In March 2021, I returned from Taiwan after a year.
Then I did not go on a trip for a year because of travel restrictions.
So in February 2022, I decided I would go on a trip again in March 2022.
Mostly because travel restrictions were being lifted left and right.
So, what is the best way to catch up on a year of lost travel time?
Visit as many countries as you can within a month.
I really love how easy it is to travel throughout Europe!
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 😎.
Is NOS Portugal any good?
And that is what I did – and I will share my experience in this review.
Let's get started, shall we?
Original publication: 18th of August 2022. Last updated: 17th of August 2023.
Table of Contents
Who is NOS Portugal?
NOS (Portugal) is not a name you have heard of if you have already purchased SIM cards in other countries.
That is because the NOS brand is used only in Portugal.
It is currently the second-largest mobile operator in the country.
But it does have the best overall network performance, according to the Portugal Mobile Experience Awards of July 2022.
So I guess you now have high expectations for NOS Portugal already? 😏
Not so fast – we have a couple of things to tackle first – such as a basic understanding of the Portuguese telecom market.
In Portugal, you have three mobile operators:
- MEO Portugal (by Altice Portugal)
- NOS Portugal
- Vodafone Portugal
You also have many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), like Lycamobile Portugal, but they are honestly not worth your time.
Let's talk about NOS Portugal's coverage first, after these quick frequency details:
- 2G: 900 MHz & 1800 MHz
- 3G: 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 800 MHz (Band 20), 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2100 MHz (Band 1) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)
- 5G NR: 700 MHz (n28) & 3500 MHz (n78) 1
- VoLTE: Yes
- VoWiFi: Yes
1 All NOS Portugal customers, including prepaid, get free 5G NR access until the 15th of November 2022. From then, NOS Portugal plans to charge you 5 EUR a month for 5G NR usage. MEO Portugal also claimed it would charge for 5G NR after its trial ended (15th of October 2022). They can still use 5G NR… at a maximum speed of 40 Mbps – I hope NOS Portugal will not do something like this 🥲
Here you have NOS Portugal's APN settings:
- Name: NOS Internet
- APN: umts OR internet
Note: leave anything not mentioned above untouched.
NOS Portugal Coverage + My Experience
You can have a mobile operator providing you 1 Gbps download speeds.
But it will be useless if it covers only one street in Portugal.
So, how is NOS Portugal's coverage?
Regarding 4G/LTE availability, NOS Portugal has the second-best availability, with an availability score of 96.4%. Ahead of MEO Portugal (95.6%) but behind Vodafone Portugal (97.8%).
When looking at 5G NR, NOS Portugal is winning the 5G NR availability race (20.9%), far ahead of Vodafone Portugal (10.3%) and MEO Portugal (8.7%).
So far, I have been talking about coverage from other reports, but what was my coverage experience with NOS Portugal?
It was excellent, honestly – I had nothing to complain about.
I do not recall having many reception blackspots.
Yeah… I do not have much more to say 😂.
Below, you have the coverage maps of NOS Portugal in continental Portugal (left) and in the Azores and Madeira (right):
How to Get a NOS Portugal SIM Card & Prices
NOS Portugal Plans, Bundles & Offers
NOS Portugal has four data-featured prepaid plans:
- Pagamento com Carregamento/Payment with Loading Plans (combo)
- Pacotes de Internet Mensais/Monthly Internet Packages
- Tarifários Kanguru/Kangaroo Tariffs (data for data-only SIM card)
- Data Add-Ons
All NOS Portugal plans can be activated on the NOS App (Cliente NOS) app.
Disclaimer: these were the available plans at the time I was in Portugal – the offering may have changed since then (including whether 5G NR is available to prepaid customers or not). To see NOS Portugal's current plans, check out my Portugal SIM card buying guide (which gets updated regularly – at least once a year).
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.
Pagamento com Carregamento (Payment with Loading) Plans
The Pagamento com Carregamento (Payment with Loading) Plans are combo bundles with data (with free 5G NR access until the 15th of November), minutes & SMS.
Note that the call and SMS allowances are shared, meaning that you can call/send up to 500 minutes or SMS or 1000 minutes or SMS.
The following Pagamento com Carregamento are available:
|Price||Data||Local/EU Minutes/SMS 1||Validity|
|12 EUR||200 MB||500 minutes/SMS||1 month|
|17 EUR||500 MB||800 minutes/SMS||1 month|
|18 EUR||1 GB||800 minutes/SMS||1 month|
|19 EUR||1 GB||3000 minutes/SMS||1 month|
|20 EUR||2 GB||3000 minutes/SMS||1 month|
|22 EUR||3 GB||4000 minutes/SMS||1 month|
|25 EUR||5 GB||7000 minutes/SMS||1 month|
|29 EUR||10 GB 2||10 000 minutes/SMS||1 month|
1 for calls/SMS within and to other EU/EEA member states and back to Portugal (NOT from Portugal to other EU/EEA member states)
2 with 5G NR access
Pacotes de Internet Mensais (Monthly Internet Packages)
The Pacotes de Internet Mensais (Monthly Internet Packages) are, as the name implies, data plans (with free 5G NR access until the 15th of November).
