iPhone Availability in Italy for iPhone Hunters

In this post, which Google has led you to, I imagine, I’ll show you which on-line and off-line Italian stores have unlocked iPhone 3G and 3Gs up for grabs, and just what iPhone availability in Italy is like.

Two of Italy’s main mobile phone suppliers, and the best places to find iPhones in Italy, are TIM and Vodafone. Links updated in May 2010.  But please read the important June 2009 UPDATE (Although despite it, nobody seems to have mentioned having problems).

If you are you in Italy and looking for one of those mythical iPhones, so you can start using Twitter, Facebook, and all those other  juicy applications listed on the iPhone apps store website, then you will probably want to know something about iPhone availability in Italy.  I understand that more than a few people are trying to get their hands on Apple’s iPhones, and these mobile phones do seem to have become something of a cult item.

Some iPhones are sold as pay as you go (ricaricabile) versions in Italy and so they are unlocked, meaning that a simple SIM card change will mean the Italy bought iPhone 3G or 3Gs can be used in a variety other countries.

Either being able to speak Italian, or knowing someone who does, will be a great help if you fancy having a go at tracking down one of these technological jewels in Italy.  However some stores in Italy do have staff who speak English; one is mentioned in the post below; especially in touristy cities in Italy such as Rome, Venice, and, Florence.  Milan is a good place for iPhone hunters too.

Note that you can now find Unlocked iPhones on Amazon.com.

More about where to find unlocked versions of Apple’s favourite iPhone 3G and 3Gs in Italy, along with links to where you can check online availability, follows..

The Apple iPhone 4 is Now in Italy

For details and updates on iPhone 4 availability in Italy, please see the new iPhone 4 Availability in Italy post.

iPhone 4 – June 9 2010 Update

From what I’ve understood from the Italian press, the Apple iPhone 4 will probably arrive in Italy in July 2010.

What I have not yet established is whether the iPhone 4 will be unlocked in Italy.  However, don’t worry too much, as in all probability it will be – Italian mobile phone operators are still offering pay-as-you-go “ricaricabile” packages, so there is no reason why the iPhone 4 will not be available with this type of contract.  But, you never know.  I’ll update this post once the situation, and launch date for the iPhone 4, is clearer.

Hang on in there iPhone 4 fans!

iPhone General Availability on-line in Italy

IMPORTANT UPDATE: 29th June 2009

In an attempt to help out one of my iPhone 3Gs hunting readers, I visited my local Vodafone dealer here in Milan, actually, it’s more of an affiliate, as it is not a Vodafone owned store.  I was told that they had the new iPhone 3Gs in stock, which are unlocked, but that I could only have one, if I took out a contract at the same time.  Further, the store will only receive fresh supplies on the basis of the number of contracts they sell.  So, they sell 10 iPhones 3Gs, plus contracts, and they get another 10 Apple iPhones to sell.  Update 2 November: Nobody seems to have had problems with this policy, as the subject has not come up in the comments left by iPhone hunters reading this post.

It looks as though someone may be trying to clamp down on the sales of unlocked iPhones in Italy – though this is only the situation at one Vodafone shop.

Before coming to Italy to buy an new iPhone 3Gs – check that you can have one without a contract, or with a pay as you go type contract ricaricabile‘ versions. If anyone else knows more, please leave a comment.

End of update – Jan 2010 note: The situation mentioned in the June 2009 update does not appear to have caused any real problems -people have not left any comments on this anyway.  This is a good sign.

All links checked and found working – May 28, 2010

Useful Italian Words for Iphone 3G Hunters

Useful Italian words and expressions to know when hunting products online in Italy are ‘disponibile’ and ‘disponibilità’ – both of which mean ‘available’.  ‘Non disponibile’ means ‘not available’.  ‘disponibilità limitata’ equals ‘limited availability’.

‘Prodotto’ means product – but I imagine most people could work that out 😉

To check on the prices and the availability on-line in general for iPhones in Italy, try these two links to the Kelkoo.it price comparison system, and keep reading for information on where to find out about availability via TIM and Vodafone, two of Italy’s main mobile phone network operators.

Apple iPhone on Kelkoo.it

Clicking on the links below will take you to up-to-date information on the web availability of iPhones in Italy:

Try visiting the sites of iPhone stockists listed on Kelkoo directly to check availability, which is shown as ‘disponibile’ – available.

You will find a good selection of online stores on Kelkoo Italy, so you can compare prices.  Buying online from Italy may be problematic though, as sometimes only credit cards issued in Italy are accepted, and delivery outside of Italy – if available, may be around €50 (to the UK).  Do not use the Italian postal service – your iPhone will probably never arrive (An Italian gave me this advice).  And even if your parcel is insured, making an insurance claim in Italian would be a total nightmare.

If you are after unlocked iPhones – look for TIM or Vodafone ‘ricaricabile‘ – ‘pay-as-you go’ – versions.  ‘Ricaricabile’ means that they are supplied with a SIM card if required, and these models are not tied to any contract, which means they are effectively ‘unlocked’ and can be used outside of Italy.  The 3Gs iPhones are unlocked.


Cellulare.net is an online Italian iPhone Seller with web site in partially in English.  The site is listed (still listed as at 28 May 2010) on the Italian version of Yahoo’s Kelkoo price comparison system, which means that it should be reliable.  They sell iPads too.

Kelkoo Italy feedback is good to excellent for this online seller. Visit Cellulare.net’s Apple iPhone Page to check prices and availability. The site now has English, Spanish and French language versions.

The above iPhones should be unlocked – but check before you pay!

Cellulare.net has a pick up point in Milan, Italy.  The pick up point section of the site is in Italian now in English, and there is a map.

Payment can be made via credit card or PayPal, but check to see if non-Italian credit cards are accepted.

Note that neither BlogfromItaly.com nor anyone connected with this website receives any commission or other payment from Cellulare.net (But I would not mind an Apple iPhone 3Gs -so I can provide people with a some hands-on advice! 😉 ) (PS I now have access to an Apple 3G – as my other half has one, and loves it, as does our son!)

Apple's Mythical iPhone

Vodafone Italy – iPhone 3G and iPhone 3Gs – Check Prices

iPhone availability is clear from the Vodafone website now and Vodafone sometimes offers free delivery throughout Italy, but only to those paying on-line with an Italian Visa/Mastercard/American Express/Aura credit card or pre-charged postepay card.  Paypal is also an accepted form of payment too.

Vodafone Italy -Just click to see the latest prices (Link OK 29 May 2010 – I apologise if the link does not go to the right page – Vodafone keeps changing the link!)

Here is how to use Vodafone Italy’s store finder, which is now (28 May 2010) partially in English (Interesting!) in Italian:

Smartech, Milan – Vodafone Dealer

Smartech, a Milanese chain of shops with Vodafone Points can help you find Apple iPhones.  Ring them on 0039 02 3453 7326.  English is spoken.  They also have a branch in Milan’s central train station, which could be useful, telephone this shop on: 0039 02 4549 8541

TIM – Telecom Italia Mobile Apple iPhone 3Gs models – Check Prices

On the TIM website, the latest version of the iPhone, the Apple iPhone 3G S models are shown.  ‘Disponibile’ indicates available, whereas ‘Non Disponibile’ means not available.  To see prices, click on the link below (Link OK 29 May 2010 – I apologise if the link does not go to the right page – TIM keeps changing the link!):

Check these TIM iPhone links regularly, but note that they refer to ‘online’ availability and may not reflect what is actually in TIM shops in Italy.

The price of the newest version of the iPhone has raised eyebrows in Italy, and it is considered as being too high.  Prices will probably fall once stocks of the previous version become exhausted.

iPhones are now available throughout Italy.

As predicted below, iPhone availability has picked up in Italy – late September.  Indeed, I saw one in my local Expert store in Via Canonica, Milan just the other day.

That’s about it as regards iPhone availability in sunny Italy at the moment alas. iPhone availability will probably pick up after the summer, probably towards the end of September after everyone has sorted out the summer backlog of things to do at work.

Happy iPhone hunting! And if you do manage to track one of Steve Jobs’ fab creations down, let me know where, and I’ll post about it here.

Now seeing as I’m helping Apple sell all these iPhones, maybe they’ll send me a complimentary iPhone  3Gs 32 gb model for review.  Oh well, hope springs eternal!

Apple still has not sent me a review version! And, on the basis of my 29th June 2009 update, probably never will!


For details and updates on iPhone 4 availability in Italy, please see the new iPhone 4 Availability in Italy post. Comments on this post are now closed.

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  1. says

    You are not helping me, Alex. I just keep seeing this fantastic thing everyday in the stores around my apartment, I can no longer resist it, but I have to pay for school first!!
    Anyway, thanks for the info. Appreciated

    • Joseph says

      I have an iphone which was working when i arrived in Italy. I bought a vodafone sim card for it and was down loading itunes.Suddenly my phone cant work, saying i need the sim the original sim. Can i buy a compatible sim card in Italy for my iphone?

      • says

        Hi Joseph – I’m sorry, but I do not know what the problem might be. Have you tried cleaning the sim card? If this has no effect, go to Vodafone store and ask them about it. The sim could be damaged, and they should replace it.

