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Laptops and Phones From Home?

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Posts: 26
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Topic starter
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

Regarding USA-bought Apple devices in Portugal, should you sell them in the USA and buy new devices in Portugal? Or is it okay to use them with power cables designed for Portugal?

Also, how would USA 2FA (two-factor authentication) work in Portugal if you keep your USA phones? Or, if you purchase your phones in Portugal, how would they work with USA 2FA in that case?

Thank you!

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Joined: 2 years ago

You should be able to use your devices in Portugal. Look at the charger to see if it allows you to use them at 220v; if so, you’ll just need a plug adapter. You can also easily purchase chargers here that have European plugs.

2FA is a different issue, and varies a lot by who is sending you 2FA messages. Some Portuguese companies won’t send 2FA messages to foreign (US) numbers, so you’ll need a Portuguese number. You can buy virtual or real SIM cards for your phone from any of the 3 major phone companies here, and can bundle that into your internet plan where you live, so it pays to know who best services the building where you will be living in Portugal.

Many of us also keep a US number because most US companies will not send 2FA to a Portugal number. There are many options available for doing that, but if you port your US number to Google Voice right before you leave the US, you can get 2FA service virtually free. Your mileage may vary.

Boa sorte.

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Community Member
(@jma)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 28

@adventurefilmmaker and all,

This is a hotly debated issue on the forums! I’m unclear about one important thing: how does 2FA function in practice on data-only numbers? I’m not always on WiFi when I need to authenticate a login. 

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Joined: 2 years ago

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@jma You can set up Google Voice to email copies of your text messages, otherwise, yes, you would need to be on wi-fi.

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(@jma)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 28

@adventurefilmmaker Well, I have a Google Voice number that I’ve had for years, so I can give it a try. 

Do the other plans, such as Tello, work on cellular networks? I’d like to make calls too, and I’m not always on Wi-Fi. 

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Community Member
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

Posts: 26

@jma

I’m no expert, and like others here, I’m just putting it together live, but I’ll give it a shot.

No, Tello does not allow international cellular, it only allows Wi-Fi.

Since you’re asking about having both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, I figured I’d share the following. But I’ll likely choose Tello because I want reliable, future-proofed 2FA for any institutions I may forget to untether from my USA number. Other services, such as those mentioned in this thread, may work just fine, too. I just don’t want to take the chance since there seems to be a better option specific to my needs.

Overview, as I see it:

  • Google Voice (GV) is internet-based, and banks are beginning to refuse to pass 2FA over GV due to security concerns. This applies to not just GV but all VoIP (voice over internet portal) services.
  • AT&T, Verizon, etc., are cellular-based companies, and banks prefer 2FA over a mobile platform even though it’s not as secure as an App, but I digress.
  • Tello sits in the middle, where they lease cellular space in the USA, although they primarily exist on the internet. In this way, USA banks “see” the line as mobile, even though it’s mainly Internet. So, this ensures that in the future, or currently, banks won’t refuse to send 2FA. I saw other benefits with Tello, e.g. they won’t cancel a line for inactivity.  

How to get both cellular and Wi-Fi on the same phone?

This is how, and least for now, I’ll attempt it.

  • Since I have two eSIMs in my phone, I plan to keep my USA carrier on eSIM 1 so I have cell access upon arrival in Portugal.
  • Then, I will get Portuguese cell service by using eSIM 2.
  • Once that’s established, I will port my USA number to Tello, delete the USA carrier from eSIM 1, and reuse it for Tello.
  • I’d then toggle off Tello when I don’t need USA 2FA, and use Portuguese cellular as my main line. I’d reverse that when needed.
  • Once assured that I no longer need USA 2FA, I’ll cancel Tello, as it is a non-contract service.
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Community Member
(@jma)
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 28

@kraig Yep. Totally get this. I’ve recently purchased a physical security key (Yubikey) to try it out. I figure authentication is moving away from text messages (2FA) to multifactor (MFA), which could be the way past all of this phone number nonsense. Of course, a physical key feels vaguely retro (remember dongles?) We’ll see…

The 2 Best Security Keys for Multi-Factor Authentication of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter (nytimes.com)

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Community Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 24

@adventurefilmmaker Long story short, I did not port my US number over before I left.  But as I’m seriously considering dropping my T-mobile now, are there any suggestions for how I might fix this (now) grievous error?  I still have US accounts that might require a 2FA.  Obrigada.

