Hi, We are still uncertain as to what we need to do and take for our trip to France in 2 weeks. We have 4S and an iPad & free WiFi where we'll be staying. I copied and pasted these questions from another Q&A from here: The answers to your telephone questions will depend on you needs. 1. Will you need to be easily accessible from the US? No, not that much. Sister is arriving 2 days after we do & we need to touch base with her. 2. If yes, will the people calling you from the US just be a few people (whom you can teach any needed "tricks" before you leave) or will it be the general public, whom you won't be able to "tutor"? Just one, basically. The other 2 parties are not necessary, but would be fun to connect with. One of them has a 4S. 3. Will texts back and forth suffice (at least part of the time)? Yes, definitely. 4. If people are calling you from the US, will they be able to text or dial an international number (and pay the accompanying charges), or do they want to use a US number? Either way. 5. If you are getting calls from the US, will the people in the US need to know your number before you leave, or could you e-mail or text it once you arrive? No, we can let them know once we arrive, but we DID buy an unlocked phone several years ago & have that phone number we can give them. We'd rather not take it if we don't need it.
Jan, To begin with, it would help to know which cell network your iPhones are with and also whether they're unlocked? That will have a bearing on whether you'll be able to use them in Europe. If your phones are useable in Europe, you'll need to be VERY CAREFUL with data roaming, as the charges can be HUGE (ie: five figures). It will be easier to provide more specific suggestions with a bit more information. Cheers!
I can only answer for myself. I have an ATT iPhone 4 and this is what I just signed up for. I signed up for a plan where I pay $5.99 over my regular bill, and each minute is 99-cents. I also added a data plan where for $30 I get 120M (any amount over is another $30 for up to 120M). I figure I'll get by with less than $50 total because I also plan on using these only when I need to. I will email my family and friends from the free wi-fi in the hotel to let them know I arrived. Most of my communication will be through email. I will also add some money to a Skype account should I wish to call someone and I'm on a Wi-fi network. Most of the time I will keep my iPhone set to Airplane mode with wi-fi turned on. I will reserve the ATT plan minutes and megabytes for when I am not near wi-fi and need to call or check data. For example, we're in the middle of France and running late for our next hotel I can call to let them know. Or we're walking around Paris, get lost and I want to check Google Maps, or figure out what this strange church in front of us might be, and there's no wi-fi immediately to hand. I don't feel the need to receive calls. A daily check of email will be sufficient for me. I'm on vacation. And if some emergency happens at home, I won't be able to take care of it in a short time anyway. I decided to go with the ATT plan because it was more convenient, and slightly cheaper, than renting a cell phone, or trying to jailbreak my phone and switch out SIM's or some other such solution. I may not use all the ATT minutes and megabytes but $36 bucks is not too much for peace of mind. Your mileage may differ.
If you can use text much of the time, and if the people you are contacting in the US also have Apple devices with FaceTime, you can probably just stay with your iPhones/ iPads and your current provider (for the iPhone 4S, the AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon models will all work in Europe over the cell phone network). Remember that FaceTime needs a WiFi connection. If you need to contact people (or they need to contact you) when you're not in a WiFi zone, texts or calls will be necessary. If you're doing more than a few of these, investigate the text package or international voice and data packages from your carrier. You say you have an unlocked phone from several years ago. Which carrier is it with? Many of the national carrier SIM's expire if they are not used or refilled on a certain schedule (every few weeks to every 6 months - varies by carrier). If it's one of the international SIMs, it may still work. A GSM phone itself has no number - the SIM is the "brain" of the phone, and determines the number and the network.
We took our 4S to France in May and bought a one-month international plan from Verizon for $4.99, which allowed for $.99 a minute calls. We turned off data roaming, and left voice roaming on. Used free wi-fi in hotels and sent emails rather than texts. Sent several photos to FB and made a few calls to hotels and restaurants for reservations. The bill was $10.89.
Awesome, thanks all for your valuable info. Anne, this is good news! I'm hoping & trusting Verizon to show us how to turn off the data roaming when we visit their store this weekend.