Which Cell Phone For Daughter Abroad

Hi, I'm looking for your opinion on which unlocked cell phone to get my daughter. She'll be traveling this summer for 5 weeks in Germany. 3 weeks as an exchange student and 2 weeks with our friends. Not looking for anything fancy just something she can call/text home with, easy to use and with a keyboard. I plan on looking on Ebay. Any other sites you'd recommend for phone/sim deal? Thanks,
Wendy

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Your daughter can purchase a phone in Germany comparable to our Tracphone in the U.S. If she took an AT&T GSM phone over there .99 per minute really adds up. I took a laptop with me last trip, and I communicated by email, not voice methods. The hotels usually have WiFi available for free or little cost. I would recommend a notebook, or lightweight Kindle Fire to communicate thru WiFi.
Another option is to use MagicJack to plug a simple phone handset into a laptop, and you can call worldwide for free.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

For calling home, I liked using Skype on an Ipod touch with Wifi - just a couple cents a minute. For calling within Europe, buying a low-cost pay-as-you-go phone in Germany is going to be a much better deal. There are at least a few companies that will sell you a phone, SIM card and ten euros in call credit for 25 euro. The calls, depending on the option you choose, are about 8 cents a minute. If she brings an unlocked phone with her from home. She runs the chance of the phone either not working at all, or not being unlocked. If that happens, the phone is essentially a paperweight and she'll need to get a phone there anyway. The international calling plans from US providers may not sound bad, but they are at least ten times the cost she could be paying.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

Wendy, For a basic phone, I've found the Motorola V-551 to provide excellent service. I used one for many years on trips to Europe, and it always worked well. I travelled with an iPhone last year for the first time, but may return to the V-551 as it's cheaper. Here's one of the listings on E-Bay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Motorola-V551-Cingular-AT-T-NEW-IN-BOX-/181098540720?pt=Cell_Phones&hash=item2a2a506eb0 There are LOTS of them currently listed, but this one is brand new, so that's always nice. As your daughter is only going to be in one country, she could either: > Buy a SIM card with a German network when she arrives - OR - > Buy a SIM card from one of the "travel phone" firms here. Cheers!

Posted by Wendy
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
183 posts

Great thanks for the help. Unfortunatly there will be no time for her to get a phone once landed in Frankfurt. She's going with her German class, so they basicly are getting off the plane and on to a train. No stopping from what the teacher says. So I wanted her to have something and ready to go once there. Wendy

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Wendy, tigerdirect.com and amazon sell unlocked new phones. Just be sure they are at least quadband. If you're looking for a physical keyboard, a Blackberry might work.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

Wendy, As your daughter won't have time to buy a phone there, using a travel phone is probably the easiest solution. You could either buy a phone similar to the one I mentioned earlier and use with a travel SIM or buy a Phone with SIM from the same firm. Some that you could check are Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Call In Europe, Telestial, Mobal, EuroBuzz, One Sim and Max Roam. Many of these use a U.K. phone number and use post-paid billing (calls charged to a credit card). I prefer the PP billing as I don't have to worry about topping up, or running out of minutes. As long as one uses voice calls sparingly (and no data), it's a very cost effective approach. The least expensive way to keep in touch with family back home is via text messaging (especially as incoming texts are usually free). Cheers!

Posted by Wendy
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
183 posts

Thanks Ken, I'll have a look at what you suggested! You have all be so helpful. Wendy

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1343 posts

when i was in London, i got my Samsung unlocked quadband slider phone for a total of $60.00 USD. That includes the SIM, 10 pounds of talk/text/web time and a memory card. i didnt want a phone where i could accidently dial someone. so i got the slider. they had flip phones too. just an fyi, UK sims require UK CC cards to recharge. I got a sim in Amsterdam and i can recharge it via the web.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

@Ray, "just an fyi, UK sims require UK CC cards to recharge." That's not always true. I've been using a U.K. SIM card from 02 Telefonica for several years. This was obtained from one of the "travel phone" firms that I frequently mention, and calls are billed to my Canadian credit card. They offer the same service to U.S. residents. Cheers!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

@Ray, Just to clarify, my 02 SIM is not on a PAYG or pre-paid plan, so I don't have to top-up or pay any money up-front. I'm not on a contract plan, so I'm not sure exactly how it works? My calls are billed to a credit card, and posted to my account a few days later. I don't like fussing with top-ups, and I prefer being able to use my phone the way I do at home. Cheers!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

Ray, why would you want or need to top up a UK SIM in the US?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8745 posts

UK sims require UK CC cards to recharge. I don't think so. They can be topped up (look for the expression mobile phone top ups) in supermarkets, atms, in the relevant mobile stores, in corner shops, online and other places. You don't even have to use a credit card. ATM cards work, debit cards work, and cash works. Where did you get the information that they would only work with UK credit cards?

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1343 posts

@ Ken & @ Nigel I should have been more specific. Yes, you can top off when youre in the UK or if you buy a top off card. however, try to top off w/o a card and in the USA. Btw, i got T-moblie.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7973 posts

It still doesn't make sense. I don't know squat about top-off cards, but I've had foreign sims and all I had to do was walk in a phone store and put whatever I wanted on my credit card.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1343 posts

@ed, i bought the phone & sim in the UK.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Why wouldn't she just buy a Handy ( German cell phone) when she gets there? She may not have time at the airport, but she will later. My sons each studied in Germany and they each bought one to use there. Mather come with prepaid minutes which you can add to later. This was a few years ago but I recall the cost was around $40 for phone plus some minutes.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1343 posts

sorry for the HJ, @Ken my phone IS a PAYG. I really dont like ANY company in my account. IME, they are really quick to charge/take $$ from you and really slow to make any corrections. Its JME. IAC, the cell phone provides really shaft us over here. over there received calls are free including international. also, the providers here require you to buy the best plan for www access. over there i can chose what i want to buy. Also, i was only using my phone for travel. 99% of the time it just sitting. dont need a cell phone for other then that. @Nancy, I need to top up my UK sim since it only has about 1 pound left. also, i need to keep the number active so i wont loose it. just an fyi, there are only so many phone numbers to issue and that is why they want it active. all i need to do is to make a call 1x per 3 months or so.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8745 posts

Do you have to make a call? Wouldn't an SMS (text) keep it alive?

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1343 posts

@ nigel, im not sure if SMS would work.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

@Ray, Thanks for the additional information. I only use the U.K. number when I'm travelling, so it doesn't incur any charges the rest of the year. All of the calls are itemized, so I'm confident they're not charging me for anything I'm not using. Cheers!