cell phones in bangkok
March 16, 2007 3:06 PM   Subscribe

i'll be going to thailand soon and i know that the 4th floor of MBK has tons of cell phone sellers. i'm interested in buying a quad band unlocked phone but i'm not sure if their prices are better than U.S. prices. also, i think they'll have some models that may not be available in the U.S. anyone know about the price difference? thanks.
posted by wondering to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't help you with the MBK, but I will tell you that the cheapest price in those types of venues isn't always worth it. For example, Hong Kong has a place that you can get great deals on all the new models - however the cheapest often include items such as counterfeit batteries. The phone is fine, but you'll find the charge time to be lacking. Spend the extra 30 bucks and get a phone with all the original components.

Oh, and if it is anything like HK, the prices will be around 30% cheaper - but you will pay more that the cost of a phone in the US for models that just came out and don't exist yet in the US.
posted by qwip at 4:36 PM on March 16, 2007

I may be totally wrong so I apologize in advance if I am, but my understanding is that a lot of times you can't use overseas phones in the U.S. Many many countries use mobile phone technology that's different (and dare I say seems way superior) to America's.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:02 PM on March 16, 2007

I've never been to thailand, but i echo qwip's sentiments to a tee about hong kong. You're kidding yourself if you think its worth buying electronics from Asia. Problems. Not the least of which is a lack of warranty.

I once bought a gameboy color for my cousin in hong kong. i bought a cartridge for it that claim to have "46 games in one cartridge". Turns out it was the same two games 23 times over.
posted by phaedon at 7:08 PM on March 16, 2007

@miss lynnster: Most other countries besides the U.S. use some form of GSM technology for cellphones; in the U.S., only the T-Mobile and Cingular (now AT&T) networks use GSM, the others (Verizon, Nextel, etc.) use other schemes. But as long as you get a GSM phone that's "quad band," you should be able to bring it back to the 'States, get a SIM from T-Mobile or Cingular, and you're off.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:05 PM on March 16, 2007

I've had a hell of a time with international mobile phones. So the whole thing really confuses me.

Just getting sms messages to work internationally has been an awful pain. I can send to almost anywhere -- although it's far cheaper to send them via skype -- but my phone can only receive texts from 2 of 8 of my overseas friends (depends on the country and what phone service they use). Meanwhile all of my friends overseas can contact and text eachother with no problem whatsoever. VERY frustrating.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:32 PM on March 16, 2007

I was just at MBK yesterday and was amazed by the amount of shops and the selection. Pricewise it seems you can save a little. There are so many little shops so you might need to bargain and shop around. I'm not getting another phone until after the iphone comes out [if it is worth it], but have been coveting a Nokia E61 but didn't see a lot of them yesterday.

There are nearly countless models and almost all of them are unlocked. I was more casually browsing so I didn't get into specifics but the major Nokia quadbands are available. I think with many other brands they will be tri-band [no 900mhz but not really a problem if you have T-mobile] and many will have 3G at frequencies you won't be able to use in the US on Cingular or T-mobile.

My current phone, the Sony Ericsson K800i is a 900/1800/1900 and 3G phone I'm pleased with. I bought it for $500US from an importer in the US when it first came out. I think I saw one yesterday for about 3647;5,000. I've been buying non-US phones for years and have no problem running them with my T-mo and Cingular SIM.

There are countless mobiles from brands I've never heard of and many are as tiny as a pack of matches.

Be careful of knockoffs, of course. There are the real deal phones of course and get one of those.

[my favorite knockoff on the 4th floor was an iPod nano that had a Sony logo on it]
posted by birdherder at 10:45 PM on March 16, 2007

Hmm... the baht symbol worked in preview. The phone was 6,000k baht.
posted by birdherder at 10:56 PM on March 16, 2007

thanks for the replies. i should say that i bought an unlocked quad band cell phone from ebay and it works like a charm. i do have a cingular account and so i use some GSM technology. when i recently travelled in mongolia, all i needed to do was to buy a new sim card and some minutes and i was up and running in minutes. all of this to say that i have no doubt that if i buy a legitimate unlocked quad cell phone in bkk, it'll work in the states.

i do appreciate the words of caution. i'm not sure how i can be sure that a phone purchased there might be the real deal but i'll think about it. (i know a local thai guy who i've bought stuff from in the past and perhaps he can direct me to some reliable vendor...)

hmmm. i need to do a search on that term: 3G phone? i'm not sure what that is.

thanks for the comments ;-)
posted by wondering at 1:50 AM on March 17, 2007

3G is the newer broadband and phone technology and allows things like video and video calling. I've used it on my SE phone in Japan and Germany. Cingular has it in certain markets, but it is using a standard not recognized in the rest of the world. I've yet to see a phone that offers multiband 3G. But 3G is probably a ways away from being everywhere in the US. Look for UMTS or HSPDA on your favorite phone geek site for more information.

Spotting the real phones in the shops is made easier if you see the box and the price is believable. If the prices is too good to be true you're getting something bogus. You can get a vibe from some of the shops whether they are legit or fake. I'm sure your Thai friend can help you weed out the better stuff.
posted by birdherder at 5:30 PM on March 17, 2007

got it. thanks for the tips!
posted by wondering at 8:05 PM on March 17, 2007

Yes, phones are generally cheaper in Asia. We have more models to choose from, too. I have never bought a phone in Thailand, but I have experienced buying phones from Hong Kong & Singapore.

My advice is, buy a phone from an electronics shop, & not in some dingy stall. I had a bad experience with a gadget I bought in Hong Kong (one of those three-story cramped electronics malls), and swore to be more selective when buying gadgets.

Needless to say, after I started "judging the gadget by the store's appearance," I've been very happy with all my purchases.

(By the way, when it comes to electronic deals, nothing beats Singapore, in my opinion.)
posted by chette at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2007

hi chette, that's good advice. at the moment, however, i'm leaning towards going to the place i mentioned above called mbk. the main reason is that there's a guy there (he sells watches) and i've been a customer of his for a while. in the past, when i've needed something, i'd ask him if he knew anyone in mbk who sells x, y, or z and he'd call someone in mbk. that person would show up at his shop and take me to their shop. i'll be careful, though and the good thing is that i don't have to buy a cell phone. i'll check out the models and the prices and then make a decision...
posted by wondering at 1:08 AM on March 19, 2007

« Older Breakdown; go ahead and give it to me.   |   I need a doctor, stat! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.