The following Pacotes de Internet Mensais are available:
|3.99 EUR||250 MB||1 month|
|6.99 EUR||500 MB||1 month|
|9.99 EUR||1 GB||1 month|
Tarifários Kanguru (Kangaroo Tariffs)
The Tarifários Kanguru (Kangaroo Tariffs) are data plans (with free 5G NR access until the 15th of November) for the Kanguru Livre XL SIM card (data-only SIM card).
Note that Tarifários Kanguru are for local use only – you cannot roam for free in the EU/EEA with these bundles.
The following Tarifários Kanguru are available:
|10 EUR||Unlimited||3 days|
|15 EUR||15 GB||1 month|
|15 EUR||Unlimited||8 days|
|20 EUR||Unlimited||15 days|
|20 EUR||30 GB||1 month|
|30 EUR||Unlimited||22 days|
|40 EUR||Unlimited||40 days|
|45 EUR||Unlimited||45 days|
|50 EUR||Unlimited||50 days|
|55 EUR||Unlimited||55 days|
|60 EUR||Unlimited||60 days|
|65 EUR||Unlimited||65 days|
|70 EUR||Unlimited||70 days|
|75 EUR||Unlimited||75 days|
|80 EUR||Unlimited||80 days|
The Data Add-Ons are, as the name suggests, data add-ons (for Pagamento com Carregamento and Pacotes de internet mensais) – they cannot be purchased as standalone plans.
The following Data Add-Ons are available:
|3.99 EUR||500 MB||Until plan expires|
|5.99 EUR||1 GB||Until plan expires|
|13.99 EUR||3 GB||Until plan expires|
|15.99 EUR||5 GB||Until plan expires|
|25.99 EUR||10 GB||Until plan expires|
EU Roaming – NOS Portugal
You can use your NOS Portugal allowances in the following EU/EEA member states without paying roaming fees:
- Czech Republic
- French Guiana
- Saint Barthélemy
- Saint Martin
- United Kingdom
As NOS Portugal does not have dedicated EU/EEA roaming allowances, you can use your full allowance without restrictions in other EU/EEA member states.
Note that the Tarifários Kanguru plans are for local use only.
NOS Portugal Top-Up, Recharge & Balance Check
I did not have to recharge my NOS Portugal SIM card because Portugal was a short stop on my one-month Europe trip.
But I will still let you know about topping up your NOS Portugal SIM card.
To top up your NOS Portugal SIM card, the salesperson how much credit you want, your phone number, pay, and they will top up your SIM card with the POS system.
Note that you will be charged 0.80 EUR for this service – even in NOS stores.
This fee will be deducted from your top-up (a 10 EUR recharge will leave you with 9.20 EUR).
You can also recharge online with (international/EU) debit and credit cards without being charged 0.80 EUR/top-up.
Dial *111# to check your NOS balance.
NOS Portugal Speed Test Results (in Porto)
Alright, now it is time to talk about the speeds you can expect with NOS Portugal after covering all the other essential topics like coverage.
But before I share my 12 speed test results from Porto, I do want to set the stage first and make a small comparison with NOS Portugal's competition.
NOS Portugal is regarded by Speedtest as the fastest mobile operator in Portugal in Q3-Q4 of 2021.
With a median download speed of 47.09 Mbps, NOS Portugal outperforms MEO Portugal (41.91 Mbps) and Vodafone Portugal (36.99 Mbps).
When we look at 5G NR, NOS Portugal is still the best, with a median download speed of 362.84 Mbps.
This is slightly ahead of MEO Portugal (330.36 Mbps) and far ahead of Vodafone Portugal (203.37 Mbps).
Be aware that 5G NR is available on select plans only 1 (as shown in the NOS Portugal plans section).
I did not purchase a 5G NR-featured plan – in fact, I bought a NOS Portugal starter pack, which had enough data for the few days I stayed in Portugal (three days).
1 All NOS Portugal customers, including prepaid, get free 5G NR access until the 15th of November 2022. This was not the case when I was in Portugal. My reviews are based on what I experienced (and I barely change them afterward unless I re-write them because I revisited the country). So ignore any mention of “no 5G NR” in this section
Alright, let's talk about my speed test results now.
I did 12 speed tests with the Speedtest app at various locations throughout Porto.
