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Old May 26, 2011, 05:44 PM   #1
erinelizabeth88
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Using my iPhone studying in Spain

Hello! I'm studying abroad in Spain starting in mid-september and I'm wondering about the best way to go about using a my iPhone there.

I'm new to this stuff, so excuse any of my newbie questions!

I was thinking the best way to go would be to have my dad unlock the phone and buy a pre-paid sim card. Is there a specific brand of sim card that would be best to use for me? I'll be in Spain most of the time obviously, but I plan on traveling some too (Italy the week and a half before I get to Spain, France, Germany, etc???), so I need one that will work in the most of Europe possible. Also what is the best sim in terms of how much it costs per text or calling minute? Is it costly for my family back home to call me this way? They are on the ATT family plan.

I also have Viber and Text Free so that, as far as I know, I can call and text for free when I am in a wi-fi area. Then when I was not in a wi-fi area, I could still have some credits for calling.

I'm also wondering about how the Skype app for iPhone works. I understand that it's somewhat like Viber when you're in wi-fi that you can call, video chat for free. Then I see there is something about buying credits so you can call internationally for two cents a minute. Does this work even if you are out of wi-fi? If so, would it be our best bet to skip for foreign sim card, buy skype credit, turn my iphone on airplane mode and then use skype to make calls out of wi-fi and viber and text free to text in wi-fi area?

Sorry for the novel of questions, hope someone can help me out!
Thanks
Erin
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Old May 26, 2011, 05:56 PM   #2
Truckondo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erinelizabeth88 View Post
Hello! I'm studying abroad in Spain starting in mid-september and I'm wondering about the best way to go about using a my iPhone there.

I'm new to this stuff, so excuse any of my newbie questions!

I was thinking the best way to go would be to have my dad unlock the phone and buy a pre-paid sim card. Is there a specific brand of sim card that would be best to use for me? I'll be in Spain most of the time obviously, but I plan on traveling some too (Italy the week and a half before I get to Spain, France, Germany, etc???), so I need one that will work in the most of Europe possible. Also what is the best sim in terms of how much it costs per text or calling minute? Is it costly for my family back home to call me this way? They are on the ATT family plan.

I also have Viber and Text Free so that, as far as I know, I can call and text for free when I am in a wi-fi area. Then when I was not in a wi-fi area, I could still have some credits for calling.

I'm also wondering about how the Skype app for iPhone works. I understand that it's somewhat like Viber when you're in wi-fi that you can call, video chat for free. Then I see there is something about buying credits so you can call internationally for two cents a minute. Does this work even if you are out of wi-fi? If so, would it be our best bet to skip for foreign sim card, buy skype credit, turn my iphone on airplane mode and then use skype to make calls out of wi-fi and viber and text free to text in wi-fi area?

Sorry for the novel of questions, hope someone can help me out!
Thanks
Erin
I just got back from Spain 2 days ago (Barcelona & Madrid). I used my iPhone in airplane mode and turned on WIFI. I used my google voice account along with another app called Talkatone. Made a few calls for free that way. If you need a local phone number you could just get a local SIM card as long as your iPhone is unlocked. Vodaphone showed up when I was roaming. I went ahead and bought a cheap pay-as-you-go phone to stay in contact with my cousin-in-law who is studying there as well. The phone was 10 Euro and came with 5 Euro of credit. 8 cents a minute and 8 cents a text you send. I even got a free 20 texts upon activation. It was a Yoigo Phone that I got at a Shop called "The Phone House". Hope this helps.
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Old May 26, 2011, 06:16 PM   #3
petrucci666
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Hi Erin,

you'll need to give us some more information to give you a more detailed answer.

Is it an iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G or the original iPhone?

Check under "Settings"--->"General"--->"About" and tell us what firmware you have installed and what the baseband is.

This will determine whether or not you can unlock the phone, and that's the most important part of the process. If your phone isn't (and can't be) unlocked then you can't use it outside of the carrier with whom you bought the phone originally (I presume AT&T).


If it can be unlocked, then you're good!


As far as the SIM card goes - we need to know which model of the iPhone it is. If it's the iPhone 4 then you need a MicroSIM, but if it's anything older than the iphone 4, then you can use a normal SIM card.


