Your best cell phone deal?

My RAZR phone died and I need to replace it for my upcoming trip to Spain. Please share your cell phone purchase/rental option you were satisfied with, cost, where did you buy/rent it from? If you have some lessons learned from less than satisfacory purchases/rentals, please share those too. I'm interested in a basic package primarily to make local calls to book lodging. We'll take an ipod touch and use it only when we have wifi for other applications. Thanks,

Posted by Gary
Reeds Spring, Missouri, USA
120 posts

For an upcoming trip the UK, I purchased a BLU T200 unlocked quad-band phone for $35 and a Lebara UK sim card for $32 from Amazon. The card is good for about 115 minutes of calls, domestic and international with free incoming calls and free incoming and outgoing texts. This card provides you with your phone number and is set up to work as soon as you land. Some of the customer reviews suggest it's less expensive to wait until you get to your destination and buy the sim card locally, but you won't have your phone number until then plus you'll have to go through the process of initializing the service. The instructions may be in Spanish. Here's a site that'll give you more information on Spain sim cards. It appears that calls in Spain are subject to a small connection charge, not so in the UK. http://www.telestial.com/view_product.php?ID=LSIM-ES03.
May not appear as a link since there is a question mark in the url.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

Brad, What SIM card were you using in your now defunct RAZR? The easiest and cheapest solution would be to buy an unlocked quad-band phone off E-Bay to replace the RAZR, and use with a local SIM purchased when you arrive in Spain. I had a brief look on E-Bay, and there are presently used V551 phones listed as low as $14.75 and new from $60. There are also lots of RAZR V3 models listed in the $60 range. On my last trip to Europe a few months ago, I used my venerable V-551 along with a "travel SIM" from Roam Simple. I've since upgraded to an iPhone, but will probably still use the same "travel SIM" on this year's trip. Good luck and Happy travels!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

Ken, It depended. If I wasn't going to be in one place long enough to make it pay, I'd just use the international option on my plan. If I was going to be somewhere for awhile, maybe a couple of weeks, I'd pick up a prepaid sim card up when I got there. I like the prepaid sim card route but need a phone. I'll be in Spain for a month (no other countries), so an in-country sim card is ideal.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17747 posts

Brad, Based on the information in your last post, a phone purchased off E-Bay would probably be the easiest solution. That will allow you to check it out and become familiar with the operation prior to your trip. Since you'll be in Spain for a month, you could also purchase a phone there, however you'd have to ensure that it was a quad-band model if you also wanted to use it at home. It would be supplied with a Euro Charger, so you'd have to use a Plug Adapter in the U.S. Happy travels!

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

I agree with Ken, ebay might be a good place to look. Also, Tiger Direct sells slightly out-of-date phones that should work and which have the advantage of not being used. Amazon also sells new unlocked phones. I have purchased good prepaid quad band phones directly from T-Mobile and then paid to have them unlocked ($20 extra or so). (I use T-Mobile in the U.S., so I could have gotten the unlock codes from T-Mobile, too, if I held the phone long enough.) The Motorola Ken mentioned is a good choice. The V551 has a lot of sister phone variations, the V540, V330, and so on. All are solid, decent phones for simple calling and texting. They feel a bit big compared to current models, though, because they first appeared a number of years ago. Before switching completely to smartphones, I liked the Sony Ericsson flip phones, too.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

This would just be a travel phone. I use a blackberry at work but don't take it internationally. My wife needed a phone so used my Razr, until it died, that was purchased primarily for it's ability to use overseas. Now she has a different phone for her own use. I expect this phone will sit in a drawer at home between vacations. I'll probably plan to burn down the minutes before coming home and won't worry about keeping the sim card active between trips.