Why? Because I wanted to try out SIM cards (again).
Yeah… I am a SIM card nerd – welcome to Phone Travel Wiz 🤪.
But it was also an opportunity to try out (new) travel eSIMs, such as Airalo's Eurolink eSIM.
The Eurolink eSIM is the most popular Europe travel eSIM, whereas Airalo itself is the most popular travel eSIM provider.
So besides trying out four Portuguese local SIM cards (MEO Portugal, NOS Portugal, Vodafone Portugal & Lycamobile Portugal (Vodafone Portugal MVNO)), I tested the Airalo Eurolink eSIM, the Nomad Europe eSIM & SimCorner Europe travel SIM card to find out which option is the best for Portugal.
And I will share my results in this review.
Original publication: 30th of December 2022. Last updated: 19th of September 2023.
Table of Contents
Which Phones are Compatible with Airalo eSIMs?
Before discussing the Airalo Eurolink eSIM to be used in Portugal specifically, you must know whether your phone can even support Airalo's eSIMs.
Sure, your phone may support eSIM, but the local mobile operator and travel eSIM provider, like Airalo, first needs to certify a phone before the users can use their products.
As of August 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Arialo eSIMs:
With that out of the way, let's talk more about the Airalo Eurolink eSIM!
You can get the Airalo Eurolink eSIM for as little as 5 USD for 1 GB of data (7 days) and up to 185 USD for 100 GB (180 days). The eSIM can be used in Portugal and 35+ other European nations with six options: 1 GB/7 days, 3 GB/30 days, 5 GB/30 days, 10 GB/30 days, 50 GB/90 days & 100 GB/180 days).
Below is an overview of how much each Airalo Eurolink eSIM costs:
- Europe/Eurolink 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 5 USD
- Europe/Eurolink 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Europe/Eurolink 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 20 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Europe/Eurolink 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Europe/Eurolink 50 GB eSIM for 90 days, costing 100 USD
- Europe/Eurolink 100 GB eSIM for 180 days, costing 185 USD
Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in September based on data up to the 7th of September (2023 data only).
Regardless of the currency used in your country, Airalo will always charge you in USD (US Dollar).
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.
Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).
I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.
Moreover, regardless of which Airalo Eurolink eSIM you choose, you can always top it up for the same amount of data and prices as listed above.
For example, suppose you buy the 5 GB Airalo Eurolink eSIM (30 days, costing 20 USD) but realize you need more data.
You can top it up with the 3 GB top-up (30 days costing, 13 USD) or the 100 GB top-up (180 days, costing 185 USD).
Many eSIM providers out there do not allow you to top up or extend the validity of your eSIM, so it is cool that Airalo allows you to do so.
The Airalo Eurolink eSIM can be used in Portugal and 35+ other countries in Europe, including all nations in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area, the Balkans, and other European countries, including Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Below is a complete overview of countries the Airalo Eurolink eSIM works in:
- Austria 2
- Belgium 2
- Bulgaria 2
- Croatia 2
- Cyprus 2
- Czech Republic
- Denmark 2
- Estonia 2
- Finland 2
- Gibraltar 1
- Greece 2
- Iceland 2
- Ireland 2
- Italy 2
- Latvia 2
- Luxembourg 2
- Malta 2
- Poland 2
- Romania 2
- Spain 2
- Sweden 2
- Switzerland 2
- United Kingdom 2
1 on 3G only
2 (limited) 5G NR availability at no additional cost! (list updated in December 2022)
With the Eurolink eSIM, you can save a lot of money by skipping the initial SIM card costs per country you visit – averaging 10.78 USD/country in Europe (and get 5G NR access at no additional cost)!
So if you plan on visiting other European countries before or after Portugal, getting the Airalo Eurolink eSIM will be convenient AND will save you a lot of money too.
If you want to visit other countries outside of Europe, consider the Airalo Global Discover eSIM, which can be used in 84+ countries, including Portugal.
I have an ongoing review for the Discover Global eSIM too, letting you know in which countries you should consider it and which ones you should avoid it.
