Using my iPhone studying in Spain

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by erinelizabeth88, May 26, 2011.

  1. macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2011
    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 :)
  2. macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2009
    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.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    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!
  4. erinelizabeth88, May 26, 2011
    Last edited: May 26, 2011

    thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2011
    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?
  5. macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2010
    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.

    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.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    Answers are in bold ;)

  7. macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2011
    Viper City
    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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