Going cellular in Germany.
May 27, 2009 9:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm a cellphone noob, and I'm seeking answers on how to use my GSM phone in Germany.

I currently own an unlocked GSM Motorola V195 cellphone that I use in the States with a prepaid SIM from T-Mobile.

I'm hoping that when I arrive in Munich in a few days, I'll be able to swap out the existing SIM with a German pre-paid SIM, and begin to make calls to the States. At least, I'm assuming that this is doable, based on my muddied readings on using GSM phones in Europe.

-Am I on the right track? Will I be able to buy a prepaid SIM, install it in the phone, and begin making international calls?
-If the answer's "yes," where's the easiest place to buy the SIM? Do airport kiosks exist, or will I have to wait till I arrive in town?
-What's the pricing scenario like for prepaid SIMs, and how much will I be paying for International calls?
-Are there any other tidbits of information I should know before I dive into this?
posted by Gordion Knott to Technology (4 answers total)
Yes, you should be able to do that. Your phone is unlocked and supports both European GSM bands (900 and 1800). I don't recall whether there are airport kiosks; I went into a retail store in Berlin to get mine when I was there.

You'll have a choice of I believe 4 networks. I don't remember which network I used when I was there but if I remember correctly, calls back to the US were something like 1.5-2 euros per minute. Domestic calls were much cheaper, so I suspect that the cheapest way to call the US would be to get a separate international long distance phone card in Germany and call that from your cell phone.

Good luck!
posted by Juffo-Wup at 10:24 AM on May 27, 2009

You can learn more about the various cell phone carriers and rates in Germany here. I've used that site to research options before traveling before and it seemed to be correct. O2 looks to have the cheapest US rates by far (€0.29/min vs € 1.99/min for T-Mobile and Vodafone)

O2 EU SIM cards are also available on Ebay if you want to buy before you leave but I assume they are more expensive.
posted by ChrisHartley at 10:43 AM on May 27, 2009

Thanks for the replies so far.

As a side note, will people be able to call my phone from the States assuming I've installed a SIM card in Germany? Are there any special protocols for doing so?
posted by Gordion Knott at 10:59 AM on May 27, 2009

Incoming calls will be free for you in Germany (and possibly all of Europe), regardless of their origination. The person calling of course will pay long distance charges to the German phone number that is attached to your German SIM card. Your US number will go straight to voice mail when its SIM card is not in a phone.
posted by ChrisHartley at 11:09 AM on May 27, 2009

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