Apple and Vodafone work together in Spain

I am just back from ENASE 2009 in Milan, Italy. The good thing for a Spaniard like me about travelling to Italy is that you get to taste yummy Italian food. And you get to see beautiful landscapes and monuments. And you get to practice your Italian. Oh, and yes. The iPhone.

See, I think it’s pathetic that Apple sells the iPhone in Spain exclusively through Telefonica, one of the carriers here, so that you either sign up with Telefonica, pay them outrageous fees and sign in blood that you won’t leave them before two years… or you, well, get yourself a cheap imitator of the iPhone.

I have been a customer of Vodafone for ages, and I am not going to switch carriers now. And, if I switch carriers, it will not be to join Telefonica. I am resonably happy with Vodafone; as happy as one can be in a vampiric relationship with a carrier, that is. The only thing that I was missing was an iPhone.

I knew they sell unlocked iPhones in Italy, which you can use with any carrier. So, a few days before my trip to Milan, I called Apple Technical Support in Spain and asked them whether an unlocked iPhone bought overseas could be used with a Spanish carrier. They responded affirmatively, pointing out that the only issue they could think of was the warranty, since any repairs or problems with the device would have to be channeled through Apple Italy.

Then I called Vodafone Spain and made a similar question: can an unlocked iPhone bought overseas be used with my current Vodafone account? Again, they responded affirmatively. They asked what country the iPhone was from, and when I said Italy, I could almost picture the smile in the lady’s face; apparently, Italian iPhones are well known by Vodafone for being easy to configure and use with Spanish accounts.

Fortunately enough, the hotel I was staying in in Milan was just opposite a Saturn shop, where they retailed the 16-GB iPhone at 565 €. I bought the one with the white back; I don’t know how anyone can have such bad taste as to get the black one. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any decent cases, so I didn’t get one. I will get the colourful socks that Apple makes from Optize, and that’ll be it.

Back at the hotel, I unpacked the iPhone, inserted my Spanish Vodafone SIM card into it, plugged it to my laptop, let iTunes do its thing, and voilà, I had it working. Roaming and all, including internet access over 3G, worked seamlessly.

By the way, on my way back home, I found out that you can buy an unlocked iPhone at the airside shops at the airport in Madrid. However, the price was something like 795 € for the 16-GB model. Crazy. Even Optize, where prices are often low, lists it at 716 €.

I am now a happy customer of Apple and Vodafone in Spain.


16 Responses to “Apple and Vodafone work together in Spain”

  1. 1 cyn 13 May 2009 at 5:42

    Thanks for your info. Its nice.

  2. 2 deebone 20 July 2009 at 2:27

    hello lucky one
    i had a same kind off story with a iphone from holland who i had made free in spain but it did after not work with vodafone spain . when i phoned they told me that there is no configuration for my iphone who have the latest software 3.0.0 . the man of the technical department was unfriendly and said that i could forget i could use internet from vodafone spain on my iphone,something what made me realy angry is there any one who know what to do??????????

  3. 3 cesargon 20 July 2009 at 12:36

    My experience with Vodafone technical support regarding the use of “imported” iPhones in Spain was quite friendly and welcoming, as I described in my post. Also, my Italian iPhone works perfectly in Spain, including internet access over Wi-Fi and 3G as well as MMS.

    To use your iPhone in Spain with Vodafone, you will need to configure it with some details that you can easily obtain on the web. Search for “iPhone carrier settings Vodafone Spain” or something like that and look for the APN, username and password settings. You will need to enter these in your iPhone under Settings, General, Network, Cellular Data Network. If you want MMS, search the web for similar information inclusing the MMSC and MMS Proxy settings; it’s not hard.

    I strongly recommend you get a flat-rate internet access package with Vodafone. Otherwise, your connection costs could get really nasty.

    Good luck!

  4. 4 Gary Foreman 27 July 2009 at 10:42

    Maybe I will need to do this/

    been trying to buy the new 3GS from movistar in Benissa – and they cannot tell me when they will get any.

    Crazy….how do you buy an iphone in Espana

  5. 5 cesargon 27 July 2009 at 12:39

    Well, Telefonica have always been quite unreliable at providing iPhones to their customers, as far as I know. Waiting long periods of time is not unheard of.

    I recently saw a free iPhone for sale at an airside shop at the T4 airport terminal in Madrid. It was outrageously expensive, but that’s an option you may want to consider if you travel to or via Madrid.

    The last option is to buy it overseas, like I did. 🙂

    Good luck!

  6. 6 Trevor 10 October 2009 at 12:41

    I have a contract with O2 in the UK and a contract with Vodafone in Spain. I had my UK iPhone unblocked in the UK to allow me to use it with Vodafone in Spain. When I connected to iTunes and downloaded the updates it blocked the phone. I have since had it unblocked again. Do you know if I will be able to download updates in the future, without blocking my phone, once O2 don’t have the monopoly.

    • 7 cesargon 10 October 2009 at 14:09

      Hi Trevor, that’s unfortunate. I have no idea, sorry. I can tell you what my experience was, but I don’t know about the policies or technical limitations imposed by other providers such as O2. Sorry!

    • 8 Nikki 31 October 2009 at 6:40

      I pressume that should you want to use your iphone in 2 countries with 2 different carriers then you would have to get your iphone official unlocked by an authorised carrier.

      Somewhere on the apple support site is a list of all such carriers authorised to unlock the phones.

      Once unlocked officially, as long as you have the sim card that activated your iphone in when you connect and update with itunes there should not be a problem.

      I am not by any means an expert on this, it´s just knowledge that I have picked up when reseaching similar subjects..

  7. 9 David Allen 24 December 2009 at 14:12

    When my contract with telefonica is up in May I will be moving back to Vodafone. I suppose I will have to get Telefonica to unlock the phone and they will make it difficult.
    I doubt if I will do an upgrade to a later version of the iPhone if this one is working well.

  8. 10 Serg 25 January 2010 at 17:32

    Vodafone contract plan with unlimited internet use:

    Iphone 3G running software 3.0

    Username: vodafone
    Password: vodafone

    MMS Proxy: or if you can’t type that try (
    Username: wap@wap
    Password: wap125

    Hope this helps out! I called vodafone in Spain and it works great… awesome customer service. BTW, I’m a military yank stationed in Southern Spain. (luckily I speak Spanish fluently…but Spanish from Mexico)

    • 11 Robbie 1 March 2010 at 0:12


      I have an unlocked iPhone from Australia and I have bought a prepaid Orange Sim. I spoke to a representative of Orange and told her that my internet wasn’t working but my calls and texts were. She gave me all these details including and i.p address, APN username and password, a wap URL, and a Port number and said I needed to configure my phone. I can’t find anywhere to put the ip address or port number when I look in:

      settings > General > Network > Cellular Data

      Could you help?

      Cheers, Robbie

  9. 12 harvey 20 February 2010 at 19:21

    thank you I have been having probs with this and advised to put in airternet, guess the L made all the difference, I must learn spainish!

  10. 13 Robbie 1 March 2010 at 0:05


    I bought my iPhone in Sydney, Australia and before I moved to Barcelona, I had my carrier unlock my phone. When I arrived I bought an Orange prepaid sim and now I can make calls and send messages, but I can’t use the internet. It’s really annoying and I’ve tried changing the APN numbers and it hasn’t worked. Does anyone have any ideas?


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  1. 1 2010 in review « Nothing Ever Happens 2 Trackback on 2 January 2011 at 20:41

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