        Best of luck,


  2. says

    Hi Alex, from personal experience I know that Vodafone’s online shop have the 8GB version the difficulty has been the white 16GB version which seem to be quite rare to find. Most shops won’t sell iPhones unless through a contract, there are a lot of complaints about this because in the long run you’ll be paying more for a contract than outright…(that’s obviously why) crafty italians as per usual 😉
    p.s Have a nice holiday!

  3. says

    Hi Simo,

    Sorry to hear that you never received your iPhone.

    But I’m happy to hear that your money was returned.

    iPhone availability in Italy should start to improve now that summer is coming to an end and everyone will start working again.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Kind regards,


  4. alen says

    i am going to visit north Italy in October
    and going to stay nia Garda lake
    could you advise me which store could be relevant to buy Iphone
    Maybe Verona?
    How could i check Iphone avalibity?
    thanks in advance

  5. says

    Hi Alen,

    When in Verona, which is worth visiting anyway, you should look out for Vodafone and TIM shops. Sometimes these shops are owned by the companies mentioned above, other times, there are independent stores that have Vodafone and TIM sales points.

    Vodafone are now showing the iPhone as being available via their online shop – this is a good sign.

    These would be the best place to look, and they will receive batches faster than most other stores, because they are bigger. As an alternative you could try the MediaWorld chain of electronics superstores.

    There is an address and map here, site site seems to load slowly, but does work:

    I will write a new post shortly with links to systems you can use to find Vodafone and TIM outlets in Italy.

    Good luck with your hunt, and let me know how you get on.

    All the best,


  6. Sophia says

    Hi Alex,
    I live in Firenze,
    could you please tell me are there any store i can buy a white 3G iPhone (16G) without a contract or plan?
    thanks ^^

  7. says

    Hi Sophia,

    You should be able to get hold of a contract free iPhone from a Vodafone or Telecom Italian mobile shop.

    Or you could try Mediaworld:
    Centro Ponte a Greve
    Firenze (Ponte a Greve)
    Viuzzo delle Case Nuove, 9/12

    However iPhone availability is still not looking great just yet – at least not in Milan, so far as I can tell.

    Maybe someone else can help. Let us know how you get on.

    Welcome to Blog from Italy.

    All the best,


  8. Chris says

    Hi Alex

    Do you have any contacts or links where I can buy an Iphone from Italy that can be delivered to a UK address. My italian is not very good I’m haveing difficulty working out if they even deliver to the UK. Any help would be great.

  9. says

    Hi Chris

    Your request is a little unusual in that I don’t think many online stores in Italy would expect anyone to want to send an Italian iPhone to the UK! Italian models will be in Italian, but I imagine you can change language easily enough, but will come with an Italy specific guarantee – which may or may not be a problem for you.

    However, the courier services used by online stores are TNT etc, so I don’t see why an iPhone could not be sent to the UK. The delivery cost will be higher of course.

    If you can give me a list of the online shops in which you have seen an iPhone, then I could send them a mail or ring them to see if they will deliver to the UK.

    This list may help:

    A useful Italian word to know is ‘disponibile’ or ‘disponibilità’ – both of which mean ‘available’. ‘Non disponibile’ means ‘not available’. ‘disponibilità limitata’ – ‘limited availability’.

    ‘Prodotto’ means product – but I imagine most could work that out.

    Let me know what you want to do – I’ll be a bit tied up possibly for the next few days – son in hospital, but I’ll try to get back to any response you may leave.



  10. Chris says

    Hi Alex

    Thank you for your quick response. I hope that your son is ok and he will be out of hospital soon.

    I’ve had a look at the useful Kelkoo link that you sent. Amazingly a few of them seem to have it available. Ideally i’m looking for a black 16GB version but the main reason for requiring an italian iphone is that it is unlocked.

    Over in the uk, the phones are all locked to O2 network which is useless for me because the company whom I work for supply me with a t-mobile contract free of charge.

    There seems to be lots of people looking for someonw that will send them an italian iphone to the uk so fingers crossed you can find someone who will send it.

    The links I found that seem to have a decent rating and stock are:




    Any help you can give me on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again,

  11. says

    Hi Chris,

    My son seems to be OK thanks. Op went all right but he’s still coming round.

    Now, as for the iPhone thing – interesting to hear that unlocked iPhones are not around in the UK. This means that restrictive distribution agreements probably exist, which may cause problems. Still, I don’t imagine Apple will object to selling more iPhones!

    I’ll contact the companies above and ask three questions:

    1) Can the iPhones they sell work with SIMs from other countries? (Should not be a problem – years ago I put UK Orange SIM in an Italian mobile without any problem.)
    2) Can you pay with a non-Italian credit card?
    3) Can they deliver to the UK, and how much will this cost?

    The iPhones you are looking at are TIM – that is Telecom Italia Mobile phones – so they will have some branding on them. The Euroelettrica models are sold SIM free – so they SHOULD work with any SIM – but I’ll check.

    I’ll get back to you when I know more.



  12. says

    Ok Chris –

    I spoke to Euroelettrica and they said that they can send to the UK, but that the delivery cost would be €50 – that’s fifty Euros.

    And yes, these iPhones should work just about anywhere. Perhaps if a few people go together the cost may be lower.

    I’ll check with the other shop – but I suspect the story will be about the same. The only hope is to find an Italian supplier which deals with other countries regularly – in which case transport costs will be lower.

    Actually, it may work out cheaper to find a cheap flight, come over here for a weekend and buy one personally!


  13. Chris says

    Hi Alex

    Glad to hear your son is on the road to recovery.

    Fantastic news on the iphone also and thanks a lot for all of your research. What now?

    The website doesn’t look like it will let me order it online. Who can I email or call (in English) to arrange for delivery? Is there someone in specific that you have been dealing with?

    Do you know if postal insurance is included in the price in case it gets lost en route?

    I checked out the flight option but it’s just too expensive at the moment.

    You don’t know how pleased I am with all your help. I’ve been trying to track one of these down for months now.

    Thanks again

  14. says

    Hi Chris,

    Should wish to go ahead and make an order, and it sounds as though you do, I’m afraid you’ll have to order via email or fax – and in Italian. Euroelettrica’s online ordering system is very Italy specific – I had a look.

    Euroelettrica is not geared to handling orders beyond Italy’s borders, so I doubt if you’ll find an English speaker, let alone writer. But you never know.

    The guy I spoke to on the phone – not that helpful really, explained that the €50 would include courier delivery and insurance – although making a claim would be fun! Never buy via the Italian postal system – things like this will disappear – you can almost bank on it – so a courier TNT/DHL type service is essential.

    My written Italian is not wonderful – but gets the job done, so I could help you with making an order in Italian if you wish.

    As for payment, you may find that the ordering system is geared to accept Italian credit cards. This leaves bank transfers and paypal. I’d go for paypal as bank transfers cost, and
    Euroelettrica will require a copy of the bank transfer documentation to be faxed to them, and as it will probably be in English – this will potentially lead to problems. Go paypal – if you don’t have an account, it’s not difficult to set one up and it’s free I think.

    I’ll give Euroelettrica a ring tomorrow and ask how to go about ordering from the UK if you like.



  15. Sophia says

    hey Alex,
    I finally got my iPhone ^^
    but im having a few problems hope that u can help me
    my mailing system is a bit unstable, i could only receive but not send
    could you suggest me a SMTP?

    also, how could i create ebook? or read htm file on iPhone?

  16. says

    Hi Sofia,

    Glad to hear you got your iPhone – hope my info helped a wee bit.

    As for the SMTP, I’d need to know your mobile phone service provider or the email account you want to set up – but in the meantime you could try using the incoming server settings you are using at the moment – something like email.vodafone.it

    Or you could try the Apple service:

    Don’t know if it works – I don’t have an iPhone!



  17. Sophia says

    my mobile phone provider is vodafone
    and my email is a taiwan’s account
    so i cant use it

    i tried email.vodafone.it it didnot work as well ><

  18. says

    Have you tried the Taiwan account SMTP? I imagine so. And got the port setting correct?

    What is your Taiwan account provider?

    Actually outgoing mail from mobiles can be problematic – you probably need to use a Vodafone account – in which case you will need the user name and password and should be able to use the Vodafone SMTP.

    If you still have problems – get back to me – but I’m no expert on this. You may have to speak to Vodafone about this or hunt around on the internet for info.


  19. Sam says


    Thanks for your great compilation of iPhone availability! It looks like Pianeta has them in stock again, though unfortunately the price has increased to 589 euros. I am a resident of France and want an unlocked phone, so I am thinking about buying from an Italian store. Their online store seems to provide options for shipping to anywhere in the world… unfortunately, their order form requires a “Code Fiscale” which doesn’t make sense for people not resident in Italy! Do you think they’ll care if I fill the field with nonsense? Also their form doesn’t increase the shipping costs for non-Italian addresses… I’m just worried if I order, my card might get charged even if they’re not able to fulfill my order. What do you think?

  20. says

    Hi Sam,

    Welcome to my blog! Glad you found the iPhone stuff useful – and thanks for the info on Pianeta.

    As for that codice fiscale, try here, and see the instructions below:

    To create the code, enter your

    * Cognome – Surname
    * Nome – First Name
    * Data di Nascita – Date of Birth
    * Comune di nascita (o Stato estero) – Birthplace – in Italian, for Example ‘Gran Bretagna’ = Great Britain, ‘Stati Uniti’ = United States
    * Prov – for those from Europe write ‘EE’ for the States use ‘US’. For other countries, let me know, and I’ll add them here.

