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Mobile Phones in Spain

As with all other internet and broadband services in Spain, the mobile phone market is also pretty much dominated by Telefonica, 3rd largest telecommunications provider (in terms of clients) in the world, with their Movistar brand.

Apple I-Phones

As in the UK, through the Telefonica owned brand O2, the Apple I-Phone is only available (legally) through the Movistar brand. Although these are seriously expensive phones, in Spain the 32Gb 3GS version is between 5-600 Euros if bought without a contract, you can pretty much get the phones for free, or a nominal payment, with a minimum commitment and contract period. If you commit yourself to spending at least 35 Euros on calls each month for 18 months you can pretty much get it for free. If you want internet usage also that will cost another 25 Euros a month for 3G internet usage. Although the usage is unlimited, the 3G speed is not; the first 200mb of downloads is included at 3G speed and the rest is about as fast as a 56k modem. This is pretty painful and not a pleasant online experience at all.

Something to be wary of when you're abroad is using the 3G connection. International charges are piled on top and the costs can be astronomical even for just a few minutes or Mbs.

A note about Apple I-Phones bought in the UK

It is possible to buy one of the I-Phones in the UK, where they are much cheaper, crack it with some free software and use any sim card with it. However, you won't be able to update the Apple software and you won't be able to connect to the Apple Shop. The Apple Apps Shop is half the pleasure of having the I-Phone.

The Apple iPhone 4G is now available in Spain and the good news is that it won't be tied to Movistar any longer. This is great news as prices and contracts will be much more competitive.

Pay as you go mobile phones

Probably the simplest and cheapest option for mobile phones in Spain. No minimum contract and you can top them up in Garages, Supermarkets and lots of other locations. You just go in, tell them your mobile number and how much you want to top up and its done.

Special chips for your phone's sim card and cheap international calls

If you live on the Costa del Sol (this is probably now present in quite a few regions of Spain) you can now buy a special chip that sticks to the back of your phone's sim card and re-routes international calls through another call server thus cutting your phone bills considerably.