Don’t Throw Away That Old Phone – Not Yet!
On a recent trip to Italy, there was a necessity for two phones. I already had a European phone and thought it would be necessary to buy another upon arrival. However, we discovered another option…use an old phone no longer on any kind of plan. In our case, we had an old 3GS IPhone that was not being used and not under contract. We had the former carrier, in this case AT&T, unlock the phone so we could insert an Italian sim card when we arrived. At the airport, we bought a prepaid sim for 15 euros at a phone store which lasted for our entire 2-week stay. We could have also purchased a data plan for more money but opted out of that. The phone worked beautifully and we still have time left of the card next time we go back.
This worked for our 3GS iPhone because it is capable of using the european cell phone system (GSM). Some US carriers use a different system (CMDA), and not all of their older phones will work in Europe. The best way to find out if your old phone can be unlocked for use with GSM is to call the carrier or take it to the carrier’s retail store and ask someone there.