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Best prepaid telephone to buy in SJPdP

Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#1
Hi - We’ll be starting the Camino in SJPDP this May. Does anyone have any suggestions about the best cheap
pre-paid phone to buy there? ( I used an international calling option last time & it was awful). Thanks
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#2
Hi - We’ll be starting the Camino in SJPDP this May. Does anyone have any suggestions about the best cheap
pre-paid phone to buy there? ( I used an international calling option last time & it was awful). Thanks
@Carolyn Gwin,
I don't know about a prepaid phone, but last year I had trouble with the service I bought for my iphone. I went into a China store and bought a cheap flip phone. Then I went across the road to Vodaphone and bought 10 euros worth of service for the phone. The service lasted for a reasonable amount of calling. It was handy on the VdlP, because the service can be topped up in any grocery store. I shall take that phone with me on my next camino.
 

lt56ny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013-Frances SJP-Finisterre, 2015 Camino Le Puy-Santiago, 2017 Portugues Lisbon-Santiago 2018 Norte
#4
Hi - We’ll be starting the Camino in SJPDP this May. Does anyone have any suggestions about the best cheap
pre-paid phone to buy there? ( I used an international calling option last time & it was awful). Thanks
If you can wait until you get into Spain I would recommend getting a Spanish SIM card. I think Vodafone has the most offices. I use Orange they have almost as many offices. For 20 Euros you can get 80 minutes of calls within Spain and 10 gigs of Internet. It is good for a month and then you can get another month's worth for 20 Euros. You can't call the United States or wherever you are from but you can use wifi or your 10 gigs to call via Wattsapp or Viber or any other free phone service. Early in my Camino I called some of the albergues just to make sure they were open or if I was making a reservation when there was only a very small albergue. I used it a lot to check my location. When the first month was up I had like 6 gigs and about 45 minutes left. If you want an international plan it will cost you a lot more money. Orange worked great for me.
 

eggi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
My sister and I are planning to walk the camino in April 2019
#5
If you can wait until you get into Spain I would recommend getting a Spanish SIM card. I think Vodafone has the most offices. I use Orange they have almost as many offices. For 20 Euros you can get 80 minutes of calls within Spain and 10 gigs of Internet. It is good for a month and then you can get another month's worth for 20 Euros. You can't call the United States or wherever you are from but you can use wifi or your 10 gigs to call via Wattsapp or Viber or any other free phone service. Early in my Camino I called some of the albergues just to make sure they were open or if I was making a reservation when there was only a very small albergue. I used it a lot to check my location. When the first month was up I had like 6 gigs and about 45 minutes left. If you want an international plan it will cost you a lot more money. Orange worked great for me.
Hi:
Did you insert the spanish sim card into your north american i phone?
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés (2014, 2018), Finisterre (2014, 2018) Primitivo (2015), Portuguese var routes (2017, 2018)
#6
We have always used Vodafone and changed out the SIM card with lots of success. No iPhone but Samsungs. They are all already unlocked. With an elderly mother at home, for a few euros extra we added calls to the USA. I can't remember the exact price, as it was different each time, but still very economical.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#8
Look into Google Fi (it was called Project Fi until recently.) May be good only if a resident of the US. They recently allowed more phones into the network but if you are using it in the EU you likely will need one using GSM. $20 a month for unlimited calls and texts. Data is a little weird but essentially you pay only one cent per MB ($10/GB.) Calls from Spain to the US are 20 cents per minute but they automatically connect to WiFi first before using the chargable cellular network. They have deals all over the world so it is almost seamless. I didn't use this in Spain but it worked just great in NZ.
 

Latecomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Sept 2015)

CF SJPDP-SdC+
(Sept/Oct 2018)
#9
Hi:
Did you insert the spanish sim card into your north american i phone?
Yes, I did in September. Using an Orange SIM card which I paid a premium for at an electronics shop (Tech & Fly) in the Madrid airport - They were helpful installing and testing the SIM card before my friend and I left the shop. My iPhone (8 plus) was not bought through a carrier.

