Cell Phone Solution For Europe

Thanks for all the cell phone suggestions for my europe trip this summer. Of course, shortly after I wrote the post, Apple came out with an unlocked version of the iPhone 4 (which just showed up in my office) rendering many of the options (and presumably some of the companies) either obsolete or unnecessary.

However, I decided to take a different approach. I’m going to give the Nexus S another try. I’ve been using it since Friday and the most recent version is awesome. Almost all of the iPhone apps I rely on are available on Android and since I’m a Google Apps + Google Voice user, the integration is much nicer. So we’ll see how that goes.

In the mean time, I do need a recommendation for a SIM in Paris and in Tuscany. What’s the best local provider in each place?

  • I had good results last year all through Europe with O2 as network, but I started as a US ATT BBerry user then bought an unlocked European HTC Desire. Used my US ATT sim card the whole time. Had a nice international rate including unlimited data, but the biggest expenses were roaming in some areas, and suprisingly, text messages.

    Couple thoughts: 

    1) most unpleasant surprise was bringing the phone home and learning it wasn’t a “world phone” – best performance I can get here is EDGE. Same might be true of your US phone going the other way. Double check.

    2) Think about using Skype. If you turn your phone into a basic data network device, not as subject to the crazy telecom billing rules. 

  • In Italy you can easily get a prepaid sim from TIM, Vodafone, Wind and 3.

    Most visitors go with Wind and 3, but you should be able to get a 10c/minute and sms rate from all the operators. Data plans usually go for something like €3 or 5 per week.Plus, you will not pay for incoming sms and calls.

  • As fare as Tuscany is concerned, usually TIM and Vodafone give the best coverage, especially on the roads, but  3’s prepaid have the most convenient data plan, when it comes to both cost and traffic volume.
    I hope you’ll enjoy some runs among the vineyards on the hills.

  • Laurent Boncenne

    For France, leaving out the MVNO options or special pre-payed cards, each of the 3 carriers here have their advantages.
    Price/Minutes for each carriers:
    Orange: 0,50€/min
    SFR: 0,55€/min
    Bouygues (pronounced Boohigg, just in case): 0,45€/min

    Price/Minutes for international calls (mainly USA, Europe, Canada but not africa):
    Orange: europe: 0,70€/min; USA/Maghreb/Turkey: 0,80€/min; rest of the world: 1,55€/min
    SFR: 0,75€/min for Europe and North America, 1,55€/min for the rest of the world.
    Bouygues: 0,50€/min

    texts are cheaper and each of the carriers have specific options if you’d like to have an unlimited text plan instead.

    it appears that there are options for smartphone where you can get internet access.
    for SFR, there’s a special pre-payed card for iPhone users which cost the same as voice cards except it’s meant for internet use. the prices start at 3€ for unlimited usage for a day. 10€ gets you unlimited internet for 7 days and 24€ gets you 20 days of unlimited usage + 10€ in voice communications. I think it is capped tho, much like a normal plan where your connection speed is capped after 1Gb of usage.

    Bouygues has a different model where you get charged 5€ the first time you access internet via your phone and it gets you a 50Mb valid for a month.

    Orange also has an internet option 0,15€/10kb and has a 5€/day for 10Mb if you are outside of the country (Italy for instance)

    all in all, I think that if you plan to use your phone (and SIM card) only in france, get Bouygues, voice calls will end up cheaper. On the other hand, if having access to internet is more important and you don’t mind paying a little extra for your voice calls, then by all means, get SFR.

  • Steve

    I think you should disconnect- whats the point your in Tuscany! Enjoy the vino and scenery!

  • JohnbMtl

    Check out FNAC in Paris.
    They are a large chain of electronics and music stores.

    You can choose from several carriers and compare packages.

    It’s a great place to wander around and look at electronics.

    There is one on the Chamos Elysée.
    There is also one at Forum des Halles, which is a multi level shopping concourse that’s connected to all the main train and metro lines.

    It’s also a block away from Rivoli street which is the main shopping street in Paris.
    Where Amy can find all the things that she couldn’t find St Forum des Halles.

  • Derek Neighbors

    Not too long back you were blustering on how amazingly far technology has come.  Yet you now have made at least two entries fretting over how to get a damn phone to work on two different sides of the pond. Perhaps mentioning that we were doing this from earth to the moon in 1969 is too far in history for you to remember?

     I guess we do live in different worlds.