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Movistar Spain Review: The Best is Not the Fastest (+Speedtests)

In March 2022, I decided to go on a big trip.

I visited Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Italy, Malta, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia & Slovenia within a month.

Why? Because I wanted to try out SIM cards (again).

Yeah… I am that type of person – welcome to Phone Travel Wiz 🤪.

I went for such an intensive trip because I stayed home for a year since March 2021 because of travel restrictions.

Before March 2021, I was a year in Taiwan, where life was basically normal during the first year of pandemic.

So it was a good time for be while the whole world was basically on fire 😳.

Since early 2022, travel restrictions were being lifted throughout the European Union, so it was an excellent excuse to travel around the union.

That gave me the opportunity to (re-)test 41 local SIM cards, like Movistar Spain, Airalo's Eurolink Europe eSIM, Nomad's Europe eSIM & SimCorner's Europe travel SIM cards.

And because my partner wanted me back in Australia as soon as possible after not seeing him for two years and the country reopening for select travelers (including myself), I had to cram in as many destinations within a month before heading to Australia.

Tray of SIM Cards by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

If you have read any of my SIM card buying guides before, like the Spanish one, or watched a YouTube video of mine, you know that I am crazy enough to buy and test so many SIM cards.

If this is your first Phone Travel Wiz review – welcome.

I buy and test all/most SIM cards in a country and tell you which ones are the best so that you do not have to 😎.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Held by Adu 2022

You may have already read some blogs or articles saying that Movistar Spain is the best.

Or you may have tried Movistar in Central– or South America.

But is that true? The only way to find out is to test Movistar Spain and compare it with the other Spanish SIM cards (Orange Spain, Vodafone Spain & Yoigo).

And that is what I did – and I will share my experience in this review.

Let's get started, shall we?

Movistar Spain SIM Card Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

Original publication: 26th of May 2022. Last updated: 27th of October 2022.


Table of Contents

Who is Movistar Spain?

Movistar Logo New
© Movistar

If you have been to Central– or South America before, you will have heard of Movistar.

It is a mobile operator active in almost all Central- and South American countries, like Claro and Tigo to some extent.

The parent company of Movistar, Telefónica, is also active in Europe as O2 in Germany and the United Kingdom and Vivo in Brazil.

As a former monopolist, Movistar Spain still has the most significant market share in the Spanish market.

However, as competition has increased in the past decade, it has lost many customers (due to typical monopolistic behavior, making the Spanish hate Movistar Spain).

So, who are the other players that have stolen Movistar Spain's customers?

In Spain, you have four network operators:

  • Movistar Spain
  • Orange Spain
  • Vodafone Spain
  • Yoigo

Of course, I tested the other three mobile operators during my trip to Spain in March. You can read them here: Orange Spain review, Vodafone Spain review & Yoigo review.

Buying a SIM Card in Spain Guide (logos of Vodafone, Movistar, Orange & Yoigo)

You also have many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), like Lycamobile Spain, but they are honestly not worth your time.

In the title of this review, I called Movistar Spain the best.

And I will tell you more about why I think so.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Starter Pack Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

But before you go get yourself a Movistar Spain SIM card, there are some flaws to be aware of.

And, in many cases, it can be a better idea to get yourself another Spanish SIM card than Movistar Spain's.

Let's talk about Movistar Spain's coverage first, after these quick frequency details:

  • 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
  • 3G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
  • 5G NR: 1800 MHz (n3), 2100 MHz (n1) & 3500 MHz (n78)
  • VoLTE: Yes
  • VoWiFi: Yes

Here you have Movistar Spain's APN settings:

  • Name: Movistar Internet
  • APN: movistar.es

Movistar Spain Coverage + My Experience

You can have a mobile operator providing you 1 Gbps download speeds.

But if it covers only one street in the entirety of Spain, it will be useless.

So, how is Movistar Spain's coverage?

When looking at 4G/LTE availability, Movistar Spain has an availability percentage of 87.9% behind Vodafone Spain (89.1%) but ahead of Orange Spain (87.7%) and Yoigo (82.4%), according to Opensignal.

Movistar Spain has the best 4G/LTE coverage experience (9.5 on a 10-point scale) – on par with Orange Spain.

Followed by Vodafone Spain (9.2) and Yoigo (6.9).

When looking at 5G NR, Movistar Spain is winning the 5G NR availability race (9.9%) with Yoigo (10.6%) and Orange Spain (9.6%).