Note: iPhones bought through Verizon before early 2018 are unlocked, since then is less clear (but you should have no problem getting them unlocked, if necessary, if you do it far enough in advance of any trip). iPhones bought through other US mobile carriers are probably initially locked, but can be unlocked for international use depending on different factors (don't wait until the last moment to do this, sometimes it involves different systems an people and can be very difficult to do once you are overseas).

Do me, it is VERY useful having all of my iPhone features working whenever I want them (to look something up, send a Whatsapp message, use Google Maps, check weather, share a photo, etc.) and not needing to worry about getting someplace with Wi-Fi .
¡Buen Camino!
 

Kelly Ann

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
N/A
#11
If you can wait until you get into Spain I would recommend getting a Spanish SIM card. I think Vodafone has the most offices. I use Orange they have almost as many offices. For 20 Euros you can get 80 minutes of calls within Spain and 10 gigs of Internet. It is good for a month and then you can get another month's worth for 20 Euros. You can't call the United States or wherever you are from but you can use wifi or your 10 gigs to call via Wattsapp or Viber or any other free phone service. Early in my Camino I called some of the albergues just to make sure they were open or if I was making a reservation when there was only a very small albergue. I used it a lot to check my location. When the first month was up I had like 6 gigs and about 45 minutes left. If you want an international plan it will cost you a lot more money. Orange worked great for me.
What's "Orange"? Is that a type of smart phone or is it a phone plan?
 

Kelly Ann

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
N/A
#12
We have always used Vodafone and changed out the SIM card with lots of success. No iPhone but Samsungs. They are all already unlocked. With an elderly mother at home, for a few euros extra we added calls to the USA. I can't remember the exact price, as it was different each time, but still very economical.
Hey Elle, what's a "Vodaphone", a phone or a phone plan?
 

Latecomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Sept 2015)

CF SJPDP-SdC+
(Sept/Oct 2018)
#13
What's a "GSM phone"?
GSM is basically a world standard for mobile networks. It is used by T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon and Sprint use a different standard (CDMA). iPhones (all, I believe) have the ability to use either type of network.
What's "Orange"? Is that a type of smart phone or is it a phone plan?
Orange is a mobile provider with a large presence in Spain. I had good experience with it on the Via de la Plata and Camino Frances. I only chose them because they were convenient (Vodafone is probably equally as good).
¡Buen Camino!
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
#14
Vodaphone sell a sim card specifically marketed to travellers. It is quick and easy because you do not have to use a local address. But be aware that it only lasts 30 days, and then expires. Regardless of whether you have topped up with more credit. It also churns through the data, with the charging system it uses. I found that, contrary to what I had been told, it did not work when I crossed into another country (when I walked from Portugal across into Spain).

I would not buy it again. I'd go back to Orange.
 

Kelly Ann

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
N/A
#15
GSM is basically a world standard for mobile networks. It is used by T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon and Sprint use a different standard (CDMA). iPhones (all, I believe) have the ability to use either type of network.

Orange is a mobile provider with a large presence in Spain. I had good experience with it on the Via de la Plata and Camino Frances. I only chose them because they were convenient (Vodafone is probably equally as good).
¡Buen Camino!
Thank you for your replies. Why then do you suggest to get an unlocked GSM phone? Are there other kinds of smart phones/phones that are not GSM? And am I correct in saying that a GSM and a Vodaphone are both just phones?
 

Latecomer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VDLP (Sept 2015)

CF SJPDP-SdC+
(Sept/Oct 2018)
#16
Thank you for your replies. Why then do you suggest to get an unlocked GSM phone? Are there other kinds of smart phones/phones that are not GSM?
GSM is a "world standard", however, a couple of large US mobile providers (Verizon and Sprint) networks use the "non-world standard" protocol CDMA. If you get a phone through Verizon or Sprint you need to be somewhat careful about whether it is CDMA only and whether it will be useful in other countries (however, you are fine if it is an iPhone, other high end phones are probably okay but look at the specs or ask the salesperson) - and it needs to be carrier unlocked. It is an evolving landscape, here is more background information than most people would care about, and it is easy to get confused by the details.
And am I correct in saying that a GSM and a Vodaphone are both just phones?
Not really.
  • Over simplifying it, GSM can probably be viewed as a standard or protocol or platform (sort of like AM vs FM radio, VHF vs UHF TV, or VHS vs Beta - if you are as old as I am).
  • Vodafone (and Orange, and others) are mobile service providers, like Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and various resellers.
  • To use mobile phone service in the vast majority of the world, you get a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card from a mobile provider and put it in your phone. When you swap SIM cards in your phone, it effectively changes which mobile service provider you are using.
¡Buen Camino!
 

