In the USA a lot of people are on the CDMA phone system (Verizon, Sprint) so those phones won’t work overseas. Your best bet is to go to eBay and search for an ‘Unlocked GSM Quad band phone’ which range from $20 used to $900+ for the newer latest models. Go with a $100- $200 model and you should be fine for email, web browsing and calls. If you just want calls you can get away with a $50 phone. I am with AT&T who like to tempt you with a 2 year contract with high tech smart phones (iPhone and Android etc) but restrict you by locking the phone so you can’t use it at home or overseas on another network without extortionate roaming fees.
As a long time Apple fan boy, I just upgraded from an AT&T iPhone 4 (which is difficult but not impossible to unlock – more on that in another post) to the new Samsung Galaxy S3 4G Android Phone and bought an unlock code from eBay for $25 which worked like a charm so now when I go overseas I can just pop any SIM card I want into the phone. The phone is a state of the art high tech smart phone and it’s like carrying around a mini computer so I can surf the web, watch tv/movies, check email, and make/receive calls worldwide without roaming charges.
What’s your solution to international phone service while traveling?