Having cellular connectivity during your trip allows you to use maps, make reservations, contact emergency services if needed and share photos of your adventures. NOS is one of the main telecommunications providers in Portugal. This guide will provide key information about NOS and detail the best NOS SIM card and eSIM options when visiting Portugal. 

NOS SIM card and eSIM featured image

I. Quick Facts about NOS

Nos is one of the main mobile network in Portugal, to know more about this operator, keep reading some quick facts about NOS: 

  • Founded year: 1994 (as PT Multimedia), 2007 (spin-off from Portugal Telecom), 2013 (merger with Optimus Telecomunicações), 2014 (as NOS)
  • Full company name: NOS, SGPS S.A. 
  • Types of services provided: Mobile and fixed telephony, cable television, satellite television, broadband internet access, landline, television broadcasting, film distribution, cinema operation
  • Number of subscribers: As of Q3 2022, NOS had: 5.808 million mobile subscribers, 1.394 million pay TV subscribers, 133.1 thousand landline subscribers
  • Coverage: NOS has extensive coverage across mainland Portugal and the islands of Madeira and Azores. Overall population coverage is around 98%.
  • Estimated number of network of stores, agents: NOS has over 300 stores and agents located throughout Portugal. Main cities and tourist areas have a strong presence of NOS shops.

II. Why Choose NOS When Traveling Portugal – Coverage and Speed

1. NOS Coverage in Portugal

NOS Portugal coverage

NOS has strong mobile coverage across mainland Portugal and the islands. It uses 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G networks.

  • NOS had the highest 5G availability at 19.4% of time, giving users frequent access to 5G networks.
  • It also achieved the best 5G reach score of 6.0 points, indicating 5G coverage in many locations frequented by users.
  • Overall availability of 98.4% of time was high, similar to Vodafone.

NOS has roaming agreements for 156 destinations outside Portugal, ensuring connectivity continues while traveling abroad. 

2. NOS Speed

Mobile operators speed in Portugal

According to data from Opensignal in July 2023, NOS offers the following average speeds:

  • NOS led the country with the fastest average download speed of 55.7 Mbps and average upload speed of 13.8 Mbps. 
  • It also had the fastest 5G upload speed and led for the metric of upload speed overall. 
  • NOS won the new Consistent Quality award for network consistency and speed reliability.

These high speeds allow for smooth streaming, video calls, using apps and more. NOS performed top across many metrics, suggesting it provides the strongest and most widespread connectivity for customers.

III. What are the Best Connectivity Options of NOS for Travelers to Portugal? 

There are three main options travelers can use to get connected to NOS’ network: 

  1. Local NOS SIM card
  2. Pocket WiFi rental
  3. Roaming plan to NOS
OptionProsCons
Local NOS SIMAffordable data packages Use your own phone- Local numberNeed an unlocked phone Setup can be complicated
Pocket WiFi RentalSimple plug-and-play setup Works for multiple devicesNeed to pick up and return device Battery life limitations
Roaming PlanUse your home number No new setup Free roaming fee in Europe areaVery expensive data rates Limited plan options

Getting a local NOS SIM card provides the best experience for most travelers by allowing you to use data affordably. Moreover, using NOS SIM card can avoid expensive charge fees. 

IV. Best NOS SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

NOS SIM card

NOS offers SIM card plans ranging from daily options to monthly packages valid for up to a year. Their Unlimited plans provide complete flexibility in usage.

Here is an overview of top NOS prepaid mobile data plans:

8 days plan – $15.98: Unlimited Data + 5G access included

30 days plan – $35.30: Unlimited Data + 5G access included

Notes:

  • Prices converted from Euro to USD based on current exchange rate of 1 EUR = 1.05 USD
  • All plans include unlimited data usage at speeds of up to 1Gbps and include 5G access

Unlimited plans allow using data without slowdowns or overage fees, which is perfect for maps, social media, apps and more. The 8-day packages fit a short city break, while the 30-day options work for frequent visitors.

V. Does NOS Support eSIM in Portugal?

Yes, NOS launched eSIM support in April 2019 for compatible phones and tablets. eSIM allows activating a cellular plan digitally without needing to insert a physical SIM card.

NOS eSIM works on iPhone XS and newer models. Select Android phones also support eSIM like newer Samsung Galaxy S22 series.

VI. Where to Buy a NOS SIM card and eSIM?

NOS SIM cards and eSIM plans can be purchased at the following locations:

1. Where to Buy NOS SIM Card for Portugal?

Upon arrival at airport

NOS store

Most arrival airports have NOS shops in the baggage claim or arrivals hall area. Prices may have a small markup compared to other options.

