v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

A short review of prepaid through Orange Spain

As is customary for me, when I travel abroad for an extended period of time I tend to get a local SIM card to put into my phone, so I can have a local number, some local SMS, and more importantly data!  It makes it easier to communicate with the locals and verify AirBnB information.  Luckily, in recent years, T-Mobile allows for free 2G (GPRS) data roaming, which made things a little less painful than going from full-data to no-data, back to full data.

So, in researching Spanish data packages it seemed that Orange was the better deal, which is why I preferred to go with them. Lebara Mobile seemed to have pop-up kiosks in train stations which made them more convenient, but I'd prefer to get top-up cards from Orange stores.  The annoying this is that there wasn't an Orange store at Barcelona's international airport. There was a Vodafone retailer (with huge ads) but nothing with Orange.  Not a problem, a day or so later we went to an Orange store down the street from where we were staying and started the process.  The line was pretty big. I feel like it took an hour to get through the line, even though there were only 5 people ahead of me.  I needed a passport to get the SIMs for our phones (a passport card would not do...heck my Greek ID card wouldn't do either, which is silly considering you can travel within the EU without passports if you are a citizen...).  Anyway,  once we got our SIMs we were activated right away.  None of this "wait 24 hours" crap we had in Italy.

The Ballena 14 package was the most economical if you wanted only data.  15 euros gets you 2GB of data, 30 minutes of call time for Spanish numbers, and some SMS messages included.  In our trip we ended up spending 30 euros per person (2 Ballenas each) for our data needs.  We had JUST missed a special where they doubled what you get for 15 euros, so depending on when you top-up you might just get 4GB for 15 euros.  Orange has an app on android called "mi Orange" (pictured above) which allows you to see the remainder of money on your account, how much data you've used, how much talk time,  and  assume you can top-up from there.  The problem was that since my address on the Google Store is in the US, I was region-locked out of downloading it (it wasn't even showing up in my search I don't think). I ended up finding the APK file and installing it as is.  The App works marvelously, no passwords required. When you try to log in with your phone number you get some secure SIM thing happening in the background and you can authorize from a pop-up authorization. This saved me from having yet another password. The only issue I really saw with the app was that the notification of how quickly you use data lags behind what you actually use.  For example, I was stuck on "you've used 25MB" for a few days (maybe a week) after top-up, and then BAM, you've used 600MB. The good news is that even though you can check your data via the app, they also send you a notification when you've spent 80% of your data via SMS.

Now, I ended up using 80% of my data 5 days into our trip (on the first top-up) because I've had Flickr and YouTube uploading in the background when they shouldn't have had.  On the second top-up I disabled background uploading and enabled the upload only on wifi feature.  That lasted me the remaining 2 weeks. Imagine if I were roaming - that bill would have been huge.

All things considered, I really liked Orange. Service worked, maps worked, Pokemon GO worked, and prepaid data was fairly cheap.  I would use them again if the lines weren't too long at their stores :-)
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