10 July 2013 ~ 27 Comments

Is this the UK’s cheapest PAYG tariff?

321 tariff

Three Mobile have massively shaken up the UK market with a rather-appealing new pay-as-you-go tariff called 321. The new pricing is the height of simplicity and dirt cheap to boot with calls costing just 3p per minute, texts coming in at only 2p each and mobile data being exceptionally good value with a charge of only 1p/MB.

Compared to the competition, this is clearly far and away the best deal going as long as you are relatively light mobile phone user. While it is possible to get better value from bundles offered by some other mobile networks, the new pricing is hard to beat. To sweeten the deal even more, Three are offering hundred and 150MB mobile web browsing allowance for free every time you top up by £10 or more.

Previously, networks such as White Mobile were offering the cheapest rates available with calls being just 6p a minute and SMS text messages coming in at 5p each. However, they were rather unknown and untested option and only a brave user with transfer their main mobile number to them. However, now Three Mobile – which is a major high-street brand and one of the biggest mobile networks in the UK – is offering rates that totally crush those offered by White Mobile and their other competitors.

In fact, the treaty one tariff is at least half the price of that previously offered by White Mobile and pretty much an order of magnitude cheaper than the other major mobile networks such as Orange, Vodafone, O2, and T-Mobile. It’s hard to think of a good reason why you’d pay 30p for calls on T-Mobile will you get the same thing to any number at any time on Three for just 3p. Likewise, why would you pay 12p for sending a text on O2 when Three are offering you a price of just 2p? The data charges where things get really silly: budget operators such as ASDA Mobile will charge you 50p/MB for mobile data whereas Three’s new tariff is a almost-unbelievable 50x cheaper!

We really welcome the fantastic value offered by this new pricing structure. Hopefully it will really shake up the UK mobile market and encourage competition. The price cuts that they have introduced are pretty astounding and will only mean better value for consumers no matter what network they are on.

This move will only serve to cement Three’s place as one of the fastest-growing networks in the country. While other mobile operators in the UK are struggling to retain their existing users, Three gained over 1 million new customers in 2012. They also the biggest 3G network in the UK right now and have superb high-speed coverage and great data rates.

Is it too good to be true? Well the tariff has been live for a few days now and in our tests has been working fine at the rate advertised. The only catch, if there is any, is that tethering is not allowed on Three’s PAYG plans including this 321 tariff. This means you can only use your PAYG SIM in mobile phone devices and not dongles or tablets such as the iPad. You will also find your account is blocked if you share your phone’s Internet connection by tethering it to a computer or tablet.

So how do I switch?

Switching your phone to Three Mobile in order to take advantage of this great offer is really simple. You don’t even need to change your phone number.

First of all, just make sure that your handset is unlocked so you can use it on Three and that it supports the 3G network that Three uses. Pretty much any modern handset will be fine, but if your phone is particularly old it’s worth checking that it works on 3G as Three does not support 2G any more. If your handset is not unlocked, there are several guides online that make it quite simple or you can always take it to a shop and pay about £5 for them to do it for you.

If you are an existing Three Mobile PAYG customer, switching to the 321 tariff is as simple as calling customer services on 333 from your mobile phone. If not, you can just go to Three’s website and order a free SIM card which they’ll post to you in a couple of days.

Keeping your phone number is really easy as long as you get your PAC code from your existing mobile operator. We’ve got a full guide to switching mobile network and porting your mobile number to a new mobile network already published on the site.

And that’s all there is to it. Runs some quick calculations to see whether you’ll save lots of money by changing to this tariff and if so, get started switching over!

Will you save money if you start using Three’s 321 tariff? Or is your current network offering a better deal? Do you know of any network with better PAYG prices? And, if you think you can save money, are you switching over today?

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06 June 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Best Samsung Galaxy SIII deals

Galaxy SIIIThe brand-spanking new Samsung Galaxy SIII has been on sale in the UK since 29 May. The new Galaxy SIII has a gargantuan yet super-sharp 4.8-inch HD screen which is a complete treat to use. Samsung have also pulled out the stops to introduce a Siri-beating voice-command feature. One of the best features of the new SIII is the incredible 8MP camera and the latest Android software which is a vast improvement on anything iOS can offer. Top this all off with fantastic battery life and a blazingly fast processor and it’s clear this is a killer handset.

Is it an iPhone 4S-beater? Well, the reviews have been pretty unanimous: this is the best phone currently available anywhere in the world. But should you upgrade straight away and, more importantly, can you afford to? Now the dust has settled after the initial rush and frantic pre-order period, it’s time to sit back and take a more measured look.

For all of you who must have the latest and greatest mobile phone, we’ve scoured all the main mobile networks for all the fantastic deals currently available for the Galaxy SIII. By looking at different usage profiles, we’ve come up with the absolute best prices you can get on this incredible handset.

As ever, it’s worth doing the calculations properly. The cheapest monthly rate doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cheapest deal if there’s a high one-off cost to buy a high-end phone such as this. Similarly, there’s no point thinking you’ve got a good deal by getting a “free” upgrade from your network when it would have been cheaper to buy it SIM-free and go with a lower-priced contract.

Total cost of ownership

The best way to seek out the actual best deals is to calculate the Total cost of ownership. This is simply the overall amount you’ll have to pay for a new Galaxy SIII taking account of the initial cost of the handset as well as the monthly price of the plan abd the length of the contract. Stated as a formula:

Total cost of ownership = costhandset + costmonthly tariff × tcontract length

As contracts usually have subsidised (or even free) handsets with pricier charges over the following months, this is the only way to fairly compare the available options. And with that out of the way, let’s begin.

