Mobile Network

Use this comparison site to pick the best and cheapest mobile phone network in the UK

12 November 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Microsoft Band 2 set to launch in UK mid-November

The Microsoft Band tracks your heart rate, exercise, calorie burn and sleep quality, and keeps you connected with email, text, and calendar alerts

Microsoft recognises that to grow and compete in the very competitive consumer technology market it needs to be both a device and software leader. For decades, Microsoft took control of and monopolised the software market, leaving others to fight over who would build the devices which would run Microsoft products. But the market changed in the ’90s largely because Apple started making devices which were both fun to use and desirable to own. iPods, iPhones and iPads are high-tech toys which helped build one of the world’s largest and most profitable businesses. It did not take the market long to recognise the need to have products which could compete with the Apple offerings.

Today the market for technology accessories is huge and wearable devices are seen as the next big consumer product for major technology companies. Inevitably Apple is very dominant in this market and the Apple Watch is the benchmark against which competitive products are measured.

A niche market has developed in the wearable market for fitness monitors. The main players are the Fitbit Charge HR, the Fitbit Surge and the Jawbone Up4. The Apple Watch fulfils many of the functions of the fitness band but its pricing puts it in a different league. Microsoft has been a minor contender in this market with the original Band, but the new Band 2 which is being released in the UK this month may just be the device to elevate Microsoft to the position of a serious contender for the title of the fitness band to buy if you are serious about your training or sport. Launch price is expected to be around £200.

Compared to the original Band, the Microsoft Band 2 has a cleaner and more integrated design replacing the flat screen of its predecessor with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 covered OLED touchscreen that curves around the wrist. In comparison, the Apple Watch sports a 312×390 pixel resolution AMOLED display with curved edges.

The main players in the fitness device market come with fitness tracking features such as heartrate monitors and step counters. The Microsoft Band takes it a step further with UV exposure tracking, oxygen consumption and built-in GPS. Microsoft Band, UP4 and Charge HR also have built-in sleep tracking features. While the Apple Watch doesn’t have a native app to do this, the function can be added through third-party apps on the App Store.

The Microsoft Band works with iPhone, Android, or Windows phones and is designed to be more than a fitness tracker. While it does track your calories, sleep, and steps, the band is also designed to send you email and call notifications, calendar alerts, and social media updates. Add to that its robust fitness capabilities — including GPS mapping, continuous heart-rate monitoring, workout coaching, and sensors that measure the sun’s intensity — and you may start to wonder what the Band can’t do.

As it developed a more modern device, Microsoft adopted the goal of helping users “take control of health and fitness in a more personalized way,” said Lindsey Matese, member of the Microsoft Band and Health teams.

Microsoft asked themselves, “what would cyclists, joggers, and gym rats want?”
Round two of Microsoft Band is designed to be more flexible for people who wear it during their workouts as well as working hours. The desire for a more comfortable device is one of several pieces of feedback the team learned during the testing process when it surveyed customers on its functionality.

Microsoft Band 2 feels less like an awkward accessory and more like a comfortable bracelet. This is due to the softer material and a curved, full-colour OLED display. We think they have certainly delivered a product which is going to make the opposition play catch-up. It ticks all the boxes and the activity tracking is great. Features such as the Heartrate measurement and the Golf GPS are very good and could be the deal-breaker for many potential users.

The Apple Watch is probably a better watch, although it lacks GPS and sleep tracking. But it is far more expensive, so cannot really be compared with the fitness devices in the market. We think Microsoft has a winner and it will be interesting to see how the market responds to the Band 2.

What are your thoughts? Has Microsoft delivered on its promise to deliver the best fitness tracker in an attractive package? Will buyers start thinking Band 2 when they look for a sporting wearable?

06 November 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Sainsbury’s suddenly axes network

sainsbury mobile closing copy

It has emerged that Mobile by Sainsbury’s currently has a shelf-life of fewer than three months. The supermarket juggernaut has quietly been banishing marketing materials from all of its 1000+ stores in preparation for the shocking shutdown. Current customers have only until 15th January next year to use up their existing credit and choose a new operator to port their number to.

