I'm sitting here with a Samsung Galaxy S5 in Japan. It may as well be a brick. I bought it in part because it was advertised (and confirmed by the reps at a Verizon store) that:
a) Was a global phone
b) Was unlocked and could accept SIM cards from anywhere, so long as they fit (micro SIM) and were valid.
I went so far as to go the Verizon Wireless trip adviser and verified that this phone could operate in Japan.
So, my experience:
- Once you're in Japan, if you haven't previously set up for international calling with Verizon, and you want to use their phone, you're *******. If you have set it up with Verizon, you pay $2.00 a minute for phone calls next door as well as to the U.S., and $200/GB for data usage. ($20 gets you 100 MB, right.) If you haven't set it up with Verizon, you can't change things once you're there. You can make emergency calls... That's it.
- The sales people and the script-reading chat people keep on saying that you can put another vendor's SIM in there. Ha. They're lying. The web forums on android central are full of people complaining that putting in another vendor's SIM simply doesn't work. I paid $160 for a couple weeks rental on a legit SIM card with unlimited data, $0.25/minute phone calls to anywhere, with 400 minutes thrown in. (See the Narita Airport vendors' list. The place is definitely legit.) Natch, it doesn't work: SIM Unknown. Tech support with the vendor (and there was a lot) came up dry.
- And all Verizon could say was, "It's a Samsung S5. It uses a special super-duper micro SIM with NFC support - you have to use one exactly like that in order for the phone to work." The rep lied. There are no such SIM cards mentioned, anywhere on the web. Just advertising blurbs on how "Global-Ready" their S5 is.
- Commentary on several forums seem to indicate that Verizon has sweetheart deals with partner firms (bend over) in a bunch of countries; the only meaning of "Global" is "You can use that phone of yours anywhere you want, so long as you pay Astronomical Prices! Isn't that Great! Yeah, Great, Great, Great Profits!!"
- There's apparently a legal requirement that, since Verizon is using the 700 MHz band, that their phones have to be unlocked. There's rumors running around that if you don't say exactly the right word sequence to the correct Verizon rep on the third Thursday when a virgin's tear falls on a leaf, the correct unlocking sequence allowing any old SIM at all won't appear. I suspect that the FTC/FCC/3-letter agency might enforce the issue if they (a) were ever informed of the problem and (b) weren't taken over by right-wing wingnuts who Feel That A Business Can Do No Wrong.
Had had an old semi-smart phone that was semi functional and would not work overseas. Because of Verizon's false advertising in this regard, I'm out:
$400 for two new S5's, bought on the premise that at least one of them would work outside the U.S. borders.
$60 a month additional for the "More" plan that I wasn't originally using because, well, we had a grandfathered family plan.
$160 for a SIM card I can't use and have to return in two weeks, anyway.
I imagine that Verizon exec's are having fun clicking their heels and jumping around: More Money for U$$$! **** cheats. They got us figured, correctly, for suckers, and they're laughing their way to their stock options.
Finally: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I feel like an *****. A year and some ago I took my family, including my son with a Verizon GSM smart phone, to Bermuda. He had important phone calls regarding a permanent position that he had to receive. We triple-checked with Verizon to make sure that that phone would work in Bermuda, and paid the extra for the global voice plan at the time. If you guessed, you guessed right: It didn't work. We got charged for incoming phone calls that we didn't receive, outgoing phone calls that didn't connect, and exorbitant rates on a couple of the SMS messages that, somehow, did get through. Those were the ones with spam, not from my son't employer, which we did want. We got reimbursed. which was OK. But I would rather have had services rendered.
If you want a global phone, don't buy it from Verizon.
Yes, the phone is golbal. Yes IF you want to utilize Verizon's global plan, you must sign up for it. Yes the prices of their global plan are extremely high.
Why would you want to use Verizon's global plan, though. Simply purchase a local SIM while in Japan, switch that with the SIM that is in your phone and use the local service while in Japan. THAT is the upside of having a global phone. You don't have to use the overpriced Verizon service. You can get service locally where you are travelling at a fraction of the cost. Yes, you can use Verizon's service, but why would you want to spend 10 times the money to do so???
That's what the whole complaint was about. I went searching in Narita airport's list of vendors who rented phones or SIMs, very carefully comparing prices, availability, coverage, and so on. Found a company, "Global Communications", that had unlimited data, cheap phone calls (well, $0.25/minute, cheap compared to the competition, especially Verizon) with a couple hundred free minutes thrown in, and a good rep on online reviews.
Ordered the phone, got emails confirming, one listed the new phone number, which I spread around at work (it's a work trip), everything was cool. Got to the airport, went to the pick-up (post office in NAR), got the SIM, swapped it with the one in the phone, followed the instructions - and, no operation. "Unknown SIM" from the phone. Before everybody chimes in with, "But first you have to select Other Networks and go for GSM/CMDA/LTE/ etc., etc., etc": I've done all that. I have discovered settings in this phone that not even the phone's mother (well, maybe the Verizon engineers who locked it down know) knows about, and traded multiple emails with the renting company (fun fact: One cannot buy SIMs in Japan unless one is a resident) attempting to get it all to work. They were stumped, as was I. They actually sent me a replacement rental smart phone halfway through all this at no extra charge (would have been more expensive had I gone that route).