    Then click on ‘Calcola il Codice Fiscale‘. On the next screen that you should see, make a note of the alpha numeric code. I should look something like this: JNS JHN 67B02 Z404Z

    Now you are good to go!

    Hope that helps.

    All the best,


  21. David says

    I’ve got also an important question. Me and my friend want to buy an iPhone in Milan (Italy) this coming weekend. Can somebody tell me, if there are phones available or not? We’re coming from Germany, so it’s important to know that, before we will drive 6 hours…

    Best Regards,

  22. says

    Hi David,

    While I can’t be 100% certain on the availability of iPhones in Milan seeing as I am not in the industry, I think that you will find shops selling iPhones – the Vodafone and TIM stores are the best places to try first, although other shops do appear to have stocks now. I have seen one of my local shops with an iPhone on display – part of the Expert chain, and I believe the Saturn electronics chain has them in stock too.

    Hope that helps,


    I don’t know how many iPhones are being sold, but I suspect there will be a Christmas rush which will begin late October.

  23. says

    Kai – you could try here:

    20145 MILANO (MI)
    Email sthouse@tin.it

    Tomorrow Vodafone 16gb black iPhones arrive. These are sold with a contract or rechargeable SIM card. The rechargeable SIM card units should work anywhere – but I’m not sure. I’m no expert on iPhones for markets outside of Italy – you probably know more than me on this.

    You may also have some trouble getting hold of as many as ten units. My local Expert in Via Canonica, Milan store has this number in stock – Vodafone models, and I think you can get these with just a plugin SIM.

    Hope that helps.


  24. Joen says

    I’ll be visiting Milan soon, 5th-8th of November. I want to get ahold of a few iPhones for me and for some friends in Sweden. How is the availability nowadays, good? Or should I try to contact a few different stores beforehand and ask around?
    Though Milan is a big city so I guess there should be quite a few places to go buy from, especially now that Apple Premium Resellers get to sell them aswell, no?

  25. says

    Hi Joen,

    Thanks for dropping in.

    iPhone availability here in Milan appears to be good. However, it would be a good idea to contact a few stores and ask – these things sell quickly!

    The bigger stores in Milan which stock iPhones are the Expert chain and Mediaworld. But try giving Smartech a ring – and see if they can help you.

    All the best,


    I don’t know of any Apple Premium Resellers here in Milan – on the Apple Italy site only TIM and Vodafone stores are mentioned as official iPhone outlets.


    • Andrew says

      Hi Alex,

      I have a more specific question. My wife and I will be living in Rome for several weeks next fall and would like to bring our US iPhones with us. I am wondering if I can unlock them when we get to Rome then buy a SIM card with a Pay as you go plan. Any thoughts or help?

      thanks a lot,

  26. Joen says

    “Apple runs only a single store in Italy, and has decided to allow local Apple Premium Resellers to offer the iPhone 3G through their stores, supplementing the sales of Vodafone and Telecom Italia, both of which will offer the handset.” says iLounge.

    I guess that includes the chain stores and such. Anyways there should be many places to choose from, so as long as availability in general is ok I should be able to just cruise between stores and pick up one or two at each location, right?
    But I’ll contact Smartech to check with them, good tip!

    Thanks for the help, awesome site!

  27. says

    Hi again Joen,

    I think you should have few problems tracking down a few iPhones in Milan. I suspect that stores will start stocking up for Christmas very soon, which will make it easier to find iPhones. So cruising around should work well.

    I have not seen the Apple Premium Resellers just yet – but I’ll keep an eye out for them. Thanks for the info.

    As for the help – you are welcome!

    Glad you like the site too.

    Let me know how you get on.

    Best regards,


  28. Al says

    Does anyone know if there is a TIM or Vodafone store in Venice which would stock the pre paid iPhones? I cannot get the TIM or Voda italian sites to tell me!


  29. Sophia says

    I was told that we could use iphone as a modem
    however i couldnot figure it out how

    im a WIND customer, and my iPhone is 3G
    i have already purchas the internet with WIND

    can anyone teach me how to use/ative the internet?
    my computer is a PC Vista


  30. says

    Ciao Sophia,
    That is called tethering and as far as I know, there isn’t an application approved by Apple that can do this. However, there are few ones for jailbroken iPhones.

    Jailbreaking is basically hacking the iPhone’s firmware to install applications without using the App Store. I have never tried that and don’t intend to but if you’d like to know more about this, google around.

    Hope that helps

  31. Llex says

    Hi, i will be travelling to Italy next month… my question is: do u think i will be able to buy a tim or vodafone factory unlocked iphone without a contract in any of their stores????? thx for the info!

  32. Llex says

    Hi, this is the 2nd time im trying to write here… ill be travelling to Italy next month, my question is: will it be possible to buy a factory unlocked iphone either from tim or vodafone without having to sign up for a contract? thx very much!

  33. says

    Hi Llex – the answer is ‘yes’ you should be able to get an unlocked TIM or Vodafone iPhone here – although in a month’s time will be after Christmas, so supplies may be lower.

    If you want a Vodafone iPhone, why not give the shop mentioned in my post a ring?



  34. Llex says

    Hi Alex, thx again, i will try the shop u mentioned. But i also wanted to know, can i buy an iphone in vodafone or tim without having to sign for a contract? can i just arrive to the store and say i want an iphone with no sim card or anything? ALl the iphones these 2 companys sell are factory unlocked? or do i have to ask first?

  35. says

    Hi Llex – yes you should be able to buy a TIM or Vodafone iPhone without a contract, or they might insist you buy a top-up card – but I don’t think so.

    Perhaps someone else could correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    The phones should all be factory unlocked – which is why lots of people are coming to Italy to buy iPhones!

    As for shops in Rome, aside from the usual TIM and Vodafone stores, you should find places like Expert, Euronics and MediaWorld all have iPhones.

    I live up in Milan, so I don’t know the shops down in Rome, but the shops I’ve listed seem to be all over Italy.

    Hope that helps,


  36. alfredo says

    Iphones either from TIM or Vodafone Italy are unlocked. A foreigner can actually buy either a contract phone (you must tie your credit card to the contract) or a pay as you go phone. With a contract, the Iphone 16GB can be as cheap as free with the most expensive contract plan or as expensive as about 269 euro with the cheapest contract plan, around 49 euro a month.

    The Iphone 16GB goes for around 569 euro without a contract. This is the phone that anyone that doesn’t live in Italy would want to buy because even the cheapest plan, unless the person is from an EU state, would be more expensive than the pay as you go Iphone over a year. If a person from another EU state buys a contract Iphone, it can be used for voice at the same rates as in Italy in another EU state. Some combination of the TIM or Vodafone Italy cheap contract and a local data plan (in the other EU state) might be a little cheaper than buying a no-contract phone over a year. I’m not sure.

    Non-EU citizens would want the no-contract deal for sure.

  37. Llex says

    Can somebody please confirm that these TIM and VODAFONE factory unlocked iphones also come with some other languages such as english besides italian?? thx!

  38. says

    The iPhone doesn’t have a keyboard, not a physical one and its OS is in more than 9 languages. I bought mine from a Vodafone store in Rome (Via Dell Corso) and the interface was in Italian. I could change it to English through the settings section.

  39. says

    I forgot to mention that the iPhone is not available in all Vodafone/TIM stores in Rome. You need to go to the main ones.

    I bought my iPhone from a Vodafone store in Via dell corso. It is near Piazza Venezia. It came for 499, a black one, 8GB – Unlocked.

    • Kat says

      Hi Adam,

      In case you still have the contact data (name and e-mail address would be very useful) of the Vodafone Shop, would you please mail it to me on kat6ssp at hotmail dot com?

      Thank you so much.

      Best wishes,

      (Email address edited by Alex Roe to reduce its attraction to spammers)

  40. ben says

    hi alex, im not europien and i want to know if i can come to italy and buy more then one i phone, lets say i want 10, is it posible? thanks a lot

  41. Al says

    If anyone is thinking of picking up a non contract unlocked iPhone whilst visiting Venice, be careful! I was there a week ago and they are quite hard to find, with both the main TIM and Vodafone stores being out of stock.

    Thankfully the guy in the Vodafone store pointed me to a great little mobile store where they had (only) the 8GB black iphone 3G in stock. I was mightily relieved to find it!

    The store is Venice Mobile and is on the San Polo side of the Rialto bridge, just before you get to the Fish market (heading away from Rialto and San Marco).

    Google maps link:


    Good luck!

  42. Sam-Sam says

    I live in the UK and would like to buy an iPhone that will readily work in the UK without having to unlock it. I just want to take it out the box, put my UK Vodafone SIM in it and it work straightaway. Will an Italian iPhone work for me in the UK? Does anyone know of any sites where I can order online?.. Or is the only alternative to take a trip over the seas into Europe? What about a French iPhone, would that work in the UK on an UK SIM/Network?


  43. Ken says

    looking to buy 100+ iphones a week to import to UK B2B
    any ideas
    without IVA as it to a business

      • Ken says

        thanks for the websites will check them out.

        I have only ever bought TIM iphones is there any differents in the Vodaphone one or are they the same?


        • Alex says

          You are welcome Ken,

          Good luck. As far as I know, if you buy either a Vodafone or TIM branded iPhone, they only real difference is likely to be logos on the iPhones, and, possibly, some provider specific software – not sure if this can be eliminated though – but then I do not have an iPhone, so someone else could answer this better than me.