Every country you go to, it is highly recommended (although NOT required) that you get a LOCAL sim card with a LOCAL carrier. This means that when you go to France you get a prepaid sim card with for example Orange, in Germany you get a T-Mobile prepaid SIM and so on.

Prepaid plans in Europe are generally really good and you get a lot of 'bang for your buck' or 'bang for your euro' so to speak.


The best thing for you to do is to utilize the internet connection (3G or WiFi) on your iPhone. This way you can forget about SMS charges.


If your family has iPhones - just have everybody download PingChat or Kik messenger for free and you can all text each other free of cost. It uses the internet to send messages so no sms rates apply, you can send a million if you like and it hardly spends any internet data.

I use it to text with my family in Europe so I can attest that it works flawlessly.

I also use Viber to call them, and that works great as well.

However, Viber is iPhone to iPhone only, but it is really good - again, I use it to call them and I've never had any problems. Even Viber doesn't spend that much internet, but just to be on the safe side - use it when on WiFi.


Skype only works when you have an internet connection so you can't use it if you're offline.


A great app that I just recently discovered is FooCall. It's a basic VoIP app as far as I know, you don't need an internet connection to use it. Edit: I just check, you don't need any internet connection at all to make a call!

Let's you are calling someone from Spain to the US. FooCall dials a Spanish number which connects to the Internet and connects to a random number in the US, which redirects your call to the person you're calling in the US. The rates are really cheap and I believe they have this thing where they double however many credits you buy with them. (I bought $10 and they loaded up $20) on my account.

Rates are very cheap so you can talk for quite some time!


Hope it helps!
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Old May 26, 2011, 06:50 PM   #4
erinelizabeth88
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Your reply helps a lot!

I know I can unlock it; my brother has the same one and his is unlocked. Under the Settings the version says 4.1.

I don't think it's going to be reasonable to buy a different sim card for each country I go to because it's likely that I will mostly be going on weekend trips out of Spain. Is there any sim cards you could suggest that would cover the most?

I will be using wi-fi as often as possible to avoid fees. I do need something so that I can call when I'm not in wi-fi because my mom is very concerned and worried about this semester and wants me to be able to call when I reach new places for weekend trips, during emergencies, etc. I don't want to use 3G data because I've heard it's very expensive.

My brother and dad both have iPhones. You said I could use Pingchat or Kik messenger to text them. If I wasn't in wi-fi, this would be very expensive correct?

I'm very curious about this FooCall. It sounds like what I thought Skype was. So I can be anywhere, without any internet and call my mom (on a normal cell phone), or a friend that I've met in Spain, for around 2 cents a minutes? Is it very expensive for the person you are calling back in the US? I've looked up the app on the phone and I'm a little confused. It says: Traveling abroad? Foocall is not a roaming solution so if you use your mobile phone abroad you will still pay roaming charges. What are roaming charges? Does this just mean that if I use the phone to make a normal phone call not on FooCall, I will pay extra fees?

Last edited by erinelizabeth88; May 26, 2011 at 06:57 PM. Reason: More questions about FooCall
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Old May 26, 2011, 07:21 PM   #5
IrishVixen
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If you're on 4.1, you may NOT be able to unlock. If the phone is running stock 4.1 firmware, it doesn't have an unlockable baseband. At best, it will need modification that could cause you to lose your GPS.

http://caniunlock.com/

You need to know the phone model (3G, 3GS, or 4), and the baseband version to know if you can unlock and how to do so. The latter info can be found under Settings -> General -> About; it's listed as "Modem Firmware".

Let us know what you have and we can tell you more.
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Old May 27, 2011, 12:09 PM   #6
petrucci666
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Answers are in bold


Quote:
Originally Posted by erinelizabeth88 View Post
Your reply helps a lot!

I know I can unlock it; my brother has the same one and his is unlocked. Under the Settings the version says 4.1.

Depends on the baseband, as well - check the baseband and report back

I don't think it's going to be reasonable to buy a different sim card for each country I go to because it's likely that I will mostly be going on weekend trips out of Spain. Is there any sim cards you could suggest that would cover the most?

