Florence Robson, Aug 13th 2014, 13:43 Verified Guru
During my year abroad in Madrid, I kept my iPhone with an English SIM and bought the cheapest possible pay-as-you-go phone & SIM in Madrid. I used my iPhone whenever I was on wifi (at home or in cafes etc) and my Spanish phone to text my friends' Spanish numbers. I found this worked perfectly well for me.
However, if you are the kind of person who likes to be able access the internet wherever you are, it might be worth forking out for a Spanish nano-sim for your iPhone or buying a slightly more expensive phone once you're in Spain with a pay-as-you-go deal that includes the internet. It really comes down to what you're looking for out of your phone!
Lauren Stevens, Sep 15th 2014, 08:11
Buying a basic phone saves money, but you can't use WhatsApp. Spanish people love WhatsApp, so it is useful to have internet access when you're out and about. I would suggest bringing an unlocked phone with you. I took my iPhone then just switched between my English and Spanish SIMs and I didn't have any problems other than getting it unlocked.
If your phone is locked to a provider in your home country, a SIM from the same provider in Spain will still not be accepted and it makes your life easier to have an unlocked phone when you arrive. I made this mistake, thinking that I could use a Vodafone Spain SIM card with a phone locked to Vodafone UK, but eventually I managed to unlock my phone. I was on pay as you go and the case is a lot different to the UK and it is very cheap. €10-20 could last me 1-2 months. I still had all my English contacts on my phone and could talk to them on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, FaceTime or Skype. I didn't feel like I needed two phones because I rarely used my English SIM in Spain. You could also consider getting a dual SIM phone.
I would say that getting a Spanish number is one of the first things you should do when you arrive, because friends and people interested in private classes will ask for your number and won't want to pay extra to use your English number. You may also need it to get full access to your bank account, as they may text you a code.