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Re: Is there a true world phone that can be used in EVERY country on the planet?
As a well heeled globetrotter this is my advice:
1) Get a GSM phone. ANY phone.
2) Make CERTAIN that it is UNLOCKED. I truly and honestly recommend factory unlocked if you can find it. It may cost more but if you are like me and NEED a global phone this is your surest bet. Countries like Russia have weird GSM systems that sometimes will not accept a branded phone like ATT etc that was later unlocked. Its very rare that that happens though, so its not a major worry. Just best bet is to go for factory unlocked if you want the surest bet.
3) Get a SKYPE Phone Number - sign up at skype and pay the VERY affordable fee (No, I do not work for Skype). Get a phone number that is nice and local for your friends and family to reach you. E.g. if you live in NY, get an area code 212 phone number over at Skype - they let you choose your area code. Create a voicemail message for your Skype phone number to be safe.
4) WHEN YOU GET TO A NEW COUNTRY - right at the airport or next to the bus station, etc, BUY A LOCAL SIM. They are usually like $10 or less. Buy credit on the SIM too if you need. THEN, as soon as you can get online in the new country log into your Skype account and go to "Call Forwarding" & in that control panel enter the country code and phone of your local SIM. Be sure to put the "+" before the country code.
5) Make sure everyone you want to be in contact with knows 2 things: a) that when you arrive in a new country you may be out of touch for a day before you can get online and update the Forward to the new SIM #, and b) that if they call your Skype phone it may ring many more times than usual before you answer (because of the forwarding).
Now when anyone calls your local Skype # it will ring you no matter where you are on the planet as long as you have a local SIM. Skype will charge you about 40 cents a minute for this service which is why you ALSO get a Skype Subscription to the countries you need to call most, and then (assuming you have a modern Smartphone and can install Skype on your phone), you use Skype to call out to the countries on your subscription, e.g. a USA subscription for $50 a year (or so) lets you call the USA from anywhere on earth at no extra cost.
Your partner back in the USA wants to see how your expedition is going in Botswana. They call the local Skype # and it costs them nothing. Your phone rings in Botswana and you answer. You have a good signal so you tell them you will call them right back. You end the call, log into Skype, and call them with your subscription.
Cost to your partner: $0. Cost to you: about 54 cents to talk all long day with your partner (40 cents for their call to you, plus the annual subscription fee divided by 365 days).
Been using this system for years. Works with any unlocked GSM phone.
Hope this helps.