Apparently, Vodafone Spain is far behind (4.1%).

When we take a look at the 5G NR reach, Movistar Spain is doing well again, with a reach score of 3.1, behind Yoigo (3.3), but ahead of Orange Spain (2.9) and Vodafone Spain (1.9).

So far, I have been talking about coverage from other reports, but what was my coverage experience with Movistar Spain?

It was excellent, honestly – I had nothing to complain about.

I do not recall having many reception blackspots – not even on the metro in Madrid.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Holder

When I took the high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona, reception did cut off every now or then, but that is expected.

And the same applied when I took the bus to Andorra (to try out Andorra Telecom).

The closer to got to the Andorran border, the worse coverage I got and the more I was on 3G instead of 4G/LTE.

But that is normal too – nothing out of the ordinary.

And do not expect 5G NR out of the big cities yet.

Below, you have the coverage maps of Movistar Spain in mainland Spain + the Balearic Islands (consisting of Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca & Menorca) and in the Canary Islands on the west of Morocco (consisting of Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote & Tenerife):

Below are the coverage maps of Movistar Spain of Cueta (south of Gibraltar and north of Morocco on the left) and of Melilla (north/northeast of Morocco on the right):


How to Get a Movistar Spain SIM Card & Prices

Now you have a basic understanding of Movistar Spain and the telecom market in Spain, it is now time to talk about how to actually get a Movistar Spain SIM card.

Unlike many countries in Europe, especially the European Union, I recommend visiting a Movistar Spain store to get your SIM card.

That is because of the SIM card registration laws in Spain – SIM card registration is mandatory.

  • Find out which countries have SIM card registration regulations and what is required from you (lookup tool)
SIM Card Registration Worldwide Tool by Phone Travel Wiz

Spanish SIM cards are also sold by third parties, like grocery stores or convenience stores like in many other countries.

But it can be a challenge to find a store with Movistar Spain SIM cards lying around (I did not manage to see any… but that may be because I did not actively look for them).

So you better visit a Movistar Spain store – the process will be quicker (here is a store locator).

But here is the link to the SIM card activation page if you get your Movistar Spain SIM card from a non-Movistar store.

Luckily, the page is in English too.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Registration Page

If you go to a Movistar Spain storWhat does e, you just have to present your passport (or ID if you are from another European Union nation).

By the way, Movistar Spain SIM cards are not sold at Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) or Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport (BCN).

I got my Movistar Spain SIM card in Madrid at the store called Telefónica Building (Fundación Telefónica) on Google Maps.

Movistar Spain & Orange Spain Stores in Madrid
This is a random Movistar Spain store – not the one I visited

Apparently, it is a Movistar Spain store and a museum in one… which I only found out while I was writing this 🥲.

It was a surprisingly beautiful store.

It was so lovely that I asked if I could take photographs.

Permission was given, but the security guy gave me such a look that I was too afraid to take photos with him hawk eyeing me 🥴.

Anyway, the guy from the reception asked me what I needed help with.

After getting a ticket, I had to wait for less than a minute before I was attended.

Even though about four people were sitting and waiting much longer than I was… oops.

Officially, you can get a Movistar Spain SIM card for 10 EUR with 10 EUR credit.

I will list all the prices in EUR (Euro).

To convert EUR to your currency (let's say GBP – (British) Pound (Sterling)) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

Wise Signup Banner

Disclaimer: the SIM card prices mentioned in the review were current when I was in Spain – the offering and prices may have changed since then. To see Movistar Spain's current starter packs, check out my Spain SIM card buying guide

However, I was offered a starter pack costing 20 EUR with 25 GB of data and 150 local minutes for 28 days.

Movistar Spain Plan Written Down by a Movistar Employee for Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

Dealing with this salesperson was a bit of a challenge, as he only spoke Spanish, and my Spanish is as broken as public transportation in most of the United States 🤪.

Anyway, Movistar Spain also gives prepaid customers 5G NR access.

5G Tablets by Movistar Spain

And you can use your entire data and call allowances in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA).

What does Movistar Spain consider to be the EU/EEA? Below is a list:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Movistar Spain does not have a tourist SIM card – only standard prepaid SIM cards are available.

But my Spain eSIM Buying Guide has a few recommendations, including discount codes, that can be used in Spain alone or most of Europe.

