So, you may be wondering how I've been using my Verizon iPhone while in Spain - well, I was wondering that too before I left and was freaking out about it a lot! I wanted to use my iPhone in Spain to stay in contact with my family, navigate my way around Madrid, and use the internet when I needed to. Of course I can use the wifi in my apartment and various cafes, but I wanted to use the data as well. After talking to a friend who recently traveled to Spain and used his Verizon iPhone 5, I learned what to do and did just that. It may have been the easiest thing ever!
Here's what I did:
So I keep saying "Verizon" iPhone 5 (purchased in July of 2013) because apparently Verizon used to be the only cell phone company that "locked" their iPhones. A "locked" Verizon iPhone means that you can only use it with Verizon service and cannot pop in a different SIM card to access other company's service. However, after Verizon merged with another company, part of the plan was that the new iPhones had to be unlocked. I also just read an article on Google that said that a new law was put into place where it is now illegal for any cell phone company to sell locked phones.
Anyways, it was really simple: as soon as I reached Madrid, I went to the two main cell phone stores in Puerta del Sol (where I happened to pop out) - Orange and Vodafone. First I went to Orange and they had various plans to choose from. My ultimate wish was to have lots of GBs of data so I could use the internet and apps like Whatsapp, as well as the capability to call and text Spanish phone numbers. Their only plan with reasonable GBs was 15 euros per month and offered 0 minutes of phone calls and 0 messaging.
Not satisfied, I walked 20 feet down the plaza to Vodafone. Vodafone's biggest plan was 1.6 GB, 100 minutes of phone calls to Spanish numbers, and unlimited text messages to Spanish numbers for 20 euros a month. BINGO. It costed an additional 5 euros to purchase the SIM card.
So the iPhone 5 has a micro SIM card (the smallest SIM card out there), so I needed to emphasize that I had an iPhone 5 and needed the micro SIM card. The woman brought me the SIM card and a tiny tool (like a paperclip) and I turned off my phone, and then popped out my original SIM card and placed it in a ziplock baggie that I had brought. When they say micro SIM card - they really mean it. The card is about the size of my pinky nail.
Anyways, I popped in the new Spanish SIM card and powered my phone back up. When it turned on, it asked for a 4 digit PIN which the Vodafone woman had given me with the card. I typed in the PIN and voila - I had a fully functioning iPhone 5 in Spain. It was that simple.
So, did 1.6 GB last me a full month? I used my phone relentlessly throughout the day. Whenever I was out around town, especially at the beginning of my trip, I used Google Maps all of the time (I did leave room for wandering, too! Don't worry!). I also used Facebook and checked my email and surfed the net. I also used Instagram and various other apps. I would guess that I used about 2-3 hours of data per day.
Did I make it the entire month?
Yes I did :)
On the last day of the month, I received a text saying that I had used 95% of my data for the month which was perfect because I had just refilled my plan with another 20 euros for the following 3 weeks. Since I was only staying 3 more weeks, I'm pretty sure I could have put less money on my plan, but whatever! In comparison to the US, it was still a pretty awesome deal!
Anyways, using my Verizon iPhone 5 in Spain was so much easier than I had anticipated. Keep in mind that my phone only works in Spain since I got a Spanish SIM card. If I had traveled to other countries outside of Spain, I would've needed to purchase their SIM cards. But of course my wifi would work wherever there is wifi!