Smartphone overseas with no plan?

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I am thinking about buying a smartphone android but am not sure if it will work the way I am thinking. I hope someone can help.

I am moving to Italy in 2 months and want to buy a phone that runs this program called Ankidroid (a flashcard program that works on the smartphone) but I also want to be able to buy a SIM card while I am there and have a local phone number. I don't want to buy a plan through any of the U.S. phone companies.

Is it possible to just buy a smartphone here in the states and then when I get to Italy buy a SIM card so that I can use the phone as an actual phone???

Thanks so much for any info you can give me. I am really new to all of this.


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You need an unlocked GSM smartphone that uses GSM-900 and GSM-1800 bands Look on eBay

You will need to investigate which prepaid and postpaid operators allow you to bring your own smartphone AND have data disabled (or make sure you set the phone to not use data)

Would this one work?

There is so much information that I am a little overwhelmed... As long as it is "unlocked" and uses GSM-900 and GSM-1800 I don't need to buy a contract with a company to use it? I would really like to use the wifi and a few applications before I move to italy and buy a SIM card later to actually use the phone.

Thanks for your help and sorry for my ignorance.


Yes, looks like that one will work just fine
There are two issues here, techical and business
For the technology you need unlocked and GSM-900 and GSM-1800 as you said

On the business side, it is up to the operator to decide whether they sell
a) postpaid plans and require a contract
b) postpaid plans and support month-to-month
c) Sell prepaid plans

You will have to do the research on which companies operate in Italy and what the best rates are for your expected usage

I don't have an iphone, but hopefully there is an option to turn off 3G data so you don't inadvertently incur charges

Android phones have the option to turn off data. I don't own iPhone myself, but friends that have traveled with me abroad were able to turn off data on their iPhones just fine. I am too lazy to check, but I am pretty sure that iPhone 3 is not a "world phone" like some other ones are, but it might still cover all the necessary frequencies/modes for OP's needs.

You're on the right track.

Most of Europe (like the US) foolishly allows carriers to lock phones and bundle them with plans -- and most consumers are stupid enough to sponsor the practice.

Belgium is the exception. Belgium has figured out that locked phones simultaneously damage the consumer and the environment and only benefit corporate greed, and so in Belgium there is (quite rightly) a prohibition on this foolish republican-like business model. Not only is it illegal for carriers to lock phones in Belgium, but you can take your phone up to just about any mobile phone shop and they will unlock the phone for you (and they are not limited to using codes and tools that you find on the net.. they can flash firmware).

So, if you happen to have a locked phone, just make sure you have a generous layover in Belgium on your way to Italy (use routing codes on to find cheap flights with a specified layover).

Also, so many GSM phones have 3-4 bands these days. Don't get a dual band phone and thus limit yourself regionally. Get 3 or 4 bands, so the phone will work worldwide.

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