1. Berryman's Avatar
    This March 3 article published in PC Magazine contains a wealth of useful insight and information as an evaluation is made of how GSM/CDMA hybrid Blackberrys and other smart phones perform when used in Europe. The Blackberry 8830 from Sprint was awarded Editor's Choice.

    The full article can be read here:
    Sprint and Verizon Phones Go Global - Reviews by PC Magazine

    Until recently, if you wanted to take your mobile phone abroad, you needed a GSM handset from AT&T or T-Mobile. But CDMA carriers Sprint and Verizon now offer phones that work on both U.S. and European networks. On a few recent trips abroad, though, we discovered you should probably block out some time for tech support.

    There are two major (and several minor) cell phone technologies in the world. GSM (Global System for Mobiles) is used in almost every country on Earth, on about 80 percent of the phones worldwide. Stateside AT&T and T-Mobile are the GSM carriers. CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) is used in about three dozen countries worldwide, but it's strongest in the U.S. and Korea. Alltel, Sprint, and Verizon all fly the CDMA flag here in the U.S.

    If you take a CDMA phone to a GSM-only countrymost notably, anywhere in Europe it won't work. So Verizon and Sprint have introduced a range of CDMA/GSM hybrid phones. Here in the States, they're CDMA. Take 'em abroad, though, and they'll work on either network depending on where you are. They don't work on the GSM networks here in the U.S., however.

    There's just one catch: the first time you travel abroad, be prepared to spend some time on the phone with tech support working out inevitable kinks. When we sent a Verizon BlackBerry 8830 to Italy recently, we were unable to make calls after landing. The solution was simple (remove and replace the battery), but it took our editor more than an hour on the phone with Verizon's tech support team to get to that solution. When I took a Sprint BlackBerry 8830 to Spain last month, I couldn't receive e-mail until a toggle was fixed on my account, which took 35 minutes on the phone with tech support and another 24 hours to get the handset working. My Samsung Ace, on the other hand, only stopped working when I got home from Spain because of another account problem.

    These quirky service issues aren't only with Sprint and Verizon. Last year I took a T-Mobile SIM card to Spain, packed into a Nokia phone. It made calls as soon as I stepped off the plane, but I couldn't get any data connections. It took 45 minutes with the company's tech support in Albuquerque to find the obscure setting I needed to change. Bottom line: we've had several problems on different carriers, of course, your mileage may vary, but be don't be surprised if you need to call customer service to get your phone working.

    Once you get to a GSM country with your Sprint or Verizon phone, the type of service you receive will vary. All of the phones here come with special SIM cards that let you make and receive voice calls using your U.S. number at high roaming charges, usually around $1.29 a minute. Beyond that, you can get unlimited BlackBerry data for $70 a month on the BlackBerry 8830 models. The Verizon phones send text messages abroad when using Verizon SIM cards; the Sprint phones can't handle text messaging overseas.

    If you want lower calling rates, you can buy a local SIM card, which gives you a local phone number in your destination country. Sprint's phones come unlocked, ready for local SIMs by default. Verizon's handsets can be unlocked on request, which is a new policy since I reviewed the company's BlackBerry 8830 last year. Local SIMs can bring the price of outgoing calls down to as little as 10 cents a minute, and will usually make incoming calls free. You can typically get local SIMs at your destination, or buy them here from retailers like Telestial.com or Call-In-Europe.com.

    So how do these CDMA/GSM phones stack up? The two BlackBerry 8830 models are indispensable business tools for enterprise customers who have Sprint or Verizon service at home. Once I got my Sprint 8830 working in Spain, I even used the built-in maps to find my way around Barcelona. It's a little tougher to make the argument for the other three devices here, though. Samsung's Ace is stymied by its lack of an unlimited data plan for individual consumers, though with its Windows Mobile OS, Microsoft-oriented businesses might find the Ace a good choice.

    The Motorola Z6c and Motorola i930 simply pale when compared with the consumer world phones available for T-Mobile and AT&T. Individuals who travel frequently may want to consider switching carriers for a broader choice of world phones.
    03-21-08 04:41 PM
  2. gameboy213's Avatar
    Thanks for that info! Heading overseas 3 times in the next few months with my Sprint 8830. Much appreciate the heads up!

    Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
    03-22-08 03:23 PM