          PS I wonder what Apple makes of all this iPhone trading? Still, they will be making quite a bit out of the sales of the units, this is sure.

    • Alex says

      Hi Chris,

      One comment was enough. I have not had any dealings with this Cellulare.net, although they are listed on shopping.msn.it – which is a reasonably good sign. The company is an Srl – which is about the same as a ‘LTD’ if you are English – a limited liability, and has an indicated level of capital which is well above the minimum at €100,000.

      One Italian Internet rating service here: http://www.ciao.it/Opinionisulprodotto/Cellulare_net__92491 gives the company OK reviews. Some problems with slow delivery, and errors – normal problems. I could dig up some info if you would like. The initial impression is that they are OK, but, as I said, I have never dealt with them.



  44. Mark says

    Does anyone have any suggestions of particular places in Rome to purchase the iPhone 3G unlocked. Also, do I understand correctly that any future software upgrades (such as 3.0) will not brick-up the iPhone?

    • Alex says

      Hi Motoyen,

      Not sure if you are talking about the newest version of the iPhone which comes out in the US next week.

      The 3g iPhones already on sale in Italy are available unlocked via TIM and Vodafone.

      Hope that helps,


  45. Gav says

    I just update my iPhone 3G from Italy to 3.0. I purchased the iPhone from TIM Store in Rome. Just gave them my Mastercard and they handed the iPhone over.(April 2009) The TIM sim, T-Mobile UK sim and AT&T sim is working great with the 3.0 update. The MMS was activated with the TIM sim. Then went away when I went back to bloody AT&T sim.

    Hope this help,

    • Alex says

      Thanks for that Gav,

      Very helpful indeed – others will find your experience useful!



  46. Ouida Weaver says

    I live in Italy but spend a lot of time in England and the US. Currently, I just switch the SIM card with my pay-as-you-go (ricaricabile) phone. I have wanted to buy an iPhone but didn’t realise until I read Gav above that I could switch SIM cards as I changed countries. Cool. Thanks, Gav. Now I have to decide where to buy the phone: Italy, UK or US.
    Thanks for the help.

    • Alex says

      Hi Gav,

      First, thanks for the iPhone tips for US iPhone users.

      And yes, the prices of the new 3G S iPhones do seem high. I believe what we are seeing is what marketers may call ‘top slicing’. The price will fall, but no idea just when – probably on the run up to Christmas or sooner if sales seem slow.

      I have not seen a new 3G S model, so I do not know if they look different. If they do, then that will add to the ‘wow’ and ‘cool’ factor in that people will be able to show off not just that they have an iPhone, but that they have the latest and greatest version.

      Actually, if I were in the market for a 3G S version, I’d wait for a while before buying one – there are bound to be a few glitches which need ironing out – ‘early adopters’ is really slang for ‘beta testers’! :)



  47. Paul S says


    Do you know whether or not an unlocked Italian iphone 3G S will work in the US with a SIM card from T-Mobile or other carriers.

    I don’t want to use ATT and am wondering what functionalities will work only with an official iphone carrier.

    Thank you.

  48. Ivonne says


    I would like to know if the price is in Euros or in Dlls??

    How can I do the transaction?? I live in Mexico, but I want to buy an iPhone

    Can I use my own SIM Card without any problemsw??

    Thanks a lot!!

  49. Ivonne says

    Hi Alex!!

    I would like to know if the price is in Euros or in Dlls?

    How can I do the transaction, because I live in Mexico but I want to adquire an iPhone with you…

    Can I use my SIM Card without any problems??

    Thanks a lot!!

  50. Andres says

    Hey Alex,

    I’m going to Milan next week to get about 10 iphone 3GSes. You mentioned pre-ordering, in case the shops don’t have enough stocked, but which TIM shop should I call and do they speak english?


    • Alex says

      Andres – try calling the shop Smarttech which is mentioned in the post above. They do speak English, or so I was told.

      If you have problems, get back to me.



      • Andres says

        Smartech railyway station branch picked up the phone, the guy said they don’t have any iphones stocked, the other phone wasn’t picked up.

        I was told that TIM is the sole distributor of the 3GS at the moment, which might explain the case, but then again, I’m not sure.

        If you can help in any way, I would be grateful, as I wouldn’t like to return empty handed.


        • Alex says

          Sounds as though the smaller guys have not been able to get their hands on the 3Gs just yet.

          By the way, if you see the post above, you will see that Vodafone also does the 3Gs.

          If I have a moment, I’ll pop into our local electronics store tomorrow (it opens in the afternoon) and see if they have 10 3Gs models. Which ones do you want?

          You could try the Saturn store in Via Certosa, in Milan – it’s pretty big, so it may have what you are looking for. Here’s a link to Google maps for you: Saturn store Viale Certosa, Milan – go upstairs
          Or you could try Mediaworld, Milan – but it is difficult to get to without a car.


          • Andres says

            I’m after the 16GB ones. Do you happen to know any other shops that speak English? If you could check the store yourself, that would be awesome.

            Also what is the biggest TIM store in Milan, if I can get no conformation on the stock status, I would head there, just to be sure.

            Thanks for you help Alex :)


  51. Alex says

    @Andres – sorry, I don’t know of any other English speaking shops, although the main Tim and Vodafone shops in central Milan will probably have English speaking staff.

    This is the central Milan Vodafone shop: http://maps.google.it/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=it&geocode=&q=vodafone,+via+orefici&sll=45.463938,9.185042&sspn=0.010956,0.027874&ie=UTF8&ll=45.464089,9.185042&spn=0.010956,0.027874&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A

    And this is the TIM shop, on the corner of Via Meravigli and Via Santa Maria Segreta – use street view : http://maps.google.it/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=it&geocode=&q=TIM,&sll=45.465888,9.185136&sspn=0.000685,0.001742&ie=UTF8&t=h&radius=0.04&rq=1&ll=45.465888,9.185136&spn=0,359.998258&z=20&layer=c&cbll=45.465987,9.184855&panoid=yvJsk4TR4Za4Bh2V6gPtMw&cbp=12,228.66,,0,7.08

    I’ll have a go at visiting my local store, and leave a comment back here tomorrow evening.


    • Alex says

      @ Andres – just got back from the Expert store near me. No 3g s iPhones – but should be in by the end of June, I was told.

      Will take the dog for a walk towards the local Vodafone store this afternoon, and have a word with them.


        • Alex says

          Andres – I’ve just got back from our local Vodafone dealer. This sounds like bad news, but I don’t know if it is applicable to all Vodafone stores.

          What the guy told me was that I could only have an iPhone 3G s, if I signed up for a contract, and that the shop will only receive new supplies on the basis of the number of contracts it sells. This means 10 contracts, 10 new iPhone 3G s in stock, from what can make out.

          It sounds as though someone is trying to clamp down on the sales of unlocked iPhones in Italy.

          I will add this info to the main post.


          • Andres says

            Maybe it’s TIM who only sells unlocked phones?

            Is this the right name of TIM shop? Il telefonino. That’s what the TIM shop search engine finds the most. Then there are few CENTRO TIM’s as well, are these supposed to be bigger ones?

            Unlocked phones and contract phones are physically different devices. So I’ll try to go through as many stores as I can.

            (Maybe you can recommend a good place to stay, nothing fancy, but a safety deposit box is a must. Must be close to the railway station and city center)

            Thank you Alex, you have been a big help!


  52. Alex says


    Here is a hotel for you to check out: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=milano+hotel+soperga&sll=45.475721,9.198561&sspn=0,359.888506&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=13&iwloc=A

    An American friend of mine often stays there when he comes to Milan, and seems to think it is OK. It’s quite close to the station too. From the station there is the metro which will get you to pretty much anywhere in Milan.

    And know, even if some stores might only sell you an iPhone with contract, these phones, either Vodafone or TIM, should be the unlocked versions anyway. Only Tre actually ties SIMs to phones. I had two Tre phones, and the SIMs worked in both.

    iPhones are not sold locked in a physical way, but a contract would force you to keep an iPhone for 2 years, before you could change provider, unless you pay a penalty. The pay as you go phones, which were unlocked, included a SIM, which did not cost much, if anything extra, but it sounds as though pay as you go iPhone 3Gs are not available yet.

    I’m not sure just how easy it is going to be to get hold of iPhone 3Gs models. I suggest you try the shops I linked to first, and then work your way through the list. There is another largish TIM store down near Milan’s court building, and there are loads of them listed here: http://www.privati.tim.it/template/temp_ling/tim_main_ling1_eng/0,,71_2,00.html


  53. Jonas says

    Hi I am going to Pisa for one week in september. It seems that there is no TIM stores in Pisa?… and the Vodafone stores i’ve found in Pisa doesn’t seem to have them unlocked?
    Any idear of what i should do when going there? I might be lucky they are cheaper in that time… 😉
    Thanks for your help!

