Carrier UK SIM only contracts: best options?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by AlexSykes, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. AlexSykes macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2011
    Location:
    East Midlands, UK
    #1
    So I'm currently on a grandfathered O2 Simplicity Contract from 2009, which gives me 700 minutes, Unlimited Internet, Unlimited Texts and receive perks such as Free Picture Messaging and 1,000 International Texts for £27.50 a month.

    Recently though I've been exploring options, especially with 4G rolling out across much of the UK in the next year. O2 will upgrade my contract with a 4G bolt on for an extra £5, pushing my contract above £30 which seems to be getting expensive for SIM only.

    Three offer The One plan SIM only for £15 and that includes 5000 minutes, 5000 texts and All you can eat data, as well as tethering and 4G at no extra charge when it comes to my area in 2014.

    This sounds really tempting, but I was just wondering if anyone else has any experiences with Three or any other networks that I should consider? I hear that Three doesn't have the best customer service department, but it seems like my O2 contract isn't such good value anymore with it feeling like I can get more for less with Three.

    Any opinions and first hand experiences would be greatly appreciated :)
     
  2. d123 macrumors 68000

    d123

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #2
    Three offer a good 3G signal in the areas I work in, and customer service has improved in recent years (and other networks have also started using Call Centres in India, Philippines etc).

    I noticed that Vodafone had some good sim only 4G plans on offer, EE is stupidly expensive for 4G in comparison.

    How coverage will be on Three and Voda for 4G is unfortunately an unknown quantity though.
     
  3. AlexSykes thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2011
    Location:
    East Midlands, UK
    #3
    I live in a town on the outskirts of a city. I get one bar in 2G signal, some others have managed to get higher signal but I think O2 and Vodafone both suffer in my town.

    I'm guessing that whatever Three's 4G service would be like around here it would definitely be an improvement on the relatively weak signal I currently have with O2?

    I popped into EE and they said they had good coverage but told me I would have to pay about £27 a month for a simple 500MB plan, and that seems ridiculous compared to the other networks.
     
  4. d123 macrumors 68000

    d123

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #4
    It's unusual for Voda and O2 to both have poor 2G service in any urban area (they are the 2 original 900 MHz networks).

    Are you finding this poor signal in building or outside? (Inbuilding signal can be seriously weakened by building construction).

    If you check you coverage on the various networks coverage checkers what do they say for your postcode?
     
  5. AlexSykes thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2011
    Location:
    East Midlands, UK
    #5
    Both indoor and outdoor, when moving to outdoor about 50% of occasions it will pick up about three bars of 3G signal but usual drops to 2G again whenever a task is being performed such as checking mail. I've looked online and I'm on the border of an area where it says good indoor and outdoor coverage, just down the street I get perfect 3G, but it's still quite slow on O2's network. According to Three's coverage checker and EE my postcode has good coverage for the Advanced 3G signal, but I guess I'd have to check out a 3/EE SIM first to confirm if it's any better?
     
  6. samosa macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #6
    I get unlimited minutes text and data for £15 per month sim only (30 day contract) on virgin mobile, no 4g yet but I'm happy with 3G speeds
     
  7. Col Ronson macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    #7
    i tried a prepaid 3 plan last time i was in the UK. The reception was awful outside of London.
     
  8. steve-p macrumors 68000

    steve-p

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    Newbury, UK
    #8
    To be fair, coverage can be spotty to some degree on all of the UK networks away from major cities, and it very much depends on exactly where you are.

    I would recommend working out which looks the best deal and trying a PAYG SIM on that network for a short time to make sure coverage is good for the general location. Last year I didn't do that when moving to EE who generally have good coverage, but it didn't work out and I had to cut the contract short and move on again. Now I am on Three actually and it couldn't be better for me, but the point is deciding on a network just based on the deals on offer without trying it before committing is risky. Also a very good reason to never buy locked phones.
     
  9. *~Kim~* macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    giffgaff (running off of O2) are perhaps the best for their bundles, and although it feels like a contract, it isn't one so you can change when you like. If you want, you can set a bundle to recur so it will setup automatically each month and come out of your bank account, just like a payment for a contract would.

    The only disadvantages are the occasional outages and that it is not confirmed that 4G will definitely come to giffgaff. If tethering is important to you, Three may be a better option as giffgaff do not permit tethering on any unlimited data package.

    You can look here for some more details on their packages and rates:

    http://giffgaff.com/index/offer
     
  10. BMcCoy macrumors 65816

    BMcCoy

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #10
    You can use the OFCOM Sitefinder site to identify which carriers have masts near where you live/work, as a starter guide to suggest which signals will be stronger for you...
     
  11. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    #11
    I have unlimited everything plus Tethering on an existing SIM only 3G T-Mobile plan for just Pnds 21 a month. I now have a 4G phone and would like to upgrade but would like to keep the same capability. EE 4G plans are expensive and I am going to wait around and hope T-Mobile eventually offers me an upgrade to 4G with the same plan and not a lot more cost.

    ----------

    As you said this is only a start. The problem with data could be congestion on their backbone. This site for example shows 3 has a site two blocks from my home but when I tried them the data was horrible only 300 kbps.
     
