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Replying to: In search of the right mobile phone! by spaceman91
Virgin's network and phones use Sprint's CDMA network, which means no SIM cards, and it's completely incompatible with the GSM networks used in Europe. It's the same with Boost, MetroPCS and Cricket; they use CDMA as well.
If you're okay using a GSM prepaid option - like the prepaid options from T-Mobile or AT&T - then you can do what you're asking, otherwise, you won't be able to use the same phone in both the US (prepaid) and Europe.
Mobile hotspot pretty much means a smartphone. Unless you want to splurge on an iPhone (and probably go "rogue" with unauthorized unlocking tools, else pay even more) you'e probably talking about an Android phone.
Most Android phones have most of what you want. The issue is going to be the QWERTY keyboard. That's semi-rare these days.
There are no ruggedized phones that meet your needs, so you'll have to settle for a phone that just seems sturdy.
Here are some options:
http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/compare.php?p=3328, ... »
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