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

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@simone22 I was looking into Mint mobile for their $15 a month plan using an e-sim. They allow text and voice while on wi-fi without charges from my understanding.

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Joined: 2 years ago

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@jonesdn2020 Muito obrigada!

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 DXJ
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Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@jonesdn2020 Were you able to activate an e-SIM from outside the US service area? Just curious, in case I need a new non-VoIP number at some point. I’ve used Mint a few times in the past, but not outside the continental USA.

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Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@dxj I haven’t. I am still using Google voice without issue. The instructions from Mint say to download their app and connect to Wi-Fi to enable the e-Sim. 

I would probably also have my Surfshark VPN connected to the US while doing that with their app if I ever tried it. 

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 DXJ
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Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@jonesdn2020 Indeed, I wonder whether that would work. If Mint only needs an Internet connection (e.g., via US proxy or VPN endpoint), I could be interested if needed.  I had just assumed that you would still need to activate it by connecting a cell phone to a US-based cell tower, not merely over an Internet connection.

To avoid any possible roaming charges, it’s still probably best to activate the number, then port it to Google Voice or another VoIP provider (free or cheap enough), and then it’s always accessible anywhere you have data, with no extra fees.

All that being said, Google Voice should satisfy 90-99% of needs for US numbers. If your GV number was ported from a legitimate operator originally, then probably 100% of your needs are covered. If the number is flagged as being from a VoIP range or something specific to Google Voice, then it may be blocked, at least from certain banks that insist on using only insecure 2FA.

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Posts: 26
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Topic starter
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

Thank you, James!

I’m not sure how I’d port my USA-based AT&T number to Google Voice and then cancel AT&T. Or are you saying many around here would keep AT&T and pick up a Portuguese eSIM service, too?

Essentially, they pay for two cell companies for the same phone.

Also, FWIW, I’ve read that not all 2FA works over Google Voice.

So, if I get it right, it seems the most straightforward way is to bring my phone to Portugal with AT&T as my carrier and then start an eSIM for Portugal on the same phone. I’d then pay both services until I decide I no longer need AT&T.

Am I close to getting it? 🤔 

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Hon Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 412

@kraig When I ported my phone to Google Voice, that cancelled my US Verizon service. I don’t pay anything for 2FA texts to Google Voice, and every such text has come through with no problem, so why should I pay full price for US phone service I don’t intend to use? I purchased a Portuguese SIM card for my phone that is bundled into my home internet/wifi package here in Portugal. If I go back to the states, I can either use Google Voice over public wifi or buy a prepaid SIM card for the time I need it.

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Community Member
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@kraig We ditched AT&T when we moved here and got Vodafone. We had already had Google Voice for over a decade and were using that number as a backup to our cell numbers.

You have to use a US number to setup Google Voice so I would do that prior to moving to Portugal.

We have never had a 2FA issue with Google Voice but one bank that required us to pick a US cell carrier required us to call and have them enter the number from there end to validate it. 

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Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 31

@kraig I recently moved to Portugal in January and I just did this. I ported my active T-Mobile mobile number to Google Voice using the steps from the Google Support article below (if the link didn’t attach, then just google port my mobile number to Google voice). It cost me $20 and I did it like 2 days before my flight. You can only port the number when you are in the US with an active carrier. It took a day to successfully port the number and that automatically dropped my service with T-Mobile (I had a family plan, so my sister had to change her plan).

In terms of needing an active US number, that’s up to you to decide if you really need it. I so far have had no issue with receiving texts to my US number through Google Voice. The best part is Google Voice is complete free after the initial port-in fee. My total monthly plan here in Portugal with NOS for mobile phone service, landline (don’t even use it but it was included), TV, and fiber internet is only 39.99 EUR/month. My old T-Mobile line even on a family plan was more than this combined cost alone!

Also, in regards to your original post, I bought some new devices before I left like a new iPhone 15 Pro and a new laptop. There are no issues with charging them, since I brought US to EU plug adapters with me, so I can charge many different devices I have. My iPhone is unlocked (I purchased it outright from Apple, so no carrier lock) and it supports multiple e-SIMs anyways even if you wanted to keep your US number with active service after your move and still add a Portuguese e-SIM to that phone. And I think most of my financial institutions don’t even require 2FA. Of course, that’s most secure, but face ID alone works for me. Another trick is to purchase a VPN (virtual private network), so that your IP address for your device can be changed to the US for example. I use that on my phone and laptop when I’m accessing my US financial institutions. I use Surfshark.