  12. loladam macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    I also am in the East Midlands, and on Three I've found the 3G reception to be very good. Maybe it's just a postcode lottery. I upgraded the 5S (was on the 4 before) and found the 'superfast 3g' speeds (DC-HSPA or whatever it is) to be very good. Varied between about 6MB and 22MB but for what I need my mobile I'm happy with the 6MB! When 4G comes out its nice to know even if that signal is rubbish then atleast there is the very good 3G network to fall back on....

    My new SIM Only, The One Plan kicks in tomorrow and for 5000 texts, 2000 mins and unlimited, tetherable data (with a free upgrade to 4G?), £18 a month is not bad (but you can get it for £15 if you sign a contract for a year. I'm planning on trying it out for a couple of months then locking in).
     
  13. d123 macrumors 68000

    d123

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #13
    The sitefinder site is not really recommended, as it's pretty inaccurate. The networks have been uncooperative with regard to the sitefinder (to various degrees).

    T-Mobile for example, has not updated the database since 2005.

     
  14. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    #14
    Buy a 99p pay as you go sim and do some testing like I did!!

    I'm now with 3 and couldn't be happier with my £15 rolling contract.
     
  15. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    Location:
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    #15
    I've been with O2 for years now, and with the new 5S I thought about a change. Tried a 3 SIM..very poor signal here. Looked around and then renewal came around they offered me a further discount. I now pay £11 per month and have never gone over my data plan...even if I do, the cost isn't too bad, and the coverage, which is the most important thing is excellent.
     
  16. steve-p macrumors 68000

    steve-p

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    Newbury, UK
    #16
    That's why discussion of networks is very specific to the person, and advice is therefore impossible. I was with O2 for several years despite a weak signal where I worked and only GPRS data. The last straw for me was in 2012 when they finally upgraded the mast from ancient GPRS... to almost as ancient and equally irrelevant Edge. And with no plans for 3G on the horizon, either. Every other network has 3G there, except O2.
     
  17. mappyman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #17
    I was on O2 paying similar to you OP.

    Got sick of the over priced slow service.

    Went to Three last week, everything been pretty smooth. With O2 my speeds were around 4Mbps down and now I get 24Mbps on Threes HSDPA+.

    I committed to 12 months @ £15ppm (you got 14 days to cancel) for that I get:

    Unlimited Data & No extra charge for tethering
    2000 minutes
    5000 3 to 3 minutes
    5000 texts.
    FREE 4G
    No fallback to EDGE/2G crap.
    No Roaming charges so you can use your minutes in Republic of Ireland, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden and Denmark.

    The only downside.. the speed can drop a lot depending on what street you are on. But its still faster than O2.
     
  18. samosa macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #18
    Try root metrics app, if I'm correct the data is from users testing signal and data in their area and uploading it
     
  19. scottish macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Location:
    Guess
    #19
    Not exactly a minor niggle though is it. They seem to have a serious problem with the reliability of their systems. This can range from not being able to top up/start a new goody bag to losing network coverage completely for a day or more.

    They do have a great offer and I was a customer for over a year but finally got sick of the problems and having to sort them out. When I first signed up I was singing their praises but that's definitely not the case anymore.
     
  20. cambookpro macrumors 603

    cambookpro

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #20
    I was on 3 and while service was acceptable, it wasn't great. Suffered a lot when inside.

    Now on giffgaff (O2), and while service seems much better the outages are getting a bit ridiculous. Will definitely look at 3 again next year for 4G.
     
  21. macgrl macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #21
    I'm on O2 and looking to move to 3. I may well just get a month rolling contract for a while and see how it is with them. Do they throttle the all you can eat data, also you can tether it ?

    What apps can be used to replace visual voicemail that O2 has?
     
  22. scottish macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Location:
    Guess
    #22
    Depends which tariff you choose. All you can eat data ≠ tethering. The one plan is the only tariff with tethering included or you can add it for a fee to some of the other tariffs. Though it has been said that you can tether on the other plans unofficially which would be against the terms.

    There is no fair use policy but they do have a system they call trafficsense which could affect heavy users.

    See:
    http://www.three.co.uk/Privacy_Cookies/Terms_Conditions?site=d&content_aid=1220469566802
    and
    http://support.three.co.uk/SRVS/CGI...t_cat=signal,varset_subcat=3804,Case=obj(4046)
     
  23. macgrl macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #23
    Thanks for the reply. How come three always seem to be so much cheaper than the other networks?
     
  24. AlexSykes thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2011
    Location:
    East Midlands, UK
    #24
    I popped in today and was impressed so committed to a 12 month £15 a month contract with all of those. Got home and in a location where my O2 sim displayed one bar of GPRS I get three bars of 3G and it's actually usable, unlike the O2 contract.

    It took an absolute age to cancel my contract, they attempted to say for £11 I get 100MB, unlimited calls and texts and they'll give me a voucher for £150 if I agree to a 24 month contract which basically gives me 14 months free. I then explained the Three contract I had got and they said it was bad value for money, so I asked how much I could get a 4G O2 contract for, which they turned round and said £26 a month for 4G 1GB and unlimited texts. No question that Three is the best value for money.

    Been with O2 for 4 years, so they're sad to see me go, but I can't justify paying so much for so little when Three give me all of the above features for more than £10 less than my current monthly fee.
     
  25. d123 macrumors 68000

    d123

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #25
    You may as well not have a data allowance if they are only offering 100MB data.

    That's only a few days use, even if you are careful.
     

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