The average Joe

Statistically, the average smartphone user needs about 250 minutes of call time along with about 250 texts and 250 MB of data allowance every month. At this level, there are lots of options but some are objectively better than others.

3 has a great deal on the Essential Internet 300 plan. You get 300 minutes, 5000 texts and 250 MB of data for £28/month plus a one-off charge of just £99. This makes a total over a 24 month contract of £771. For even better savings, you might want to consider T-Mobile with exactly the same bundle except you get unlimited texts instead of 5000 each month (not that there’s effectively much of a difference). This comes to just £704 over two years with a monthly rate of just £21 but an initial cost of £200 for the handset.

The light user

Light users might want to have a fancy phone but don’t want to waste money and won’t actually use up many minutes and texts. They often have access to free Wifi so they don’t need a huge mobile data allowance. It’s pretty hard to get good deal for light users on such a high-end handset but we’ve managed to dig a couple up.

O2 can give you 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 100MB data for just £18.50/month. Adding in the handset cost of £250, this comes to a total over two years of just £694. You can do even better with T-Mobile though as they will give you 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 250MB of data for just £622 over two years. That’s only £15.50/month with the same initial cost of £250.

The internet addict

Many people nowadays use their smartphone as a second computer and with streaming video and audio easily available over high-speed mobile broadband, it’s easy to burn through a gigabyte or more of data every month. Especially with VoIP solutions like Skype and popular messaging programs like WhatsApp, a big data allowance can even replace having lots of texts and minutes. To cater for the internet addicts, we’ve come up with the best plans available with at least 1GB of monthly data.

3 have been offering unlimited data for years and have a great 3G network to cope with it. They’ll give you 500 minutes, 5000 texts and truly unlimited data for just £32/month. At this price band, the handset cost is only £29 making your two-year total £797. f you want to go PAYG it’s actually possible to save even more money with Giffgaff. Just buy the handset for £499, get a free SIM and a £10 goodybag every month and your total cost over two years will turn out to be just £740. You’ll get 250 minutes, as well as a very generous bundle of unlimited texts and data. T-Mobile can do a bit better as long as you don’t mind having a low SMS and call allowance. They’ll give you 50 minutes, 250 texts and a huge 1.5GB for only £21/month with a £200 one-off charge. This makes just £704 for the duration of a 24 month contract.

The extreme smartphone fiend

Power-users are glued to their phone for most of their waking hours. It’s not uncommon to need 500 minutes every month as well as hundreds of texts and at least 500MB of mobile internet. The hard thing is keeping the costs down but we’ve identified some ways of doing it.

O2 will give you 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of data usage for £32 per month. With a one-off charge of £100, this makes a total of £868 over two years. 3 also have a great deal on their Ultimate Internet 500 plan: 500 minutes, 5000 texts and unlimited data for £32 per month as well. As the handset costs just £29, your two year total is only £797.

If you need more than 500 minutes, prices soon smash through the £1K mark for a 24 month contract. However, for the well-informed customers, a total cost of ownership calculation reveals a better option. PAYG with Giffgaff can be done by buying the phone outright for £499 then getting a free SIM and a £20 monthly goodybag. This gives you a chonking 800 minutes every month as well as unlimited texts and data and will only set you back a total of £980 over 24 months.

Final conclusion

So there you go. Before you buy a new Samsung Galaxy SIII, make sure you’re got all the information you need to make a good decision. It’s a shame Orange and Vodafone couldn’t compete with the other networks but the only way to fairly compare deals across the networks and between PAYG and contract is by looking at the total cost of ownership. Don’t be fooled by flashy offers of cheap monthly rates or free phones – make sure you run the numbers yourself (or leave a polite comment below asking us to look at a particular deal for you :)). We hope you’ve found this post useful and that you get the cheapest deal possible on your fab new phone.

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16 May 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Giffgaff start sending out micro-SIMs

Rejoice all ye iPhone and iPad users – Giffgaff have finally got round to producing their own micro-SIMs (you Nokia Lumia, HTC One X, Sony Xperia and Motorola Razr fans can let out a little cheer too).

After producing a fantastic infographic showing that the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 where both in the top 5 handsets used on Giffgaff, they decided it was about time to more proactively lure these users over. Previously, they had hosted a member-project called Microgaff than matched up new customers with existing members who owned SIM cutters. They would order SIM cards in advance, cut them down to micro-SIM size with a cutter and then post them out in lieu of Giffgaff. We even got involved here at Mobile Network Comparison and sent out our own professionally cut micro-SIMs by first class post absolutely free of charge.

Now, however, our top-rated network has produced their very own micro-SIMs. They were announced a few weeks ago but they’ve just started arriving on doormats today. Fresh after moving to a brand new state-of-the-art warehouse, the guys and girls at Giffgaff HQ and come up with a great new pop-out style of hybrid SIM card. Every SIM will be laser-cut (lasers are always cool) so that you can use it as a regular sized SIM card as usual but if you need a micro-SIM you can just pop it out.

Giffgaff micro SIM

See how it works for yourself:

Giffgaff micro SIM

So there will be no more fiddling with careful cutting and filing, buying expensive SIM cutters or going through third parties. Now you can order a Giffgaff micro-SIM directly and be sure that it will fit perfectly in your phone. So what are you waiting for? Check out more about how much cash you could save and if you’re moving to Giffgaff and need a micro-SIM or a regular SIM card, order your free hybrid micro-SIM today. And as an extra promotional bonus, if you order through our site you’ll get an extra £5 credit absolutely free 🙂

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