Unfortunately, I don't know a lot about Spanish GSM carriers, but when you get there just see which one offers you the most and seems most reasonable

I will be using wi-fi as often as possible to avoid fees. I do need something so that I can call when I'm not in wi-fi because my mom is very concerned and worried about this semester and wants me to be able to call when I reach new places for weekend trips, during emergencies, etc. I don't want to use 3G data because I've heard it's very expensive.

When you buy a prepaid sim card, nowadays they include 3G data (not really huge amounts, but mostly in the neighborhood of 200MB, 500MB and 1GB). Like I said, Viber doesn't spend that much, a 2 minute conversation is approx. 1MB of data so I bet you can get by with that.

My brother and dad both have iPhones. You said I could use Pingchat or Kik messenger to text them. If I wasn't in wi-fi, this would be very expensive correct?

As I said above, if you get a prepaid sim with let's say 500MB or 1GB, then you'll have more than enough expendable 3G data to send messages via Pingchat or Kik because it doesn't use that much data to send/receive messages. 3G isn't an extra expense, you just use what you already paid for, hence the term 'prepaid'

I'm very curious about this FooCall. It sounds like what I thought Skype was. So I can be anywhere, without any internet and call my mom (on a normal cell phone), or a friend that I've met in Spain, for around 2 cents a minutes? Is it very expensive for the person you are calling back in the US? I've looked up the app on the phone and I'm a little confused. It says: Traveling abroad? Foocall is not a roaming solution so if you use your mobile phone abroad you will still pay roaming charges. What are roaming charges?

Yeah, you don't need internet for using FooCall. You can call any phone number in the world with FooCall, you just select the country you want to dial, enter the local number and hit call - FooCall does the rest.

It costs nothing for the person in the US, it might just use their minutes, but it's not an extra cost, so don't worry.

As for the 'Traveling abroad? Foocall is not a roaming solution so if you use your mobile phone abroad you will still pay roaming charges.', you just understood it a little wrong.

Roaming is when you step out of your primary network i.e. when you take it out of the country and use it outside of your home country.
This would be the case if you were using your AT&T sim card in Spain, but since you will be getting a Spanish sim card, then you don't have to worry about roaming charges.

Skype and FooCall work similarly, but not entirely the same.

Skype uses YOUR internet connection and spends that and there's no GSM involved, whereas FooCall would, in your case, call a Spanish number which connects to the server, redirects your call via the internet to an American number which then calls the number that you were dialing originally. For example, you call your mom, so it would look like this: You call from within FooCall-->FooCall calls Spanish local number--->the Spanish number calls some American number via the internet-->the American number then calls your mom. Your moms doesn't have to have FooCall, her phone will just ring like any other phone call would.

Also, your mom's display won't say that you're calling, it would be some random American number.



Does this just mean that if I use the phone to make a normal phone call not on FooCall, I will pay extra fees?

If you're in Spain with a Spanish sim card in your phone and you call a Spanish number - then NO, there will be no extra fees, you'll just spend the minutes or money you have prepaid.

However, if you're in Spain with a Spanish sim card in your phone and you call the US directly - then YES, that'll be expensive, don't do that.

If you're in Spain with you American sim card calling an American number - that'll be crazy because one minute would cost a loooot! Don't do that either

That's what FooCall is for - it's the middleman and that's how you get the cheap rates, because they utilize the Internet to make the call. Not the internet on your phone, but the FooCall server's internet connection


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Old May 27, 2011, 02:39 PM   #7
awadeee
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If you're on a 3Gs or 3G, you can upgrade to the iPad baseband using Redsn0w and that will allow you to unlock. However, you will only be able to update and/or restore to custom made firmware using programs such as Sn0wbreeze and Pwnagetool. I believe that with the 3G you can also downgrade the baseband to an unlockable one if you have the old bootloader (don't kill me if I'm wrong, I don't have a 3G and have never owned one). If you have an iPhone 4 your best bet is to unlock it with a Gevey Turbo SIM (sketchy) or wait for a software unlock that we may never see. Another potentially profitable solution is to sell your AT&T iPhone in the USA and buy a factory unlocked one in Spain.
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