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Cell phones from USA don't work in Hungary?

It seems odd so I am posting to confirm if its correct that most cell phones from the USA do not work in Hungary? I read this in a Lonely Planet e-guidebook on Budapest that I downloaded on Kindle.

Is this old information or really true?

I had just assumed we could use our mobile with an international plan or via wifi using What's App....

Any info is appreciated!

Posted by
1878 posts

Wi-Fi will certainly work. As for cell service, your best source of information would probably be your carrier. I think an international plan might cost you quite a lot though. We always go Wi-Fi only and have had no problems.

Posted by
4959 posts

Mostly old information. Most smart phones have the right frequencies to work in Europe now. Ten years ago, before most people had smart phones, this was NOT true of flip phones.

Understand: Europe uses GSM technology for mobile phones. In the US, T-Mobile and AT&T also use GSM, but they use different frequencies here in the US than are used in Europe. Older phones that worked on T-Mobile and AT&T in the US - flip phones - may not have been "quad band" phones that had the right frequencies to work in Europe, too. As late as 2009, my T-Mobile Sony flip phone did not/was not compatible with Europe.

Verizon and Sprint used to use exclusively CDMA technology, which is completely incompatible with GSM. So an old Verizon or Sprint flip phone (no SIM card like a GSM phone) would not work in Europe - period. Newer phones use LTE which is a bit different.

But most newer smart phones that work on Verizon and Sprint can roam on GSM now and have the right European frequencies to work at least on slow data networks and for voice calls. Otherwise, Verizon and Sprint wouldn't be able to offer international roaming (for which Verizon charges a lot). And most T-Mobile/AT&T GSM-compatible phones have the right European frequencies, now too. Note that they may only work on SLOW (2G or edge) data networks in Europe, though. It entirely depends on the phone's make and model - nothing to do with the carrier itself, actually. I have an older Moto E phone designed for Verizon that can work on 4GLTE networks in the US (even on T-Mobile/AT&T) but in Europe it can do only slow 2G networks - barely usable for data but OK for calls.

Check the website for your phone's exact make/model to see if it is compatible with European mobile networks. Note that many phone models come in variations with the same model name; there are numerous versions of the Moto E for example (I have several including the Indian version that works great in Europe but not so well in the US).

Posted by
242 posts

For what it’s worth, on my trip to Budapest 7 months ago, my IPhone 5S on TMobile worked fine and my friend’s smartphone on Verizon did as well.

Posted by
13762 posts

ive been using my TMobile Samsung in Budapest for about 10 years now. Actually answering this from my sofa in Budapest. Also works in Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Israel, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovakia, all if western Europe.

Posted by
996 posts

Hungary is listed on Verizon's Travel Pass page, so I assume their newer phones work there. Please note, you will have to contact your cell phone service provider to let them know you'll be traveling and find out if there are any settings you need to change in order for your phone to work in another country.

Posted by
3336 posts

I have Verizon and had no problem in Budapest.

Posted by
671 posts

I was in Budapest in October, with Verizon's TravelPass plan and an iPhone 7. Worked just fine! Verizon's TravelPass plan allows you to use talk, text, and data from your domestic allowance. You pay $10/day only on days you use your mobile abroad. So, if you use only wifi one day, no charge.

Posted by
48 posts

Just returned from a week long business trip to Budapest. My iPhone 7 worked fine. My carrier is Verizon. WiFi was plentiful everywhere

Posted by
36 posts

Wonderful! Glad to know there is lots of WiFi. Was the WiFi free and did you feel comfortable using it? (I am careful in the U.S. where I log on....)