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Topic: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?  (Read 5830 times)

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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2012, 12:17:52 AM »
So my unlocked US  iPhone will not work in the UK? :o I was under the impression it would.
it should, though 4G service is limited to EE (a merger of UK TMobile & Orange) though 4G data plans are limited and not cheap....


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2013, 12:43:39 AM »
Short term I suggest adding an international plan to your US phone.  We spent a month in the UK recently and both added the AT&T int'l plan to our iPhones and iPads, and it was pretty reasonable.  That way you'll still have phone access while you shop for a replacement phone. 


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2013, 12:21:29 AM »
Your unlocked iPhone will work fine - as will a Verizon iPhone, if you want to keep a US plan live as well. (Oddity of the last round of licensing: Verizon have to unlock their handsets to be allowed to use the frequencies they do in the US!) That way, you can use it (SIMless) on Verizon's CDMA/LTE network in the US, or with a SIM in the UK: best of both worlds (and only one SIM to keep track of, no separate US SIM!)

Don't worry about 4G (LTE) service: in the UK, only one company is offering that at all, and then only in certain cities, for inflated prices! For everything else, 3G is the way to go.

Depending on budget and usage, Three have some good pay-as-you-go plans, as cheap as £5/month for a year after an online rebate through topcashback.co.uk, as well as the best high-usage plans.


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2013, 09:58:36 PM »
Your unlocked iPhone will work fine - as will a Verizon iPhone, if you want to keep a US plan live as well. (Oddity of the last round of licensing: Verizon have to unlock their handsets to be allowed to use the frequencies they do in the US!) That way, you can use it (SIMless) on Verizon's CDMA/LTE network in the US, or with a SIM in the UK: best of both worlds (and only one SIM to keep track of, no separate US SIM!)

Don't worry about 4G (LTE) service: in the UK, only one company is offering that at all, and then only in certain cities, for inflated prices! For everything else, 3G is the way to go.

Depending on budget and usage, Three have some good pay-as-you-go plans, as cheap as £5/month for a year after an online rebate through topcashback.co.uk, as well as the best high-usage plans.


Currently I have an old iPhone...an iPhone 4.  I plan on buying an unlocked iPhone 5 before I leave.  Just not sure what I'm going to do for a phone while I'm at the US airport etc.  Nowadays one never knows with delays, connections etc i would hate to be at the airport without a phone. 

I do currently have the AT&T international calling plan ( which is fabulous) but that won't help me when I give up my phone before I leave


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2013, 06:26:18 PM »
^ You can always pay $5 for WiFi access at the airport. :)

If you want an unlocked phone, then the answer is yes.  Apple products in particular are absurdly expensive here (they are the same price in sterling as in dollars, so 56% more expensive at present).  It is basically insane to buy any Apple product in the UK... wait until you visit the US and buy it there.

US phones will work in the UK as long as they use the GSM standard.  If you have Verizon in the US, which uses a CDMA network, your phone will probably not work here (some Blackberrys have dual antennae to work with both networks).

If you travel a lot, to the US or Europe, it might even make sense to hold onto a US phone number.  Data roaming packages from UK mobile carriers especially suck.  For example, while AT&T will charge $120 for 800mb of roaming data outside of the US... O2 will charge £120 for 120mb of roaming data outside of Europe, and when you've used that up you can't buy more until the next billing cycle.

Also, 4G data plans are not going to be viable in the UK until the carriers here come out with larger monthly data plans.  As it stands the largest plans are 2GB/month, but you'll use up that much data in a week on 4G if you are actually taking advantage of its potential (streaming video, etc).
« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 06:29:45 PM by NYCtoLondon »


Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2013, 09:29:39 PM »
Our unlocked iphone 4s phones work fine in the UK. We have pay as you go sims, switching carriers every so often when better offers come up.


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2013, 11:34:50 AM »
Ok.. But what do I use for a phone at the airport both in the US and when I arrive at the UK airport.

When I first came over I had an unlocked T Mobile Blackberry, and when I landed here I just put in a pay-as-you-go O2 SIM card in it and away I went. I had bought the O2 SIM card off Ebay before I left.
"It takes a leap of faith to get things going. In your heart, baby, you must trust..."


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2013, 12:33:49 AM »
When I first came over I had an unlocked T Mobile Blackberry, and when I landed here I just put in a pay-as-you-go O2 SIM card in it and away I went. I had bought the O2 SIM card off Ebay before I left.

Quick question, once u purchased the SIM card there was no need to get a plan you can start making calls with just the SIM card?

