I am struggling to figure out how to set up phone communication for European travel. I do not use a smart phone in my daily life; for travels I have an unlocked i-phone 4 for which I used prepaid SIM cards 3 years ago in the UK and Germany and 2 years ago in Mexico. I generally get a prepaid SIM card here in the US for a month before traveling so I can "practice" using it and will have it at the airport and so on.
I went to Best Buy to get a prepaid SIM card for this phone, and an employee worked for 2 hours with me to try to get my phone set up with this card. His conclusion was that i-phone 4 must not be supported anymore. I later called the company whose card I had purchased (Total Wireless) and was told that their card does not work on unlocked phones.(?!?!)
Since I only use a smart phone during the rare occasions that I travel, I want to buy a reasonably priced, newer, unlocked phone that is, and will be for a while yet, supported. Also, I heard from a friend that when he bought an AT&T prepaid card for his unlocked phone and then tried to switch it out when he got to Europe that his phone was no longer unlocked. I don't want to buy something and then have a prepaid card lock out other cards, since I will need to swap them country to country.
So . . . the person in the phone section at Best Buy isn't sure how to help me. We called the card provider who says the prepaid card won't work in an unlocked phone. We also just called Motorola (a type of phone I'm looking into purchasing), and the employee there said he was unable to answer such questions about the phone.
This seems unnecessarily complicated.
I will be arriving at my destination late at night next month and will need to contact my airbnb host in order to be let into the apartment. I need to be able to communicate with him as soon as I get in town (was planning to buy a prepaid card at the airport and switch it out). How can I do this with assurance that my phone won't be "locked" by a SIM card bought in the US? How do I know what phones are supported?