Kelly Ann

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
N/A
#17
GSM is a "world standard", however, a couple of large US mobile providers (Verizon and Sprint) networks use the "non-world standard" protocol CDMA. If you get a phone through Verizon or Sprint you need to be somewhat careful about whether it is CDMA only and whether it will be useful in other countries (however, you are fine if it is an iPhone, other high end phones are probably okay but look at the specs or ask the salesperson) - and it needs to be carrier unlocked. It is an evolving landscape, here is more background information than most people would care about, and it is easy to get confused by the details.

Not really.
  • Over simplifying it, GSM can probably be viewed as a standard or protocol or platform (sort of like AM vs FM radio, VHF vs UHF TV, or VHS vs Beta - if you are as old as I am).
  • Vodafone (and Orange, and others) are mobile service providers, like Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and various resellers.
  • To use mobile phone service in the vast majority of the world, you get a SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card from a mobile provider and put it in your phone. When you swap SIM cards in your phone, it effectively changes which mobile service provider you are using.
¡Buen Camino!
Okay. I think I'm getting it, and thanks so much for explaining. And, yes, this techno stuff is constantly evolving which makes it hard to keep up with but I don't know that much in the first place regarding smart phones as I don't have one so thanks so much for the extra information.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#19
If you are in the UK change your provider to 3 (three) as all calls, texts, and data come off your UK allowance - no roaming charges at all!
see here - http://www.three.co.uk/support/roaming/spain

but now I find that all roaming charges have gone anyway - !! so all UK providers do the same (I SO need to catch up with things!!).
 
Last edited:

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#21
If you are in the UK change your provider to 3 (three) as all calls, texts, and data come off your UK allowance - no roaming charges at all!
see here - http://www.three.co.uk/support/roaming/spain
Had huge problems when I tried 3 in Europe so shifted to giffgaff. For the princely sum of £10 a month within the EU I get unlimited texts, unlimited calls and 3Gb plus they throw in an extra 1Gb of data every so often.
Having said that if the OP has never heard of Orange or Vodaphone I doubt she's in the UK.
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
#22
Hi - We’ll be starting the Camino in SJPDP this May. Does anyone have any suggestions about the best cheap
pre-paid phone to buy there? ( I used an international calling option last time & it was awful). Thanks
Hi Carolyn,
Another option would be using an App like Whatsapp on your regular phone. Do you need to be available 24/7 to folks back home? Our service T mobile has free data in Spain. My husband is there now and we have not had to pay for any calls. When he has Wi-Fi we talk via video call on Whatsapp and use no data. When he does not have WiFi we just do a voice call on Whatsapp. We also have an inexpensive Spanish flip phone that we use when we are hospitaleros so pilgrims do not have to call us long distance on our US phone if we happen to be out shopping etc.
We bought it in an Orange store and we update minutes annually for 10 Euros.

If you can get by on Whatsapp until you reach Pamplona, that would be the first town in Spain to get a Spanish phone or plan. If you need to call ahead to book before that there are usually lots of nice pilgrims or hospitaleros who will let you use a phone or do it for you.

I don't know your circumstances, but I rely very little on my phone so have not minded those limitations. My niece (20 yr old) however ran up a huge call and data bill on her US phone her first week. She was in Pamplona on a Sunday and the stores were closed so waited until Estella to buy a SIM card. My brothers family does not have t mobile so the were charged for all her data use etc. So the want/need is very individual.

