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Getting a Cell phone in Spain

capun

Member
Hello

There are comments at one of my posts about getting a cell phone in case of emergencies.

Since my US carrier (Verizon) uses a different network than the "standard" GSM I cannot update my cell phone in Spain.

When I travel to Peru, there are several cell phone companies that offer you phones as you exit customs and there are also kiosk everywhere that you can get a cheap phone with a limited amount of call time, which you can add to it.

Can you get a cell phone in Spain like that? Are they expensive to get?


Thanks
CP
 

Diegomartine

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 1st. (2014)
Yes,

The best option on my opinion is Movistar, best coverage on Spain, also, on the prepaid plan you can get 100mb of data at high speed and after that unlimited data on a lower speed.

For me this is the best option,... they charge something around $4 a week for that plan.

I have an iphone 5 on verizon, this iphone is also compatible with GSM networks so I'll just buy the SIM card and ready!
 

capun

Member
Thanks for the reply.

Yes Movistar is one of the carriers in Peru too.

Even if I worked in the Hi-tech industry for over 35 years, when it comes to phones I really want a phone only and I carry my cell phone more for emergencies :roll:

Mt current phone is CDMA only and cannot be upgraded to GSM. I checked Verizon and unless you get a Smartphone, there are no basic "World Ready" phones. And with the Smartphones you are stuck with at least $30 a month for their data plans.
 

capun

Member
That Motorola is a CDMA unit which won't work in Europe, I have a Motorola KRZR K1m in my pile of old phone and it is also a CDMA unit.

I'll check to see if they have a GSM quad band unit in eBay to compare prices.
 

Yallah

Camino Guidebooks (Village to Village)
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Finisterre, Portugués, Norte, Primitivo, Inglés
HI Capun,

You most certainly can buy a cheap cell phone in Spain with a prepaid SIM card. I got mine from Vodafone, I believe the cost was around €20 total including both the phone, SIM and €15 of calling credit so the phone only added about €5 of cost.
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I loved Vodafone.
It worked great for both me (who had an unlocked iPhone) and for my walking partner Joe (who bought a phone and plan from them).

It was easy to charge.
There were Vodafone shops in every large city.
It was possible to charge at tobac shops along the route.

NOTE: WHEN YOU RECHARGE AT A SHOP OTHER THAN VODAFONE be SURE you get a text from your phone company giving you the new minutes BEFORE you leave the shop! I added $10 to my phone in one small village, only to get down the road and discover the lady had taken my cash but had not added the time! Good lesson.
 

capun

Member
Annie

By looking at the cell phone coverage it looks like Vodafone has the better coverage for our needs.

Thanks for the tips, I am aware about paying for extra time at a regular store. Same as you do in Peru. I was told by my family to do that, alway check right away to be sure that you got the phone time updated. :)
 

capun

Member
Yes, Verizon has several smartphones that are "World Ready", but first you need to upgrade to a smart phone then you have to pay for a data plan of about $30 a month.

I only use my phone for voice and text messages, a smart phone I don't want to get. I may be one of the last hold outs :)
 

Mudcrone

Member
Diegomartine said:
Yes,

The best option on my opinion is Movistar, best coverage on Spain, also, on the prepaid plan you can get 100mb of data at high speed and after that unlimited data on a lower speed.

For me this is the best option,... they charge something around $4 a week for that plan.

I have an iphone 5 on verizon, this iphone is also compatible with GSM networks so I'll just buy the SIM card and ready!
Can you purchase more high speed data with this plan?
 

Kiwiangela

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walking May 2013
Is it really necessary to have a phone? I am only walking from Leon and wasn't planning on taking mine, but will take the advice of those on the forum
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I always hesitate to chime in on the technology questions, but for anyone who's at the low end of the food chain on this topic like I am, the simplest thing to do is to simply buy a cheap cell phone in Spain. You can get one in Movistar for about 25 euros that comes with 20 euros or so of time. I usually walk 5-7 weeks a year and have rarely spent more than 45 euros total on calls. Add money as you need it, any major town will have both Movistar (the company connected with the national telephone system) and Vodaphone stores. I think the consensus is that those two are the best, though I know there's Orange, and something called Yoigo.

So, if all you want is a cell phone for making calls within Spain, and to have for home-related emergencies, no wi-fi, just a phone, this is the cheap and simple way to go.
 

Ray T

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April and May (2013)
Re: smart phone
Vodafone has a special right now: SIM, 1GB data, 60 minutes of calls and 60 SMS messages for 15 euros. Good for a month and can be renewed for another month for 15 euros. Just picked this up in Madrid today. There is also a 12 euro deal with less of everything; and an 18 euro plan with more of everything.
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Ray T said:
Re: smart phone
Vodafone has a special right now: SIM, 1GB data, 60 minutes of calls and 60 SMS messages for 15 euros. Good for a month and can be renewed for another month for 15 euros. Just picked this up in Madrid today. There is also a 12 euro deal with less of everything; and an 18 euro plan with more of everything.
This sounds great. Thanks.

