Looking for a GSM phone

I am interested in getting a fully unlockable GSM phone that will work guaranteed in the US/Canada AND Europe. I have to make sure it works with the US provider because I want to buy it from a third party - I don’t want to commit to anything. (Where I live the only GSM provider so far is Cingular and apparently they’re rather bad - I want to be able to switch if I want to).

So my ideal cell phone will have:

  • The best possible reception
  • The best possible battery life
  • It will be a small(ish) “candy bar” type with NO external antenna (had several like that and the antenna ALWAYS breaks - no matter what the salesperson tells you).
  • It will have vibrating alert

I don’t care at all about cameras, games, and other such gimmicks. I also dislike fancy color covers and other bells and whistles aimed at teens. While such features would not “disqualify” a phone, I’d rather not have them (and pay for them). I just need a good, reliable, (rugged?) plain phone that will take care of business.

I have no preference for any brand.

And, of course, the cheaper the better, but price is not a major issue.

Is there such a beast?

Thanks in advance for any help.

T-Mobile and AT&T provide gsm services. I find T_Mobile the best for my money. The phone I have fits your plan exactly and then some. I have a Samsung N105. I bought it 3 years ago and the newer phone have yet to catch up to it in gadgets. It has a fixed antenna about 2 inches long and is a flip so you don’t have to lock it to prevent it from pressing buttons when you put it in your pocket. If you don’t want a flip then T_Mobile has a free phone you will love. The Samsung x105. Here is a link http://www.a1wireless.com/ they have a great rebate too.

I know this because I just bought two on the family plan. You missed the $300 rebates they gave out.

When he says unlockable, he means unlockable to work on other GSM systems. I bought a T-Mobile phone, looking for exactly that. Brought it to South Africa, bought a SIM card to use it there, and lo and behold, my phone was not unlockable. Can’t remember the model of that phone, but it was a tiny, useless piece of crap.

Switched to AT&T, bought a GSM phone from them, again, guaranteed that it would be unlockable. Brought it to South Africa, yada yada yada, it was not unlockable. That was a Nokia 3650.

I gave up. I can buy a cheap ass cell phone when I’m in South Africa if need be and use it while I’m there.

I have a Nokia 3595 that I got from T-Mobile and figured out how to hack out the subsidy lock. :slight_smile: It can be done; you just gotta know the secret tricks to do it.

I’ve looked into buying an unlocked phone, because I’m one of those guys to be the first on the block with the new toy. I love gadgets!

I have to say after some research I came to the conclusion that ordering a $500 phone from Japan was not the smartest move. I’ll spare you the long winded details, but sometimes they worked, most times they didn’t, so now you’re stuck with an expensive paperweight.

What I would do, is choose a provider, look at all the phones they offer, and research them out. There are zillions of sites and forums where you can get a good idea of the quality of a phone.

About 2 years ago, AT&T finally got their GSM service up and running in NYC. Of course I was there the next day to upgrade my AT&T service, and to get a new techno phone. All I can tell you was their GSM was THE ABSOLUTE WORST SERVICE I’VE EVER HAD. I literally could not get a signal, anywhere, anytime. If I did it was some weak signal, and I would have been better off with no signal.

I have nothing else to say, just do yourself a favor and stay away from AT&T, a can with a string gets better service.

FYI, the phones with those tiny internal antennas usually get crappier reception.

Almost any mobile phone is unlockable (you can pay the market stall guys a tenner to do it for you here in the UK, although some providers don’t supply their phones locked here anyway); more important to you if you’re roaming is tri- or quad-band functionality.

There are at least half a dozendifferent tri-band Nokia handsets that more or less fit your specifications, but the same could probably be said of almost any brand.

I’m not quite sure what you mean about ‘cheap’ - handsets here are often ‘free’ on signing a 12 month airtime agreement (although you might have to pay a bit for the more flashy up-to-the-minute handsets) - or were you looking to buy a sim-free handset only (no contract)?

My company just switched carriers to T-Mobil. After years with a Nokia I got a Samsung X105. It does not have anywhere near the features that my previous Nokias had. Oh yeah lay in some toothpicks for dialing this sucker, the keys are tiny.

For the US, you’ll want GSM-1900 and GSM-850. For Europe, you’ll want GSM-900 and GSM-1800.

You might want to look at the NEC 515 and 525 and the Motorola V400 and V600–they’re quad-band and will work almost anywhere there’s a GSM signal, including places like Panama and rural North America where there may be GSM-850 only. The only GSM I’m aware of that is outside the four usual GSM bands is GSM-400 in Tanzania–and that’s only on one network there.

Here’s my provider’s page on the different frequency bands. Note that the default frequency band for handsets mentioned on this page is GSM-1900, the US/Canadian PCS band.

In North America, it can be difficult to buy an unlocked handset, even if you’re willing to pay full price. Many carriers here simply do not sell them unlocked. Often you can get the same handset in Europe or Asia with no hassle.

As far as TMo goes, all you have to do is call 611 and tell them that you are going overseas and that you would like the unlock code for your phone. They’ll ask your IMEI, phone number, and name, and then they’ll call you back or e-mail you in a couple of days with the subsidy unlock code. It’s not difficult, and I’ve done it with every one of the 4 phones I’ve had with them, even though I never went overseas. They don’t mind at all.

I have a Motorola V66, it’s a small, unassuming tri-band GSM phone, and I’m a T-Mobile subscriber, and have been for about 4 years (they bought out VoiceStream, when I used a Handspring VisorPhone). I’ve had this V66 about 10 months and used it internationally once (if Toronto, Canada is international) via T-Mobile’s roaming (pricey).

I haven’t tried to get this phone unlocked, but I just had some limited success with a google search on it.

HanoNymus, questions seeking advice, opinions and recommendations belong in IMHO.

I’ll move this to IMHO for you.

General Questions Moderator

I have the same phone. I’ve used in in Great Britan, Ireland and Iceland. All I had to do is sign up for the international plan through T-Mobile (free), and remember to change the band once overseas. I agree about the pricey roaming call charges. I don’t remember getting an unlock code. Anyway, the phone was free from Amazon (I think they paid me to take it, after rebates) when signing up for a new plan (I switched from Sprint), someone on this board had told me about the great prices there. I love the phone, it’s not color and there’s no camera, but that isn’t what I’m looking for in a phone, I just want to be able to make calls.

I have a Siemens S40 off of EBay for around 70 US. I know its unlocked as Ive been using it in europe for the past week. This phone has pretty much what youre asking for, no antenna and not much else, but works good enough for me.

The problem may not be getting a phone, but you might have the problems I have had where when I got a SIM card I couldnt get any extra minutes put on it because Virgin UK would only take a UK credit card. They have stopped selling the cards that allow you to top up. Yes you can find them but it took me a while to find a shop that still had some. It might be different in other places though.

Sorry about the lack of `s in my post, but Im using a differnt keyboard and they are hard to make come up.