Good luck! You have some time to prepare and explore options.
Janet
 

lt56ny

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013-Frances SJP-Finisterre, 2015 Camino Le Puy-Santiago, 2017 Portugues Lisbon-Santiago 2018 Norte
#23
Hi:
Did you insert the spanish sim card into your north american i phone?
Yes, I forgot to say I have an unlocked phone. In fact, Orange does everything for you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2017
#25
I used an Orange SIM card in my unlocked Verizon iphone. I purchased a data and phone plan at the Madrid airport and paid about 50E for 9g of data and phone use. The data lasted for 30 days and the phone til I used it up. I did not have to use open WIFI on my phone, which protected my phone info. 9 gigs is a ton of data, but I don’t stream.

Orange recharges are available in supermercados and tabacs. To get more data I found that I had to go to an Orange store, which are not as plentiful as you might think. Unless you have a Spanish credit card, you cannot recharge online or over the phone. The supermercados/tabacs only put money on the account and cannot specify to extend the data plans. So you should arrange for the number of months of data through the Orange store.

I found it much simpler to use my existing phone with all my contacts and apps already there. There are a few changes you have to make to the settings, which I let the Orange sales person do. The only issue I had was with 2 factor authentications that used my home number. Be sure to add your new Spanish number to your sites that require 2 factor authentification before you change the sim cards. Then remember to change them back before to put your home card back in.
Best choice if you are from the US? Get TMobile.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#26
Hi Carolyn,
Another option would be using an App like Whatsapp on your regular phone. Do you need to be available 24/7 to folks back home? Our service T mobile has free data in Spain. My husband is there now and we have not had to pay for any calls. When he has Wi-Fi we talk via video call on Whatsapp and use no data. When he does not have WiFi we just do a voice call on Whatsapp. We also have an inexpensive Spanish flip phone that we use when we are hospitaleros so pilgrims do not have to call us long distance on our US phone if we happen to be out shopping etc.
We bought it in an Orange store and we update minutes annually for 10 Euros.

If you can get by on Whatsapp until you reach Pamplona, that would be the first town in Spain to get a Spanish phone or plan. If you need to call ahead to book before that there are usually lots of nice pilgrims or hospitaleros who will let you use a phone or do it for you.

I don't know your circumstances, but I rely very little on my phone so have not minded those limitations. My niece (20 yr old) however ran up a huge call and data bill on her US phone her first week. She was in Pamplona on a Sunday and the stores were closed so waited until Estella to buy a SIM card. My brothers family does not have t mobile so the were charged for all her data use etc. So the want/need is very individual.

Good luck! You have some time to prepare and explore options.
Janet
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#27
Thank you! I plan to keep my USA phone to use with WhstsApp for communications family in the states. Do you think I can find an inexpensive phone in SJPDP instead of waiting to get to Pamplona? I read that cell providers cover France and Spain and am hoping a 3 month plan will suffice.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#29
Vodaphone seems the way to go. Are there as many places to buy minutes along the way as there are for Orange?
I don’t want to change out SIM card on my iPhone. Hoping to buy a simple flip phone with internet capabilities.
Does that sound possible?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#30
I plan to keep my USA phone to use with WhstsApp for communications family in the states.
You can use your WhatsApp account by signing in with any phone where the app is installed. You use whatever user ID you originally set up your account with - that is likely your US cell phone number, but it is just a username. I regularly sign in to WhatsApp using the new Spanish phone number I purchase on arrival.
I don’t want to change out SIM card on my iPhone. Hoping to buy a simple flip phone with internet capabilities.
Maybe you don't need a new phone or SIM card at all. Just put your USA phone in Airplane Mode, with wifi turned on. If an emergency arises, you can turn off the Airplane Mode and spend a few dollars to make whatever calls you need.

However, if for example, you were planning to make phone calls to albergues or hostales to make reservations, this arrangement would start to cost you money. That, and having data-on-the-go, is why many of us switch SIM cards.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#31
You can use your WhatsApp account by signing in with any phone where the app is installed. You use whatever user ID you originally set up your account with - that is likely your US cell phone number, but it is just a username. I regularly sign in to WhatsApp using the new Spanish phone number I purchase on arrival.

