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LOTL (Offline)
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Default 2 Week Vacation in UK - 19-04-2010, 02:47

Heading off to the Glastonbury festival in the UK at the end of June.
We want to have a mobile phone for emergency calls only. I was thinking of picking up a cheap GSM phone off of Ebay and just picking up a Sim card when we arrive in the UK.

We wont have much time to look around when we arrive and would like to have it all lined up prior to arriving.

There are places at the festival to charge your electronics, so we should be all set for he 5 days we are there. We would need voicemail with whichever plan we choose.

My thoughts are the phone can stay shut off and we can turn it on to check messages a few times during the day. SMS may be a good idea if the cost isnt unreasonable.

So suggestions for an inexpensive phone and a SIM card/Service for the UK are appreciated.

Are there places at the airports where you can rent a phone for 2 weeks?
Would this be a better option based on my usage?

We wouldn't require use of the phone again, so after the 2 weeks in the UK whatever phone we may buy, would go back on Ebay or collect dust in my retired cell phone museum.
   
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MATHA531 (Offline)
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Default 19-04-2010, 03:12

Well the dirt cheapest phone would probably be something you could pick up in the UK along with a sim card..they tell me there are many places that sell the required gsm phones with the 900/1800 mhz bands for as little as 15 quid although you make a point of wanting to have everything lined up before arrival and not to have too much time to waste.

Look,l here's the deal. UK competition is very very fierce and the big telcoms are literally giving away sim cards for free...you can have them posted to you at any UK address (say your first hotel) and they're extremely easy to top up (most come with no credit...a quick pop into a grocery or convenience store or a drug store will take all of about 30 seconds to top up)....dirt cheap calls available for all of them to wherever you are from (it seems the USA) with rates starting at 3p/minute. You will receive for free.

I don't know just where in the UK you will be and just where the best service is..perhaps some of our colleagues here from the UK can help you out on this. However, if you want to really be all set before arriving, you can search on ebay for a cheap gsm phone, they come in all prices depending on the bells and whistles (do you want a camera? an MP3 player? Internet?)....just make sure the phone has the 900 and 1800 mhz bands (if you truly want never to use it again but you can use it in the USA with certain carriers if you get a quad band)....as far as getting a British sim card you will find on ebay almost all the major telcoms available for about $2 + a couple of bucks for shipping, say less than $5 when all is said and done. T Mobile UK is there, Vodafone UK is there, Orange UK is there (although Orange requires a step to register, T Mobile and Vodafone will work right out of the box as soon as you top up, many Vodafone cards come with small amounts of credit so they'll work right out of the box)....you can check on their web sites for what has to be done to get cheap calls to the USA (vodafone requires you to sign up for a plan, Orange you want the camel plan), T Mobile also has a cheap plan to the USA now)...Orange and T Mobile tie in with a firm called yourcallworld and you can get calls to the USA for 3p/minute so there's really no need to keep the phone off, it's really a mobile phone haven right now. And another good thing is that since the language spoken in the UK and American are very closely alligned, you will be able to talk to people for help and even read the web sites and manuals (something I'd love to be able to do for my trip to Germany but alas alas...).

The problem is not doing it, really there are so many choices and they're all very viable.

Just as an example, here is a link that will enable you to buy a T Mobile UK sim card for $1 with $3.25 shipping to the USA

http://tinyurl.com/y5jaefv


Here's another link to get an Orange UK sim card for $4.95 + free shipping:

http://tinyurl.com/y5x7rbc

You want vodafone UK? For $5.95 (free shipping)

http://tinyurl.com/y442sdb

Really can't do better than that unless you want to wait till you arrive in the UK where they can be had for free...but you won't know your number in advance if that's important to you.

Last edited by MATHA531; 19-04-2010 at 03:27..
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Default 19-04-2010, 05:11

Thanks so much for the very detailed reply. Yes i am from the US and we plan on flying into Bristol international airport. We will be in Bristol overnight and then catching a bus to the festival. At the festival for 5 days and then back to Bristol to pick up a rent a car and then off for another 4-5 days of sightseeing.

It sounds like picking up a phone off of Ebay and a SIM card with one of the carriers you mention would be the way to go.
Id love to check my email, but it isnt critical that i do. Texting and voicemail are musts.
Any suggestions on a cheap dual band phone or maybe even Quad Band for use back home?
I take it i would need to get a charger adapter for use in the UK? Im sure there are plenty of those on Ebay as well.
   
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Default 19-04-2010, 07:50

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Originally Posted by LOTL View Post
Thanks so much for the very detailed reply. Yes i am from the US and we plan on flying into Bristol international airport. We will be in Bristol overnight and then catching a bus to the festival. At the festival for 5 days and then back to Bristol to pick up a rent a car and then off for another 4-5 days of sightseeing.

