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Airalo Merhaba in Turkey Review (+Speedtests)

Turkey (Türkiye) is one of the largest countries in the Middle East.

But it is one of the most popular destinations in the region.

The country has everything from stunning mosques to bustling bazaars, from baking at beaches to skiing from mountains.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a stable connection in Turkey in case you suddenly need some assistance.

That is why I tried out seven travel eSIMs from various eSIM providers, such as Airalo's Merhaba (Turkey) eSIM, and three Turkish SIM cards to find out which option is the best.

Turkey Merhaba eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

Be aware that Turkey has an IMEI (phone serial number) registration scheme.

You do not have to worry about this if you stay in the country for 90 days or less in a 120-day window.

If you do, you have to pay a registration tax of over 31 000 TRY (more than 1000 USD) as of 2024!

Only if you bought your phone abroad. Turkey-bought phones do not have to pay this fee. This tax was “only” about 2000 TRY (65 USD). But it has risen over the years. From 6000 TRY in January 2022 to 20 000 TRY in July 2023. The government really wants your money 🗿.

And this applies to anyone using the Turkish mobile networks directly or indirectly, such as a travel eSIM (because they roam on Turkish networks).

Enough about that – is the Airalo Merhaba eSIM worth your time and money?

Let's find out.

Airalo Merhaba eSIM in Turkey Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Original publication: 1st of February 2024. Last updated: 5th of February 2024.

Table of Contents

Airalo's List of Compatible eSIM-Supported Phones

Before I even focus on Airalo's Merhaba (Turkey) eSIM, does your phone support Airalo eSIMs?

If you have an eSIM-compatible smartphone, it is almost guaranteed that you can use an Airalo eSIM.

While Airalo had to certify phones in the past, almost all are supported nowadays.

As of December 2023, the phones shown in the infographic below are compatible with Airalo eSIMs:

Airalo eSIM Compatible Devices List Infographic (December 2023 Edition) by Phone Travel Wiz

Now we can actually focus on the Merhaba eSIM.

Airalo Merhaba (Turkey) eSIM Prices

You can get the Airalo Merhaba (Turkey) eSIM for between 4.50 USD (1 GB for 7 days) and 26 13 USD (20 GB for 30 days).

Turkey Merhaba eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

Below is an overview of how much each Airalo Merhaba eSIM costs:

  1. Turkey/Merhaba 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 4.50 USD
  2. Turkey/Merhaba 2 GB eSIM for 15 days, costing 6.50 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  3. Turkey/Merhaba 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 8 4 USD (on sale)
  4. Turkey/Merhaba 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 12 6 USD (on sale) – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  5. Turkey/Merhaba 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 18 9 USD (on sale) – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  6. Turkey/Merhaba 20 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 26 13 USD (on sale)

Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in December based on data up to the 30th of December (2023 data only). The (promotional) prices were updated on the 31st of January.

>>> Get your Airalo Merhaba eSIM now! <<<

Airalo Turkey Merhaba eSIM with Prices
See the list above for up-to-date prices and allowances. The figures in this image may be outdated.

The links above will bring you to the Merhaba eSIM product page.

And if you already have the Airalo app installed on your phone, the links will open the respective app (Android or iOS).

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 THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.

Open a Wise account for FREE!

Wise Currency Exchange Banner
© Wise

What if you buy the 10 GB Merhaba eSIM, as I did, and realize you need another 5 GB of data close to exhausting your data allowance?

Airalo Merhaba Turkey eSIM Purchase by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

Would you need to purchase a new eSIM? Not at all.

You can top up your Airalo Merhaba eSIM for the same amount of data and prices as listed earlier.

The 5 GB top-up would still cost 12 USD as if you bought the 5 GB eSIM from the start.

That way, you will never run out of data.

A handful of Airalo eSIMs do not allow for top-ups. But that does not apply to the Merhaba eSIM – so worry not.

Airalo Merhaba Turkey eSIM Top Ups

You can top-up on the Airalo website or its apps.

And if you buy a top-up before you have fully exhausted your data allowance, Airalo will not use your top-up yet.

As a result, the validity of the top-up will not start until you start using the top-up data (which is not the case with all travel eSIMs).