Maybe you don't need a new phone or SIM card at all. Just put your USA phone in Airplane Mode, with wifi turned on. If an emergency arises, you can turn off the Airplane Mode and spend a few dollars to make whatever calls you need.

However, if for example, you were planning to make phone calls to albergues or hostales to make reservations, this arrangement would start to cost you money. That, and having data-on-the-go, is why many of us switch SIM cards.
You can use your WhatsApp account by signing in with any phone where the app is installed. You use whatever user ID you originally set up your account with - that is likely your US cell phone number, but it is just a username. I regularly sign in to WhatsApp using the new Spanish phone number I purchase on arrival.

Maybe you don't need a new phone or SIM card at all. Just put your USA phone in Airplane Mode, with wifi turned on. If an emergency arises, you can turn off the Airplane Mode and spend a few dollars to make whatever calls you need.

However, if for example, you were planning to make phone calls to albergues or hostales to make reservations, this arrangement would start to cost you money. That, and having data-on-the-go, is why many of us switch SIM cards.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#32
I tried leaving phone in airplane mode and using an international calling plan last trek and it was expensive and impractical.
Do you buy SIM cards with preloaded minutes? Is it cheaper to buy a simple unlocked phone here than in Europe?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#33
tried leaving phone in airplane mode and using an international calling plan
You cannot make regular phone calls while you are in Airplane Mode, so you must have been taking the phone off that mode. If you use WhatsApp or other apps for free calling, you need internet through wifi or a data plan.

Yes, you buy SIM cards and a plan which comes with a certain number of minutes. These vary among providers and are different everytime I go, but there is usually a reasonably priced option at any of the main providers.

I don't know why you need a new phone. Is yours not unlocked? All of your contacts, emails and apps will remain exactly the same. The only change with a new SIM card is that you will have a new phone number for normal dialed phone calls.
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
#34
Carolyn,
I don't remember any place to buy a phone before Pamplona. I don't recall anyplace in SJPDP. Others may know more. Our inexpensive Spanish flip phone can receive texts and calls, but nothing else. It is cumbersome to text as there is no keyboard or touchscreen.
Janet
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#35
You cannot make regular phone calls while you are in Airplane Mode, so you must have been taking the phone off that mode. If you use WhatsApp or other apps for free calling, you need internet through wifi or a data plan.

Yes, you buy SIM cards and a plan which comes with a certain number of minutes. These vary among providers and are different everytime I go, but there is usually a reasonably priced option at any of the main providers.

I don't know why you need a new phone. Is yours not unlocked? All of your contacts, emails and apps will remain exactly the same. The only change with a new SIM card is that you will have a new phone number for normal dialed phone calls.[/QUOTE
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#36
Carolyn,
I don't remember any place to buy a phone before Pamplona. I don't recall anyplace in SJPDP. Others may know more. Our inexpensive Spanish flip phone can receive texts and calls, but nothing else. It is cumbersome to text as there is no keyboard or touchscreen.
Janet
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#37
Good to know. I really want GPS and internet capability. I hope someone will know of an inexpensive cell phone or maybe I’m better off finding a GSM
phone before I leave?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#38
GPS will be available even in airplane mode. You can use the available wifi for your first 3 days or so, until you get to Pamplona, and then choose what you want. In case of emergency during those first 3 days, you have your US number.

I am still puzzled by why you don't want to switch SIM cards. I only ask because I suspect there is some misunderstanding about how it would work, that we can help you with.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#39
GPS will be available even in airplane mode. You can use the available wifi for your first 3 days or so, until you get to Pamplona, and then choose what you want. In case of emergency during those first 3 days, you have your US number.

