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post #1 of 10 Old 10-30-2015, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Smartphone technical help needed

Wife and I have Samsung Galaxy S-4's with Verizon service. We travel a fair bit overseas and have unlocked phones (ancient Nokias) which will take SIM cards from different locations, but we'd like to be able to use the Galaxys.

Our contract with Verizon is OK for domestic use, but gets a little pricey if we were to use their overseas activation option. Our daughter has recently switched to T-Mobile and used her phone extensively for text and data when we were hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain last month -- worked great and NO EXTRA CHARGES! T-Mobile says their service covers 140 countries, which suits us to a T (pun intended).

So our preference would be to change our service to T-Mobile (which is currently paying early termination penalties to switch from other carriers). I've been online trying to investigate the ins and outs of unlocking the Verizon Galaxys and have to confess that I find all the geek-speak pretty confusing.

So basically I'd like to know from anyone who has done this or is sufficiently expert in these arcane matters to know: after unlocking, are these phones (technically designated model number SCHI545PKVPS) compatible with T-Mobile's network? This should be easy to find out, but although T-Mobile's website says yes the kid at the T-Mobile store the other day hemmed and hawed and gave a very qualified yes with the caveat that some functions may not work well and it would require "an extensive workaround." Whatever that means.

Any help would be appreciated.

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post #2 of 10 Old 10-30-2015, 11:43 AM
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I know I'm not being very helpful, but would it be easier and way less aggravating to just buy a prepaid T-Mobile phone in the country you're visiting? You could always import your contacts list into the prepaid from your Samsung, so you have all your numbers. I'm guessing (though I don't know) that T-Mobile has the same unlimited plans available overseas as they do here. If you buy a T-Mobile phone here, you can probably reactivate it in whatever country you're visiting.

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post #3 of 10 Old 10-30-2015, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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I have never seen T-Mobile service in any other country I have visited. When traveling overseas T-Mobile (and all other US cell phone carriers, AFAIK) allow you to use local cell networks, usually for a steep price. Only T-Mobile lets you do it fee-free and even without any special activation.

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post #4 of 10 Old 10-30-2015, 12:08 PM
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OK..I'm definitely no expert on wireless phones, and I don't know if this helps at all, but I found this: Traveling overseas with T-Mobile: free data and text is good enough for most | ZDNet

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post #5 of 10 Old 10-30-2015, 12:44 PM
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Most cellular service companies have "piggy backing" agreements with other services where they don't have their own equipment in those other areas. Sometimes the service is good, sometimes not so good. It may be that T-Mobile has agreements with services in other countries. As for Verizon, you should be able to use their overseas service for just the time you are there, then cancel that service once you get back. Yes, there will be a charge for it, but it probably won't be that much for just a short term use. Otherwise, the idea of picking up a prepaid T-Mobile phone isn't a bad idea, either.

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post #6 of 10 Old 10-30-2015, 02:03 PM
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Can I use my Verizon/Sprint phone on another network?

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post #7 of 10 Old 10-30-2015, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RCinNC View Post
OK..I'm definitely no expert on wireless phones, and I don't know if this helps at all, but I found this: Traveling overseas with T-Mobile: free data and text is good enough for most | ZDNet
Yup, that's precisely why I want to switch to T-Mobile. I saw how well (and fast) my daughter's T-Mobile iPhone worked in Spain and France. No roaming, unlimited text and data, and cheaper than Verizon or AT&T.

The Galaxy S4 has a SIM card, so it is GSM-enabled.

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post #8 of 10 Old 11-02-2015, 07:50 AM
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If the phone is out of contract Verizon will unlock it for you as is the law. Once out of contract it is yours. The T-Mobile sim will work in that sim slot.

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post #9 of 10 Old 11-02-2015, 10:24 AM
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I've tried to figure out how to use my cell phone economically in the US for a recent trip and gave up. I'm with Rogers and have a good quality HTC One X smart phone. New phones, new cards, texting plans, travelling plans are all so costly and I'm frugal. So the best system for me, without a data plan in Canada or the US, is simply to use WIFI whenever I can connect for my email and use Skype for calls.

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post #10 of 10 Old 11-28-2015, 03:48 PM
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A little personal experience; I travel around the world each month and switched to T-Mobile about a year and a half ago. At that time, I got the Galaxy S5. T-Mobile is awesome for travel. As mentioned, all texting and data is included at no additional charge, calls to/from the USA are 20 cents per minute and there is no additional charge for wifi calling.

One thing I noticed is that in most countries, I'd be lucky to get 3G service and often in China, it would be Edge/2G. I figured that's just the way it is and any data is better than no data.

Last month, I upgraded to the Galaxy S6. This resulted in a HUGE improvement in data performance worldwide. I'm getting 4G and often 4GLTE while overseas. Even in Kazakhstan!

The moral of this story is that you may not get the best network performance if using your existing older phones. I love T-Mobile and with new Galaxy S6, I love it even more.

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