Kiwiangela a phone lets you call for help. It lets you check on friends. It can be your clock/watch. If you get a smart phone you're maps/compass. A cheap small phone weighs almost nothing and doesn't cost much either. Necessary ? No. But better to have one IMHO
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Vodafone has a special right now
The plans come and go, and may be for only one store/city! When you see a good deal, take it. I found it strange that a plan I had purchased in Burgos was not available three months later in Santiago...
 

SThompson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
I Phone 5

The I Phone 5 already has a SIM card in it. That means that to use it internationally, you buy the Verizon plan for only the time in which you travel, cancelling it when you get home.
 

hueppi

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May 2013
Anybody happens to know if it is possible to purchase a local cell and/or sim card at Madrid Barrajas airport?

thanks!
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Anybody happens to know if it is possible to purchase a local cell and/or sim card at Madrid Barrajas airport?
No. I have looked and asked extensively, but no one has SIMs. That can always change, of course...
 

capun

Member
A late update.

I got a Verizon Samsung SIII, according to their tech support people the phone is already unlocked and only needs a Spanish SIMM and no need for their roaming (expensive) data package. But it did not work as a smartphone.

I got a Vodafone SIMM card in Sarria and at their store we connected to the Internet, but IMHO we were connected via their in-store wireless and not through the cellular net. I found it the hard way, after leaving Sarria and cycling the power on and off I could not connect to the cellular data net. I got voice and messaging but no data unless I latched to a WiFi spot.

The phone would give me an error that it could not find an Access Point and was trying to connect to a Verizon Access Point, which there is none in Spain. I could not manually enter any local AP's. I had a Vodafone person at a store in one of the stops try to help me but no luck.

Either the AP names are hard coded (really unlocked?) or there is another app to find a local AP.

I need to figure out this problem for our next Camino Trip
 

FooteK

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, SJPdP to SdC, mid May-late June (2013);
CF, Spring/Summer (2015)
Is it really necessary to have a phone? I am only walking from Leon and wasn't planning on taking mine, but will take the advice of those on the forum
My experience was this:

I didn't use my phone, except for taking photos, until towards the end. After walking more than 30 days, I found myself facing a full albergue with no more beds available, for the first time. This was after Sarria, of course, when many more pilgrims jump onto the Camino. I was going to have to walk to the next albergue, several kilometers away. I did not want to find the next albergue too full for me again, so I called ahead and made a reservation. This was the first time I actually used my phone on the Camino, but I am glad I did. It kept me from having to worry about whether or not I would find a bed in the next albergue, since it was becoming crowded.

I also decided to make a reservation at a pension in Santiago for the night I finally arrived, since my walking companion and I planned to arrive after dinner. It also worked out well. I took the advice of the travel information person at the kiosk in O Pina and made my reservation there for Santiago. It was two days out and I knew for sure what day we would arrive. I didn't want to be wandering around Santiago, looking for a place to stay, after a full day of walking and the excitement of finally arriving.

Those were the times I used my phone and I was glad to have it.

FYI, I had a brand new Samsung Galaxy S4, unlocked, with a Spanish SIM card switched out from my German SIM. I'm developing quite a collection of SIM cards.

Hope this makes sense and helps.
 

diverdavey

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012 & 2014
You can go on the Lebara.es website & order a sim only or a cheap phone plus sim. Lebara is a world wide phone network that piggy backs the vodafone network, so you get a really great signal wherever you go, at a fraction of vodafone prices. I lived in Spain for 6 years & I struggled to get a better pay as you go deal.Every time you put credit on the phone, they double the amount. Oh, & their customer service all speak english too.Just one more thing, since the Madrid bombings a few years ago, Spanish law dictates that you must register any new sim card with your passport for anti terrorism laws.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
This thread has a lot of good and valid information. Please allow me to add some value (I hope):

VOICE/TEXT ONLY MOBILE PHONES:

As regards Verizon offered phones. until recently, the ONLY technology Verizon used was CDMA. That is the North American non-GSM, analog network Verizon was among the first to develop as cellular technology developed several decades ago. As the European and worldwide GSM technology spread across the oceans to North America, Verizon ensured customer "loyalty" by producing phones that worked ONLY on CDMA technology.

They even had Verizon-only models of popular Nokia, Samsung, LG, and Motorola handsets produced with only CDMA circuitry inside. As a general rule, CDMA-based phones did not have nor accept GSM SIM cards - until very recently. At the same time, their North American competitors, ATT, t-Mobile, Sprint, MCI, etc. ALL adopted the global standard - GSM technology.

Fast forward a decade or so. About 10 years ago, cellular service providers in North America only sold phones with strict contracts, expensive calling plans, and "locked" the phones so they would only work on their network - at least for a specified period. This happened even if you swapped the worldwide standard SIM card out for another SIM card, either in North America or abroad.

In North America, unlocked phones were not available at retail outlets until last past year or so. They are available now, but they are VERY expensive, and you have to ask specially for them. Conversely, in Europe, I believe it is unlawful to require someone to subscribe to your cellular service just to purchase a phone. So, most phones are sold unlocked.

