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tips for iphones in rome!?

Washington DC...
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tips for iphones in rome!?

we will be traveling from utah to italy and it's been about 10 years since we were in europe last- all i remember from our last visit is i came home and my cell phone bill was horrifying:) we are planning to take 1 iphone to europe (rome & paris)- we are leaving our toddler at home w/ family so we need to keep it on and stay in touch, but i'm not sure how to plan on using our phone internationally since we have incoming/outgoing calls + texts + data + maps, etc. that we may be using. last time we were charged for every call that came in, even if i didn't answer. anyone have experience/suggestions? at&t is our carrier.

thanks!

New York City, New...
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1. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

I have the same problem, look back @ some of the posts by using the key word iPhone.

First of all you have to call AT&T and have them unlock your phone before you leave.

What I have concluded is that I will need to get a micro sim card for my phone. There are many cell phone stores around the city and you can choose from several carriers the most popular being vodafone and TIM. I think you pay a flat rate to buy the sim card (10 euros) that includes 5eu of talk time, and you pay 2-3eu/week for 250mb of data/week

here are some more questions I still have:

What about texting?

what would the rates be for local and international calls & can you add more money to your sim when you purchase it?

Do you sign up for a contract with credit card and then cancel it when you leave?

What happens to all the data in your phone (pictures, contacts, apps, music) when you swap out sim cards? does it disappear until you put the original card back?

Also, AT&T offers international plans both for data and calling, but they are not that cheap, and you still get charged when some one calls or leave a VM

Washington DC...
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2. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

i will look more into this. i wonder what happens for facetime? i'm trying to avoid calls all together if we can come up w/ another idea, but i'm not sure how reliable wireless is, or what the rates are?? so confusing:) good thing "smartphones" aren't very smart financially:)

thanks for the tips! keep me posted if you learn more!

Park City, Utah
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3. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

One alternative is to turn off (and you need to turn it off) your phone and just use WiFi. When you can find a wireless signal, you can use Skype to call home and you can probably even text with a third-party app like WhatsApp.

As noted, you can get your phone unlocked and purchase a prepaid SIM in Italy. Or you can get an international plan from your carrier, that will still cost a lot (be careful of data charges).

Good luck.

Houston, TX
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4. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

ATT wouldn't unlock my phone, and to my knowledge no one else has had luck with it.

My friend just flew internationally (Israel) 2 weeks ago. She brought her ATT iPhone and is as slow as I am about this stuff. She arranged a $30 plan (on top of the monthly fee of course) for 200 texts while abroad. Both incoming and outgoing texts are charged against the 200. No phone calls on the plan..... Go into settings. General. Disable Roaming and 3G (I hear disabling Roaming alone is sufficient abut I like the double assurance. She has checked her bill and indeed it only shows the $30.

I bought a cheap Italian phone that is rechargable with minutes (time units). About $60 USD. Good to call in country, can use for emergency call to US, and an Italian person/company/hotel will call you at an Italiain cell #, while it's unlikely they'll call a US phone #.

Can you set up Skypewhile disabling roaming/3G? I haven't figured out how to do it on my phone, much less while traveling.

I leave next week for Puglia and am sick about my pile of weighty electronics: Italian cell; camera; netbook; Kindle; GPS with Italian maps. And all the attendant cords. And I am committed to carry-on luggage only. Ugh.

Good luck and happy travels,

Lana

Park City, Utah
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5. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

lanago2, with roaming/data/3G turned off, you can still use Skype or any other web data service while WiFi is turned on on your iPhone. You incur no costs other than connecting to the WiFi, and you would have to pay for that prior to connecting so you would know.

Le Marche, Italy
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6. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

First of all, for Penny and anyone else who can unlock their iPhone (assuming it's a GSM iPhone, such as those with AT&T).

Texting is always overpriced compared to what it costs the provider, but it's not terribly unreasonable. Domestic (within Italy) texts are obviously cheaper than foreign texts. 12 cents is typical for a domestic sms.

You can certainly add more money to your SIM card when you purchase it. Otherwise, it's very easy to top it off at many tobacco shops or bars, where there is often a terminal for doing this, or you can buy a scratch card (at tobacco shops, newsstands, and bars) to add money. You have to tell the seller the provider and how much money you want to add, If they have a terminal, you also have to give them the phone number, which they'll usually ask you to repeat. (One tobacco shop asked me to sign something saying I had checked that the number was correct before leaving the shop.)

There are various prepaid tariff plans you can select when you buy the SIM card. If there is no connect charge, the per-minute cost tends to be higher. If your average call is very short, this is the best kind of plan to get. The average cost tends to be around 12 cents a minute for domestic calls. If you're planning to make more than a few international calls, you might want to get the TIM International Card Limited. This card has a connection cost of 16 cents, a domestic rate of 8 cents a minute, and a rate to the US of 20 cents a minute. The rates are even better for some countries. Calls to China and India are only 2 cents a minute (plus the 16-cent connect charge).

