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Monday, February 29, 2016

Using Your American Cellphone in Germany

I am using a 2 year old iPhone 5S

Ever since Apple has introduced the iPhone - I have bought one faithfully every other year - I have stayed with ATT and bought their Unlimited Internet. I have never worried about using too many phone calls - too many texts - or too much web browsing. Lulu and I pay $140 a month total - and just enjoy the service. The Unlimited Internet allows us to watch our television from at home - anywhere in the world. I never had too choose between wifi or cellular service.

Other times we traveled abroad - we turned off our cellular service - and just used wifi hotspots like McDonalds for free. Since this time - we are going to be in Germany for 10 weeks - we decided to try a European plan.

This is the card I purchased for $25

Over here we pay for service a different way. In America - we always signed a 2 year contract with ATT. Each time they would give us a new iPhone - 3 - 4 - 4S - 5 - 5S - etc.

The first thing we had to do was go to ATT and have our iPhones unlocked. Lulu's iPhone was no problem because she had it over 2 years - her contract was done. I had 3 months to go so I had to do a song and dance to get ATT to release me from my contract.

First - we did pay a monthly fee to suspend our ATT service for 3 months while we are in Germany. That kept our old phone number intact in America. If you call that number - you get a message.

To find local service - you go to a phone store. You tell them you want service. They hand you a plastic card - they put a little Sim card in your phone. In my case I paid $25. For that I get free calls to others on the same network - Oxygen 2. I got 200 other calls - 200 texts - and 1 GB of web use for 30 days. When that runs out - you buy more - the 30 days starts all over.

Because I was used to unlimited service - and my iPhone had all sorts of Apps running - I was surprised that I went through 1 GB in 2 weeks. After that I quickly learned how to read the gauge on my iPhone telling me how much I used. In my 10 years with ATT - I never used the gauge. Lulu was not as wasteful - she had plenty of cellular use left.

We went back to our Oxygen 2 Store - this time the clerk sold me a card for $40 that had 2 GB of web use. But a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I was busy shutting down all the bandwidth eating Apps. I was going to watch that gauge like a hawk.

What added to the confusion - every day I got text messages from my provider  - in German! Who knows what I was agreeing to  :-)

Now that my Sony camera died - I am relying on my iPhone 5S more and more. Can you see how the quality of my pictures has dropped?  Still it is nice carrying one thing - not a camera and a phone.

When we get home to America - I plan to buy a new iPhone 6S Plus. I tried one at the Apple Store here - the pictures seem better than mine.

American cellphone users are mostly tied up in long contracts. It is how they subsidize new cellphones. You think your are getting a free phone - but really they just charge you much more for your monthly bill - to cover the phone. New nlocked iPhones costs about $800. This time - in May - when we return home I am going to buy my iPhone - and then shop for a provider. I like ATT - and hope they offer a month to month service. If not - I will shop.

This is an example of a
text message from my

My cellular usage

This is my cellular usage. I used 55.4 MB since I bought my new card. My new card is 2 GB which is 2000 MB. I have learned my lesson. That 55.4 MB is from 3 days of use.

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