I am still puzzled by why you don't want to switch SIM cards. I only ask because I suspect there is some misunderstanding about how it would work, that we can help you with.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#40
Thanks for responding so quickly. I believe my iPhone is locked
- will check with Verizon tomorrow. Also, I was told there’s a risk of losing my contact info etc and didn’t want to risk it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#41
If your phone is locked, yes that is a problem. I don't know who told you there is a risk of losing your contact info, etc. - was it a statement of fear/concern, or a statement based on knowledge? I am not an expert by any means, but I don't think that risk is real. I certainly haven't lost any of my contacts.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2015
#42
When I was in France this summer I bought an Orange SIM card for my iPhone8, had it unlocked before I left the US. As I was gone for 3 months I had to renew the plan 3 times as they each last one month. It was very convenient to be able to make unlimited phone calls and have data available. What I would like to know if one buys an ORANGE SIM card in France will it be usable in Spain or would one have to wait to purchase one in Pamploma?
 
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb, Roncesvalles - SdC - Muxia - Fisterra
#43
...What I would like to know if one buys an ORANGE SIM card in France will it be usable in Spain or would one have to wait to purchase one in Pamploma?
I believe it would have to do with the prepaid plan, if any with Orange. My Vodafone SIM is good in various countries. I still receive texts from time to time from Vodafone and calls from telemarketers or people that owned the number before me in Spain...yippee me!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb, Roncesvalles - SdC - Muxia - Fisterra
#44
Thanks for responding so quickly. I believe my iPhone is locked
- will check with Verizon tomorrow. Also, I was told there’s a risk of losing my contact info etc and didn’t want to risk it.
Double check with your provider. Verizon in the US stopped locking the iPhones a couple models back. I would guess others providers are going a similar direction. I can't help you with a phone in SJPdP but I "think" Pamplona will be your best bet. GSM is the type of network...think AM vs. FM. Much of the world is on GSM (Europe, some carriers in the US as has been mentioned, etc.). Other parts of the world are on CDMA, Verizon in the US being the large one. Many smart phones have the antenna and guts for both.

Depending on your mobile OS you may need to go further than ticking Airplane mode. iOS by Apple made some changes that are not necessarily permanent from the Control Center. Deeper in the Settings you can turn off your Cellular data which is where often times the $$$ add up. Modern phones are constantly passing data if we have apps that check in from time to time, such as mail or texts or various other apps that have been granted permission to do so.

I hope this helps a bit!
 
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
#45
When I was in France this summer I bought an Orange SIM card for my iPhone8, had it unlocked before I left the US. As I was gone for 3 months I had to renew the plan 3 times as they each last one month. It was very convenient to be able to make unlimited phone calls and have data available. What I would like to know if one buys an ORANGE SIM card in France will it be usable in Spain or would one have to wait to purchase one in Pamploma?
If you buy a sim card in the EU the data calls and text price you pay in your "home" country is the same in whatever EU state you are traveling in. You will have to go on to the settings on the phone to ensure " roaming" is selected. This means that your phone will connect to your provider's partner network in the new country automatically but you will be charged at the home rate. I don't know about France and Spain but if you are coming through the UK you can buy A sim card from any supermarket , they usually have a choice of 5 or 6 different providers on the checkout for a £1.00. pick a sim and then ask the checkout operator for a top up voucher. Call the number on the sun and cover that credit to a plan.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#46
Double check with your provider. Verizon in the US stopped locking the iPhones a couple models back. I would guess others providers are going a similar direction. I can't help you with a phone in SJPdP but I "think" Pamplona will be your best bet. GSM is the type of network...think AM vs. FM. Much of the world is on GSM (Europe, some carriers in the US as has been mentioned, etc.). Other parts of the world are on CDMA, Verizon in the US being the large one. Many smart phones have the antenna and guts for both.

Depending on your mobile OS you may need to go further than ticking Airplane mode. iOS by Apple made some changes that are not necessarily permanent from the Control Center. Deeper in the Settings you can turn off your Cellular data which is where often times the $$$ add up. Modern phones are constantly passing data if we have apps that check in from time to time, such as mail or texts or various other apps that have been granted permission to do so.