I used my Airalo Eurolink eSIM in Portugal and ten other countries (Italy, Andorra, Spain, Malta, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia & Slovenia) on my one-month Europe trip (and I will use it in various other countries in 2023 – I had to head back to Australia because my boyfriend wanted me back 🤪).
Before we continue, I do want to let you know how travel eSIM providers like Airalo work.
It is impossible for Airalo, or any other mobile operator, to operate in every country (and do not trust any company saying otherwise), so they set up roaming agreements.
What Airalo does, and basically all (actual) mobile operators do, is partner up with a local mobile operator so that their customers can still stay connected abroad.
In the case of Portugal, the Airalo Eurolink eSIM uses the NOS Portugal and Vodafone Portugal networks.
Note: the Airalo Eurolink eSIM often uses two or three local networks, whereas country-specific ones (Fofo Mobil and MEO Ready to Enjoy Portugal in Portugal) often just use one network.
However, the Airalo Portugal Fofo Mobile eSIM, the seventh-most popular Airalo eSIM for Phone Travel Wiz readers (behind Italy, Eurolink, Japan, Thailand, Spain & Indonesia), uses the NOS Portugal network instead.
However, the Airalo/MEO Portugal Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIM, which is way more popular than the Fofo Mobile one, allows for 5G NR access on the MEO Portugal (which is the main reason for its popularity), which is huge.
Most travel eSIM providers are still “restricted” to 4G/LTE (or even worse, 3G in some countries).
So if you want to use 5G NR instead of 4G/LTE, consider the MEO Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIM.
I will discuss the Fofo Mobil and MEO Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIMs later because I want to share my network experience with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM first.
When I was in Portugal, the Airalo Eurolink eSIM only used the Vodafone Portugal network (the eSIM did not have accces to NOS Portugal… so you are lucky now 😜).
As you can expect, I also bought a Vodafone Portugal SIM card and tried it out.
Vodafone Portugal allowed, and still allows, prepaid customers to use its 5G NR network, while I could not with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM.
So using the Airalo Eurolink eSIM was a good test to see how Vodafone Portugal's 4G/LTE network performs while roaming on it.
Because my Airalo Eurolink eSIM used only the Vodafone Portugal network back then, I will solely focus on it for this section (but you can read about NOS Portugal's network performance in its respective review).
Regarding 4G/LTE availability, Vodafone Portugal has the best availability, with an availability score of 97.8%. Ahead of NOS Portugal (96.4%) and MEO Portugal (95.6%).
Regarding 5G NR, Vodafone Portugal has the second-best 5G NR availability (10.3%). Ahead of MEO Portugal (8.7%) but far behind NOS Portugal (20.9%).
Fast speeds with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM in Portugal!
Did you read it right… the Airalo Eurolink eSIM was faster than Vodafone Portugal itself?
Yes, and here is why.
Vodafone Portugal has regular SIM cards and data-only SIM cards.
I bought the data-only SIM card, which restricts download speeds to 50 Mbps.
So yeah… that is why Vodafone Portugal performed so badly compared to the Airalo Eurolink eSIM.
Anyway, I had an average download speed of 58.94 Mbps and a median download speed of 35.47 Mbps with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM: it passed the 4K video streaming test in Portugal (minimum of 25 Mbps).
The same can (barely) be said for the HD live streaming test in Portugal – the Airalo Eurolink eSIM had an average upload speed of 12.32 Mbps and a median upload speed of 10.05 Mbps, making it pass the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).
Even then, the Airalo Eurolink eSIM had a slower average download speed than the Nomad Europe eSIM (MEO Portugal network), 70.29 Mbps, and the SimCorner O2 Europe SIM card (also on the MEO Portugal network).
In terms of average upload speeds, the other two had faster speeds too (20.83 Mbps for Nomad and 25.97 Mbps for SimCorner).
So yes, in terms of speeds, the Airalo Eurolink eSIM performed poorly compared to its competitors in Portugal.
But I can already tell you that is not always the case in European countries, where the Airalo Eurolink eSIM performed (significantly) better than its competition (which you can read about in my Airalo Eurolink eSIM review, which I tested in 11 countries… so far 😏).
