How to choose the perfect mobile phone contract (UK)

Are you having trouble finding the right phone contract with the right amount of data and coverage in your area, for a good price? If so, read on.

 

Networks

There are four networks to choose from, these are; EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. But there are also additional service providers, who use the four networks, but with their own unique contracts. These include; Virgin Media, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile, BT, Plusnet, giffgaff, TalkTalk and ID mobile. There are more but these are the most popular ones.

 

What type of contract do I need?

Pay monthly, Sim Only, or Pay as you go?

Pay monthly deals include a phone but normally have an upfront cost and high monthly payments (essentially spreading the cost of the phone over the contract period). The contracts are mostly two years, although some can be found for one year. Sim only deals are quite cheap but you have to buy the phone separately. With Pay as you go you simply pay for what you use whereas monthly contract or sim only you could be paying for more than you really need.

 

What network is the cheapest?*

Pay Monthly phones

For an iPhone 7 with around 1GB of data, about 5000 texts and 500 minutes, here’s what it will cost you:

  • EE: 2GB (1GB not available) £100 UF £46 PM
  • O2: £130 UF £38 PM
  • Three: £150 UF £33PM
  • Vodafone: £180 UF £37 PM
  • Virgin Media: £0 UF £39 PM
  • Tesco: 3GB (1GB not available) £120 UF £35 PM
  • Sky Mobile: Coming soon
  • BT: 500mb (1GB not available) £100 UF £42 PM
  • giffgaff: 2GB (1Gb not available) £100 UF £33.78 PM
  • TalkTalk: (iPhone not available, Samsung Galaxy S7 contract) £0 UF £40 PM
  • ID Mobile: £50 UF £32 PM.

 

Sim Only

If you want a standard SIM only contract with 1GB of data, about 5000 texts and 500 minutes, here is what it would cost per month with each carrier.

  • EE: £14.99
  • O2: £15
  • Three: £12
  • Vodafone: £15
  • Virgin Mobile: £9
  • Tesco Mobile: £11
  • Sky Mobile: £10 (+ £10 for unlimited minutes and texts if you don’t have sky TV or broadband)
  • BT: 1GB not available, 500MB is £10
  • Plusnet: £7.50 or £5 with Plusnet broadband
  • giffgaff: 1GB not available 2GB is £10
  • TalkTalk: £7.75 (half price for 6 months)
  • ID mobile: £5.

 

ID mobile is the cheapest at £5 per month (250 minutes of talk and 5000 texts) and then most other “well known” service providers are between £10 and £15 per month. There are also lots of different features in some of these plans like data rollover or free WiFi in some places but this is a rough comparison.

 

Pay as you go

There is also pay as you go plans which if you use different amounts of everything every month or don’t use much at all then you should really consider pay as you go. In my opinion, the best deal is with Three, 1p per MB of data 2p per text and 3p per minute.

 

Which network is the best?

It really depends where you live, but I personally think that EE is the best network for quality and coverage and Three are very good for their price but they do not have as good coverage as EE but they do have offers most of the time – right now you can get 4GB of data with unlimited texts and minutes for only £11 per month. I am currently on Three and would highly recommend them.

 

Overall Opinion

Three and EE are both very good networks but quite expensive. Virgin Mobile or even the relatively unknown ID Mobile are very good value for money. I can highly recommend Three, Vodafone (even though it’s quite expensive) and also Virgin Mobile as I have use all of these networks in the past and seen excellent results. I have yet to experience ID Mobile, however after researching this article I am considering switching to them – the same sim only deal as I have currently would be half the price!

 

* Prices are correct at the time of writing.

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