We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
37 posts
10 reviews
Save Topic
Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

We will be arriving in Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion) in late October. Is it possible to buy a cheap GSM cellphone in Tel Aviv, along with a SIM card that would give me an Israeli phone number? I'm looking for a Pay-As-You-Go phone that I can use during my 3-week vacation. Hopefully it would also be unlocked, so that I could use it elsewhere in the world by simply buying the appropriate SIM card. Thanks!

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
36,966 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

I do not know what you consider cheap-but compared to the inexpensive pay and go phones available in the US--nothing like that exists in Israel. Why not buy a cheap phone in Canada and then get a SIM card in Israel. Just wait for those who are more versed in what kind of system you need to give you further assistance. I am NOT that educated in cellphone technology. ( I turn it on, turn it off and do what needs to be done in the middle)

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
37 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

Thanks very much for your reply. As you suggest, I'll wait to see if I get some other responses before deciding my course of action.

Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
15,281 posts
288 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

The cheap phones in Israel are not pay as you go but are on a monthly program which can be stopped at any time. This is not suitable for a tourist. I would have to agree with rdglady that you unlock your phone from home and purchase a SIM card for Israel, or just rent an Israeli cell phone which is not that expensive and can be obtained in North America prior to your visit to Israel

Chana

Israel

Maryland
Level Contributor
144 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

I'm not sure about the Canadian carriers and whether any of them use GSM SIM cards and allow you to unlock your phone after a period of time.

In the US, the carriers that use SIM cards are ATT & T-mobile. I know you have to be a customer with T-mobile for a period of time before they'll unlock your phone to accept a different SIM card. Verizon also has some "global" phones that have a GSM sim card in them. Turns out mine was one, and was unlockable, but I didn't know how to do it before my Israel trip. We wound up renting phones and it worked just fine.

Israel has a number of cell phone rental services that lots of travelers use. We used Amigo and had no complaints. My daughter's gap year program had all the kids rent from Israelphones.

You could shop around on the internet for an already-unlocked phone; they are certainly available, or ask a friend who is on a GSM service if they happen to have an old phone lying around that can be unlocked.

When I made a recent trip to Europe, a friend of mine who had recently replaced his T-Mo phone had his old handset unlocked for us and my husband was able to use that, while I finally figured out how unlock my Verizon "global" phone. However, his phone was rather antiquated and not compatible with some services, so next time I travel abroad, I think I'm going to get a T-Mobile phone with pay-as-you-go, no-contract service a couple of months ahead of time so I can get it unlocked in time for my trip.

Jerusalem
Level Contributor
37 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

There's also companies like TalknSave who rent phones and SIM cards - they are truly excellent, I think. Google around - they have coupons sometimes.

Israel does not sell 'disposable' phones like I've bought on trips to the US or Europe. The cheapest phone in Israel would probably cost about $75.

Pinetop-Lakeside...
Level Contributor
1,158 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

Well, my brief perusal of Canadian providers leads me to believe you are not using Rogers which is all GSM, the other two Telus and Bell use both CDMA and HSPA+ which _might_ be a GSM variant.

So suffice it to say, if you are cell phone tech savvy enough buy an unlockable GSM phone that matches the frequencies used in Israel with the features you want in advance from eBay or wherever you feel comfortable. Then you can go through Israel post office to buy an Orange Big Talk SIM card for less than anything else you will find.

Otherwise go ahead and rent one from Amigo, TalknSave, or anywhere else you feel comfortable.

Personally, I used a Verizon world phone that I had already 'aquired' as an engineering version which was easily unlockable. But I am somewhat more cell phone tech savvy than some, but not all.

Edited: 10:46 pm, October 18, 2012
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
1 post
10 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

There is a cell phone service kiosk right at the baggage carroselle in Tel Aviv airport. You can get a short-term phone or a sim card.

Europe
Level Contributor
318 posts
210 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

You certainly can get a sim-free phone in Israel and a prepaid sim, though it might take a little bit of time.

Most hassle-free way to get a cheap simfree phone is in the Office Depot chain. Failing that, any mall will have one or more cellphone places. About 200 NIS or so for a basic model, perhaps less.

All cellular providers have a prepaid sim service - you might try one of their offices - perhaps call ahead to find out if you can pick one up on the spot. You might be able to do so in post offices as well.

Getting a phone and/or sim at the airport will be simplest but probably most expensive.

As an example: orange.co.il/he-il/…

Edited: 5:38 pm, October 19, 2012
cape town
Destination Expert
for Cape Town
Level Contributor
6,019 posts
134 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

When we were In Israel last year and this year , we took an unlocked Nokia with (and my blackberry). As long as the phone is unlocked before you go - (here in s. africa they are all unlocked.) you can just buy a sim card at a large post office - not every post office has it together with some time. I think it was something like 50 shekels if i remember correctly. The no. lasts for a year as long as you make a car from it during the year. THe problem is that Orange does not open the sim to use overseas so even though they say use it overseas within a year you cant - you have to be in Israel to make that call. FOrtunately I was back in Israel within a year so had the same cell no and will now be back again within 6 months so the sim will be valid for another year after that. I will just need to buy time again. Calls in israel are cheap but the cell phone call is not.

Level Contributor
574 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Buying A Cheap Cell Phone in Israel

About the cell phone kiosk at the airport in Tel Aviv ...

a. is it always open?

b. what is the approximate cost to rent a cell phone and purchase air time? I intend to be in the country for 5 weeks.

c. would I be able to speak English to them?

Thank-you!