cell phone

We need to let the apartment rental people (airbnb) know our arrival times. We need to do this in several cities in Italy and Eastern Europe. Our cell phones won't work. Should we buy a phone and if so what? Or can we use our laptop?
thanks.

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1635 posts

Buy a cheap Chinese unlocked quadband cell phone from eBay, then buy a SIM card (plus minutes) when you get to Italy and another from whichever country you're in in E. Europe. Assuming you're flying into Rome or another Italian international airport, there will be someplace in the airport to buy your first SIM.

Posted by Carol
Martinez, CA, USA
517 posts

Agree with Lee. We bought a used unlocked quadband on Amazon two years ago and have used it in four different countries. One recommendation, don't throw the card away. The first three times we bought a sim card we had minutes left and threw the card away when we got home. Silly us. The card may good for 6 months to a year depending on the company and we may have been able to use up the minutes in another country on our next trip. We have saved the card from our April trip to Sicily and will try it in Turkey in September. If it works, great. If not, nothing lost.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

Can't you just e-mail them, or give them an approximation of when you would arrive? I don't have a cell that works elsewhere either and I just expect other people to work around it, it's not the end of the world (I tell them ahead of time)..it always works out fine.

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1635 posts

That's missing the point of this posting. Emails work in a variety of situations but Karen asked for advice about cell phones.

Posted by karen
south portland, Maine, United States
19 posts

Thank you for your thoughts. I'll look into a cheap phone but may end up using my laptop instead.

Posted by James
Frisco
1769 posts

ALMOST all US phones sold today are quadband GSM phones and will work in Europe. I am surprised yours will not. I once purchased one of these phones and it worked okay. A couple of years ago I bought a SIM card in a country I visit a lot. It wasn't as easy as you might think. Why would you think a phone store in Europe would be any more efficient than one in the US. Count on an hour. I go to Europe a lot and this is what I discovered, my US cell (TMobile) works fine from Bulgaria to the UK. Rates are high ($1.50 a minute) but I rarely make a call that lasts more than a minute. And for that matter I rarely make a call more than once every few days. For longer communication I use WIFI calling or SKYPE or Email. Just get a room with free WIFI

Posted by karen
south portland, Maine, United States
19 posts

We were in Spain and France last year. Before we left I talked with US Cellular. They were very clear that my phone would not work abroad. I will check with them again for that may have changed.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2888 posts

ALMOST all US phones sold today are quadband GSM phones and will work in Europe I'd be really surprised if that were true ... Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular are CDMA. I doubt that most people on these networks have a phone that supports both CDMA and GSM. Those carriers do sell them (usually advertised as "global phones"), but I doubt they are the norm. What country will you be arriving in first?

Posted by James
Frisco
1769 posts

Laura, thank you. It's always good to have your beliefs tested. I checked and yes, US Cellular appears to be CDMA pretty exclusively (didn't check all the phones, but ......). On the other hand Verison, Tmobile and ATT which is about 2/3rds of the market have an abundance of GSM models that should work. But that doesn't help Karen. I still wouldn't go through the hassle of buying SIMS in each country, although that would work. Unless you plan on using your phone a lot, that link I listed in my previous post provides a decent service at a decent price and there are others like it you can find on the internet. They will set you up with the phone and a card with fairly reasonable rates. Supplement with WIFI when you have the opportunity. BUT DO take a working phone.

Posted by Lee
Oregon
1635 posts

I think the newer phones sold here in the U.S. are in fact probably quadband but they have to be unlocked using a code. Using a US phone service such as Verizon or Sprint, etc. to make calls in Europe is a lot more expensive than just buying a local SIM and extra minutes for a few euro, as long as you don't have to make any calls back to the States.

Posted by James
Frisco
1769 posts

Laura was correct the US Cellular phones are not going to work, locked or unlocked; but they are one of the few these days that won't. If someone plans on staying in a country for an extended period of time and if someone anticipates a lot of phone usage then I guess buying a local pay as you go SIM card isn't a terrible idea. If you are like me and you carry the phone for the occasional taxi call and for emergencies then get one to the cheap kits from a place like http://www.telestial.com or one of their competitors.

Posted by Carol
Liverpool, Texas, USA
19 posts

Ok, so Iphone 4 with Sprint as my carrier will not work at all? Or can I just turn off the cellular and use WIFI? Funny how things were so much simpler, and easier too, when James Bond was the only person I knew of who had a portable telephone.

Posted by James
Frisco
1769 posts

I don't know about Sprint. What you need is a quad band GSM phone. Check with sprint to see if your phone qualifies. Back up plan is something like http://www.telestial.com or similar.