Here are the results:
Those are good download speeds for 4G/LTE.
They are not fantastic, but they could be (much) worse.
Although I expected much better from NOS Portugal in Porto, especially when it is (much) faster in Lisbon.
Even then, I had the slowest speeds with NOS Portugal compared to its competitors: MEO Portugal and Vodafone Portugal – even though NOS Portugal is supposed to be the fastest.
I also tried out Lycamobile Portugal, a Vodafone Portugal MVNO – MVNOs are rarely faster than the main operator (Vodafone Portugal in this case). However, as I accidentally purchased a Vodafone SIM card that actively throttles its speeds to 50 Mbps download and 30 Mbps upload, I often had faster speeds with Lycamobile Portugal than with Vodafone Portugal. I “combine” the results of those two options to get a clearer picture of Vodafone Portugal's performance.
Anyway, let's deal with some NOS Portugal statistics based on the 12 speed test results:
NOS Portugal's average download speed was 51.53 Mbps
The median download speed with NOS Portugal was 47.53 Mbps
NOS Portugal's average upload speed was 16.47 Mbps
The median upload speed with NOS Portugal was 9.68 Mbps
NOS Portugal had the fastest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 2 of the 12 locations
NOS Portugal had the slowest download speed, compared to its competitors, in 2 of the 12 locations
At 2 of the 12 locations, NOS Portugal had the fastest upload speed
At 6 of the 12 locations, NOS Portugal had the slowest upload speed
Those are suspiciously bad results for the fastest mobile operator in the country, right?
I mean, Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal; I expected better, honestly.
So, is an average download speed of 51.53 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 16.47 Mbps – close to 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 – NOS Portugal is actually slacking.
At the time of writing, the global average download speed is 75.78 Mbps – NOS Portugal is (far) below this average.
But the average is skewed because of countries like the United Arab Emirates, with an average mobile download speed of 260.72 Mbps (insane!).
So let's look at the global median – 30.78 Mbps. NOS Portugal's median download speed was 47.53 Mbps.
NOS Portugal is doing better than the global mean, which is great!
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.
Even though I am disappointed with the slow speeds I got with NOS Portugal, as it is supposed to be the fastest, you should still have a smooth network experience with it.
Take a look at this NOS Portugal and Lycamobile Portugal comparison (both on 4G/LTE all the time):
Remember when I said Vodafone Portugal actively throttles the speeds with the SIM card I got?
That was not the case with Lycamobile Portugal.
The thing is… you see embarrassingly slow speeds with Lycamobile Portugal: eight of the 12 results were slower than 20 Mbps.
For some reason, speeds were slow on the first day I used the Lycamobile Portugal SIM card.
It was still slow the first half on the second day… until it suddenly became blazing fast (in Alameda Mall – 180 Mbps).
So if it was not for Lycamobile Portugal for taking a long time to be fast and me not accidentally buying the throttled SIM card, I suspect I would have had faster speeds with both Vodafone Portugal and Lycamobile Portugal than NOS Portugal.
Sad for the fastest mobile operator in the country, right? 🥲
But even then, the speeds with NOS Portugal are fast enough for general data browsing and (live) streaming.
My Overall Experience with NOS Portugal – Is It Any Good?
I would recommend NOS Portugal, although it may not be my first recommendation for Portuguese SIM cards.
Getting a NOS Portugal SIM card was straightforward, and activation was quick.
NOS Portugal has extensive nationwide coverage, so you should have reception almost anywhere at any time.
Data-featured plans are on the expensive end in Portugal for regional standards, so NOS Portugal's plans are not cheap either.
But they do not break the bank – it is just that nearby countries have much more generous data allowances for the same price or are way cheaper.
NOS Portugal's 4G/LTE speeds were decent.
While they were the fastest in Portugal, neighboring countries have even more impressive 4G/LTE speeds, like Spain.
But with a median download speed of 47.53 Mbps, your speeds should be fast enough for social media and video streaming at high resolutions (even 8k… if any video streaming site lets you do so).
With extensive coverage, reasonable data-featured plans & blazing-fast speeds, there is nothing to complain about NOS Portugal.
And that is why I recommend NOS Portugal (although MEO Portugal is my #1).
Portuguese SIM Card Reviews
As mentioned earlier, I also tried out MEO Portugal, Vodafone Portugal & Lycamobile Portugal when I was in Porto.
You should read those reviews too.
Later, I will make a comparison post of the four Portuguese SIM cards I tried… 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 Portuguese 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.
Portugal SIM Card Buying Guide
There are more than ten SIM cards to choose from in Portugal besides NOS Portugal.
I analyze and discuss them in-depth in my Portugal SIM card buying guide.
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