I hope this helps a bit!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#47
Thank you! It helped A LOT!
You are correct about Verizon and our phones are GSM capable so I think SIM cards are the way to go. Is there a disadvantage to buying in SJPDP vs waiting to get a Spanish card in Pamplona?
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#48
Double check with your provider. Verizon in the US stopped locking the iPhones a couple models back. I would guess others providers are going a similar direction. I can't help you with a phone in SJPdP but I "think" Pamplona will be your best bet. GSM is the type of network...think AM vs. FM. Much of the world is on GSM (Europe, some carriers in the US as has been mentioned, etc.). Other parts of the world are on CDMA, Verizon in the US being the large one. Many smart phones have the antenna and guts for both.

Depending on your mobile OS you may need to go further than ticking Airplane mode. iOS by Apple made some changes that are not necessarily permanent from the Control Center. Deeper in the Settings you can turn off your Cellular data which is where often times the $$$ add up. Modern phones are constantly passing data if we have apps that check in from time to time, such as mail or texts or various other apps that have been granted permission to do so.

I hope this helps a bit!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#49
PS - as a note to others:
What Darby67 says is true. Having your phone in airplane mode even with an international calling plan from USA can incur big charges from Apps that you’re not even using taking up cell data.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#50
PS - as a note to others:
What Darby67 says is true. Having your phone in airplane mode even with an international calling plan from USA can incur big charges from Apps that you’re not even using taking up cell data.
I am curious about this. Which apps do it?
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018
May 2019
#52
On my phone, they ALL did.
It was not fun being on the Camino, not using my phone at all and getting notices that I was incurring charges. It got corrected and refunded but it was an unnecessary hassle.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
#53
I think the suggestion to wait until Pamplona is based on the fact SJPDP is in France. A Spanish SIM will be easier to top up in Spain, if necessary, than a French one.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#54
You are correct about Verizon and our phones are GSM capable so I think SIM cards are the way to go. Is there a disadvantage to buying in SJPDP vs waiting to get a Spanish card in Pamplona?
I think the suggestion to wait until Pamplona is based on the fact SJPDP is in France. A Spanish SIM will be easier to top up in Spain, if necessary, than a French one.
It is my understanding that @NorthernLight is correct. The phone will work but if you run out of minutes or data and have to recharge them you will not be able to do that if the phone plan was bought in France. You would then need to buy another SIM in Spain and that would (probably) entail you having to change your phone number. All in all it is going to be a lot simpler and easier to wait until you get to Pamplona. Use WiFi and email or other apps that use WiFi (if you have them) for a few days.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues March 2019
#56
@Carolyn Gwin,
I don't know about a prepaid phone, but last year I had trouble with the service I bought for my iphone. I went into a China store and bought a cheap flip phone. Then I went across the road to Vodaphone and bought 10 euros worth of service for the phone. The service lasted for a reasonable amount of calling. It was handy on the VdlP, because the service can be topped up in any grocery store. I shall take that phone with me on my next camino.
I am not the least bit techy, and my husband and I are heading for the Portuguese camino in March. Now all this talk about buying phones has freaked me out! I have an I phone with T-Mobile and it faired pretty well in Nepal, so I figured it would elsewhere in Europe. I have downloaded translation, maps, and all kinds of stuff on mine so am I not going to be able to use it? I don't plan on making phone calls, just texting. I won't worry about reserving places to stay ahead as it's March and we will just walk around the towns we want to stay in until we find a place. Is this unreasonable to do it this way? Please HELP!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2017
Camino del Norte 2018
#57
We used orange on our unlocked Iphone 5s. With the data plan was able to use it to navigate (using the fabulous Camino programs called "Guide of the Way of St James and Wisely: Camino del NOrte (also available for the French Way) and book when necessary. For making calls home used Skype, which costs cents for a ten minute call.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#58
I am not the least bit techy, and my husband and I are heading for the Portuguese camino in March. Now all this talk about buying phones has freaked me out! I have an I phone with T-Mobile and it faired pretty well in Nepal, so I figured it would elsewhere in Europe. I have downloaded translation, maps, and all kinds of stuff on mine so am I not going to be able to use it? I don't plan on making phone calls, just texting. I won't worry about reserving places to stay ahead as it's March and we will just walk around the towns we want to stay in until we find a place. Is this unreasonable to do it this way? Please HELP!
Sure, you can use your phone if it is a GSM phone (which google tells me that all T-Mobile i-phones are). We are talking about ways to reduce costs.