According to an insider source, the reason for the sudden closure is a break-down in negotiations with their infrastructure provider, Vodafone. The network was always a joint-venture between the two companies and without any agreement between them, there is little option but to stop providing a service. At the moment it’s unclear whether Sainsbury’s approached any other providers to step in place of Vodafone to keep the network live. We’ve also not received comment on how financially successful it has been for Sainsbury’s as it might be assumed that they have been looking for a graceful exit strategy.

While there has been little warning to their customers, industry experts say that it’s not a surprising outcome. Vodafone have been reportedly looking to completely withdraw from providing services to piggybacking MVNOs such as Sainsbury’s and Talkmobile.

Sainsbury’s is the second biggest supermarket brand in the country and two of its arch-rivals, ASDA and Tesco are still running their virtual networks running on other carriers. It has to be said, that their offerings have seemed to be much more successful too. While Sainsbury’s will no longer be marketing their network in stores, several of their retail outlets will still be selling mobile phones and accessories.

If you’re an existing customer of the network, you should start thinking about changing to a new network, requesting a PAC and porting your phone number over. No services at all will be available from 15 January 2016.

Did you see this coming? Are you a Mobile by Sainsbury’s customer and if so, what’s your reaction? Do you think Sainsbury’s are acting fairly? And how many of you expecting this coming? Should Sainsbury’s have done anything differently after negotiations with Vodafone broke down?

04 November 2015 ~ 0 Comments

MVNOs top customer service poll

customer service poll

A recent poll has shown that customers massively prefer smaller virtual mobile networks to the main players. The recent study asked users to rate the customer service and showed that industry veterans such as Vodafone and EE motivated the worst mobile networks in the UK while smaller organisations such as Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and ASDA Mobile headed the pack.

The poll was carried out by and asked 10,620 users to rate their mobile provider’s customer service on a scale from “great” through “okay” to “poor”. The network that topped the table was Giffgaff scoring 65% “great responses” with only 5% of their users rating customer service as “poor”. Close behind in second, was Tesco Mobile with an impressive satisfaction rating of 63%. Third placed was ASDA Mobile and coming fourth was Virgin Mobile. It’s worth noting that all of these networks are MVNOs that actually run using other networks’ infrastructure.

Meanwhile, lingering down in last place was Vodafone scoring “great” in only 20% of responses. Perhaps worse was the fact that 28% of their customers rated the service as “poor”. Barely escaping the booby prize was it EE (including its Orange and T-Mobile brands) which shockingly only was scored “great” by 22% of their users.

The other two main mobile networks are Three and O2, who had to be satisfied with mid-table mediocrity being rated great by 40% and 33% of their userbase respectively. Both had relatively high numbers of “poor” verdicts with 12% of their users giving them the lowest grade.

The poll was especially surprising since MVNOs were evaluated so well. For example, ASDA Mobile actually run’s on EE’s backbone yet their “great” score was 54% vs 22% and only 14% of users decided their service was “poor” compared to 24% for EE.

Analysing the results, it should be clear that you don’t have to go with a big name to get great customer service. And just because you’re paying more with a major network, doesn’t mean you should expect to get a superior experience. ASDA Mobile has always been marketed as a budget network yet they completely outperformed their host network, EE, despite using the same infrastructure. Here’s the results in full:

Rank Network Great OK Poor
1 Giffgaff 65% 30% 5%
2 Tesco Mobile 63% 33% 4%
3 ASDA Mobile 54% 31% 14%
4 Virgin Mobile 42% 44% 14%
5 Three 40% 48% 12%
6 O2 33% 55% 12%
7 BT Mobile 36% 43% 21%
8 Talk Mobile 31% 50% 19%
9 EE 22% 54% 24%
10 Vodafone 20% 52% 28%

If you’re not satisfied by your network’s service no matter what their ranking in the table above, remember it’s really easy to switch mobile network. And you can even keep your same number too. We always recommend going for PAYG or SIM-only deals because they are better value for money and you’re not locked in to a network you hate for years at a time.

Where did your current mobile network come in this consumer satisfaction poll? Do you think it’s a fair rating or do you disagree with the judgement? And which network would you switch to if you could?