>>> Get your Airalo Merhaba eSIM now! <<<

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My Airalo Merhaba eSIM in Turkey Experience

Flag of Turkey

I used my Airalo Merhaba (Turkey) eSIM only in Istanbul.

Travel eSIMs, including the Turkey eSIM, roam on the networks of local mobile operators.

Airalo is not a mobile (network) operator (MNO), so it partners with various MNOs, which roam on local MNOs' networks.

Okay, that may sound a bit confusing – all you need to know is that you will be treated as a guest on one of the Turkish mobile networks while using another network to make this system work.

Airalo's Turkey eSIM uses the Türk Telekom network while being powered by Edge Mobile LLC/AT&T from the United States (so your phone, some apps, or sites you visit may claim you are on Edge Mobile LLC instead of Airalo – that is correct).

Türk Telekom Logo
© Türk Telekom

Is Türk Telekom, a government-owned mobile operator, any good?

First things first… 5G NR was unavailable when I was in Turkey (November 2023).

Although the three mobile operators, Turkcell, Vodafone Turkey & Türk Telekom, were holding trials.

But none were calling their 4.5G networks (LTE-A Pro) 5G Evolution or nonsense like that (as the American mobile operators did).

Anyway, the Turkish mobile operators cover practically all populated areas of Turkey, with an availability of 98.3% or more, according to Opensignal.

However, Turkcell has the best coverage experience (7.1 on a ten-point scale). Followed by Vodafone (5.9) and Türk Telekom (5.2).

What if we look at speeds?

Turkcell was the fastest mobile operator in Q4 of 2023, with a median download speed of 56.73 Mbps, according to Speedtest/Ookla.

It was followed by Türk Telekom (30.78 Mbps) and Vodafone (20.36 Mbps).

When looking at consistency of performance, which Speedtest considers to be a download speed of at least 5 Mbps and an upload speed of over 1 Mbps, Turkcell is the most consistent (91.3% of all the results Speedtest processed).

Followed by Türk Telekom (85.7%) and Vodafone (83.7%).

While Speedtest did not focus on upload speeds in-depth in its report, Opensignal did.

And it was found that Turkcell had the fastest average upload speed (13.1 Mbps).

Ahead of Türk Telekom (11.1 Mbps) and Vodafone (8.2 Mbps).

I did speed tests with the Speedtest app throughout Istanbul (Asian and European sides).

Speedtest Logo
© Ookla

For reference, I consider an average download speed of 25 Mbps and an average upload speed of 10 Mbps fast enough.

Why is that? A more than 25 Mbps download speed is enough to video stream content @ 4k resolution.

Social media sites that do live streaming, like Facebook Live, recommend an upload speed of at least 10 Mbps.

I have way higher standards, but not everyone demands a download speed of 500 Mbps 🤪.

In the section below, you will find various colors and formatting.

Results in dark green mean that the result was the fastest download or upload among all SIM cards and travel eSIMs I tested at that location.

Fastest Result (Dark Green) Among All Example for Speed Test Results

Whereas results in light green were the fastest download or upload within the category (among all SIM cards OR all travel eSIMs) but not the fastest when considering the other category.

Fastest Result (Light Green) Within Category Example for Speed Test Results

The same applies to dark red and light orange results – the slowest download or upload among all (dark red) or the slowest within a category (light orange).

Slowest Fastest Result (Dark Red) Among All Example for Speed Test Results
Slowest Result (Light Orange) Within Category Example for Speed Test Results

All underlined results are on 5G NR, while results in italics are on 3G – results without additional formatting are on 4G/LTE.

Underlined (5G) Result Example for Speed Test Results
Italics (3G) Result Example for Speed Test Results

That should clear up the colorful speed test results in the next section.

For now, let's see how the Airalo Merhaba eSIM performed in Istanbul.

>>> Get your Airalo Merhaba eSIM now! <<<

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Airalo Merhaba (Turkey) eSIM in Istanbul Speed Test Results

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
© Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

I used my Airalo Merhaba (Turkey) eSIM only in Istanbul.

Most travel eSIMs can use the networks of Turkcell and Türk Telekom.

But not the Merhaba eSIM – only Türk Telekom.

Türk Telekom Logo
© Türk Telekom

Usually, I try to compare an eSIM with other eSIMs that use the same network or default to it (in case it can use multiple networks).

