minute.

Posted by Daniel
Longwood, FL, USA
9 posts

Here's what I did last fall while touring Scandinavia and St. Petersburg. I got a personal phone number from Skype and used the Skype app in my iPhone 5. Phone calls work great and cost pennies per minute. Only drawback is you have to be where there's WiFi to really save anything while using this.
I also downloaded and used CityMaps2Go for use in finding my way around. The GPS works fine in the iPHone without having to use cellular connections. Maps are already downloaded into the phone so you don't need cellular for these maps.