  54. Mats says

    Hi Alex,

    Many Thanks for the nice service that you are providing here!!!
    I’m about to visit Milan this weekend, and am planning on picking up one unlocked Black 32GB 3Gs Iphone. I will try with the Vodafone shop at the Central unless you have a better suggestion – what I need is the location of a place in the city center that is open Saturdays and that has English-speaking staff… *Don’t know a word of Italian, sorry!*

    Grateful Regards,


  55. Philip says

    Hi Alex,

    Sounds like you’re the man in the know when it comes to the iPhone in Italy. I will be moving to southern Italy from the U.S. in about a month or so. I currently have an iPhone 3G and have resisted picking up the 3Gs here in the states. I’ve got one year left on my contract and obviously the phone is locked to AT&T. Once I move to Italy I do NOT expect to travel to the U.S. very often but will probably travel Europe regularly. I expect to live in Italy for at least a couple of years if not longer.

    So my question is ~ If I buy a 3Gs here in the states it will be half the cost of one in Italy, would Vodaphone be able to unlock it when I sign up for their service? Checking the web it looks like an unlocked 3Gs there is almost $1,000. Is it less expensive with a contract like here in the states and are the phones you get with a contract unlocked? My concern is that if I come back to the U.S. in a year or two I don’t want to have a phone that I can’t use here.

    I’d greatly appreciate any advice you can give.


  56. Paul says

    Hi, I bought an Apple iPhone 3GS 16GB black unblocked for 619 euros at the Vodafone One store in Venice (TELERADIOFUGA COMUNICAZIONI Strada Nova 4302) on the 9th of July 2009. They only had one left, but no problems buying at all, just had to show ID to pay by credit card. No English spoken, very friendly and I am sure I could have bought more than one if they had more in stock. They said they coukd only give me a receipt not an invoice as I did not have an Italian fiscal ID but said that the receipt would be enough for the guarantee. I have bought an Applecare plan for the iPhone here in Spain (69 euros) so I am sure their will be no problem with the guarantee.
    Regards, Paul

    • Mick says

      Hi Paul,

      Did your phone come with an Italian SIM and phone number? Have you activated it in Spain yet?

      Please see my post regarding my situation trying to use an Italian IPhone in the US.

      Thanks, Mick

  57. Mick says

    Hi Alex, My friend brought me an IPhone-3Gs from Pisa this week. It is supposed to be, “Internationally unlocked for use with any international SIM card.” BUT … the phone came with a TIM SIM Card and Italian phone number. I want ot use it in the US with T-Molibe and use Pre-pid SIM Cards when in Europe. Do I need to have TIM ‘unlock’ the phone before I activte it wiht my T-Mobile account? Below, I list what the Italian salesman told me to do. Does it make sense to you?

    He said:
    If you have a Iphone from Italy you can to use with any sim. The only problem that you can have is for Internet but if you change the APN is ok. Whit Tim or other carrier that Iphone have in database the configuration is automatic. But if this not possible you can change in manual mode or in this way: connect your iphone in WI-FI with your router. Open Safari and digit this address help.benm.at after press Mobileconfigs, choose your country (U.S.A.) and your carrier T-Mobile and install the profile. So,after Setting-General-network-network data cellular and check if the profile has been changed. after your able for all functions.

    Any comment/suggestions from you would be appreciated.

    Thank you, Mick

  58. Michael Johanson says

    Hi Alex from Sweden!

    You havn’t got many comments on this for a while now so here it comes :)

    I’m going to Croatia in 1 week and will maybe take a trip over to Italy. (btw, don’t how it is with iPhones 3Gs in Croatia?)

    I used the vodafone shop search so I know where to find Vodafone shops but is there a similiar site for TIM?

    Also, I found these two iPhones. It doesn’t say anything about “ricaricabile” but says you will get a SIM card with it. Just want to make sure it is unlocked? :)



    (weird link I know)

    Is it possible to just get over to Italy enter one of the shops and ask for a iPhone 3Gs unlocked and they will understand? :p

    If I happen to buy one, the only problem that will still exist is to manage to change the language in the phone! 😉

    Would appreciate an answer so much! 😀

  59. judith says

    Great Blog. I will be a regular visitor from now on.I have just discovered your blog today while looking for ways to use my New Zealand bought 3G iPhone in Italy and France for a few months. I don’t want to pay the terrible data roaming charges from vodafone NZ. Hoping I can just stick in an italian sim card and go! I’ve done that in the past but that was with a basic old cellphone.I really want to be able to use the iPhone.
    Any advice appreciated.

  60. Karl says


    Great blog, THANKS! 😀

    Now for my question, I am going to Milan (Bergamo airport, around 1h to Milan, right?) around the 18th August and as I have understood the best bet is to call in advance to reserve iPhone’s since they might not have it in such large quantities?

    The Vodafone store you recommended was a link that ended in a error message?
    Please see this picture, that was what happend when I clicked the link.
    Could you please tell me the name of that specific Vodafone Store that you recommended in Milan?

    So that store should have iPhone’s and speak english so you could call them and reserve a few but I also wonder if you could help me with a email to them?

    Just to clarify, the Vodafone store sold iPhones that were completely unlocked meaning not bundled with any SIM etc.?

    On a completely different note:

    Where is the best pizza in Milan? I’m looking for humane prices so a pizza can’t cost more then around €7 and pref. not a place with “white cloth” (not a fancy restaurant)

    When I last visited Milan I just transfered through their airport (not Bergamo I belive) and eat GREAT sandwiches with only fresh bread and salami that was made in a sandwich-grill (warm).

    What is this called in italian and can you recommend any good places where I can get some of those?

  61. Anwar T. Ayash says

    Dear Sir,

    I want to buy 4 I-phone 3GS 16G and 4 I-phone 3G 8G .

    But I need to know It’s locked ?

    Can send to me Quotation :
    – Price / piece $ or euro
    – Way of payment
    – Delivery time

    Looking for your feedback a.s.a.p.

    Eng. Anwar T. Ayash
    Procurement Officer.
    P.O.BOX 126444 JEDDAH 21352 , SAUDI ARABIA
    TEL: +966 2 2900606
    FAX: +966 2 2882920
    MOBILE : +966 599901660

  62. says

    Alex, thanks a lot for this post – it’s very informative. There seems to be one buying option that you don’t mention. The italian apple store sells iPhones as well: http://store.apple.com/it/browse/home/shop_iphone/family/iphone?mco=MTE2OTU – but shipping works to an italian address only. Do you know if these are unlocked?

    I heard rumors that the (physical) apple store in Rome sells unlocked iPhones as well; can you confirm that?

    Thanks in advance!

    • says

      Hi Andreas,

      Glad you’ve found the information useful. And you are right, I have not mentioned the Apple Store. I don’t know if they sell unlocked iPhones, but seeing as no mention of contracts is made, and the price is what unlocked units generally cost, I imagine they are.

      I did try calling the Apple Store in Rome to ask, but nobody wanted to answer the phone!

      Apparently an Apple Store will open in Milan too – but don’t know when.

      I’m not too sure Apple would be that happy to talk about sales of unlocked iPhones seeing as this prevents people from signing up with official iPhone suppliers in other countries. But, a sale is a sale!



  63. Heiko says

    Hi everyone. Thanks for the very informative blog Alex!

    I’m going to be in Rome for a few days. Can anyone recommend where I can get (in stock) the 32gb 3G S black? Are they hard to come by, or readily available. I’d like to buy one that’s unlocked. Are the Italian stores will to sell to foreigners without a contract.

    Many thanks for any insight from anyone in the know!!

  64. says

    Hope this isn’t a hijack but a twist question on iPhones in Italy…

    I’ll be traveling to Italy in less than a month. I’m from the US. I have an iPhone and use ATT here. I want to take my iPhone to Italy – of course! I have jailbroken my iPhone and find it more useful that way. I’m thinking I might unlock it as well and try to find a sim in Italy to use the iPhone pretty much as I do here.

    Any known issues with a jailbroken and unlocked iPhone in Italy? Can I get a pre-paid sim easily enough? A carrier that I should use to get the most from my iPhone? How much might I expect to pay for a pre-paid month? Can I expect to use all the features of the iPhone?

    If anyone has comments on this please feel free to chime in!

    Thanks, Mark

    • says

      No hijacking! You’re asking about iPhones, which is fine by me, although you might get a quicker response via a dedicated iPhone forum.

      You should have no problem getting hold of a SIM card in Italy – just take your passport to a Vodafone or Tim store, and they will set you up. However, before trying this – try to find someone with a pay as you go card and pop it in your iPhone to see if it works, especially internet.

      The cost for calls should be around 16 Eurocents a minute using a pay as you go card – from the Vodafone site. Card top ups can generally be found in bars which are also tobacconists.

      For internet, if it works, the cost on Vodafone is 3 Euros a week. Texts cost 15 Eurocents, and MMS – picture and video messages – cost half a Euro buck – all from Vodafone.

      Hope someone else chips in too.



      • Mark says

        Thanks Alex, just what I was looking for. Anyone else have hints or tips or gotchas “I’m all ears”!


  65. Jenya says

    Hello! I am not Italy citizen, but I am planing buy iPhone 3GS in Italy without connection, at 619€. I have read that I get SIM Card with 5€, is it means that I need additional procedure of officaly unlocking my new iPhone 3GS for use my (not Vodafone) SIM? Or I may start use my iPhone 3GS with my (not Vodafone) SIM after short registration procedure in iTunes?

    Thank you,

  66. Philip says


    I am moving to Italy and will be using Vodafone. It’s great that they sell “unlocked” iPhones but do they sell “locked” iPhones at a reduced cost? Since I will be living there and using Vodafone I would rather sign a contract with them and get the phone at a reduced cost. AT&T here in the U.S. will subsidize the cost of the phone if you sign an agreement with them.