The questions are what your texts will cost under your current plan, and whether you want to use data when you are away from wifi. Check with your phone provider to confirm that you know how to disable all data except with wifi, so you won't get surprise charges. (On my phone, I simply need to turn on Airplane mode, and then I enable wifi.)

In case of "emergency" when you are willing to pay the T-Mobile rate per minute for international calls, or even willing to pay for some data, you take the phone off Airplane mode. But remember to put it back to avoid ongoing data charges.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues March 2019
#59
Sure, you can use your phone if it is a GSM phone (which google tells me that all T-Mobile i-phones are). We are talking about ways to reduce costs.

The questions are what your texts will cost under your current plan, and whether you want to use data when you are away from wifi. Check with your phone provider to confirm that you know how to disable all data except with wifi, so you won't get surprise charges. (On my phone, I simply need to turn on Airplane mode, and then I enable wifi.)

In case of "emergency" when you are willing to pay the T-Mobile rate per minute for international calls, or even willing to pay for some data, you take the phone off Airplane mode. But remember to put it back to avoid ongoing data charges.
Thank you!! That really was a clear explanation and I really appreciate it! Airplane mode it is!
 
Camino(s) past & future
May-June (2018) Camino Frances
#60
If you are planning on using an "Unlocked GSM" phone... it is a little more complicated, especially if you want to use data. You will need to check what frequencies (bands) your phone supports. Then you will need to check what bands the different carriers are using.

FYI... the big carriers (Voda, Orange...) use Bands 3 & 7 for LTE, while Yoigo uses only Band 3 for LTE.

Yes, it might seem complicated, but luckily there is a website to make it easy... https://www.frequencycheck.com/

NOTE: make sure you enter your exact model number (i.e. I have an LG v30, but they have several different models that support different bands) If you have an Android phone, just go to Settings--> About Phone -->Hardware Info and you can find the model number.

Hope this helps!!

Cheers,

-jj
 

AussieWayne

Walked st Francis April 2018.
Camino(s) past & future
Commence the Way of St James from SJPdP on 19 March (2018)
#61
I used an Orange SIM card in my unlocked Verizon iphone. I purchased a data and phone plan at the Madrid airport and paid about 50E for 9g of data and phone use. The data lasted for 30 days and the phone til I used it up. I did not have to use open WIFI on my phone, which protected my phone info. 9 gigs is a ton of data, but I don’t stream.

Orange recharges are available in supermercados and tabacs. To get more data I found that I had to go to an Orange store, which are not as plentiful as you might think. Unless you have a Spanish credit card, you cannot recharge online or over the phone. The supermercados/tabacs only put money on the account and cannot specify to extend the data plans. So you should arrange for the number of months of data through the Orange store.

I found it much simpler to use my existing phone with all my contacts and apps already there. There are a few changes you have to make to the settings, which I let the Orange sales person do. The only issue I had was with 2 factor authentications that used my home number. Be sure to add your new Spanish number to your sites that require 2 factor authentification before you change the sim cards. Then remember to change them back before to put your home card back in.
Best choice if you are from the US? Get TMobile.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues March 2019
#62
Thanks but the only thing I understood was "Best to get T-Mobile" Ha Ha! I have T-. Mobile. I sounds like you know a lot about phone use abroad. Could you help me by answering a couple more questions? My T-mobile store says just keep my data roaming off (or use airplane mode) all the time I'm not using the phone. They said my data and texting was free. Calls about 25 cents a min. I'm on their senior program (2 phones for $60/mo) which has been great. What you said sounded like I will need a different Sim card than what is in my phone at home? If I just use my phone when there is WiFi, will I still need to get a Sim card? My confusion is partly because I will be staying for4 months in a variety of countries and I don't want to have to do this unless I have to. Is this changing sim cards required in every country? Thanks so much but when you explain, please make it simple...I have no experience with these phones. I have an I phone 7.
 

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