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.