Also by the time I'm ready to leave ( next summer hopefully) I would have purchased the new iPhone 5s.  I'm assuming I would still be able to get the SIM card on EBay


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2013, 03:56:06 AM »
Quick question, once u purchased the SIM card there was no need to get a plan you can start making calls with just the SIM card?

Also by the time I'm ready to leave ( next summer hopefully) I would have purchased the new iPhone 5s.  I'm assuming I would still be able to get the SIM card on EBay

It depends on what type of SIM card you buy - the SIM cards are associated with the mobile phone companies... so the plan and call rates are determined by which company the SIM card is provided by.

If you buy a Pay As You Go SIM card on ebay, you aren't on a plan... you have to make sure there's money on the card first (or put some on yourself) and then you can make calls immediately (the cost of the calls and texts will be set by the mobile phone company you get the SIM from... i.e. T-mobile, EE, O2, Vodafone, Tesco Mobile etc.).

There are SIM-only contracts available, where you're on a 30-day contract and pay a monthly fee for your calls/text/internet, but you already have a phone. However, I believe you need to have a UK credit rating to be approved for a SIM-only contract, and you won't have any UK credit when you first move, so a Pay As You Go SIM will probably be your only option at first.

Just to note: iphones take micro-SIM cards, so you'll have to make sure you purchase the correct size of card from ebay.


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2013, 10:27:48 AM »
Three will allow you to sign up for a SIM Only contract with a UK bank account even though you won't have a UK credit history.


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2013, 01:30:06 PM »
Quick question, once u purchased the SIM card there was no need to get a plan you can start making calls with just the SIM card?

Also by the time I'm ready to leave ( next summer hopefully) I would have purchased the new iPhone 5s.  I'm assuming I would still be able to get the SIM card on EBay

When you get the sim card it will generally give you the web address where you can go and put some minutes on it. No obligation or contract required.

I am quite sure there will always be sim cards on ebay. Many available today are dual use, where the micro sim is enclosed in the standard sim and you just cut the larger part away to get to the micro sim if that's what your phone uses.
"It takes a leap of faith to get things going. In your heart, baby, you must trust..."


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2013, 11:28:00 PM »
Hi,

A quick heads up as I've just skim read the latest responses..

Double check which frequencies the new iPhone 5S will use in the USA and cross reference to see if they are the same with any of the UK's networks. This will matter more for the 4G capabilities in the US and over here in the UK. I don't really follow 'too' much into Apple products, but I know they have different versions for 'LTE' which is the tech term for the '4G capabilities'. The last thing you want is to buy that new iPhone and find it can't/won't work on the UK's 4G frequencies!

Of course, if you aren't interested in 4G over here, then the above probably won't matter!

Cheers, DtM! West London & Slough UK!


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2013, 07:00:52 AM »
Thanks everyone for the response.  Lots to think about. 


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #28 on: September 12, 2013, 08:16:58 AM »
I just moved here a month ago and this is what I did.

I called AT&T and told them I was moving out of the country, I gave them a date to turn off my phone. I kept mine on for 1 week after I arrived, in case I needed to use it while travelling.  You can turn off the cellular data and still use it with WiFi. I asked them to unlock my phones. (Iphone 4 and 5)  They did it over the phone and you have to reconnect it to itunes to finish the process.  I then went to the bank on Monday morning and opened a bank acct. Received my debit cards a few days later. Then I went to O2 (with Bank card and Passport in hand) and set up new phone service without any problems at all.  I was without phone service for a few days but I found WiFi everywhere I went so I could use email and messaging as a way to get in touch with my hubby as needed.  hope this helps.


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Re: Mobile phones - better to buy unlocked before leaving the US?
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2013, 05:13:26 AM »
I just moved here a month ago and this is what I did.

I called AT&T and told them I was moving out of the country, I gave them a date to turn off my phone. I kept mine on for 1 week after I arrived, in case I needed to use it while travelling.  You can turn off the cellular data and still use it with WiFi. I asked them to unlock my phones. (Iphone 4 and 5)  They did it over the phone and you have to reconnect it to itunes to finish the process.  I then went to the bank on Monday morning and opened a bank acct. Received my debit cards a few days later. Then I went to O2 (with Bank card and Passport in hand) and set up new phone service without any problems at all.  I was without phone service for a few days but I found WiFi everywhere I went so I could use email and messaging as a way to get in touch with my hubby as needed.  hope this helps.

Fantastic!  Exactly the info I need.  I think I will give this a shot.  Quick question in order to finish the process is it just as simple as reconnecting to iTunes or are there multiple steps to the process? 


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