However, more recently, after 90-days or so, most U.S. and Canadian carriers will provide an unlocking code to enter to unlock your phone, if you jump through the requisite hoops to ask them nicely. Once unlocked, your GSM capable phone can be used anywhere in the WORLD with the correct SIM, and...IF it has the correct frequency receiver/transmitter built in.

This last bit is the key issue for basic voice / text handsets. Basically voice/text only phones are sold as dual band, tri-band, or quad band models. Across the world, except for Japan, there are four (4) GSM frequencies used. In North America, GSM phones used the 850 Mhz and 1900 Mhz frequency bands. In the REST of THE WORLD (except Japan), GSM phones use the 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz frequency bands. Japan uses a fifth, non-standard frequency.

So, as regards BASIC MOBILE or CELLULAR phones using GSM technology, to use a North American handset in Europe, it must have one or both of the European band frequencies and be unlocked so as to accept a European GSM card. My solution for the past 10-years or so has been to buy only quad-band phones using GSM technology. When I lived in Europe for several years, I picked up a pre-paid SIM card at my local Carrefour supermarket.That gave me a European phone number.

When I land in Europe from the U.S., I swap my U.S. t-mobile SIM card out for the European SIM card - instant brain transplant! My U.S. handset was now Belgian! My phone memory still has all my contact information. Only my texts are gone because they are stored on the SM card. I continue to maintain that SIM and Belgian phone number active and I use it all over the world. When I land in the U.S., I again swap the SIM back to my U.S. t-Mobile SIM

SMART PHONE and iPHONES:

Fast forward to - like now. Almost everyone (except Luddites like me) is using a Smart Phone of one make or another. With slight variation, they all have near identical frequency capabilities. You need to check the specifications closely before you buy. I believe they all accept either micro or nano-sized SIM cards, depending on make and model, to enable those handsets to communicate with systems worldwide.

EXCEPT that Verizon still locks it's smart phones to its proprietary CDMA-based technologies as the default for voice and text use. Even though the iPhone or other Smart Phones have a SIM tray for a micro or nano-sized SIM card supporting worldwide GSM frequencies, it WILL NOT WORK unless Verizon unlocks the SIM circuitry for foreign use. Check with them on doing this. Be prepared for push-back. They prefer you use their overseas services at extortionate per minute rates.

For all other brand North American-sourced Smart Phones including iPhones, check your specifications. For the large tranche of you who use the iPhone, here is the technical specification web page for the UK iPhone 5S model. http://www.apple.com/uk/iphone-5s/specs/
It should be the same as the continental model. Bear in mind the following:
  • To use GSM VOICE capability in North America and all of Europe, any voice/text-only mobile phone (and all Smart Phones /iPhones) for use on the Camino must recognize the GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) frequencies. The phone must be UNLOCKED to accept a foreign SIM card. and you have an active foreign SIM card. The bolded frequencies are Europe-specific, the plain face type is North American-specific
  • To use older basic data services, any mobile phone must support the UMTS "bridge technology" that rode on the GSM standards BEFORE the 3G and 4G technologies were developed and promulgated. The basic, generic UMTS frequencies are listed as: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • To use 3G or 4G data services, your smart phone must recognize as many of the extant data frequencies as possible.
    • Here is the Tech Specs page for the U.K. iPhone 5S (Model A-1453) specification - LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26).
    • Here is the U.S. Tech Specs page for the iPhone 5S: http://www.apple.com/iphone-5s/specs/. NOTE: the same model A-1453 is sold in three or four variants.
    • Lastly, here is the Tech Specs page for the Spanish iPhone 5S: http://www.apple.com/es/iphone-5s/specs/. NOTE: the same model A-1453 is sold in three or four variants.
    • Based on the above matching specifications, and if one were inclined to buy an iPhone, my recommendation would be to buy the model A-1453 in the identical configuration as in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Spain (and presumably the rest of Europe). It should work everywhere.
If one were to purchase a Smart Phone matching these technical specifications, as regards frequencies supported, you should be able to use an appropriate SIM card (micro or nano-sized) from any country in the world - PROVIDED - that your phone is unlocked from your home service provider. Check with your provider for how to accomplish this.

In North America; bands 4, 7, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, and 41 are used on the 700, 800, 1900, 1700/2100 (AWS) and 2600 MHz frequencies are used. Whereas, in Europe; bands 3, 7, and 20 are used on the 800, 900, 1800, 2600 MHz frequencies are used. As you can see, there is NO COMMONALITY as to bands or frequencies used, except at the band 7 / 800 Mhz overlap. So, you need to be careful when buying any Smart phone to choose a model that has as much built in flexibility as possible for your intended use.

I know is sounds confusing, but I hope it helps people avoid making expensive mistakes.:)

Happy New Year to all!
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
In North America, unlocked phones were not available at retail outlets until last past year or so. They are available now, but they are VERY expensive, and you have to ask specially for them. Conversely, in Europe, I believe it is unlawful to require someone to subscribe to your cellular service just to purchase a phone. So, most phones are sold unlocked.


So, as regards BASIC MOBILE or CELLULAR phones using GSM technology, to use a North American handset in Europe, it must have one or both of the European band frequencies and be unlocked so as to accept a European GSM card.