Surprisingly, almost all other eSIMs used Turkcell instead 🗿 (except for Airalo's Eurolink (Europe) eSIM (review)).

Turkcell Logo
© Turkcell

And I did not realize until I started writing this review.

Otherwise, I would have changed the networks of some eSIMs to Türk Telekom for more meaningful comparisons.

I guess I was having too much fun in Istanbul 🤪.

Anyway, I will still compare the Merhaba eSIM to Türk Telekom and all the other eSIMs I used in Turkey.

Below are the results:

Airalo Merhaba eSIM Speed Test Results in Turkey vs Airalo Eurolink, Airalo Discover+, Alosim, Holafly, Nomad, Nomad Middle East

Fair speeds with the Merhaba eSIM.

I am a bit surprised that Airalo did not choose Orange France to power its Turkey eSIM, as it does with its Europe eSIM (Eurolink – Turkey review), because the latency would be much less than from the US, and the performance would be much better.

For comparison, the Merhaba eSIM never had the fastest download speed among all or eSIMs.

Meanwhile, the Eurolink eSIM was faster than all, including the Turkish mobile operators, at six out of 18 test locations.

And it was faster than other eSIMs at two more locations.

It performed so well that it was never the slowest in download and upload speeds.

But it is a different story with the Airalo Turkey eSIM.

The best result it got, which was impressive, was 170.93 Mbps Çamlıca Tower.

Airalo Merhaba Turkey Speed Test at Çamlıca Tower (170.93 Mbps)
Airalo Merhaba @ Çamlıca Tower

Remember, all results are on 4G/LTE because 5G NR did not exist when I was in Turkey.

Well, almost all. The result at the Airbnb where I stayed (Asian side) was on 3G – 3.40 Mbps.

Airalo Merhaba Turkey Speed Test at Accommodation (3.40 Mbps)
Airalo Merhaba @ Accommodation

That was the only result on 3G I have gotten with eSIMs and even Turkish SIM cards.

The other Merhaba results are not worth mentioning.

Except for the fact that the eSIM was the slowest among all at three locations: my Airbnb (3.40 Mbps), Nusr-Et – Bebek Branch (21.04 Mbps) & Yenikapi Station (23 Mbps).

Airalo Merhaba Turkey Speed Test at Accommodation (3.40 Mbps)
Airalo Merhaba @ Accommodation
Airalo Merhaba Turkey Speed Test at Nusr-Et (Bebek Branch) (21.04 Mbps)
Airalo Merhaba @ Nusr-Et (Bebek Branch)
Airalo Merhaba Turkey Speed Test at Yenikapi Station (23 Mbps)
Airalo Merhaba @ Yenikapi Station

Yeah… not great. If you also looked at the Alosim Turkey results in the image earlier, you will see that it performed even worse than the Merhaba.

That is because both eSIMs were powered by Edge Mobile LLC.

Although the Alosim eSIM was on Turkcell instead.

The other Airalo eSIMs, Eurolink and Discover+ (Turkey review), and Nomad eSIMs were the best-performing eSIMs and were also on Turkcell.

So, it is not a Turkcell issue – not even Türk Telekom…

Anyway, I got an average download speed of 35.10 Mbps with the Merhaba eSIM.

Airalo Merhaba Overall Speed Test Results in Turkey

Not great, but not awful either.

And I do not have more to add 🗿.

>>> Get your Airalo Merhaba eSIM now! <<<

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My Overall Experience with the Airalo Merhaba eSIM in Turkey – Is It Worth Your Money?

I am unsure if I would recommend the Airalo Merhaba (Turkey) because other options for similar prices but significantly better performance are available.

Phone Travel Wiz Partially Approved Seal

Getting the Airalo Merhaba eSIM or any other Airalo eSIM is extremely easy.

Turkey Merhaba eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

Airalo is one of the few eSIM providers that allow you to install an eSIM directly to your phone (without the need to scan a QR code), which makes the installation process a piece of cake (hence, I did not spend any time on how to install in this review – it is easy!).

Moreover, you do not have to adjust the APN settings with the Airalo Merhaba eSIM, making it more manageable.

Airalo's Merhaba eSIMs were one of the more affordable eSIMs I tested on this trip while having the most options to choose from (1 GB, 2 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB & 20 GB).

You get access to the Türk Telekom network – a government-owned mobile operator, which is also the smallest.

