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disposable European phones

Hi- Wondering if it is possible to buy disposable, aka burner, phones in Italy. Is this even done and is it feasible?

Being utterly tech challenged, I am pretty confused about how to use my AT&T travel plan vs buying and using a sim card for my phone . We will be using the phone primarily for reservations and directions/GPS.

Posted by
4958 posts

AT&T's international roaming plans are expensive but easiest for the tech-challenged, if you must stick with AT&T. Your phone will work in Italy like it does at home. If you use the $60/month plan, you get 1GB of data to use and local calls to Italian numbers cost 35 cents/min. Or if you use the $10/day plan, you get free local calls and simply use your talk/text/data from your home plan. If your trip is longer than six days, obviously the $60/month plan could be cheaper.

If you want to buy a SIM, you need to get your phone unlocked (AT&T will unlock if your phone is paid off). But you will not have your US phone number while you have an Italian SIM in the phone - you'll have an Italian number until you put the AT&T SIM back.

If you could switch to Sprint or T-Mobile, they have much cheaper international roaming plans: unlimited text and data and 20 cents/min local calls. Sprint has a great deal right now: switch to them and get a free year of unlimited talk/text/data if you have an eligible device. I just switched - it's great ($3.20/month for admin fee and tax).

If you are tech challenged, buying a "burner phone" means learning a whole new device, which you might find a lot more intimidating than the above options.

Posted by
8889 posts

Yes, you can buy a cheap "dumb" phone for €20-40. This will do phone calls and texts, but no internet or anything else that needs data or a screen.
Here is an example from a British supermarket: https://www.tesco.com/direct/great-value-doro-5516-pay-asyou-go.event?icid=phones_trade_slot3
In order to use this, it needs a SIM card in it. This will define your service provider and telephone number. You need to look at prices for "pay-as-you-go" Italian SIM cards.

If you want to use this phone for directions/GPS you need a smart phone which will cost a lot more. It would be cheaper to get your current smartphone unlocked and install an Italian SIM card.

Please do not call it a "disposable phone". Telephones, like all electronics, contain dangerous chemicals and must not be put in normal waste disposal. They have to be treated separately. Most shops selling them can dispose of unwanted phones.

Posted by
28145 posts

I hope that you misspoke when you spoke of a disposable phone. They are made of plastic and include both rare and dangerous metals and other chemicals. They should never be disposed of with normal waste - they need to be painstakingly recycled.

Posted by
31524 posts

I definitely agree with Nigel's comments. Electronic products need to be properly recycled. The easiest and simplest solution would be to simply use your AT&T phone with an international roaming plan, although that won't be the cheapest option.

Posted by
59 posts

They didn't say disposable phone to dispose of in waste basket.
They emphasized "burner" phone, meaning to only use in italy, not meaning to buy and throw in the garbage.
And now because of your many extra reminders I am sure they will dispose of it in the correct manner hehe