  • To use older basic data services, any mobile phone must support the UMTS "bridge technology" that rode on the GSM standards BEFORE the 3G and 4G technologies were developed and promulgated. The basic, generic UMTS frequencies are listed as: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • To use 3G or 4G data services, your smart phone must recognize as many of the extant data frequencies as possible.
    • Here is the Tech Specs page for the U.K. iPhone 5S (Model A-1453) specification - LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26).
    • Here is the U.S. Tech Specs page for the iPhone 5S: http://www.apple.com/iphone-5s/specs/. NOTE: the same model A-1453 is sold in three or four variants.
    • Lastly, here is the Tech Specs page for the Spanish iPhone 5S: http://www.apple.com/es/iphone-5s/specs/. NOTE: the same model A-1453 is sold in three or four variants.
    • Based on the above matching specifications, and if one were inclined to buy an iPhone, my recommendation would be to buy the model A-1453 in the identical configuration as in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Spain (and presumably the rest of Europe). It should work everywhere.
Unlocked phones are not subsidized. I don't think they're any cheaper in Europe then the US. More common but the consumer is paying the full price either way.

Different carriers use different frequencies. They can even have different frequencies depending on the area. Your best even for voice having a quad phone.

UMTS is 3G. All those things you listed up to LTE are basically 3G.

For LTE/4G the EU standard frequencies are IIRC 800,1800,2600 and a fourth I can't remember. The problem is each carrier can use any of the four. 800 is likely the best and therefore the most expensive for the carriers to bid on. But being expensive to buy the budget carriers have some times gone with 2600.

All this means I wouldn't count on 4G with an US phone.

happy new year
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
I have heard the same thing from my friends living in Europe. They tell me they are frustrated because their Smart Phone (irregardless of brand) that support 4G networks can only attain 3G capability in most of Europe.

This is likely due to a frequency irregularly - mismatch between a U.S. spec phone and the EU network, or the fact that the particular EU network has not yet been upgraded to 4G capability.

This technology is developing and deploying very fast. So, anything we discuss here could be obsolete and overtaken by events in a span of a couple of months.

Thanks for the assist.

Happy New Year to All!
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
I have heard the same thing from my friends living in Europe. They tell me they are frustrated because their Smart Phone (irregardless of brand) that support 4G networks can only attain 3G capability in most of Europe.

This is likely due to a frequency irregularly - mismatch between a U.S. spec phone and the EU network, or the fact that the particular EU network has not yet been upgraded to 4G capability.

This technology is developing and deploying very fast. So, anything we discuss here could be obsolete and overtaken by events in a span of a couple of months.

Thanks for the assist.

Happy New Year to All!
My experience in Jun-Jul 2013 with my unlocked iPhone 5 with an Orange SIM card with data was 3G speeds, no where near the 4G LTE speeds I get with T-Mobile USA, it worked fine for my needs.
4G LTE is starting to get phased in around the bigger cities in Spain.
http://www.mobileworldlive.com/vodafone-wins-lte-launch-race-in-spain
 

CaminoKris2013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2014)
When you have a prepaid in Spain, how much does it usually cost for either outbound or inbound (emergency only)?
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
I get with T-Mobile USA, it worked fine for my needs.
4G LTE is starting to get phased in around the bigger cities in Spain.
That's not the problem. Looking at Wiki T-Mobile USA uses 700 and 1700Mhz for 4G. Neither is used in Europe. So if your T-Mobile phone only supports T-Mobile frequencies it'll never do 4G in Europe.

In short you need a phone that supports at least one of the EU frequencies. If you really need 4G then you need a phone that supports all three of the frequencies.
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
When you have a prepaid in Spain, how much does it usually cost for either outbound or inbound (emergency only)?
You can usually get a month of service (voice,SMS and internet) for less then €20.

If you only use the phone for emergencies it's hard to imagine you'll use up the basic credit that tends to come with the SIM. Say €5
 

piogaw

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances (05/06 2012) sjpdp-sdc; vdlp/camino sanabrea (02/03 2013) sevilla-sdc; hospitalero sdc june 2013, august-september 2013; caminho portugues (03 2014) lisboa-sdc
Anybody happens to know if it is possible to purchase a local cell and/or sim card at Madrid Barrajas airport?

thanks!
Hello hueppi,

Welcome to the forum.

I am in and out of barajas frequently and have never seen any shop selling sim card. There maybe one but as i was not looking to buy a sim card, i have never look for one.

Buen camino.
 

piogaw

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances (05/06 2012) sjpdp-sdc; vdlp/camino sanabrea (02/03 2013) sevilla-sdc; hospitalero sdc june 2013, august-september 2013; caminho portugues (03 2014) lisboa-sdc
Hello

There are comments at one of my posts about getting a cell phone in case of emergencies.

Since my US carrier (Verizon) uses a different network than the "standard" GSM I cannot update my cell phone in Spain.

When I travel to Peru, there are several cell phone companies that offer you phones as you exit customs and there are also kiosk everywhere that you can get a cheap phone with a limited amount of call time, which you can add to it.

Can you get a cell phone in Spain like that? Are they expensive to get?


