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Question

Smart phone for 5+ mon travel in europe

by sennekin / June 25, 2012 6:21 AM PDT

I'm going to be traveling in Europe for 5 months, and my stay may or may not turn into something more permanent. I'll be spending a lot of my time in Germany but also traveling some throughout Europe.
I currently have a very basic flip phone so I'm naive in the ways of smart phones. But I'd like to get one I can use for GPS, Skype/Facebook/Email, and local calls while traveling. I would also like to be able to use the phone w/ a US provider, so I can use it should I return to the US sooner than expected.
What are the most important things I should consider when making my purchase? I've been told I need 3G technology, because not everywhere has 4G, and GSM technology, a SIM card for local use, and an unlocked phone.
Also, what phone would you suggest for my purposes? I don't want to overpay for a bunch of stuff I won't use!
Thanks in advance for your advice!

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Clarification Request
What's your budget?
by Pepe7 / June 25, 2012 6:48 AM PDT

The main issue I see with your quest is cost. (Approximate budget?) A decent Android smartphone which does what you want it to do will run upwards of $500-700 if you buy it unlocked and not with a U.S. carrier subsidized price/contract extension/upgrade. I could recommend some, but you will be paying through the nose ;).

That said, you *could* buy an internationally equipped smartphone from the U.S. carrier now, so you can defray the cost. Who's your current carrier? Or, are you not locked to anyone here per se?

Please share these details so we can help out properly from all angles.

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Budget & carrier
by sennekin / June 25, 2012 7:37 AM PDT
In reply to: What's your budget?

Yowza.. my ideal budget would be $300, but that was set from browsing ebay a bit and not really understanding what I should be looking for. It would be really painful to pay anymore than $500 though.

My current carrier is Verizon. I was planning on buying an unlocked phone though to ease the use and cost of it overseas. I have heard rumors of the ability to unlock phones - but have no idea how to or who to go to (or really what that even means!).
I'm currently part of a family plan on Verizon so I think my number can simply be removed from the plan w/out getting hit w/ fees even though the contract isn't up. That's also why I was thinking it'd be easier to purchase an unlocked phone separate from a carrier.

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If you don't need a phone with...
by Pepe7 / June 26, 2012 1:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Budget & carrier

....european 3G frequency bands, it's pretty easy to find a quad band GSM model which you could get rid of at the end of your trip, or sell. OTOH, since you are with Verizon, it's more complicated since they use technology that is not compatible with most of the rest of the world. Your phone choices are much more limited if you intend on using the same phone stateside w/ Verizon. In this sense you will have to make a choice between the following:
1) Unlocked phone for use on trip. Quad band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) at bare minimum; 3G frequencies for Europe (2100 MHz). Won't work with Verizon in the U.S. Example:
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Galaxy-GT-I9100-Unlocked-Touchscreen/dp/tech-data/B0053HSZQG/ref=de_a_smtd

2) New phone/upgrade from Verizon that will work both in Europe & U.S.. Verify GSM/WCDMA side is unlocked when you acquire from Verizon sales channel. This phone must have SIM card slot for use with prepaid carriers in Europe. Better to get one with standard SIM slot instead of microSIM. Example:
http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/store/controller?item=phoneFirst&action=viewPhoneDetail&selectedPhoneId=5844

3) Unlocked phone for use on trip. Quad band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) at bare minimum; No 3G frequencies for Europe! (=slow internet speeds). Also won't work with Verizon in the U.S. Example:
http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-S5830-Unlocked-Smartphone-International/dp/tech-data/B004Z207HK/ref=de_a_smtd
<div>
I would also caution you as a newbie to buying your phone on fleabay. Don't let the 'bait' of lower prices reel you in. You are more likely to have issues than not if you haven't previously vetted out who you are buying from. With phones on ebay quite often the phones are not as described regarding the correct frequency bands, which is a must for your trip. In this sense I recommend something like Amazon if possible since they generally have better guarantees for the merchandise they sell.
</div>

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Possible phones if I ditch Verizon-
by sennekin / July 7, 2012 12:54 PM PDT

Thanks so much for your reply!

I'm thinking now that I should purchase a phone here (because it's cheaper than in europe according to what I've been told) and just ditch Verizon. I've been looking into Straight Talk's monthly plans and know some ppl who have happily used it. Do you have any advice concerning their service? From what I've read it seems to be a pretty good deal.
Without worrying about using a US carrier, it seems I have many more options regarding phones and am looking at ones provided through Amazon. The phone I want is the Samsung Galaxy GFI9100 you mentioned above, though that's pushing my budget. So as cheaper options, I'm looking at:

1.http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-I917-Unlocked-Wi-Fi--No-Warranty/dp/B004H23JXW/ref=sr_1_4?m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&s=wireless&ie=UTF8&qid=1341714983&sr=1-4
"It runs on the 850/900/1800/1900 MHz GSM/GPRS/EDGE frequencies as well as AT&T's dual-band 3G network (850/1900 MHz; HSPA/UMTS) plus international 3G networks (2100 MHz)." Are these the primary things I need to be concerned w/ when looking for a phone to work reliably in europe and the us?


2. http://www.amazon.com/Nokia-Touchscreen-Featuring-Navigation-Camera-U S/dp/B003ZX7RL4/ref=wl_it_dp_o_piT1_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=281WTRCJXSYUR&coliid=I1YY6A7KUFTVL5
"Unlocked quad-band GSM cell phone compatible with 850/900/1800/1900 frequencies and US/International 3G compatibility via 850/900/1700/1900/2100 UMTS/HSDPA plus GPRS/EDGE capabilities"

3. http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Ericsson-Unlocked-Processor-Display--U-S/dp/B0061JP46O/ref=sr_1_10?m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&s=wireless&ie=UTF8&qid=1341715252&sr=1-10
"Networks: UMTS/HSPA 800/850/1900/2100 GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900."

Basically I'd like to get a phone for more around $300 but I'm not confident of my ability to choose an appropriate phone for my needs!

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Any of those phones would work
by Pepe7 / July 8, 2012 3:10 PM PDT

All three have the appropriate frequency bands where you will be using the device.

My preference would be the Sony device since it runs Android and will probably give you most options for apps over the others. Double check @ howardforums.com if it can be upgraded to more recent versions of Android if that's something you feel you might need down the road. W7 is not flexible enough for my needs (somewhat locked down like Apple iOS is), while Symbian (older Nokia OS) is getting long in the tooth. The Samsung you see also isn't expandable via SD card slot either ;(.

Feel free to ask more specific questions if they come up.

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