Buying an eSIM for Spain Guide (logos of Airalo, Holafly, Nomad, Orange & Guay Mobile)

If you are from a country where mobile data rates are criminally high, like Canada, you may not believe you can get so much data for such a relatively low price.

Well, you better believe it – the average cost of 1 GB of data in Spain is 1.24 USD, according to Cable.co.uk.

Yeah, not every country is trying to rob you for using mobile data 😏.


Movistar Spain Plans, Bundles & Offers

Movistar Spain has two data-featured prepaid packages: Plan(e)s (combo) & Add-Ons (data).

While there are not that many options, the plans are generous.

Disclaimer: these were the available plans at the time I was in Spain – the offering may have changed since then (including whether 5G NR is available to prepaid customers or not). To see Movistar Spain's current plans, check out my Spain SIM card buying guide (which gets updated regularly – at least once a year).

Buying a SIM Card in Spain Guide (logos of Vodafone, Movistar, Orange & Yoigo)

I will list all the prices in EUR (Euro).

To convert EUR to your currency (let's say GBP – (British) Pound (Sterling)) with up-to-date exchange rates, use the Wise Currency Converter tool.

Wise Signup Banner

Plan(e)s

The Plan(e)s, which may not be called plan(e)s but have no clear name, are combo bundles with data and minutes.

Call 1200 to activate Plans:

PricePlanDataLocal/EU MinutesValidity
5 EURLínea Adicional Prepago 55 GB20 minutes28 days
10 EURPrepago Plus21 GB40 minutes28 days
15 EURPrepago Premium45 GB100 minutes28 days
20 EURPrepago Total75 GB150 minutes28 days
Movistar Spain Plans

Add-Ons – Movistar Spain

The Add-Ons are, as the name implies, add-ons. They cannot be purchased as standalone plans.

Call 1200 to activate Add-Ons:

PricePlanDataValidity
2 EURBono Extra 200 MB200 MB7 days
5 EURBrowse+1 GB28 days
Movistar Spain Prepago Movistar Navega+ & Extra 200 MB Mas Megas Data Add-Ons

Movistar Spain Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check

Movistar top-up vouchers are sold in Mosivtar stores, grocery stores, corner shops & electronics shops throughout Spain.

I did not have to recharge my Movistar Spain SIM card because Spain was a short stop on my one-month Europe trip.

But I will still let you know about topping up your Movistar Spain SIM card.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Back

To top up your Movistar SIM card, call 2200 and follow the instructions.

You can also tell the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.

You can also recharge online with (international/EU) debit and credit cards.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Information Booklet

Dial *123# or call 2266 and select option 2 to check your Movistar balance.

However, every balance query will cost 0.18 EUR/check.

You can also top up and check your balance (for free) on the Mi Movistar (España) app (Android/iOS).

Movistar Spain Mi Movistar App
© Movistar Spain

Movistar Spain Speed Test Results (in Barcelona & Madrid)

Alright, now it is time to talk about the speeds you can expect to get with Movistar Spain after covering all the other essential topics like coverage.

But before I share my 11 speed test results from Barcelona and Madrid, I do want to set the stage first and make a small comparison with Movistar Spain's competition.

Movistar Spain is regarded by Speedtest as the fastest mobile operator in Spain in Q4 of 2021.

With a Speed Score of 62.67, Movistar Spain is outperforming Orange Spain (51.34), Vodafone Spain (45.57) & Yoigo (39.43).

However, when we look at 5G NR, Movistar Spain loses the 5G NR race with a median download speed of 103.99 Mbps.

This is behind Yoigo (125.20 Mbps), Orange Spain (146.31 Mbps) & far behind Vodafone Spain (277.11 Mbps).

Okay, those were valuable insights – let's talk about my speed test results now.

I did speed tests with the Speedtest app at various test locations: three in Barcelona and eight in Madrid.

Here are the results:

Movistar Spain Speed Test Results in Barcelona & Madrid

Besides at Barcelona Airport (1.19 Mbps), those are nice download speeds… if they were 4G/LTE speed test results.

Every underlined result is a speed test result on 5G NR.

I only got four results higher than 100 Mbps, and two of them were on 4G/LTE.

While the 338.72 Mbps result at Madrid Centro Comercial Príncipe Pío was the fastest, it is not too impressive for 5G NR.

Like I experienced with Optus in Australia.