Thanks
CP
You can always go on amazon or ebay, buy a cheap unlocked tri-band or quad- band smartphone. Then all you have to do upon reaching spain is to buy a movistar or vodafone prepago (pay as you go) sim card as recommended by other peregrinos. You can also consider orange or yoigo. You can reload in any tobacco shop or phone shop.

Buen camino.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
That's not the problem. Looking at Wiki T-Mobile USA uses 700 and 1700Mhz for 4G. Neither is used in Europe. So if your T-Mobile phone only supports T-Mobile frequencies it'll never do 4G in Europe.

In short you need a phone that supports at least one of the EU frequencies. If you really need 4G then you need a phone that supports all three of the frequencies.
My iPhone 5 is the later model that is compatible with both T-Mobile and AT&T frequencies and have tested with both SIM cards and have gotten LTE with both. I installed an Orange SIM with data and only got 3G and sometimes EDGE on the Meseta. I have also used Telcel Mexico and SMART Philippines and have gotten only 3G as well, so I do have a true "GSM world smartphone" that can be used most anywhere in the world except Japan and South Korea (uses CDMA networks)
It all depends if the carrier itself if they have 4G LTE, my iPhone is capable of it if available.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Anybody happens to know if it is possible to purchase a local cell and/or sim card at Madrid Barrajas airport?

thanks!
Yes, I was able to buy an Orange SIM with 1GB of data at Madrid Barajas for €15 in the passenger terminal while waiting there for a layover, just look for an electronics store, they do have them with the cutter to resize it to a nano SIM.
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
My iPhone 5 is the later model that is compatible with both T-Mobile and AT&T frequencies and have tested with both SIM cards and have gotten LTE with both. I installed an Orange SIM with data and only got 3G and sometimes EDGE on the Meseta. I have also used Telcel Mexico and SMART Philippines and have gotten only 3G as well, so I do have a true "GSM world smartphone" that can be used most anywhere in the world except Japan and South Korea (uses CDMA networks)
It all depends if the carrier itself if they have 4G LTE, my iPhone is capable of it if available.
No you're stilling missing the point.

AT&T seems to be using

700,1700,1900,2100 and 2300 Mhz

Europe uses 800,1800 and 2600Mhz

So there is no over lap. Even if your phone provided one of the EU frequencies that doesn't mean the carrier will be supporting that one.

Even the Iphone sold in Europe doesn't support all the EU frequencies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#Europe

Spain is mostly using 2600 plus some 1800. So to get 4G in Spain you need at least one of those frequencies and you'll be better off with both.

http://store.apple.com/uk/buy-iphone/iphone5s

No band 7 to support the 2600 frequency.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
You are right, I am missing Band 7, I hope a later model comes out with it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) SJPDP-SDC
Camino Norte 2018
Pilgrims Office Volunteer 2018
No you're stilling missing the point.

AT&T seems to be using

700,1700,1900,2100 and 2300 Mhz

Europe uses 800,1800 and 2600Mhz

So there is no over lap. Even if your phone provided one of the EU frequencies that doesn't mean the carrier will be supporting that one.

Even the Iphone sold in Europe doesn't support all the EU frequencies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#Europe

Spain is mostly using 2600 plus some 1800. So to get 4G in Spain you need at least one of those frequencies and you'll be better off with both.

http://store.apple.com/uk/buy-iphone/iphone5s

No band 7 to support the 2600 frequency.
Hola Nico, does that mean that my ATT IPhone 4S from the USA that has been unlocked will not work in Spain or will only work at 3G? Thank you ...Ed
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
It depends on the frequencies it supports and the carrier you pick.

Look at the wiki link I posted. Some of the carriers only support 2600. The bigger carriers support both 1800 and 2600.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
Hola Nico, does that mean that my ATT IPhone 4S from the USA that has been unlocked will not work in Spain or will only work at 3G? Thank you ...Ed
If it is unlocked...it will work in Europe. All AT&T phones are compatible.. 3G or 4g?
Is that really important while walking the Camino?
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
Is it really necessary to have a phone? I am only walking from Leon and wasn't planning on taking mine, but will take the advice of those on the forum
Absolutely not.
When I do not have a group with me, I never take a phone or if I have it, I never turn it on.
I prefer to walk without it.
In an emergency, 7 out of 10 pilgrims within 50 feet will have one!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) SJPDP-SDC
Camino Norte 2018
Pilgrims Office Volunteer 2018
If it is unlocked...it will work in Europe. All AT&T phones are compatible.. 3G or 4g?
Is that really important while walking the Camino?
It's either use my cell to Blog and take pictures or take a Ipad to blog and a separate camera to take pictures....I wish to keep my overall weight down...Thank you!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) SJPDP-SDC
Camino Norte 2018
Pilgrims Office Volunteer 2018
Absolutely not.
When I do not have a group with me, I never take a phone or if I have it, I never turn it on.
I prefer to walk without it.
In an emergency, 7 out of 10 pilgrims within 50 feet will have one!
What do you use to update your Blog with Annie? I prefer to keep my weight down and not take another device. Thank you for your comment. Ed
 

T-Rex

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2014)
I found this thread incredibly helpful. Thank you.
I will bring my unlocked iPhone 4s Model A1387 (purchased through AT&T, out of contract), which supports various GSM and CDMA networks. I will then purchase and insert a new SIM card from Vodafone.

