I’m going to Ireland this weekend and I want to be able to use my unlocked AT&T phone while I’m there. Primarily I want to be able to send SMS/MMS texts and data for email, status updates, photo sharing and GPS navigation. AT&T has international roaming available but the prices are horrific ($1.40/min, $50 flat rate for 5GB data and $0.50/1.30 per SMS/MMS) so I’m obviously looking to pick up a prepaid SIM card first thing after I land.
Anyone have any guidance on how to do this? In Ireland what type of store should I go to for this? If there’s a kiosk at the airport or something I could use? Should I look for a wireless store or is there a Irish equivalent of 7-eleven or WalMart that would be best? Obviously I want the cheapest option, but I’m not going to waste too much time to save $5.
Also, what carriers do you suggest? I gather that there are several to choose from that would be compatible with the AT&T bands; O2, Meteor, Vodafone etc., but I’m not sure which coverage and prices would be the best choice. I’ll be driving around the coast so I’ll need coverage outside of the major cities.
You can buy pay-as-you-go sim cards at any phone shop, of which there are many in Dublin and every town really. There’s probably one in the airport actually, I’ve just never looked. I dunno how it breaks down on cost but I believe the 3 network might have the best deals. In my experience vodafone has better coverage than most networks but out in the sticks there are plenty of places where you’ll have a patchy signal on any network.
Unless it’s very old, your phone is probably quad band GSM, which will work in Ireland…but you may or may not get 3G coverage. Many US 3G phones do not have support for European bands. Without specifics of your phone, it’s impossible to say what to expect.
Downsides of GSM instead of 3g:
GSM has lower voice quality
GSM doesn’t allow voice and data at the same time
GSM has slower data service
Benefit of GSM:
GSM uses less of your battery, so you’ll likely have better than normal battery life