    • says

      Hi Phil,

      In answer to your question, look here: http://iphone.vodafone.it/offerta_abbonamento.html

      Basically, yes, if you sign up for a Vodafone contract you will pay something like 69 or 129 Euros for the 3Gs phones – although the lowest price for the phones indicates the most expensive monthly contracts. Still, you should be able to get an iPhone for use in Italy for much less than the full retail price. Contracts are generally for 2 years – with a penalty for termination before the 2 years are up generally.

      Hope that’s useful.



  67. Adi says

    Hi Alex,
    I’m flying to Malta, and I have a 2.5 hour stop at Rome’s airport. Do you happen to know where I could find just 1 Iphone 3Gs sim-free around the airport so I won’t miss the next flight ?
    Thank you for the great blog and service that your doing for all of us !!!


    • says

      Hi Adi,

      There seem to be shops which sell mobiles at Rome’s Fiumicino airport – if that is the one you will be in.

      I don’t know Rome’s Fiumicino airport too well, but there is a list of shops here:


      Use the ‘Looking for Something?’ section on the left hand side to do a ‘Search by category’, then select ‘telephones’ – you will see Tre, Vodafone, and Smartphone (don’t know this one), and by using the map you’ll be able to see where these shops can be found within the airport. Tip: On the map view – you might have to squint to see the little cross hair thingy which shows where the shop is!

      Hope that helps.



      PS I think I’m going to have to get an iPhone – so many people want the things, they must be good!

  68. Fontip says

    Hi Alex

    You are very nice guy :)

    I will goint to Rome the end of this month and i would like to ask you where exactly that i can find I phone 3GS unlock and buy that time they will have it in stock?

    please kindly give me your advice.

    thank you

    • says

      Hi Fontip,

      I try to be a nice guy 😉

      From another comment: “to find an unlocked iphone just head for a Vodafone or TIM shop and by the model you want with a ‘carta recaricabile’ – ‘pay as you go’ sim card. You will need a passport or other ID document, but the iPhones bought this way are effectively contractless and are unlocked.”

      This post will help you find Vodafone shops in Rome:


      As for availability, that’s a difficult one as I would need to call all the shops to ask them! However, I don’t think you will have too many problems finding an iPhone 3Gs, unless you are in Rome right before Christmas.

      Happy hunting!



  69. Allen says

    Hi alex, and to all,

    i’m from malaysia and wish to purchase an iphone from Italy
    I did some readings and i got to know that Italy sells iphones that never been locked.
    As selling locked iphones in Italy is illegal, is that true?

    Perhaps , and really appreciate if you can guide me how to purchase an iphone.
    I have a master card and apparently it is not a Italy card.
    Please advise . TQ :)

  70. Goffredo says

    Hi all,

    I’m Italian and I work in UK. When in Italy I use a ‘ricaricabile’ TIM sim card, and when in UK a Virgin one. I’d like to buy an iphone while in Italy, and I would like to ask you:

    * I need to activate the iphone in Italy using the sim card – but:
    * when in UK, what do I need to do – just change the sim card, or…?
    * and when back in Italy – do I need to ‘reactivate’ the card?

    I couldn’t find a clear answer to these issue, and I hope that you can help. Thanks,


    • says

      Hi Goffredo,

      In answer to your questions:

      * when in UK, what do I need to do – just change the sim card, or…?
      – as long as the UK card is active, I think you just need to put it into your iPhone. I did do this with an Italian mobile which I used in the UK with an Orange pay as you go card. Worked fine – but this was some time ago

      * and when back in Italy – do I need to ‘reactivate’ the card?
      – No – as long as you keep it topped up. After a period, can’t remember whether it is six months or a year, if a Vodafone carta ricaricabile card is not used I think it dies. I don’t think it can be resurrected and you lose the credit, so you would need a new card, and number – but I’m not 100% sure on this. Look at the Vodafone Italy site for up to date info on this – you should not have any problem with the language! 😉

      Hope that helps.



      • Goffredo says

        thanks Alex – I’m just worried about iphone procedures. Although the Italian model is fully unlocked, I can’t really understand what happes when you use it with an UK sim card, in UK: I’m worried about the possibility that it could not (fully) work in UK… with my Nokia phone I never had problems in changing sim cards – but with an iphone?

        Best, Goffredo

        • says

          Although I cannot speak from experience Goffredo, I don’t think you will have a problem, unless you have a really old Sim card.

          Unlocked iPhones seem to be finding their ways all over the world, and so far, nobody has come back here to shout at me. I do have good reason to believe that you won’t have any problems, but I cannot say why 😉

          I do know someone from Libya who has no problems using his iPhone over there, so I don’t think you will have too many problems – still perhaps someone can confirm Goffredo will be OK.



          • Goffredo says

            thanks again Alex – let’s see if somebody else wants to say something more about the issue. Best, Goffredo

  71. Lance says

    Hi Alex,
    Thanks for all the information expecially the QnA.
    I have one of the iPhone’s from Italy, a friend picked it up for me. I have been having issues with it and the wifi does not work anymore. The website (Apple) shows its under warranty, I tried getting it replaced at an Apple store in another country but that did not help. Do you have any idea if I need to contact TIM or the Apple store directly? I dont speak italian and am not in Italy as of now. Is there a number I can contact?
    Where are these apple stores located? do they have english speaking staff?

    • says

      Hi Lance,

      One of the disadvantages of picking up an unlocked iPhone in Italy is that it is difficult to know who to turn to when it goes wrong. I though this might happen eventually. People do need to be aware of this.

      Because these iPhones are being bought outside the system, it’s difficult to know how to sort the problem out. It’s probably true to say that iPhones bought in Italy are covered by the statutory 2 year guarantee which exists here. But to benefit from this guarantee, you need the purchase receipt and, would need to return it to Apple Italy – the stores here do not always deal with defective units directly.

      Apple iPhone owners in Italy can find information on Apple’s site here:

      Enter the iPhone serial number – leave the country as ‘Italia’ and see what happens. You will need the help of an Italian speaker.

      From what I’ve read on an Italian iPhone site, as well as web assistance, you could call 199 120 800 which is Apple’s service center in Italy. There is a cost per minute involved, and the number will probably not work from outside of Italy. You would need the serial number of the iPhone, and to explain the problem – in Italian. Apple may then give you a reference number and then a UPS courier will be sent to pick up the problem iPhone – but only in Italy. The repaired, or new, iPhone will then be sent back to the address in Italy.

      As you will understand, doing this from outside Italy will not be at all easy.

      Try the Apple care site for you country: http://www.apple.com/support/products/applecareiphone.html
      The link above is for Apple USA.

      What I would try if I were you would be to contact Apple’s service line in your own country, and see what they say. I would probably not say I had bought my iPhone in Italy immediately, and wait until the helpline people realise this, which they probably will once you give them the serial number of your iPhone. This would be the time to ask them what to do.

      Bearing in mind that sending an iPhone to Italy via UPS, TNT etc, will not be cheap. It might be worth considering having your iPhone repaired in your country of origin as if it were out of guarantee – if the cost is less than shipping to and from Italy or is about the same.

      Hope that helps – but these are only suggestions.



  72. Neil Farnham-Smith says

    Had problems with my UK O2 locked iPhone, the two phones work fine, but O2’s network is dropping 70% of my incoming calls to a dead tone.

    O2 are being very nasty, whilst happy to terminate the contract they want the phones back but don’t want to refund me the money I paid for them initially or the value I have paid for so far within the monthly contract payments.

    So I have complained to Apple, and mentioned my thought of purchasing from Italy. Apple UK rather than being silly said that would be fine, however pleasently explained that they’d happily repair the phone if it went wrong also said it would be impossible for them to replace it with an unlocked unit as their replacements are pre-configured for UK networks and they don’t stock unlocked units here.

    Anyway a nice explination, and seemed logical and reasonable to me.

    Well done for a great site, thanks!

    • says

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for posting this information. Others should find this very useful – and feel more confident about buying unlocked iPhones from Italy. And they will be happy to know that iPhones bought in Italy can also be fixed, if necessary.

      Apple, it seems, do like to look after their customers.



      PS I am thinking about buying an Apple PC…

  73. Saundra says

    Hi Alex,
    A friend in Italy is buying me an unlocked 3G S 32 gigs on Tuesday. I’m hoping I’ll be able to put a Pay-you-go, Irish Vodafone Sim card into it without any operating problems. Have you heard anything to the contrary?
    In case anyone is visiting Austria: I was in a store in Salzburg today and could have bought an unlocked 3GS 16 gig for 800 euro. It was their last one. Store guys told me they could order the 32 gig one for me and have it in three weeks. 32 gig costs 900 euro – still way cheaper than buying even the 8 gig in Ireland.
    Thanks for all your info.

    • says

      Hi Saundra,

      As far as I know you should be OK with the Irish pay as you go Vodafone SIM card. Let’s see if anyone else disagrees.



  74. Caroline says


    I’m in Milan and thinking about buying an iphone, BUT… I’m originally from New Zealand and will be going back and forth regularly the next few years before I move back there. Is it possible to buy it here and use it with an Italian pay-as-you-go SIM and then do the same with a NZ SIM at home?

    Also, who is stocking them in Milan without needing a contract?