I'm not technologically savvy but I think my solution will work.

Resources:
Determine your iPhone model: http://osxdaily.com/2012/11/15/determine-iphone-gsm-or-cdma/
iPhone 4s tech specs: http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/specs/apple-iphone-4s-specs.html
Networks in Spain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#Europe
 

Ullamae

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Sanabrés 2019
Via dl Plata 2019
Camino Mozárabe 2019
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Frances 2014
If I'm understanding this correctly my phone, an HTC Sensational XL, that uses:
GSM : 850/900/1800/1900 MHz HSDPA : 900/2100 MHz
will work with Orange, Vodaphone and Yoigo?
Will any of these be better for the Camino Frances?
 

biloute

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Chemin du Puy & Camino Francés (summer 2014), Chemin du Puy & Camino Francés (possible summer 2019)
What places are available to get SIM cards for an iPhone 4 in Roncesvalles? Depending upon what's there will decide which provider to use, for me.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
There is nothing in Roncesvalles except the albergue and two restaurants. You can find SIM chips in Pamplona.
 

quietwun

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (April 2014)
Has anyone bought SIMs from a company called Telestial? I am looking at having a SIM delivered before I leave home.

Spanish network they sell is Orange and I have "heard" that is not the best coverage, but their system is simple and the price for calls and texts back to Canada is great.

The also sell cards that would work in multiple European countries for those travelling more.
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I am frustrated right now.
My old iPhone 3 is like a dinosaur and I was hoping to get a new phone.
But a new UNLOCKED iphone is around $650!!! :eek::eek::eek:

I can get a new iphone for $199 - but they won't unlock it for 2 years.
Man, that sucks!

So I can't figure out what to do… just use the dinosaur or get some type of pay-as-you-go-phone in Madrid.
I'll mostly need it up on the Camino Frances just for calls within Spain so my clients can reach me in case of emergency.
I'll only need it for 6 weeks at most.
Any suggestions?
 

itsjann

Member
I hoping to figure out the phone deal before walking in Sept. We will be visiting France, Spain and Italy....any suggestions?
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Why not try to follow the yellow arrows that are all over the place? Without a phone? It was tried some 1.000 years ago... :(
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
I am frustrated right now.
My old iPhone 3 is like a dinosaur and I was hoping to get a new phone.
But a new UNLOCKED iphone is around $650!!! :eek::eek::eek:

I can get a new iphone for $199 - but they won't unlock it for 2 years.
Man, that sucks!

So I can't figure out what to do… just use the dinosaur or get some type of pay-as-you-go-phone in Madrid.
I'll mostly need it up on the Camino Frances just for calls within Spain so my clients can reach me in case of emergency.
I'll only need it for 6 weeks at most.
Any suggestions?
Ask around if any friends have their old iPhone 4S laying around in a drawer somewhere and have AT&T unlock it.

As for the $199 iPhone 5S, what a joke, over the life of a two year contract you end up paying more than full price of the iPhone, $199 down, $20 mo. X 24 mo.=$679.00, it would have been $649.00 if you would have payed full price up front.
At the end of the 2 year contract, your phone bill doesn't go down when the phone is paid off, but AT&T still collects from you even if you don't upgrade.
That's why I bought an unlocked iPhone 5 and on a T-Mobile no contract plan, it works well where I'm at and I have the flexibility to change SIM cards when I travel.
 
Last edited:

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
Yes, I'm never again buying a phone on contract. It's just paying the same price but in a different way and you get stuck with the contract. I'm paying for calls and data that are never used. I'd rather pay up front and get a cheap pay-as-you-go sim, especially when interest rates are so low.
 

V-rock

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan 2013
I think the iPhone 5 comes unlocked and I don't think you can use the iPhone 3 in Europe.
 

ericdouglas

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future Camino de Santiago (April 2014)
Hello

There are comments at one of my posts about getting a cell phone in case of emergencies.

Since my US carrier (Verizon) uses a different network than the "standard" GSM I cannot update my cell phone in Spain.

When I travel to Peru, there are several cell phone companies that offer you phones as you exit customs and there are also kiosk everywhere that you can get a cheap phone with a limited amount of call time, which you can add to it.

Can you get a cell phone in Spain like that? Are they expensive to get?