Had to decline, though: This S5 has company specific apps on it with secure data, so I'm loathe to go and try putting that on a random smart phone.
So, I'm still irritated: I was depending upon Verizon's reps at the stores and elsewhere stating that any old microSIM at a foreign country would work, given that the phone (apparently by law and regulation) is unlocked for that purpose. But the phone didn't work with another vendor's SIM in there. And forums far and wide have reports that the S5 doesn't work with other vendor's micro SIMs, and it seems to be concentrated with Verizon phones.
If there's some special SIM type that the Galaxy S5 from Verizon requires, then Verizon should darn well cough up with the information and save us, their customers, the expense, trouble, frustration, and time.
I got the phone working now. With Verizon's $2.00 per minute plan. Which means I don't make phone calls, I only use the data when there's a wi-fi link nearby, and the rest is strictly for emergencies. Which means that for playing tourist purposes (as I planned to do this coming weekend) the phone is practically useless. Maybe Google Maps in an emergency, but I bet I can blow through 100 MB using Google Translate with no trouble. I imagine that their executives are wildly happy about the situation: They get $$$, big bonus from milking their subscribers, and a wink and a nod and a "who, us?" from them towards the regulations which state that they >should< be delivering unlocked phones to their customers for global purposes.
Verizon's rep did tell me that the SIM was a special, security enhanced near-field SIM card. But I went looking for that information on the web and didn't find a blame thing. So, either the rep was lying in an attempt to get me off her back, or there's some secret little game being played here, and I don't like being part of it.
Sorry I didn't read the whole question because it'd way to long, but a coworker told me that you could make free phone calls through Facebook. Click on the message icon and then chose who you want to call. In the message window you should see a phone icon. Click on it and the call goes through. I've only tried it once but the other person was driving so she didn't answer.
I would be as frustrated as you are. But, there is something called APN that has to be created after a new simcard is inserted.
I never tried it myself. I walked into a phone store couple of days ago, and asked the owner. (He sounded knowledgeable) he said a new APN had to be created, and its in the settings, mobile networks, under the access points header.
I don't have Samsung, but you sound smart enough to find it.
The info to create the new APN has to obtained from where you get the simcard. Someone should be able to help you there.
Yep, I know more than I ever wanted to know about APNs. For that matter, it was one of the first things the instructions for the rental SIM card mentioned. After the SIM was installed and the "SIM Card Unknown" and a circle with slash where the 3G/1X/4G/etc would be, went straight into settings->More Networks->Mobile Networks->Access Point Names, set up and saved the APN given in the instructions. Along with double-checking settings, doing again, device power down/power up cycles, and so on.
Also went through the routine of trying to set the phone to different type of networks modes: Global, LTE/CDMA, GSM/UMTS. Kept on getting pop-ups stating, "Don't you want to switch to global?, until I finally figured out how to keep the phone from trying to switch when I was trying one option or the other.
Nothing worked. The SIM was actually a re-sell of DoCoMo, a major Japanese telecom firm. And, in fact, when I finally had to give up and return to the blood-sucking arms of Verizon, NTT DOCOMO is what one sees at the bottom of the phone. In roaming mode. At $2.00/minute and $200/GB for data.
I got back an hour or so ago, took an hour walk to a retail DoCoMo location here in central Japan, hoping to rent a SIM. Unfortunately, this particular crowd wouldn't rent, since they wanted a Japanese ID card, of which I didn't have one. Man, those Verizon execs must be chortling like crazy, profits all the way with a semi-locked phone. Well, at least I got out into the open air this weekend, but it looks like the touristy trip to Tokyo is shot. Thanks, Verizon! Your advertising is sooo wonderful. Had DoCoMo been able to rent, costs would be less than a tenth of Verizon's charges. Bummer.
You can make free phone calls with Gmail, in Windows. And on this so-called Global Phone, one can make calls using the telephone network or wi-fi. With wi-fi, one can use Skype, Gmail (video!), and, without a doubt, Facebook.
But one swiftly finds out that free wi-fi is not readily found in Japan; in Honjo-shi, where I am at the moment, it's nowhere to be found. Which means using the Verizon-enforced data plan at $200/GB. I guess that's a shade cheaper than $2.00/minute for actually using the phone, itself. Sheesh.
So, I've been using my PC to make video calls, since the place has wired Ethernet.
Basically it sounds like a losing battle. The "unlocked" Verizon phone means, turn your phone on in a different country, and you will have no problem connecting. You just have to give your blood and pay a fortune.
This is a lesson to many of us to travel overseas with a GSM phone. Otherwise, it will not work. Replacing a sim card in Verizon phone doesn't work.