Pros: Convenient pickup right upon arrival

Cons: Slightly higher cost

NOS stores and authorized retailers

NOS has over 300 official stores and authorized retailer partners like phone shops located throughout Portugal. Stores have the full range of SIM options with standard local pricing.

Pros: Large local store network, standard local rates 

Cons: Need to go to physical store location in person

Overall, finding a NOS store in the area you are visiting or staying is the best approach to get supported service when purchasing your SIM.

2. Where to Buy NOS eSIM for Portugal?

Since NOS eSIM is digital, there are two ways to signup:

Directly from NOS website

You can signup for NOS eSIM plans directly on their website. However, this requires having a Portuguese tax identification number, so generally doesn’t work for tourists.

Pros: Convenient digital signup

Cons: Require Portuguese tax ID number

Third-party reseller like GIGAGO

Services like GIGAGO allow buying Portugal eSIM plans instantly online without any registration or paperwork requirements. Plans work the same as those directly from NOS, even with cheaper price

Pros: Instant digital delivery globally, no paperwork or registration demands

Cons: Need eSIM compatible devices

For tourists visiting Portugal, using a third-party eSIM provider delivers the full convenience of an eSIM without difficult registration requirements.

VII. How to Use and Activate NOS SIM/eSIM in Portugal?

Activating your NOS mobile plan is quick and easy by following a few steps:

1. How to Use and Activate NOS SIM Card in Portugal?

  1. Purchase your NOS SIM from airport, NOS store or authorized retailer
  2. Insert SIM and turn on phone
  3. Enter setup prompts to configure APN settings and restart device
  4. Check for NOS carrier signal indicating activation
  5. Open browser or app to finish setup with phone number confirmation

Once setup completes, you will have an active NOS SIM with your purchased data, calls and texts ready to use!

2. How to Use and Activate NOS eSIM?

If using an eSIM from a reseller like GigSky:

  1. Purchase eSIM plan instantly online and receive via email
  2. Scan QR code or enter details from email into phone eSIM section
  3. Follow setup prompts to download and install eSIM
  4. Check for NOS carrier signal indicating activation
  5. Open browser or app to finish setup with phone number confirmation

And then you’ll be ready to use cellular data over NOS’ fast network!

VIII. How to Top-up NOS SIM/eSIM

When the data allowance or validity duration of your plan expires, you’ll want to top-up to continue service.

Online Top-up:

  • My NOS Online Portal: Log in to your My NOS account online or through the My NOS app. You can top up with pre-paid vouchers, credit cards, or a direct debit mandate. This method offers detailed balance information and history, along with various top-up packages to choose from.
  • NOS Website: Visit the NOS website and navigate to the “Top-up” section. You can use a voucher code, credit card, or MB Way (Portuguese mobile payment system) to top up your account. This method is straightforward and offers quick top-up options.

Physical Top-up:

  • NOS Stores: Visit any NOS store nationwide and top up your account with cash, credit card, or MB Way. This option is ideal if you prefer personal assistance or don’t have access to online payment methods.
  • Kiosks and Vending Machines: Look for NOS kiosks or vending machines in supermarkets, newsstands, and other public locations. You can top up with cash, credit card, or vouchers purchased from the machine. This is a convenient option for quick top-ups on the go.

IX. FAQs about NOS in Portugal

Does my phone need to be unlocked?

Yes, you’ll need an unlocked phone without any carrier locks to use a NOS SIM. Contact your home provider about unlocking before traveling.

How long does activation and setup take?

Just 5-10 minutes! Follow the simple steps to get connected quickly.

Can I use 5G on NOS?

If you have a 5G-capable phone, it will automatically connect to NOS’ nationwide 5G network offering ultrafast speeds.

Does NOS have good coverage outside Lisbon and Porto?

Yes, NOS mobility network covers 98% of the population nationally across Portugal. Speeds and connectivity are strong.

Are there any activation or signup fees?

No, NOS does not charge any activation fees. Just the upfront cost of the SIM or plan chosen.

X. Conclusion

Choosing NOS for your connectivity in Portugal gives you access to the country’s fastest 5G network with almost nationwide population coverage. Their NOS SIM card and eSIM tourist packages support make getting set up quick and convenient. Thanks to great eSIM service during your trip, GIGAGO will let you get connected on arrival and enjoy your trip in Portugal!