Thanks
CP
Does anyone know what I need to do to enable access to my Sony Experia tablet and my Samsung Galaxy 3 phone? I just figured I'd go to a phone store in Pamplona and get them to get it sorted, would that be the best way?
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Does anyone know what I need to do to enable access to my Sony Experia tablet and my Samsung Galaxy 3 phone? I just figured I'd go to a phone store in Pamplona and get them to get it sorted, would that be the best way?
Contact your mobile phone carrier in Australia to verify if you phone is unlocked before you leave, test it with another SIM card from another mobile phone carrier to be sure.
Once you get to Spain, go to El Corte Ingles or Phone House in Pamplona and get a SIM card with data and make sure it is working before you leave the store.
 

xin loi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
OK--I'm confused. One of the other Camino sites had a similar question about phones for couples traveling the Camino. The answer on that site was that couples frequently buy a local phone to keep in touch with other when separated along the Camino and to make international calls. Is that possible or not?
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I think the iPhone 5 comes unlocked and I don't think you can use the iPhone 3 in Europe.
the iPhone 5 only comes unlocked if you buy it from Apple and the prices are $649 (16GB), $749 (32 GB) and $849 (64 GB) which is WAAAY out of the ballpark for me!
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
I hoping to figure out the phone deal before walking in Sept. We will be visiting France, Spain and Italy....any suggestions?
First, what mobile phone carrier do you use? Second, what kind of phone do you currently use?
 

pep7702

Peregrino
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France from Sarria to Santiago - March 2013
Camino France from St. Jean to Santiago - April/May 2013
Annie,
Verizon iPhones starting with the iPhone 5 are unlocked http://www.verizonwireless.com/support/faqs/InternationalServicesandRoaming/global_phone_roaming.html (see #11). They had to do this to get their LTE spectrum in the USA. AT&T iPhones are locked https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/client/en_US/ . You can request that they unlock the phone but I did that last year and they said, "No". So if you need a new phone buy Verizon. itsjann I'd love to know how you got an unlocked AT&T iPhone......
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
I have an iPhone 5 (unlocked) with AT&T
You're golden then, just buy a Spanish SIM card with data when you get there, El Corte Ingles and Phone House in Pamplona has all carriers to chose from.
All incoming calls are free on European phone carriers. Get a SIM card for each country you visit, I know it sounds like a pain, but it is easy to swap out, I tape a paper clip for removing the SIM card and my US SIM card to the back of my drivers license so I don't lose it.
Buying a local SIM card with data is cheaper than AT&T's "International plan" which is a ripoff.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Annie,
Verizon iPhones starting with the iPhone 5 are unlocked http://www.verizonwireless.com/support/faqs/InternationalServicesandRoaming/global_phone_roaming.html (see #11). They had to do this to get their LTE spectrum in the USA. AT&T iPhones are locked https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/client/en_US/ . You can request that they unlock the phone but I did that last year and they said, "No". So if you need a new phone buy Verizon. itsjann I'd love to know how you got an unlocked AT&T iPhone......
I can verify this as fact, last month, when I was in San Felipe, BC, Mexico, I tested a Verizon iPhone 5 with my Telcel Mexico SIM card with data and it worked like a champ.
 

itsjann

Member
Annie,
Verizon iPhones starting with the iPhone 5 are unlocked http://www.verizonwireless.com/support/faqs/InternationalServicesandRoaming/global_phone_roaming.html (see #11). They had to do this to get their LTE spectrum in the USA. AT&T iPhones are locked https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/client/en_US/ . You can request that they unlock the phone but I did that last year and they said, "No". So if you need a new phone buy Verizon. itsjann I'd love to know how you got an unlocked AT&T iPhone......
I lived out of the country for 3 years and bought the phone outside of the U.S. When I moved back home I got AT&T service but already had the unlocked phone :)
 

sriyantra

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances September "2014"
Yes, I'm never again buying a phone on contract. It's just paying the same price but in a different way and you get stuck with the contract. I'm paying for calls and data that are never used. I'd rather pay up front and get a cheap pay-as-you-go sim, especially when interest rates are so low.
Hi Kanga,
What would you suggest for us? I have a very old basic pre-paid mobile that we carry with us in Australia for emergencies and letting our son know we are still around. I have been considering getting a new phone here, something that I can take photos with and email family but would it be better to buy something basic in Madrid just to carry for emergencies and go back to a normal camera and use internet cafes for sending emails home.

Through this forum and the "where did you walk today" thread, I was contacted by a couple who live 10 minutes away from us. They are leaving in 6 weeks to walk the Le Puy route, so we have had coffee and a chat on all things camino this morning. Great to share training, clothing and packing ideas. Thanks for your help. Sriyantra
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
Annie,
Verizon iPhones starting with the iPhone 5 are unlocked http://www.verizonwireless.com/support/faqs/InternationalServicesandRoaming/global_phone_roaming.html (see #11). They had to do this to get their LTE spectrum in the USA. AT&T iPhones are locked https://www.att.com/deviceunlock/client/en_US/ . You can request that they unlock the phone but I did that last year and they said, "No". So if you need a new phone buy Verizon. itsjann I'd love to know how you got an unlocked AT&T iPhone......
Thanks Pep, but I can't change carriers because I share a plan with my adult son and his company pays a portion of his charges.
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I have an iPhone 5 (unlocked) with AT&T
Where'd you get that unlocked iPhone? Did you buy it outright? AT&T said I had to wait 2 years to get mine unlocked if I bought a new one :(
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
I'm just gonna take the old iPhone 3 again this year.
Thanks everyone.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
Hi Kanga,
What would you suggest for us?. Sriyantra
The world seems to be divided between iPhones and Androids. There are others but they seem to be the main contenders at present. I finished up with an iPhone, mainly because Apple has a reputation for ensuring applications are simple and actually work. I am happy but I'm sure others would say the same of different brands. I won't stay wedded to Apple if something clearly better emerges.

