Using Your Smartphone In Spain

Discussion in 'How To' started by Don Quixote, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. Don Quixote

    Don Quixote Funster

    Jul 29, 2012
    Lost in La Mancha, Spain
    In Spain, there are four mobile networks operators: Movistar, Vodafone,Orange and Yoigo. There are also a number of virtual network operators using coverage from these networks.

    When visiting Spain in your motorhome from the UK you do not need to worry about handset compatibility. The mobile networks operating in Spain use the exact same frequenciesused in the UK. Hence, any smartphone that’s compatible with UK networks will also be compatible with the networks in Spain.
    There are two ways of using your smartphone in Spain:

    Using UK-based SIM card:
    If you’re visiting Spain for a fairly short time, you’d probably be better off with a UK-based SIM card. Your UK network operator will have a commercial roaming agreement in place with the Spanish networks. This allows you to use your normal UK SIM card through international roaming. The costs of roaming on a UK-based SIM card will often be slightly higher than using a local Spanish SIM card. However, it’s much less hassle (there’s no need to visit a phone store on arrival in Spain). With 3UK Feel at Home, a UK-based SIM card can sometimes even be cheaper than a local Spanish SIM card.

    Roaming on UK SIM card:
    For occasional calling and texting, the costs of using a UK-based SIM card are fairly reasonable in Spain. This is because EU legislation has set a maximum cost on using your smartphone in EU. Typically, you’ll be charged 18.8p/minute to make a phone call in Spain. It’s 4.9p/minute to receive an incoming call and around 5.9p to send a text message. ( as of 2015 )
    Unfortunately, the costs of using mobile internet abroad are still fairly substantial (you’ll need mobile internet to access social media, e-mail and maps on the go - *incoming text's are free). On most mobile networks, you can expect to pay around £2/day to £3/day. For a one-week holiday, the data roaming costs can easily add up to more than £20. This can go through the roof if you are watching UK TV very sim card!!! * It’s always free to receive an incoming text message anywhere in the world. * Calling and texting is free in Spain on on some UK providers ( please ask your provider before leaving the UK )
    Various offers are currently available for cheaper roaming in Spain. For instance, Vodafone has a
    £3/day EuroTraveller offer where you’re able to use your normal UK allowances. However, for any trip longer than a couple of days/weeks, the best option is Three’s Feel At Home offer. With a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three, you can use your smartphone in Spain for up to 30 days for only £10.

    Three’s Feel At Home Offer
    UK network operators, Three is by far the cheapest network for roaming in Spain. This is due to the Feel At Home offer: you can use your normal UK allowances when abroad in Spain at no extra cost. The offer is available to both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go customers.

    Spanish SIM card:
    For longer-term visits and for frequent trips to Spain, you might be better off buying a SIM card locally in Spain. The SIM card will slot inside of your unlocked smartphone. You’ll get a phone number in Spain and you’ll be charged the same rates as a local resident. This can be handy for local use and for anyone calling you in Spain. You can buy a Pay As You Go SIM card from one of Spain’s major networks (Movistar, Vodafone, Orange and Yoigo). A very high percentage of Ex Pats in Spain use Masmovil network in Spain because the costs are very low.

    When buying your SIM card in Spain, you’ll need to visit a mobile network store. By law, you must provide photo identification when buying a SIM card (for this reason, you should bring your passport). It’s also worth being aware you may need to converse in Spanish when doing this.

    For the SIM card to work in your phone, your smartphone needs to be unlocked before you leave the UK. For more information, "google" in-depth guides to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy handset . It’s worth noting that Spanish mobile networks are treated separately to UK networks for the purposes of locking. For instance, a Vodafone UK handset must still be unlocked before it’ll accept a SIM card from Vodafone in Spain. The same goes for other UK networks (e.g. handsets on O2 or Orange in the UK).

    In summary:
    For short trips (around 1 to 3 weeks), the best value option is probably to roam on your normal UK SIM card. Expect to pay around £2/day to £3/day to access the internet when you’re out in Spain. You’ll also need to pay around 18.8p/minute to call the UK and around 5.9p/message for texts to the UK. This can approximately be budgeted as £1 for a 5-minute phone call.

    For longer trips, a SIM card from Three may offer better value. You get lots of minutes and texts for contacting the UK. There’s also a decent allowance of mobile internet. A major advantage when choosing Three is you’re able to set up your SIM card before you even leave home (that’s one less thing to do when you’re out here in Spain). A £10 top-up gives you 500MB of internet for up to 30 days. Meanwhile, a £20 top-up gives you 25GB of data in Spain.

    I hope this helps FUN members
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
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  2. travelbunyip

    travelbunyip Funster

    Apr 10, 2015
    Great advise looks like you have done your homework. This year we used Vodophone and it worked really well. Interesting getting recharges at places where they don't speak English, buts that's all part of the traveling experience. As we travel from Australia the option of using UK phone sims is not an option for us. I am sure that this will help many travelers to Spain.
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