Best UK-based European carrier for unlocked iphone? Need data, international calling

Discussion in 'Jailbreaks and iOS Hacks' started by NotJohnnyQuest, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. NotJohnnyQuest macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2009
    I was wondering if anyone here might have any experience with using SIM cards from different carriers in their unlocked iPhones while in the UK and Europe. I'll mostly be in the UK for the next 3 and a half months, but I'll also be doing some traveling around (probably all of the usual places: France, Germany, Amsterdam, maybe Prague and some other places). So I want something that I'll be able to use in the UK as well as some of these other countries.

    Having access to data (preferably 3G) is essential, since I've come to rely on it for getting around in unfamiliar places and checking e-mail, etc. Unlimited data would be preferred, but I might be able to get by on as little as 500MB per month. I'll also need to be able to place international calls without too much expense, as I'll be calling people back home in the U.S. regularly in addition to calls throughout Europe.

    Where I am right now (which is near where I'll be spending most of my time), my phone seems to be in the range of the carriers O2, Orange, and Vodafone. Anyone have any experience with using these carriers in the UK and Europe? Which carrier would likely be able to fulfill my needs for the cheapest while allowing me to pay for a month or so at a time?
  2. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    You're not going to have much luck going with a single SIM for the UK and Europe. We all have different carriers (even when they're the same "brand" but in different countries), and roaming between these networks costs an absolute fortune. I shudder to think what a UK purchased SIM would end up costing you if you used even just 50MB of data while in Germany for example.

    The only way to get any value will be a PAYG SIM in each country.
  3. NotJohnnyQuest thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2009
    I think I saw some of these kinds of SIM cards in a vending machine at London Heathrow, but I didn't see anything that offered data. Is it possible to find temporary SIM cards in different countries that offer data access in addition to calling minutes and texts?

    It sounds like my best option might be to buy a monthly SIM card plan for England and buy these temporary SIMs while traveling in other countries (I assume my number will be different each time I change SIMs?).
  4. andybno1 macrumors 68040


    Nov 6, 2007
    Liverpool, UK
    you can get data inclusive plans with UK based carriers but I think that will all be solely pay monthly sims which tend to come with a mandatory 18 - 24 month contract, pay as you go I believe O2 offer text and web plans from about £15 a month topups, your best bet is to just look over the current UK carriers websites and deciding for yourself - they piggyback O2's network
  5. NotJohnnyQuest thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2009
    One more option I just thought of that might work while in England: what if I buy a SIM card with a 3G data plan just for the data, then use Skype over 3G to make and receive calls and texts? If I keep Skype backgrounded, will I always be able to get calls and texts on my iPhone?

    I guess the downside would be that I'd only be able to make/receive calls and texts while in a 3G area; is 3G pretty widespread in the UK?
  6. Leafs macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2009
    Bump. This is exactly what I need as well. Going to Europe for a month. Need to know what the best option is. Thinking of buying one of those one sim cards which can be used in all countries with no roaming. Is that the best way to go?? Thanks
  7. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    I can only speak to the UK but you can get an O2 pay as you go with Data from any o2 shop. The plan is called simplicity, if you charge up the phone with say Sterling 20 they will deduct sterling 10 for each month for the data plan. i just came back from five weeks in the UK and had no trouble with this plan. It may not be as flexible in the rest of Europe in terms of 3G data.
    I you want to take a Laptop you can get the o2 3G Data dongle which you charge up with Sterling 15 and that gives you 3 Gig of data for 30 days. While I was there they had a special deal on the purchase of the dongle at 9.99 but the normal price is 19.99.
  8. Leafs macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2009
  9. JudasBlitzkrieg macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2010
    If you're staying within the EU, then get a T-Mobile PAYG SIM. the problem with getting a 30 day rolling contract SIM would be the credit check. With a T-Mobile UK SIM, you can get 5 day UK data passes for £2.50 a go which gives you unlimited browsing. When you're in the EU, there aren't any data passes, but the advantage of the T-Mobile SIM is that you're capped at £1 per day for data. Considering the actual cost of data in Europe should be £7.50 PER MB, £1 is quite good value :D
  10. Leafs macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2009
    Dude that sounds fricken awesome. Is there any way I can buy one now (I'm in canada)? It's just I would rather buy it online and get it shipped to me so I dont have to worry about it when I get there. Also let me try and understand what you are saying, this sim card works anywhere in europe and I won't get roaming charges right?
  11. Swede macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2009
    3 - cheapest for data
    vodafone - best for roaming

    but jeez that t-mobile sim sounds so good
  12. JudasBlitzkrieg macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2010
    you get charged for roaming, hence the £1 per day. You get charged roaming rates for calls and texts aswell, but as long as you stay within the EU, then those are the charges.

    i think you can order one from
  13. Leafs macrumors member

    Jul 12, 2009
  14. sahajesh macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2004
    Don't understand your figures, the EU roaming cost for contract SIMs is actually £1.50 per Mb - £7.50 is for non-EU. Nevertheless £1 fixed roaming EU data would be great, however all I can see for that price is a 3Mb booster for 24 hours roaming or capped £1 per day when in the UK.

    Did you mean £1 capped data when roaming, if so that would be fantastic and I'd get a T-Mobile PAYG SIM for use abroad and just divert my T-M contract number to the PAYG.

  15. JudasBlitzkrieg macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2010
    Yeah, its £1 per day capped data for roaming

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