We'd like to have mobile phones that work in Ireland, Scotland Wales and England, but can't imagine buying 3 new phones for just 2 weeks!! Does anyone have one that they would sell cheap; one that we could re-stock with minutes (pay-as-you-go)?
John, one possibility you might try would be to buy a quad-band, unlocked GSM phone off E-Bay. As with anything from E-Bay, it's always "caveat emptor", but most of the suppliers are fairly reliable.
With an unlocked GSM handset, you could either go to a Cell shop in the U.K. and buy a PAYG Sim, or use a "universal" SIM such as those offered by Cellular Abroad (or others). The last possibility would be to rent a phone (a bit expensive, but if you really MUST have a Phone while you're travelling, it's certainly an option).
Check out www.mobal.com - they have a $49 phone that works in 150 countries - including the UK and all over Europe - and it only charges you for the minutes you use. The rates can get expensive ($1.25-$1.50/min.) but it's a good thing to have on hand when you travel in case of emergencies. You can check your balance anytime and the calls are charged directly to your credit card so you don't have to worry about running out of minutes. After your vacation just stick it in a desk drawer and pay nothing until you use it again on your next trip!
I love my Mobal phone. I've used it in Finland, Ireland, England, and Spain -- no problems, and very clear reception.
We just returned from 3 weeks in Ireland. We bought a nokia (Vodaphone)at THE CARPHONESTORE for around 50 euro and it came with 20 euro call time. It did not work in No. Ireland. I walked into a Carphonestore outlet before leaving and was told the phone still had EU14.92 worth of call time and would be usable for 6 months from purchase. I don't know if the vodaphone plan allows you to change the sim card for use in UK.
As Ken posted, go on ebay. Make sure its unlocked.
I got mine thru the Ebay.uk. and the seller was able to ship it to me.
I got the SIM thru Virgin Mobile and had no problem topping up my minues at any convenience store.
I have an older, inexpensive quad-band phone from T-Mobile that works in Ireland and the United Kingdom. T-Mobile uses GSM, and uses a SIM card, which is pretty ubiquitous in that part of the world. You have to call them to enable roaming, and the cost is .99 cents per minute inbound/outbound. Unless they've changed.
After doing some research I think this company offers the best balance between phone cost and airtime cost for the occational travel. http://www.oneroam.co.uk/ Mostly free incoming and will sell you a phone with some time for $75
Any phone bought in Europe can be used with any plan, however you often have to pay about £20 to get the phone unlocked so that you can use it with different sim cards. I've used my VodaFone fone with sim cards in the UK, Denmark and Australia.