By the way, I encourage you to read the Nomad Europe in Portugal review or the Nomad Europe in eight countries review too because its eSIMs have decreased in price lately… making them cheaper than the Airalo Eurolink ones 😲.
I would recommend the Airalo Eurolink eSIM for Portugal, and it would be one of my top recommendations for anyone wanting to buy a Europe travel eSIM (but not only for Portugal).
While I had a good experience in Portugal with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM, you are better off getting the Airalo MEO Ready to Enjoy Portugal eSIM if you are only visiting Portugal.
I did not try out the MEO Ready to Enjoy or Fofo Mobil eSIMs in Portugal because I was too busy with the Eurolink eSIM, Nomad Europe eSIM, SimCorner O2 Europe SIM card & the four local SIM cards. But more than 250 Phone Travel Wiz readers have tried the eSIM, and I have yet to receive bad feedback for it, so you will be fine if you get it!
That is because you pay a premium to be able to use one eSIM in more than 35 European countries.
So if you are visiting multiple European countries, you better go with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM because you will be saving quite some money when you do so (and you can use 5G NR in more than half the eligible countries while the country-specific eSIMs cannot… but not in Portugal… yet).
Okay, back to Portugal specifically, getting the Airalo Eurolink eSIM, and any other Airalo eSIM for that matter, is easy and straightforward (even though I did not spend any time on how to install Airalo eSIMs – you will manage… promise!).
Airalo's Eurolink eSIM has the most generous data allowance of any Europe eSIM I know of (1 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB, 50 GB & 100 GB).
In Portugal, it uses the NOS Portugal and Vodafone Portugal networks.
When I was in Portugal, the Airalo Eurolink eSIM could only use the Vodafone Portugal network, and it worked well too – better than Vodafone Portugal itself in most cases (because of speed restrictions).
Anyway, your speeds will often be fast enough for general data browsing and video streaming.
Taking all 12 speed tests into account, I had an average overall download speed of 58.94 Mbps and a median download speed of 35.47 Mbps with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM in Portugal.
When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 12.32 Mbps and a median upload speed of 10.05 Mbps with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM in Portugal.
Although Vodafone Portugal offered 5G NR access for free to prepaid customers already, its speeds were capped.
But if you buy a regular Vodafone Portugal SIM card, you will have full speed on its network.
In some countries, like Austria, actively and effectively throttle the speeds of prepaid customers (to as low as 20 Mbps download).
Fortunately, you do not have to worry about this in Portugal unless you buy a data-only SIM card.
I have warned you enough – do not get a Portuguese data-only SIM card if you want the fastest speeds possible… do not make the mistake I made!
Anyway, by using an extensive 4G/LTE network, offering affordable data plans & offering fast download speeds, you should have a smooth browsing experience with the Airalo Eurolink eSIM in Portugal.
Interested in using the Airalo Eurolink eSIM in another country or countries? Read my Airalo Eurolink eSIM review (tested in 11 countries).
Other Portuguese eSIM & Travel SIM Card Reviews (Airalo & SimCorner)
As mentioned earlier, I also tried out the Nomad Europe eSIM and SimCorner O2 Europe SIM card when I was in Portugal and various other European countries.
You should read those reviews too.
>>> Airalo Eurolink (in other countries) eSIM Review | Nomad Europe (in Portugal) eSIM Review | Nomad Europe eSIM Review | SimCorner O2 Europe (in Portugal) SIM Card Review | SimCorner O2 & 3 Europe SIM Cards Review<<<
I also tried out various local Portuguese SIM cards: MEO Portugal, NOS Portugal, Vodafone Portugal & Lycamobile Portugal (Vodafone Portugal MVNO).
If your phone does not support eSIM (but felt like reading this Nomad review in full anyway – awesome) or want to have the best network experience possible, you want to go directly with the local mobile operators instead of roaming on their networks (as you do with travel eSIMs).
So I encourage you to read the Portuguese SIM card reviews too.
Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other European SIM cards.
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