In fact, I experienced and expected these speeds on 4G/LTE (the fastest 4G/LTE download speed I got was with FarEasTone in Taipei-Taoyuan Airport in Taiwan).

I will show you the comparison with Vodafone Spain later, which also has 5G NR access for prepaid customers.

And I can already tell you it was significantly faster than Movistar Spain.

First, let's deal with some Movistar Spain statistics based on 11 speed test results:

  • Movistar Spain's average download speed was 85.24 Mbps
  • The median download speed with Movistar Spain was 51.70 Mbps
  • Movistar Spain's average upload speed was 25.40 Mbps
  • The median upload speed with Movistar Spain was 27.78 Mbps
  • Movistar Spain had the fastest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 2 of the 11 locations
  • Movistar Spain had the slowest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 7 of the 11 locations
  • At 2 of the 11 locations, Movistar Spain had the fastest upload speed
  • At 1 of the 11 locations, Movistar Spain had the slowest upload speed

Honestly, those are some pretty impressive statistics… if it was on 4G/LTE only.

Honestly… even on 5G NR, these results are acceptable (I am a real speed hawk… that is why I keep hammering on speed that much).

So, is an average download speed of 85.24 Mbps fast enough?

Yes, it is – let me elaborate.

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

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

And I got an average upload speed of 25.40 Mbps – more than double the recommended upload speed.

So, in short, these speed test results would be more than enough for watching videos at a high resolution and for uploading content like live streams.

But let's take these results to a global level – Movistar Spain is still doing well.

At the time of writing, the global average download speed is 74.87 Mbps – Movistar Spain is above this average.

But the average is skewed because of countries like the United Arab Emirates, with an average mobile download speed of 268.87 Mbps (insane!).

So let's look at the global median – 30.75 Mbps. Movistar Spain's median download speed was 51.70 Mbps.

That is close to double the global median.

Then again, many countries have yet to roll out 5G NR… but that is why we looked at the median too instead of only the average.

In short, you should have a smooth network experience with Movistar Spain.

Take a look at this Movistar Spain and Vodafone Spain comparison (both with 5G NR access):

Movistar Spain vs Vodafone Spain Speed Test Results in Barcelona & Madrid

Vodafone Spain was (much) faster than Movistar Spain at many locations.

And often in the multiples too.

You see that Vodafone Spain 606.77 Mbps download speed at Barcelona Pàrquing Estació d'Autobusos de Sants?

Now that is a proper 5G NR download speed.

Anyway, Movistar Spain is fast enough for general phone use on cellular data.


My Overall Experience with Movistar Spain – Is It Any Good?

I would recommend Movistar Spain, but it would not be my first recommendation.

Getting a Movistar Spain SIM card was straightforward, and activation was quick.

Movistar Spain has the best 4G/LTE networks in the country, allowing for coverage in the most remote Spanish town you can think of.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Holder

Although Movistar Spain had fast enough speeds for general data browsing, its 5G NR speeds were disappointing – they would be good if they were 4G/LTE speeds instead.

But if you want to experience the best 5G NR network in Spain, go with Vodafone Spain – its speeds are incredible.

Movistar Spain has no tourist SIM cards.

While tourist SIM cards are often overpriced, the inclusion of international calls and SMS can be a big perk for some travelers.

But besides that, with extensive coverage, generous data-featured plans & fast speeds, there is nothing crazy to complain about Movistar Spain.

It is a good mobile operator – the but not the best overall mobile operator.

Movistar Spain SIM Card Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

Spanish SIM Card Reviews

As mentioned earlier, I also tried out Orange Spain, Vodafone Spain & Yoigo when I was in Barcelona and Madrid.

You should read those reviews too.

>>> Orange Spain Review | Vodafone Spain Review | Yoigo Spain Review <<<

Later, I will make a comparison post of the four Spanish mobile operators… but that will take a while (I have many reviews of other countries that I still need to write, so they are prioritized).

But you can still make an educated purchased after reading the Spanish SIM card reviews.

Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other European SIM cards from this trip.

Movistar Spain, Orange Spain, Vodafone Spain & Yoigo SIM Cards Held by Adu from Phone Travel Wiz

Spain SIM Card Buying Guide

There are more than ten SIM cards to choose from in Spain besides Movistar Spain.

I analyze and discuss them in-depth in my Spain SIM card buying guide.

Buying a SIM Card in Spain Guide (logos of Vodafone, Movistar, Orange & Yoigo)

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