Almost everyone in Italy uses prepaid plans. There is no contract. You add money when you're running low, and that's all. When you leave, your plan stays active, with no more charges, for a year. After that, it can still be reactivated for about another year, I think.

Your photos, music, etc., are stored in your phone's internal memory, not on the SIM card. Most people also keep their contact lists on the phone's internal memory, although many phones have the option to store them on the SIM card. If you have your contacts on the SIM card, you might want to make sure they're also stored on the phone.

The international plans offered by American providers are indeed expensive, especially for data services. If you want to use data services, you should make every effort to get an Italian SIM card and data plan. Data plans are very reasonably priced in Italy.

Le Marche, Italy
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7. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

For those who can't unlock their phones, you should definitely turn off data services and international roaming while in Italy. The cost of making or receiving an occasional foreign call shouldn't be excessive, but the cost of data roaming is really outrageous. You can still check email and use things such as Skype, Facetime, and other internet-based services while connected to wifi. Unfortunately, I haven't had very good luck with the wifi services in Italian hotels.

You can make international calls from any phone using an international calling card, which costs 5 euros. Ask for a calling card for the continent where you will mostly be calling.

For GPS services, you can download Google maps ahead of time for an area of 20 km around a central point, so that you can later use Google Navigator with just the satellite (data services turned off) as long as you stay within that area. You can download all the areas you know you'll need before you leave home, and then download more as needed when you're on the road and have access to wifi.

By the way, my husband has a Garmin GPS unit, and I have an Android phone with Google Maps and Navigator (both free!) My husband has finally realized that my phone's GPS works better than his Garmin. One of the problems with the Garmin is that you have to enter the name of the town exactly as it's entered in its database, or it won't find it. Yesterday, we went to a wedding at a monastery church in an isolated area, called San Liberato. We tried San Liberato, S. Liberato, S Liberato (no period) Convento di San Liberato, and on and on, but it couldn't be found. On my phone, I entered just "San Liberato" and was given a choice of "Santuario di San Liberato", which was obviously what we wanted. Google also allows you to pronounce the destination, and it's very good with the voice recognition.

If you need GPS services in Italy, it might even be worth buying a cheap unlocked GSM Android phone, which won't cost much more than buying the maps for Italy for a traditional GPS unit. Here are some examples on Amazon, but you might be able to get a used or refurbished phone even cheaper:

amazon.com/Motorola-Keyboard-Android-Quad-Ba…

amazon.com/Samsung-S5620-Monte-Bluetooth-Int…

New York City, New...
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8. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

Thanks for all the info :-)

I just got off the phone with AT&T, and Lanago is right -- they will only unlock my phone when my contract is up in a year or if I pay $225 to terminate my contract now --- grrrr ........ so the sim card plan is out of the question now. They must have changed their rules, because 2 years ago, when I had an iPhone 3, they unlocked it with no problem.

So I think I might sign up for a plan which they quoted me at $4.99/mo for calls @ $0.99 per minute and 10 for sending 50 texts and maybe some data for $19.99/mo for 50mb --- this will all be prorated for the amount of days I will be in Italy......... or i might just buy a cheap italian pay as you go phone.

there is also a free app available --- ATT call interantional & if you are connected to wi-fi, you can make calls to US land lines for $0.04/min or cells for $0.25/min.

but now I am wondering......I still have my iPhone 3 that i had unlocked 2 years ago, but it no longer has phone service..... will I be able to put a sim card in there? is it still "un-locked"?

Le Marche, Italy
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9. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

Yes, your iPhone 3 should work just fine if you put an Italian SIM card in it. Once unlocked, I assume it's always unlocked. You could call them and ask. Even if it's "relocked", they should have no problem unlocking it for you, since you no longer have a contract on that phone.

Don't accept the data plan. 50 mb is nothing for a month, or even for a week. It's 20 times what I pay for data in Italy. When I'm in the US, TIM lets me have 20 mb for 2 euros. It's charged by the day, only on the days I actually use it. On a two-week vacation, that would be 28 euros for 280 mb. Since I use wifi whenever possible, I never use it every day, and rarely pay more than 10 euros on a trip for international data roaming.

For calls when I'm in other European countries or in the US, I have an option (free) that activates automatically the first time I make or receive a call outside Italy. It costs me a flat 1 euro for a 5-minute call, and then 2 euros a minute afterwards. (I keep the calls under 5 minutes.) When roaming in Europe, I pay 13 cents for an SMS, and 49 cents when I'm in the US.

10. Re: tips for iphones in rome!?

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