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Phones: Using your cell phone abroad
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Phones: Using your cell phone abroad

4:15 /

Will your cell phone work outside the U.S.? Here's what you need to know before you go.

[ music ] ^M00:00:10 >> Summer's coming and that means you could be planning a big trip abroad, but the real question is can you bring your cell phone with you. Hi, I'm Veronica Belmont, Associate Editor at CNET.com and with me today is Kent German, Senior Editor of the mobile department here at CNET and so Kent, there's two different types of cell phones here in the states. There is CDMA and GSM right? >> Sure. Two different types of technologies that cell phones use. GSM is used by Cingular and T mobile, CDMA is used by Verizon and Sprint. >> Okay, so which is the better type to take with you if you're going abroad? >> Well GSM is really the global standard more or less. It's used all over Europe. It's a standard in Europe. It's used in a lot of places in Asia, Australia, Latin America. CDMA is used in some other countries, but if you're gonna travel, GSM will give you the best coverage. >> So we should probably focus on GSM then right? >> Yeah. >> Right? So what do you do if you have a cell phone in the states and you wanna take it to say Europe? >> Well, you can do a few things. If you're with Cingular, T mobile customer, you can take your phone right away to Europe and use it. Couple things you need to know though, the phones really have the GSM bands 900 and 1800 and you can find those listed on the box of your phone, inside the user manual, sometimes you can find it on the phone itself or you can look it up. That's because those bands are actually used in Europe. If your phone only covers 850 and 1900, you won't be able to use it there cause those are only used in the United States. >> I've heard a lot about having a phone locked or unlocked. Now what are the advantages of having an unlocked phone in overseas as opposed to having a locked phone there? >> An unlocked phone is a phone that doesn't have any settings that tie it to a carrier. So you can use any carrier SIM card, pop it in and then use the phone. Which is great. If you take your phone overseas with Cingular T Mobile, you will be using roaming, so you will be charged roaming rates and that can run from 99 cents to up to maybe 4 or 5 dollars depending on the country. >> Wow. >> So that can get real expensive. So the great thing is in Europe it's there's great culture around, pre-paid SIM cards. You can get them in vending machines, in stores, all over the place. You pop in that pre-paid SIM card, you'll get a local number for that country, so if you go to the UK you'll get a local number. But if you're calling within the UK, your fellow travelers, your friends you know there or making reservations, it's a great way to save on rates. >> Now if you don't wanna go through all this and if you're gonna be in Europe for a long time, will it make more sense just buy a different cell phone over there? >> Not necessarily. If you have the, if you have an unlocked phone and you're gonna spend a lot of time there, you might as well take the phone you have here unless you wanna buy something that's really cool that they only sell over there, but most of the time you can just take the unlocked phone you have here. >> So what do you do if you wanna get the SIM card switched? >> Well, usually the SIM card is located behind the battery so all you do is just pop it out, just pop out the battery like that and usually you'll find it here. So just slide out this and if you're taking your US SIM car with you and you're gonna use it when you return, definitely wanna hold onto this because you don't wanna lose it, because they will charge you for it. And all you do is you pry out the new SIM card, pop it in there, put back on the battery and you'll be ready to go. >> And you're good to go. Now is this gonna be the same in Europe as if you were going to Asia or a different place? >> Sure. Actually I myself went to Hong Kong a few months ago, walked into a store, bought a pre-paid SIM, popped it in, was able to call a friend I have in Hong Kong quite a few times. So its' very easy. It actually works out really well. Also you can use texting. Often times you can't send multimedia messages, sometimes you can't call back to the states, depending on what SIM card you buy, but so you just wanna verify that. But it's great for calling within the place that you're going. >> Now are the carriers opposed to unlocking a phone? Like will you have any trouble getting your phone unlocked? >> You might. It really depends on who you talk to. I know that I've been in carrier stores and been with people and they've done it right away and some people that I know have called and they make them send it in, they have to wait a week, then it takes them you know, spend 15, 20 dollars. You know, I know the carriers do have very set rules but, kinda depends on the customer service rep you get. Sometimes you can buy unlocking codes online or you can find them online, they are from the carrier so we wouldn't recommend doing that, cause you don't know if you're gonna get your money's worth. But the choice is out there. >> So overall the process is pretty easy right? >> It can be yeah. >> It can be. >> It's really that customer service thing. The actual process is very easy. But just gotta find someone who's willing to do it for ya. >> All right great. Thank you so much. >> Sure. >> I'm Veronica Belmont from CNET.com with Insider Secrets.

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