    • says

      Hi Caroline,

      The Italian pay-as-you go in Italy will not be a problem – that’s what they are designed for.

      You should not have any problems with an NZ sim, unless they are different from other sims.

      You can find pay-as-you go iPhones at just about any Vodafone or TIM shop. Try the Vodafone shop mentioned in the post above.



      • Caroline says

        Hi Alex, thanks for the quick reply. Do you have the address of the shop you mention in the post above? I’ve just looking on google maps for Smartech Milano, but it brought up multiple entries.
        I’m waiting to be paid and will hopefully be getting one Wednesday morning! :) So excited!!!!

        • says

          Hi Caroline,

          Glad the info was useful. As for the shops, look for this one: Via Aleardo Aleardi, 2 (Sempione Paolo Sarpi area) or you could try the one in Milan’s main station – go to main platform level, and with the entrance to the platforms behind you – walk right and the Smartech shop is at the end on the left.

          Neither are marked at Smartech shops – look for the Vodafone insignia.

          Happy hunting.


          • Caroline says

            Thanks Alex! I can speak enough basic Italian to get by, but when dealing with technology and those types of questions its always easier in English :) I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks again!

  75. Janie says

    Live in Italy and spend about 4 months a year in the US. Want an Iphone, but am very confused as to what is the best and most reasonable option. Is it possible to purchase an unlocked phone in Italy and change to an ATT SIM card when in the US?

  76. Joe O'C says

    Hi Alex I have a question, i’m due to be moving to Milan in January from England, I currently have an Iphone on an Enlgish contract with 5 months left to run. I need a mobile for work so I wanted to continue to use my current handset in Italy, long story short I need to pay off my English contract and get a contract with an Italian provider, but I just need the sim. The main thing is that I want to be able to use all of the 3G services that the iphone offers. So I really need to get a sim only contract specifically for the iphone but I don’t know if these exist or how widely they may be sold. Would it help to have the handset unlocked before I go over to Italy?

    • says

      Joe O’C – You should not have a problem finding an iPhone contract in Italy – but you would, I suspect, need to get your UK iPhone unlocked – or else it will probably not work in Italy, even with an Italian sim in it.

      Beware: Unlocking your iPhone may invalidate the warranty – but I don’t know if this is the case.

      Vodafone Italy, TIM and Tre will all be able to set you up with iPhone friendly contracts – just pop into a shop and ask. In shops in central Milan you should be able find people who know English – otherwise ask or bribe (a coffee should do the trick!) an Italian friend to come with you to a phone shop.



  77. Janie says

    Ciao, Have been investigating the Iphones in Italy…and it is my understanding that they can only be bought with a contract at a reduced rate if you have an Italian credit card. Has anyone else found that to be true? Is there a carrier that you can use a US credit card with to purcahse a phone with a contract? If one therefore has to purcahse the phone outright without a contract…any thoughts on Vodaphone versus TIM?

    Grazie mille

    • says

      Hi Janie,

      If you do want a contract with an Italian mobile company, then it is likely that they will want an Italian credit card – then at least people won’t sign up, get a free phone and go back home. Tracking people down for breach of contract would be too expensive – so the Italian credit card sounds reasonable – if you want a contract.

      If you buy a phone without a contract or with a pay-as-you-go card, then I don’t think the credit card will matter – it’s a one off payment – not recurring for, usually, 24 months like a contract.

      If you are going to be in Italy long enough to be thinking about getting an iPhone with contract – then you may well want to open a bank account in Italy – then you can get a credit card and get an iPhone with a contract. Otherwise, buy an iPhone and a pay-as-you-go card.

      As for the difference between Vodafone and TIM – you need to look at the different plams and see what will work best for you – this is something which I do not have the time to do – and the contract details change pretty often too. Look at things like number of minutes talk time, messages, and data download limits. I know that iPhones make it very easy to download apps and music – so it may be easy to get close or go over the data limits – go easy until you get that first bill!

      Vodafone’s site is partially in English: http://www.vodafone.it/engl/index.html?tk=HPPrivati%2Cb&ty_key=190english

      The TIM website does not seem to have an English version.

      I’m not sure, but I think the contract iPhones are locked to a provider – and so may not work with other SIM cards either within or outside Italy.

      Non-contract iPhones are unlocked and seem to work anywhere from what I understand – including Libya!

      Merry regards,


  78. Dauntless says

    Just thought I’d let you know I bought a perfect iphone 3g 8gb on ebay UK from the US for £240 +40$ postage and had it sent to me here (12Euro customs). Postage took a month but it’s here and it works!

  79. Dauntless says

    ooops I see these posts are very old…I didn’t realise! Sorry. Anyway my ‘unlocked’ iphone works a treat with my Italian Tim sim.

  80. Jon says

    Hi Alex

    Trying to help a friend who is LIVING in Italy buy an iphone. She says she’s found one for 720euro but its 50euro a month (includes 2gb) 2 year contract!

    Thanks to your site I found a 3Gs 16GB on cellulare unlocked so I presume non contract 589euro.

    My question is where could she get a good Italian PAYG sim with decent internet allowance.

    Speaking no italian we’ve struggled visiting the websites etc

    • says

      Hi Jon,

      Not being an iPhone owner myself, I don’t know much about iPhone plans. However, I think one option might be a Vodafone PAYG sim + the 3 Euro a week mobile internet option. Trouble is that I do not know if this plan is OK for iPhones. I do know someone who uses the 3 Euro a week plan for a Blackberry, so I imagine the same goes for the iPhone -but I’m not sure.

      The only limitation on the Vodafone mobile PAYG plan is that you can only download 500 megs of data a week. This limit is fine for plain email, but might not be enough if you send photos and music etc.

      There is more info here in Italian: http://www.vodafone.it/190/trilogy/jsp/channelView.do?contentKey=39092&pageTypeId=10444&channelId=-22242&ty_key=promozione_mobile_internet_data_pack

      You should be able to find a Vodafone shop in which someone speaks enough English to help you.

      Where are you in Italy? If you are in Milan, I can tell you where to go to find English speaking shop assistants.



  81. Paul says

    Hi Alex – thanks for all the info. Hoping you might have some insight into my situation. I have a 3G purchased here in the U.S. from AT&T. I would like to upgrade this to a 3GS (via AT&T) for use in the U.S. and then use my old 3G in Italy through Vodaphone or other via a pay-as-you-go program. How can I unlock it myself and then just buy a pay-as-you-go SIM when I arrive in Italy?


    • says

      Hi Alex – thanks for all the info. Hoping you might have some insight into my situation. I have a 3G purchased here in the U.S. from AT&T. I would like to upgrade this to a 3GS (via AT&T) for use in the U.S. and then use my old 3G in Italy through Vodaphone or other via a pay-as-you-go program. How can I unlock it myself and then just buy a pay-as-you-go SIM when I arrive in Italy?

      Glad the info has been useful, Paul.

      As for your situation, if I have understood correctly, you want to unlock an AT&T 3G so you can use it in Italy, if so, then this post may well be of interest to you: http://theappleblog.com/2009/08/20/apples-official-iphone-3g-unlock/

      Hope that helps.

      Let us know how you get on – but try not to brick the iPhone!



      • Paul says

        Great link, Alex – thanks for such a quick response. Did answer (and raise) a few questions.

        1) If you buy an iPhone in the U.S. via AT&T, the only way to unlock it is via software like softunlock. Do you have any experience with this software? I saw in several posts that when updating the OS or firmware via iTunes, the phone is relocked. Does that mean I can just unlock again after any kind of OS or firmware update (and have the update stick) and I’m off and running again I wonder?
        2) A better option seems to be to buy an iPhone from a country (like Italy) that legally requires the iPhone be sold unlocked. The problem with this approach is simply cost ~ $1,000 for a 3GS 32GB is quite steep. I guess the question probably ultimately comes down to where can I buy the cheapest legally unlocked iPhone?

        • says

          1. No Paul, I’ve never in my life tried to unlock an iPhone. This post is about finding unlocked iPhones in Italy! With a little luck someone else will chip in on this, as, aside from knowing that it can be done, I know nothing about the process.

          2. Yes, buying an iPhone in Italy is an option -but, as you know, this is not a cheap option. If you just want a mobile phone to use to make a few calls on, then there are much cheaper options. However if you want an iPhone to use after your vacation, you’ll have to pay iPhone prices.

          Not too easy to decide. Best of luck.


  82. says

    Nice article!

    I’m coming to Italy with my American, locked down iPhone. Any resources on unlocking it for an Italian pay-as-you-go service?


    • says

      Hi Robin,

      As I’ve already mentioned in another reply, I know very little indeed about unlocking iPhones. I’ve never done it, so I’m reluctant to go offering any advice on the subject. All I can do is to point to towards a link like this one:


      Otherwise, we’ll have to wait until iPhone unlocking experts come on the scene -which is not too likely seeing as the original post was about getting hold of unlocked iPhones.



  83. Scott B says

    Alex —

    We are flying into Rome in May from the US. I have an iPhone already. Do you know of a place in the airport at Fiumicino that I can get a SIM card for an unlocked iPhone? We are there for 2.5 weeks, staying primarily in the Tuscany region.

    Can I get a good prepaid plan? Or am I better off just getting another prepaid phone once I get there. I was hoping to use data as well for GPS and maps, not sure if this possible.