Airalo Merhaba Turkey eSIM Supported Network Türk Telekom

However, Türk Telekom (my prepaid SIM card) performed (much) better than Turkcell and Vodafone Turkey (reviews are on the way).

Unfortunately, the Merhaba eSIM could not replicate these results.

In fact, it was the worst-performing Airalo eSIM in the country.

Compared to Airalo's Eurolink (Europe) eSIM (Turkey review) and Airalo's Discover+ (global) eSIM (Turkey review).

Airalo Eurolink eSIM in Turkey Review by Phone Travel Wiz
Airalo Discover eSIM in Turkey Review by Phone Travel Wiz

But that does not mean it was terrible – I still had an average download speed of 35.10 Mbps (median 23.24 Mbps) and an average upload speed of 19.57 Mbps (median 19.66 Mbps) with the Merhaba eSIM.

Airalo Merhaba Overall Speed Test Results in Turkey

In comparison, Türk Telekom had an average download speed of 95.12 Mbps.

Türk Telekom Overall Speed Test Results in Turkey

And remember, 5G NR did not exist when I was in Turkey, so it is not like Türk Telekom had that advantage.

One noteworthy result I got with the Merhaba eSIM was at Çamlıca Tower – a download speed of 170.93 Mbps (its best result).

Airalo Merhaba Turkey Speed Test at Çamlıca Tower (170.93 Mbps)

In contrast, its worst results were at my Airbnb (3.40 Mbps on 3G) and Topkapi Palace Museum (1.20 Mbps – the lowest with the eSIM).

Airalo Merhaba Turkey Speed Test at Accommodation (3.40 Mbps)

So, if I would not recommend the Merhaba eSIM for Turkey, which eSIM would I recommend?

Not the Alosim Turkey eSIM (product page), that is for sure.

It is powered by the same provider as Merhaba's (Edge Mobile eSIM).

Unlike the Airalo Turkey eSIM, Alosim's Turkey eSIM can also use the Turkcell network.

Turkcell Logo
© Turkcell

But its results on that network were worse than Merhaba's 🗿.

What about the other two Airalo eSIMs?

They worked well in Turkey because different providers powered them.

The Eurolink eSIM also used Türk Telekom, and its average download speed was almost triple that of Merhaba (106.75 Mbps).

But you would pay a significant premium over the Merhaba eSIM because the Eurolink eSIM can be used in 38 European countries besides Turkey (up to 19 USD/more than 100% if you pick the 10 GB option).

Yeah… that is unnecessary if you only visit Turkey (but if you visit other European countries, you should consider the Eurolink eSIM. At the time of writing, I have used it in more than 15 countries. See my ongoing review).

Airalo Eurolink eSIM Review by Phone Travel Wiz

Non-Airalo eSIMs I would recommend for Turkey are Holafly and Nomad.

Holafly offers unlimited data plans for Turkey (up to 99 days – product page).

Holafly Turkey eSIMs

Because of this, its eSIMs are significantly more expensive than Airalo's (but you can save 5% on any of your Holafly orders by using code PHONETRAVELWIZ).

Turkey is grouped with Holafly's European eSIMs; its speeds are not throttled (any unlimited data eSIM outside of Europe is severely throttled @ up to 18 Mbps).

But Nomad's Turkey eSIM (product page) is probably the best option.

Not only did it perform better than Merhaba, but its prices were lower if you picked the more generous data options (5 GB and 10 GB).

Nomad Turkey eSIMs

Just like the Alosim eSIM, the Nomad eSIM was on the Turkcell network (but you can also manually select Türk Telekom if you want), and had an average download speed of 66.24 Mbps on it.

Cheaper and better? Sign me up! Well… that is what I would say if I were reading this review 🤓.

And to sweeten the deal, use code ADU123 for 3 USD off your first Nomad order.

To recap, while the Airalo Merhaba eSIM performed alright, way better options are available for lower prices.

Airalo's decision to use Edge Mobile LLC to power Merhaba seems wrong because Orange France, used by the Eurolink eSIM, is way better.

Hopefully, it will reconsider – and it should; even if the eSIM prices go up by 1 USD or 2 USD, the outcome will be much more satisfactory for us.

And this is why I somewhat recommend the Airalo Merhaba eSIM.