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To my surprise, if you are a loyal T-Mobile you can unlock your phone for free with the carrier and it will not void the warranty.  As a loyal customer this will NOT void the warranty on the phone and entitle you to the same service and return policies.  I experienced this excellent customer service today as I was preparing for my trip to Europe.  I asked them if I could unlock my phone so I could purchase an international SIM card to make calls while traveling in Europe and Ireland.  The answer they gave me was we can help you unlock your phone just give us your IME number and we will send you an email instruction you how to do it.  I would like to give T-Mobile an award for this tremendous customer service and they should be recognized for this leadership.  If any AT&T or Verizon customer has had the same experience I would like to know about it.  I won't hold my breath waiting.

Why would I want to purchase a SIM card versus roaming on T-Mobile?  The cost in Europe for US customers is $15 per megabyte to download data and $1.25 cents per minute to make phone calls.  I can't blame them for charging this but its a bit outrageous and may surprise many customers who don't turn off data roaming while traveling outside the US.

Another alternative is to take out your SIM card and make calls on Wi-FI with Truphone, Nimbuzz Skype on some phones or another VoIP mobile app.  The sound quality is pretty good and the rates vary from .02 cents per minute up to .20 cents per minute depending on if the call is to a landline or a mobile phone.  You can also purchase a SIM card from a company like Truphone Local Anywhere for $30 so you can take advantage of the local data plans and calling rates.  This will avoid the costly international roaming charges.

My plan while traveling to Europe is to take two phones.  My old G1 Android phone without a SIM card for making WiFI VoIP phone calls and my Samsung Vibrant for data roaming with a new SIM card that I will purchase when I land.  If anyone has any suggestions of data SIM cards to buy while traveling in Ireland and the UK please let me know?

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