Does anyone know whether I can buy a phone on google Play in the US and use in the UK?

I live in the UK, but will be visiting the US in the next couple of weeks, so thought I could buy the new Google Nexus 5 on Google Play from there, and save a few $$.

Does anyone know if I'm likely to come across any possible issues?

  • I am assuming you are only asking about possible issues with regards to importing the phone and not being able to use it?
    – karancan
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 15:11
  • No, I'd like to know about usage. I know importing will be fine Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:51
  • In that case, I don't think this question is relevant to SE Travel
    – karancan
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 19:54
  • 3
    You are better off asking this question here: android.stackexchange.com
    – karancan
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 19:56
  • The US version of the Nexus 5 does not support the LTE frequency bands used in the UK, (3, 7 and 20) so you will not get 4G data. If this is important to you, buy the non-US model. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 1:01

2 Answers 2


I investigated buying an iPhone, so I can only answer on possible issues.

Often the US is not as cheap as it first appears. First, in the US prices are published without taxes. Secondly, if the total value of the goods you bring back are more than EUR 450 you'll need to pay custom taxes. You also need to buy a local charger or plug adapter.

In the case of an iPhone, the price was still lower in the US, but it was more in the 20-40 eur range. This plus the limited support if the phone turned out to be defective made me decide not to buy an iPhone in the US.

I also ran into issues by ordering online, with the objective to let it be delivered, while in the US. This turned out to be impossible in many cases. Some online shops only accept American credit cards and most that do accept foreign cards, only will deliver to your home address.

Personally, I think that buying electronics in the US is only beneficial if you can accept the limited warranty and if you are able to deduct the customs taxes from your local taxes (e.g. tax deductions in case of running your own company).

While I was in the US, someone I met went to Best Buy, to investigate the Nexus. I don't know if he ended up buying one. I went to Best Buy myself and was able to pay with a foreign card. I recall that we discussed bringing our newly bought phones back as if it was our phone before going to the US, i.e. throwing away all receipts and packaging. Again throwing away receipts might limit your warranty even more, but more importantly, customs apparently do check serial numbers on some occasions.

As said, I ended up not buying an iPhone, but I did buy up to 200 dollars of electronics, saving me about 45 eur versus if I had bought it at home.

  • 1
    Be careful buying iPhones in New York (and other US cities). A friend of mine bought one while attending a conference there. He returned to London and his iPhone developed a fault. He tried to get it replaced at the main London Apple Store on Regents Street. They told him that as it was bought in the US he would have to return it to a US Apple Store.
    – Joel B
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 15:30

If you buy an unlocked phone, you should be able to use it. I use a Nexus 4 purchased from Google play, and have used it with a SIM purchased in the U.S., Mexico, and the UK, with no problem.

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