It sounds like picking up a phone off of Ebay and a SIM card with one of the carriers you mention would be the way to go.
Id love to check my email, but it isnt critical that i do. Texting and voicemail are musts.
Any suggestions on a cheap dual band phone or maybe even Quad Band for use back home?
I take it i would need to get a charger adapter for use in the UK? Im sure there are plenty of those on Ebay as well.
No problem with the charger...they're almost all dual voltage now anyway today. You will need an adapter plug for the UK...readilly available almost everywhere (on ebay too...UK plugs are very large with 3 pins sort of...two horizontal and one vertical on top...

All the PAYG have voicemail, some free some cost a few pence....some have data plans that enable you to check some e mail easily enough although that's never been much of a problem for me what with internet cafes and now I bring my notebook...I will say this, however, that while in the USA almost every cheap hotel room has free wife, it's not so common in the UK...I hope into Mickey D or Starbucks for that...
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Default 19-04-2010, 15:37

Most UK networks offer dirt cheap pre pay mobiles (with charger etc...all in) prices start from like 20 to thirty quid...

Also try branches of Carphone warehouse they are found all over the place. bonus there is that many of there phones are unlocked.....


Current networks: Orange 3g UK, 3 pay monthly, Virgin pay as you go UK, 3UK payg, Tesco payg, Asda mobile

Active phones: Blackberry Torch (02), Google Nexus one (Vodafone)
Inactive Sims: Oskar Czech R, BT Genie Pay as you go UK.

Spare (unused phones)
NEC 616, Ericsson t68/i, Nokia 3310, Sendo m550, Mototorola v66i, Motorola a1000.lg u880, Sony Ericsson t230. Orange spv m5000, Samsung z400, Motorola SLVR (Red)!, lobster tv700, spv m700, prada phone, motorola l7e, Skype phone, siemens sl65, blackberry 8810, Nokia 6500 slide X2.
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petkow (Offline)
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Default 19-04-2010, 15:56

Also it is worth noting that o2 give out free SIM cards to many international arriving passengers these days. I got one the other day when arriving at Gatwick. It was the shortest time I have held onto a SIM as I managed to pass it on to somebody who was asking at the Newsagent on how to buy one a few minutes later!
   
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Default 19-04-2010, 16:00

For buying a handset, there's also a famous UK shop called Argos who are actually a catalog retailer. They have stores in several town centers. They always have really ridiculous offers on cheap phones. I just had a look and they have them starting at GBP4.99 at the moment:
Cheapest Mobile phones at Argos
   
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Default 19-04-2010, 16:09

yeah...but sometimes they are always out of what ya want!


Current networks: Orange 3g UK, 3 pay monthly, Virgin pay as you go UK, 3UK payg, Tesco payg, Asda mobile

Active phones: Blackberry Torch (02), Google Nexus one (Vodafone)
Inactive Sims: Oskar Czech R, BT Genie Pay as you go UK.

Spare (unused phones)
NEC 616, Ericsson t68/i, Nokia 3310, Sendo m550, Mototorola v66i, Motorola a1000.lg u880, Sony Ericsson t230. Orange spv m5000, Samsung z400, Motorola SLVR (Red)!, lobster tv700, spv m700, prada phone, motorola l7e, Skype phone, siemens sl65, blackberry 8810, Nokia 6500 slide X2.
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Default 20-04-2010, 04:12

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malkav View Post
Most UK networks offer dirt cheap pre pay mobiles (with charger etc...all in) prices start from like 20 to thirty quid...

Also try branches of Carphone warehouse they are found all over the place. bonus there is that many of there phones are unlocked.....
We will have very little time to get a phone when we arrive. Being that Bristol appears to be a decent sized city, i would imagine i should be able to email one of the carriers and arrange to pick up a phone on a specific date and possibly even get a number from them before we arrive.

So much to plan in a short amount of time. Sounds like there are many different ways to go about this. Just slightly overwhelmed, but im sure itll all work out.
   
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MATHA531 (Offline)
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Default 20-04-2010, 05:11

Do yourself a favor...I just did a quick ebay search and saw oodles of listings for phones (new ones at that) quad bands unlockedfor less than $50...choose any one you want (saw what seems a nice Sony Ericsson for $30, saw a Motorola for
$20)....if you want to then go to any of the web sites and have free sim cards delivered to your first hotel, that's easy enough or just order one of the sim cards I suggested...fort less than $30 you'll be all set and simply have to top up (a very very simple matter and indeed can be done at the airport upon arrival...just don't see why you would want to start up and have a phone waiting (if you order from one of the carriers, it will probably be locked anyway).....at these prices, how can you go wrong?
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