 

https://support.google.com/voice/answer/1065667?hl=en

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Posts: 26
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Topic starter
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

Thank you, all, for the great advice! I’ve learned a lot.

FWIW, I understand that 2FA via VoIP has worked well for many, but as said here and elsewhere, not all banks will allow its use since it’s seen as a landline, and they require mobile. Reliable 2FA is the core reason we’d keep a USA number.

So, here’s the initial plan, based on our convo here and sites like this.

  • Make sure my phone is unlocked.
  • Port the AT&T number to Tello a few weeks before USA departure via eSIM.
  • Trade in all but some Apple devices while in the USA for store credit.
  • Go to iStore in Portugal and trade in remaining USA-based devices for credit.
  • Get new Portuguese-based Apple devices (preference is not to need USA-to-EU power adapters).
  • Get a Portuguese cellular provider with their number as primary eSIM and Tello secondary.
  • Rejoice.

What do you think?

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Joined: 2 years ago

Posts: 412

@kraig Why? Tello costs money and still has problems. You can’t use Apple store credit in Portugal, as there are no Apple stores here (they are only authorized retailers). Why not just buy Euro chargers here for a few bucks and avoid the hassle?

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Community Member
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

Posts: 26

@adventurefilmmaker

What issues does Tello have for 2FA? From what I gather, MVNO > VoIP.

I didn’t realize there was a distinction between Apple Store credit and iStore (authorized reseller) use. I wonder if using an Apple Credit Card could bypass that one.

I don’t know offhand how much out-of-pocket it would be for new PT devices, so I may indeed move to just getting adapters if it’s prohibitive! 😎

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Community Member
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

Posts: 26

@antonio_f I see, and thanks! I knew cars, etc., would cost more in PT. I didn’t realize that’s true for electronics. If we get new hardware, it will be in the USA. We’ll then get the proper adapters once in PT.

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Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@kraig I just purchased an Apple watch 9 from Worten here. It was 20% off the Apple web page price. I paid 399 euros for the 45mm.

We have two Iphone 14 from Worten, we have an ASUS ROG STRIX, and MSI gaming laptop we purchased here as well. The ASUS was a previous model year floor model discounted over 50% and I compared that to Amazon US and it was 30% cheaper.

We only purchase items in the Winter, Summer, and Black Friday sales periods when the discounts are 20% to 60%. 

You have to remember the prices here include taxes and extended warranties of three years. You will also get your devices serviced through the retailer you purchased it from here unlike the US. 

Your US purchases are unlikely to get serviced here.

That is why we purchase from Worten and El Cortes Ingles and include our NIF for tracking the purchase.  

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Community Member
(@kraig)
Joined: 9 months ago

Posts: 26

@jonesdn2020

Hold on, man! You’re blowing my mind. 🤣

I didn’t realize VAT and a three-year warranty were part of the price or that USA devices may not get serviced. I get it now; devices from the USA aren’t readily serviced in PT due to differences in hardware from region to region.

Humm.

It also looks like there’s a difference between USA and PT keyboards (screenshot).

ptPT

It sounds like you eventually swapped all your non-PT hardware for PT hardware.

If so, has the keyboard change been a hassle to get used to?

Were you able to trade in or sell your USA hardware first?

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@kraig We still have our old US Lenovo laptop from 2017 and our really old iPads. 

We did trade-in our old US iPhones here in Portugal at Worten for credit against other purchases.   

We have gotten use to the keyboards for everyday use, but we do use a US Logitech wireless keyboard for heavy data entry or long correspondence typing. 

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 DXJ
Community Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@kraig US keyboard layouts are surprisingly easy to find in Portugal, even in laptops. I think ANSI layouts have become a de-facto standard for some international coders/gamers worldwide.

That said, I am a very picky user both of dedicated keyboards and of US physical layouts, so if you need a specific make/model/features harder to find in Portugal, then consider bringing it with you in a carry-on or checked bag. The ones I use may still be available somewhere in Europe, but probably for 2-3 times the US price.

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