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Old 02-13-2011
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Unlocked Cell phones and plans

Hi we are taking a year off and going south in the fall, I know I can get an unlocked phone and buy sim cards, but what is the best way to go?
Buy my phone in Canada? or wait til we get to the states and buy it there?
I dont necessarily need or want al of the gadgets of a smartphone, apps are not my thing.
How much are pay as you go plans in the US? and long distance? I probably could google, cell phone plans but more interested in what people use and what works?

Mark
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Old 02-13-2011
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If you currently have a GSM phone, particularly a quad-band device, ask your current service provider for an unlock code. AT&T gave me the code for my old V3 at no charge, despite having a reputation for being difficult on the matter.
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Old 02-13-2011
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How far south is south? I've always been most successful getting a phone in the country to which I travel. If the US is your final destination, you will have no trouble finding one wherever you make landfall.

I've heard of an AT&T plan that charges $2 per day, for only the days that you use the phone. The usage is then unlimited within that day. It seems like a great way to lower cost if you can contain your calls to just a few days per week. You can also buy a phone that only makes calls for as little at $10.
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Old 02-13-2011
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Rogers and Fido offer unlocked phones. Telus is about to, but has some restrictions.

Telus unlocks SIM cellphones - The Globe and Mail
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Old 02-13-2011
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I have what I consider the best deal in town when it comes to cellular telephone plans. I prepay a flat rate of 10 cents per minute through T-Mobile. There's no monthly fee, no hidden fees of taxes--just 10 cents a minute and I can use the phone nationwide and in Canada. There are no roaming charges, the phone I purchased for $110 has all the bells and whistles, plus a camera. I can email the photos and the same 10 cents per minute rate applies. It only takes a few seconds for a photo to go out. I purchase $1,000 minutes for $100 and when the minutes get down to 20 I get a test message telling me to renew. It takes just a few seconds to renew using my credit card, and it can be done from anywhere in the world.

Something to think about,

Gary
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Old 02-13-2011
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As SVA said, if you have a quad-band GSM "world" phone, you can get the phone's unlock code from your carrier at no charge. In the US, I don't believe the carriers can charge you for this legally.

Then you can use a pre-paid SIM card in many countries, and avoid the astronomical roaming charges.
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Old 02-13-2011
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We went through this decision making process recently when touring North America in an RV we finished up with NET 10 for the USA and a Rodgers phone for Canada. Both decisions were based on the better coverage offered. The Net10 also offers Worldwide calls for 15 cents a minute with some restrictions.

Do watch out for some companies who dramatically restrict access to their network if you insist on a prepaid phone. EG Verison.
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Old 02-13-2011
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Mark, your bestbet is to wait until 60 days before you go and ask THEN because the picture keeps changing.

$100 for a thousand minutes may be great--but other carriers will give you unlimited voice, text, and data for $45/month and if you only need two months and would like data in that...You see how it changes?

There are only two major GSM carriers in the US, AT&T and T-Mobile. TMob has much better offerings for prepaid and no-contract phones. Assuming you will be staying on the coast, the coverage from most of the carriers is very similar.

MetroPCS and Straight Talk are among the "no plan" carriers who offer great deals, but you'll have to buy a phone to go with them, and some of those are cheap enough to make it worthwhile.

Again, the game keeps changing. What is best now, may not be in the fall.
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here is an idea. go look for the verizon blackberry world version. from verizon it comes unlocked. it will also work on both cdma and gsm networks. granted the gsm network is easier, its just a sim card.

another reason for the BB is for email reasons, very easy to email from, and the new version has wifi too, no need for mins for email if you get on a wifi connection.
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1000 minutes for $100 dollars is no deal. My wife and my family plan is 2000, free nights after 5, and free weekends for $99 with T Mobile
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