You need to work out what you want it for. Firstly I need a smartphone with data research capacity for work - so can justify the cost.

For the Camino I wanted one device to do all of the following:
a good point and click camera, integrated with capacity to send those photos to email, a blog, web sharing, or social media, an eBook to download and read books (fiction and guides), an offline topographical maps application with GPS (for when we go off route in France), a way of finding accommodation online or by application, a mobile phone to book that accommodation, SMS to send messages home cheaply, email, wifi video to see what the babies are up, a field guide application to identify plants and flowers.

It does not yet brush my teeth for me but if required will remind me to.

At home I have a laptop computer, a Kindle and a tablet device, but the iPhone does everything they do (albeit on a small screen). It is good for the Camino. The charger for the iPhone is also light - but I carry a backup battery power pack for when I'm using GPS (which drains the phone).

It is worth learning how to find and use applications to make the most of any smartphone. It also takes time to set up a Spanish or French pay-as-you-go SIM card with data pack.

If all you are doing is making occasional phone calls then don't waste your money. These toys are expensive and get outdated quickly.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
OK--I'm confused. One of the other Camino sites had a similar question about phones for couples traveling the Camino. The answer on that site was that couples frequently buy a local phone to keep in touch with other when separated along the Camino and to make international calls. Is that possible or not?
Yes you can buy a basic Spanish cell phone and yes you can make international calls on it, as long as you have enough credits on it, incoming calls are free on all European cell phones. To call the USA from any cell phone, just enter +1(area code)number.
 

itsjann

Member
Where'd you get that unlocked iPhone? Did you buy it outright? AT&T said I had to wait 2 years to get mine unlocked if I bought a new one :(
Hey Annie,
I bought it outside of the U.S. But I believe if you buy it directly from an Apple store it will be unlocked. Hope to see you along the way!
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
I hoping to figure out the phone deal before walking in Sept. We will be visiting France, Spain and Italy....any suggestions?
For just voice no point changing SIMs. Roaming rates are capped at 30cents a minute now. Might be less by September. Unless you're making a LOT of calls it doesn't pay to change from one EU SIM to a different one. So for just voice just pick one up in the first country.

For data the math is a bit more complicated. It depends on how many days you'll be in each country. Best to get a SIM in the country you'll be in the longest. If you're in the others for only a few days then look at the data roaming plans. The Italian carriers offer €3 a day for voice,SMS and data roaming.
 

V-rock

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan 2013
I have an iPhone 4s with Verizon, when called to have it unlocked they try very hard to convince me to use their international roaming plan. After I explained I can get a local SIM with data a lot cheaper than their plan they unlocked it for me.
 

ericdouglas

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future Camino de Santiago (April 2014)
Contact your mobile phone carrier in Australia to verify if you phone is unlocked before you leave, test it with another SIM card from another mobile phone carrier to be sure.
Once you get to Spain, go to El Corte Ingles or Phone House in Pamplona and get a SIM card with data and make sure it is working before you leave the store.
Sounds great, thanks very much mate.
 

V-rock

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan 2013
I was fooling around with my daughter iPhone 4s and "accidentally" locked the SIM, the phone works with the SIM removed.

Contacted Verizon and they told me the SIM card only works while traveling overseas and if it is removed the phone simply won't work. I asked if removing the SIM would be a good insurance to avoid unexpected, or accidental roaming charges while traveling and she said I won't be able to use the phone overseas.

SIM cards are out of all my phones! I have an unlocked iPhone and I'm getting a local SIM card as soon as I arrive in Spain, my wife's will be used on Wi-Fi only.
 

AngusW

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
El Camino Frances in September
I don't know if this helps, but here goes. I'm from the UK and travel pretty well all over Europe, Egypt, Australia, NZ, and South Africa with my 5S. I don't change SIMs at all and I definitely don't roam as it costs the earth. Instead, I bought a very cheap smartphone in the UK that could offer tethering, aka Personal Hotspot on Apple. When I get to another country, I head for Vodafone usually and buy a local SIM with at least 1GB data and some call time/text use. I then turn on tethering and link my iPhone to it. From then on, I use my iPhone for all data in the normal way and use the now local phone for calls. The only downside is usually the poor battery life on cheap phones but if it proves a problem, I turn tethering off on the local phone and it lasts ages. In UK, I can buy cheap smartphones on a pay as you go basis for as little as $30, but then a local SIM for $15, giving me a bit of UK usage. From non-tied stores like Carphone Warehouse they are not tied. Abroad a SIM with say 1GB might cost $15 valid for a month. If I use more, I just get it topped up locally.
It works well for me and I've been doing it for years. I'll be doing the same on our Camino in September. Good luck wherever you travel. Angus
 
N

nathanael

Guest
HI Capun,

You most certainly can buy a cheap cell phone in Spain with a prepaid SIM card. I got mine from Vodafone, I believe the cost was around €20 total including both the phone, SIM and €15 of calling credit so the phone only added about €5 of cost.
I want a phone basically just for emergency and making reservations. Could I also use this phone in France? I will be in France for 8 days.
 

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