    Please advise. Your site is most helpful

  84. john says

    hii sir,
    if i buy one iphone from italy rome.can i take it to india and use there simcards there.
    can u suggest the which model i want to take.. like dat

  85. Dan says

    I am living in Italy (military stationed here) and just bought an iPhone 3Gs with contract service. I have a Tim sim card which will swap my existing phone number to the iPhone shortly, or if it has I cannot find out. When I turn on my iPhone its saying no service int he top left, and it has a slide for emergency calls only, i cannot deviate from that screen at all. WTF, I thought id at least be able to play with the phone, but I cant budge from the front page. What gives? Please email me with any info @ daniel dot sawn at gmail dot com

  86. sam m says


    My parents live near Massa in Italy, any ideas where the nearest store would be for them to purchase me an unlocked phone? I live in Antigua and they are coming over here so would like them to bring one with them for me as you cannot even get them here!

    Many thanks for your advice and help – your blog is brilliant!

  87. eyal says

    Hi All,

    I need your help!
    I will be next week at Geneva (But only at Sunday), Grenoble, Nice, Monaco.
    Can you please suggest the best place to find a SIM Free iphone 3GS 16GB?
    Do you know the price?

    Please reply ASAP as i don’t have much time.

    Thank you,

  88. eyal says

    Hi Alex,

    I need your help! (Sorry for writing again, but i added it to the wrong place).
    I will be next week at Geneva (But only at Sunday), Grenoble, Nice, Monaco.
    Can you please suggest the best place to find a SIM Free iphone 3GS 16GB?
    Do you know the price?

    Please reply ASAP as i don’t have much time.

    Thank you,

    • says

      Hi eyal,

      Not sure I can help you – I only really know about Italy. I don’t cover Switzerland or France.

      Are you passing through Italy? If so, where are you stopping off?



      • eyal says

        Thanks for the quick reply Alex.

        Not sure i will be able to get to Italy (I will be in Monaco – closest).

        Have you heard about “actualon”?
        I heard they can ship an unlocked iphone 3gs and they only charge $590.

        Any advice?


  89. riko says

    i bought iphone from italy tru internet but accidentally, i switch off the phone and it lock again.. now i dunno how to activate it again.. any idea?

  90. Artur says

    Hi, Alex,
    I live in Austria! And I wander what is the closest city in Italy (to Vienna) where I can get a noncontract Iphone 3GS. Thank you in advance!

    Best regards,
    Artur G

  91. Al says

    I’m awaiting the arrival of the new iPhone 4G/HD. Alex, do you have any advise on how where to purchase one over the internet? Can you buy one at an Apple Store? TIA Al

    • says

      Hi Al,

      I’m afraid I have no idea when the 4G iPhone will be available. Could be summer this year, or next year. Nobody is sure. My impression is that the new model is at an early stage of its development.

      If you do find one on the www, it’ll probably be a pre-release version and may not work too well.

      Better to contact the big Apple for this kind of information.

      Hang on in there.



  92. Aleksandar says

    Hello Alex.
    I`m from a little town, Kiskunhalas, south of Hungary, and I`m searching for Italian retail shops and import & wholesale partners in Italy, especially north and north western part. I,m stunned by your expertise on the subject, and I hope you could help me with that.
    IPhone market seems to be constantly developing, and that`ll increase the community interest on your favorite subject. I will recommend your blog to few people myself.
    I would appreciate if you could mail me if you find stg useful: aleksandar DOTrajicDOTsu @ gmail DOT com

    Thank you in advance,
    Aleksandar, Hun.

  93. says

    Dear Alex,
    I am coming to Italy for a very short visit (1 day), and I will be ataying at PISA. Can you please suggest me a reliable shop in that area to purchase an iphone – unlocked.
    Also please share if you have details of price for 3GS 16GB.

    • says

      Hi Suresh,

      The best place to buy an iPhone is either a Vodafone or TIM shop.

      Here is a list of Vodafone shops in and around Pisa:

      The first number is a telephone number, but you might not find anyone who speaks English.

      050/3136560 – 050970204

      050/970561 – 0503136973

      050/502304 – 050502236

      C.S.T. S.A.S.
      050/561818 – 050563137


      050/3120111 – 0503120256

      Google maps will help you locate these shops on the ground – which should not be too difficult. Vodafone shops generally have big red signs. UniEuro and Media World are large electronics outlets. The others are likely to be smaller shops.

      The price on the Vodafone site for a 3GS 16mb is 619 Euros for both black and white versions, it seems. You will need a Ricaricabile – pay as you go – iPhone. Prices here: http://iphone.vodafone.it/offerta_ricaricabile.html

      The price is the same on the TIM site, so will be the same in the shops, I imagine.

      I don’t know Pisa – I’m in Milan.

      Happy shopping!



      • Suresh says

        Dear Alex,
        Thanks for your detailed reply.
        I hope I can manage to buy one, eventhogh I do not know Italian language.



  94. NKT says

    Hi Alex,
    My fiancée is coming to Milan for a year. Could you please suggest us some good place to buy a iphone? It will be great if you can also provide us some details about calling plans, contract duration, fee & service changes (contract & Ricaricabile).

    Thanks a lot your help,

    • says

      Hi NKT,

      You’ll find a good place to buy an iPhone in MIlan in the main post above. Otherwise try Vodafone, TIM or Tre shops.

      As for contracts and plans, I’m afraid I do not know much about them – they change so fast and so frequently that I cannot keep up – and I don’t have the time to do this, even if I wanted to.

      The main purpose of this post is to help people find iPhones in Italy. For details on plans, visit the Vodafone, Tre, and TIM websites and use Google Translate or an Italian speaking friend.



  95. Gary says

    I have found this blog late, but I ran into the problem mentioned in the June 29 update. In Oct 09 I was in Ferrara on business and I was denied buying an iPhone without a contract by Vodafone.

    I was able to buy one without a contract at the airport in Bologna, also a Vodafone. So, it seems that not all of the stores are operating on the same policy.

    I will be back in Italy on business this October again and am looking to buy a contract free iPhone 4, so hopefully they will sell it as such and will have availability.

  96. Daniel says

    Hi there,
    I am taking my iphone 3gs with me to Italy on business travel. Its is jailedbroken so i could buy a TIM sim card there and use it right away right?
    would you recommend a cheap store to get it at in Milan/Monza area?

    • says

      Hi Daniel.

      “It is jailbroken so i could buy a TIM sim card there and use it right away right?” – Depending on how well the jailbreaking has been done, you should be able to use a TIM sim, yes.

      “Would you recommend a cheap store to get it at in Milan/Monza area?” – I could be wrong, but I don’t think a ‘cheap store’ will help much. You probably want a pay as you go ‘ricaricabile’ card and the prices of these are more of less fixed. Just about any TIM shop or TIM affiliated shop will do.

      Look at Vodafone pay as you go too, €3 for 500mb a week for iPhone data connection, and tell the store you want to use the card in an iPhone. For the SIM, you might like to try FNAC off Via Torino in central Milan – there seem to be some English speakers there.

      Happy shopping – and watch out for international calls – they can be expensive.



  97. Squirrel says

    Hi Alex.

    I just returned from the UK and met another traveler who told me about Iphones in Italy.
    I was wondering if you could update me on the lastest on Iphone 4g? You can reply to me here or send an email. Both would be better for me and general audiance. Well I better get back to looking cute for Park visitors. Cheers!

  98. says

    Hi Jetsetter – to find an unlocked iphone just head for a Vodafone or TIM shop and by the model you want with a ‘carta recaricabile’ – ‘pay as you go’ sim card. You will need a passport or other ID document, but the iPhones bought this way are effectively contractless and are unlocked. Adam Bader bought a phone like this and, as far as I know, has had no problems whatsoever with it – and he lives in Africa. The Vodafone shop mentioned in my post above is used to having non-Italians buying iPhones for use outside Italy, and other shops should be aware of this too. There are Tim and Vodafone shops near Milan’s cathedral or ‘duomo’. There are often long queues in the TIM shop though – and it is not as close to the centre.

    Hope that helps.

    Best regards,


  99. says

    Hi Ben,

    I don’t think you will have any problems finding shops willing to sell you 10 or more iPhones. I do suggest that you make an order before coming to Italy. Many shops may not have so many iPhones in stock. If you plan on coming to MIlan, then you should ring the shop mentioned in my post above, as they should be able to help you.

    Best regards,


  100. john d. says

    hello alex i travel to france(south) in the new year and will try to buy an unlocked iphone , do you know anything of dealers etc. i seen Orange France are the main supplier not sure if i can get a sim free one , if not i will drive to turin and see if i can get one/two/three :) who knows , would you know of any shops in 1) grenoble (france) or 2) turin where i can buy sim free i phones ???

    your knowledge greatly appreciated

    john d.

  101. says

    Sorry John – I know nothing about the iPhone situation in France.

    As you say though, you could pop over to Turin and then go into any Vodafone or Tim shop where you’ll find unlocked iPhones. This post will help you find Vodafone shops in or near Turin: http://italychronicles.com/how-to-find-shops-selling-iphones-in-italy/

    You may have to buy SIM cards – but do not worry they are not tied to the iPhones – just make sure you get one with a pay as you go card – as mentioned in the post above.




    Note that comments on this post are now closed, but, you can leave comments on the more recent iPhone 4 Availability in Italy post here: iPhone 4 Availability in Italy