Should I buy a GSM dual-band phone on Amazon now? Which one?

Hi all,
I realize I should wait until I get to Ireland to buy the sim card for mobile phone use over there, but should I go ahead and buy a phone on Amazon now? If so do you have any recommendations? Or is it actually easier to just stop at the first cellphone booth we see in Ireland and pick one up there? (We're also going to Scotland and England).

Many thanks to you wise travelers.
Diane

Posted by richard
Yorkshire
390 posts

Hi, you need to look for quadband.
For an unlocked one,$22 is the cheapest I've seen in UK and Ire.
You can find them for approx that on US ebay,granted you'd then need a plug adapter but you are likely to have one

Posted by diane
12 posts

Yes, thank you, I meant to say quadband. And if the prices are about equal it seems I'd be better off just getting the phone over there. I am having a lot of trouble finding one on Amazon that seems to have good reviews (the one I was considering has people complaining that it's tiny and is only in the spanish language).

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
6008 posts

I think that buying a cheap phone upon arrival is the easiest option. The store can help you make sure the chip is set up and phone is working. I'm still carrying the cheap phone I bought years ago in Italy, although I now use my iPad more, for any reservations that can be made online or by email.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20020 posts

diane,

If you'd prefer to buy a phone prior to travel, you might have a look at the Motorola V-551, which you can find on both Amazon and E-Bay. I've always found that model to be a robust and reliable phone. Texting takes a bit of practice since it uses "predictive text entry", but it's really not that difficult.

If you buy a phone now, you can use it either with a SIM card purchased in Ireland OR a SIM card from one of the travel phone firms such as Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Telestial, Mobal or EuroBuzz (there are others). These firms also offer phone and SIM packages from about $5 for a SIM and $29 for a phone. Many of these use numbers based in the U.K. so the rates are fairly inexpensive and post paid billing so no need to top-up. Check their websites for details.

If you'd prefer to buy a phone when you arrive in Ireland, I'd suggest stopping at a Carphone Warehouse. They appear to have at least three outlets in Dublin. They represent most of the cellular networks so have a wider selection of both phones and calling plans, and the staff will be able to help you choose the best plan for your situation.

Posted by diane
12 posts

Many thanks for all the great advice. I found out to my surprise that Sprint was able to unlocks own iPhone and I bought a SIM card from the Vodafone store. I am still not able to successfully text tot the US though... Have tried a few combos including a plus sign followed by the area code and then 7digit number. I called and texts are not going thru (not an urgent issue though)

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4001 posts

Diane: one trick to try; have your US people text you, then "reply" to their texts.

If that still doesn't go through, there may be some kind of block on international texting. In Europe, it's much more common than in the US for the default setting to be NOT to allow international service. Bring your phone into the Vodafone store and ask them.

Posted by scottw_54
1 posts

Hi: My wife and I got back from Ireland and France last month. Used an iPhone 4s with AT&T. signed up for 50 text messages for $10.00. The text message only counts against your 50 if its an outgoing text using local(Ireland, france) cell tower. If its outgoing using wifi or an incoming text its not charged against your 50. If you want to make a call its $1.50 a minute. Unless you call a lot its cheaper than a calling plan. Last year we were in London for a week and Paris for a week. I chased around town for an Orange (local telco) sim card. This year was easier and less hassle.

Also if you use "OffMaps2" http://offmaps.com/ and download your maps before you leave, the text plan is all you need to get great location information from the local cell towers. The maps come in a pack of 3. Its about $.33 per map section.

Scott