Using Verizon iPhone 5 in UK

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mfly, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    I have an iPhone 5 in the US on Verizon's network. My understanding is that my Verizon iPhone is unlocked and I can thus use my phone overseas with another SIM card. I am going to be traveling to Scotland for ~5 months. What is my best option for being able to make a basic number of calls, texts and have a limited amount of data? Ideally I would also be able to call the States if necessary, but I'm not sure if any plans allow for that.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    I spoke with Verizon today and they informed me that I would be able to do this without a problem and that I would be able to suspend my line (and the billing) for the time that I am there, but doing so will extend my contract (but maintain the current upgrade date).

    Now that that's been worked out, I'm essentially asking any UK residents to comment on what provider would be best to use, as I have no knowledge whatsoever on what the best would be.

    Thanks in advance.
  3. macrumors 68020


    Nov 2, 2010
    Los Angeles but missing San Diego </3
    I'd try O2 or something like that... Some of the major carriers.
  4. macrumors 6502


    Dec 1, 2006
    There's a variety of deals. You can get "pay as you go" cards for 99p, then buy top-ups for calls, texts and data.

    If you intend to use lots of data something like these will do:

    Did you say your phone was unlocked?

    Get on Ebay and look for a deal like this:

    That's about as cheap as you're going to get it for more than tiny data usage. For five months you'd probably need buy two, because they only last three months. That'll mean changing your number after three months... :(

    Or if you can get one then you might try this, which lasts for 12 months

    Then buy a top-up at the T-mobile site that gives you calls each month.

    To call the US, get yourself an International calling card. These are companies that route your call for you (I believe you call a British phone number then type the US number afterwards). They tend to be sold wherever there are international students. You'll be calling the US for as little as a few pence per minute once you've got one.
  5. macrumors 601

    Jan 16, 2008
    Bristol, UK
    I would also suggest that you stick with one of the main carriers (5/6 of them will sell you a Pay as You Go SIM).

    Links to their prepaid tariffs:


    It should be relatively easy getting a Nano SIM from each of the networks.

    Some notes:

    • Orange and T-Mobile have merged, forming a new carrier - "EE". Orange and T-Mobile customers can use either network without any additional charges.
    • Three and T-Mobile have a long term deal to share certain parts of their networks (a RAN share). That means that Three and T-Mobile (and because of the Merger, Orange too) have near identical 3G coverage. Statistically, the combined network provides the largest 3G coverage of any UK network
    • Three does not have a 2G network, relying on a deal with Orange to use their 2G network in very rural areas for calls and texts only
    • You won't pay to receive calls on any of the networks, not even if the call is from abroad. That means it may be cheaper for your friends/family to call you
    • LTE is available in the UK, but only from EE and they only offer it on a 12 month contract

    That SIM does not allow you to make/receive calls or text messages.
  6. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Thanks everyone for your help - much appreciated.

    In case there's anyone else who's looking for a SIM-only contract free/pay as you go plan in the UK, I found this article that was helpful for me.

    I also came across this website ( ) which allows you to see the breakdown of all of the carrier's plans on one site.

    Does anyone have experience with giffgaff? Anything to be said there?

    Also, not sure if anyone would know this, but do any of the carriers majorly limit your plan in particular ways? Specifically, I'm wondering if I would get an unlimited data plan, would I have to pay extra or be blocked from using Skype over that data?

    Thanks again.
  7. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    Whakatane, New Zealand
    If you get a prepaid SIM, make sure that you can top it up. When I was in the UK (admittedly a couple of years ago now), T-Mobile's site would reject my NZ credit card and an O2 employee told me that theirs wouldn't work either. I actually ended up switching to 3 when my T-Mobile credit ran out.
  8. macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2007
    Three have by far the best deals :)
  9. vitale, Jan 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2013
    I am actually in the EXACT position as the original poster, mcfly.

    I have a Verizon iPhone 5 that I purchased mainly because I'd never had an iPhone (but had been a Mac user since 2002), and the fact that it was unlocked for GSM out-of-box. I'm going to the UK for two weeks in March and needed some good inexpensive prepaid voice and data access.

    I did decide to go with Three, especially after seeing their deals for prepaid: [make sure you get a nano SIM!] They offer 300 minutes, 5000 texts, and all-you-can-eat data ("unlimited", no fair use policy or MB ceiling to hit) - all for £15, or $24.

    I also got a second one from giffgaff, which uses the O2 network [] and may get the £12 (250 minutes, unlimited text and web - though web is reportedly not truly unlimited) if Three doesn't have good coverage.

    Neither site offers US delivery of SIM cards (and giffgaff doesn't even offer nano SIMs!) So off to eBay I went! I got them both for less than $10 bucks overall - make sure if you buy a Three SIM that it's genuine, since they actually produce them for the iPhone 5. The guy who sold me the giffgaff one cut it down and tested it, and even sent me overseas visitor instructions by mail and online.

    I was able to activate the Three sim card by popping out the Verizon SIM and registering my number (printed on the packaging) on their site. You can't use a US credit card to top up, but you can buy a voucher through a third party, that will send it to you by email, so you can have service when you arrive!

    Three really is the best though. You can have your family in the States text you at a Google voice number as a "signal", and then you can call them for only 3 pence a minute, with this deal. Or they can get a calling card and call you (it won't cost to receive - they will just need a way to pay to call you, i.e. a calling card)

    Just make sure you top up before you leave for your flight, switch cards before you leave the plane, and you're good! Hope this helps!

    Skype is part of Three's data plan, as is Facetime!

    I know a lot of the providers are shying away from truly unlimited data - Three is the only provider that really offers it.
  10. macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2011
    If your going to Scotland. Where abouts will you be travelling or staying in Scotland. The reason why I ask this is because not all carriers (networks as we call it) will give you full coverage. Coverage may be limited especially in northern parts of Scotland. In my experience O2 and (giffgaff) which uses O2 network and Vodafone network will give you better coverage as these two networks were the original ones in the UK. O2 used to be called BT Cellnet back in them days.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2012
    LL22, UK
    i'd be checking the coverage maps to see what will work
  12. mfly, Jan 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013

    thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 25, 2012
    Thanks to everyone for replying and for your help. I am going to be at St. Andrews in Scotland, which is why I have decided to go with giffgaff, as it seems that O2's service is better there than Three's. If I have issues with it, I figure it's a monthly plan, so I can switch after a month if necessary.

    I am planning on going with giffgaff's £12 plan, which will give me 250 minutes, unlimited texting, and unlimited data. I am leaving in just a few days, so I am having a giffgaff Nano SIM shipped to my address in Scotland (they do not directly ship Nano SIMS, but they do have a program set up to send them out - see this Since I only have a US credit card, I'll then go to a shop in the area that sells giffgaff top-ups and purchase one in order to buy the £12 plan.

    I don't really care if the internet is "truly" unlimited, as I don't use that much data and am only having unlimited as a safety net. I have done some research though, and giffgaff does allow for Skype usage, so I plan on using Skype over my unlimited Data to call family/friends directly to Skype on their phones in the States. That way I won't have to worry about international call rates from either side.

    Thanks again to everyone for their assistance! Hope this can help others in the future as well.
  13. macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2013
    Have a great time and let us know how giffgaff works out! Who knows, I may bump into you when I land in Scotland!
  14. macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2013
    First let me say thank you to you all, finding this thread has really helped!

    I am going to England in September, and I was wondering if it would be a better idea to purchase a SIM card now and have it shipped to me before i leave, or buy it when i get there. I was planning on getting the Three pay as you go, as i don't know how much data i may accidentally use.

Share This Page