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Is Tesco Mobile any good?

Friday, July 18th 2014

Tesco Mobile was the first supermarket to enter the mobile marketplace. It has an opt-in capping option to help prevent your bills getting too far out of control, and has just introduced 4G bundles.

However, Tesco Mobile deals lack an unlimited data plan, and does not allow Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls. That's the long and short of it, but the devil is in the detail, so let's take a closer look.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • 4G at no extra cost
  • No nasty surprise bills
  • Clubcard points

Cons

  • Restrictive data allowances
  • No unlimited plans
  • No VoIP or continuous streaming

What we like

4G at no extra cost

If you have a 4G-ready phone, you can now use 4G on Tesco Mobile for no extra cost. With 4G, you can download information like maps, videos, music, and photographs far more quickly than you can on 3G. Tesco Mobile offers SIM-only options in several 4G data sizes, from 500MB up to a massive 8GB.

As a mobile virtual network operator, Tesco Mobile uses O2’s 4G network, so won’t be readily accessible to everyone until O2 finishes its rollout across the UK. If you've got a 4G phone we recommend checking Tesco Mobile coverage before you buy.

No nasty surprise bills

We all hate getting unexpected phone bills, but with Tesco Mobile phones you can reduce the chance of such shocks. You can sign up to the capped service, which lets you limit the amount of calls, text, and data that you can make on your mobile. This prevents you from accidentally going over the limit and incurring additional fees – some of which can add up to quite a significant amount.

These opt-in caps are different from the various tariff limits, which will simply charge you more if you exceed certain levels of usage.

Clubcard points

If you are a Tesco Clubcard member you can start racking up points as soon as you start using the mobile service. The Tesco Mobile website allows you to link your mobile account to your Clubcard account, and on a Pay Monthly contract you get triple points.

What we don’t like

Restrictive data allowances

Every Tesco Mobile tariff has some level of data cap, so you’ll always be limited in what you do online, even if you sign up for 4G. The highest data limit on Pay Monthly is 8GB, which is enough to download quite a lot of data - but still isn't unlimited. If you want to stream HD video content to your mobile on a daily basis you're bound to come up against your allowance wall sooner rather than later.

No unlimited plans

We’ve already mentioned the restrictive data allowances, but the same applies for texts and calls. On Tesco Mobile there aren’t any unlimited plans; that means you can go over your monthly minutes and texts allowances, resulting in per minute (and per text) charges that could add up to a large bill, assuming you haven’t set a cap beforehand.

No VoIP or continuous streaming

Tesco Mobile does not allow continuous streaming of audio and video, or use of Voice of Internet Protocol software such as Skype or Vonage. Tesco forbids or severely restricts these practices and might disconnect you from the network if you get caught out. This doesn't apply to streaming the occasional video, such as through Youtube – only to long, unbroken periods of streaming.

Coverage

You can check Tesco Mobile’s coverage, and see if you’re in the right area to receive 2G, 3G or 4G, by following the link to Tesco’s own coverage checker below.

Check Tesco Mobile coverage →

Summary

A Tesco Mobile contract offers nice little benefits for those looking to take out a mobile service from a leading supermarket. The opt-in capping option is great and could potentially save you a fortune in sudden bills, and the new 4G bundles bring it in line with many of the bigger names out there.

However, the lack of unlimited plans is disappointing and seems a bit archaic when you consider that a 4G connection will give you super speeds that you won’t be able to do a whole lot with on a limited contract. Nevertheless, Tesco Mobile phone deals are a solid competitor in the mobile marketplace.

Visit Tesco Mobile →

Related links

Comments (118)

Michael
11 days ago

I have just had a twitter conversation with Tesco mobile who said it was fine to use allowance for Skype, and music streaming/video. Very confusing considering the ts and cs

22 days ago

Hi John

Thanks for your comment. Tesco's tethering policy has recently changed so we've now updated the guide accordingly.

Hannah - Cable.co.uk

JOHN C
22 days ago

I have Tesco mobile on pay as you go. I tether to my Nexus 7 and I use Skype. Your article is wrong

Martin
27th June 2014

Tesco Mobile are a dysfunctional provider to be avoided at all costs! They tell me I can only buy a limited amount of data on PAYG. They tell me it's because they're cheap so they ration the service. The b****rs should make this clear before a customer buys a phone from then. Bread and milk are popular too - perhaps they'll start to ration those shortly.

Michael
26th June 2014

Hi Luke

Don't see this being a problem. Transcript on it's way to your inbox :)

Michael

26th June 2014

Hi Michael,

Thank you for your comment! This must be something that Tesco has recently rolled out, as its Terms and Conditions have not yet been updated. Unfortunately, we're not able to physically test every provider and model, so information like this is always welcome! :)

In the small print of its T&Cs Tesco Mobile still states:

4.4 All usage must be for your private, personal and non-commercial purposes. You may not use your SIM card: b) To allow the continuous streaming of any audio / video content, enable Voice over Internet (VOIP), P2P or file sharing.

If you still have the transcript from the Live Chat, would you be happy sharing it with us? Then we can update our guide accordingly. You can wing it over to my email: luke.thompson@existent.co.uk

All the best,

Luke

Michael
25th June 2014

Hi Luke

Just read your article which I came across while looking for the Tesco Mobile site.

I have just received my new Moto G 16Gb phone on monthly contract with Tesco. I have tested and can say for certain I was able to make Skype calls via both wifi and mobile data options on the phone. Tesco advertise Skype as one of their top picks on their Android Explained page.

Additionally, I successfully tethered my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 to the phone and used the wifi and mobile data options to enable the tablet to browse the internet.

I was then concerned, having read your article, it might be a limited feature so got on live chat with Tesco who confirmed both are included in their contracts for Android and iPhone. The agent even advised me to keep the transcript as confirmation.

Paul
17th June 2014

Hi Martin

Thanks for the message ... sorry for the delay in replying.

I am glad that your problem has been resolved. I just wish Tesco Mobile had been more open and honest in the first place and admitted that there was a problem with their network!

I have been using the GSM setting on my 'phone and haven't given the WCDMA setting a try lately. I have a feeling that GSM makes the battery last longer although could it be that the 'phone was wasting a lot of power just polling to find a workable signal?

Update ... Just tried WCDMA and it seems to be working OK ... maybe they have done some work in this neck of the woods. I'll see how it goes ... evenings used to be the bad time before.

Anyway ... glad you are sorted.

Best wishes

Paul

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Martin T wrote ... 29 days ago Hi Paul How are things with you? Well after 6 months things have finally been resolved. I now have a Samsung S5, & although the first week was much the same, When going into town on the Sunday there were some road works, the cause work being carried out on a mast, & hey presto, I now am able to receive & make calls from any where in my abode. :-) Well I do have a new 2 year contract, & I am now paying more money for the new phone, but at last I am getting the service I am paying for. How are things in your area? Best wishes M :-)

16th June 2014

Hi Sheila,

That's very odd that the games were automatically downloaded to your new phone. It sounds like there may be a problem with your phone settings.

If you'd like us to contact Tesco Mobile on your behalf about this issue, please send me an email detailing your trouble and we'll see if we can get it sorted. My email address is: luke.thompson@existent.co.uk

All the best,

Karl
15th June 2014

I was previously with ASDA mobile on the Vodafone network and after they went down hill and moved to EE I swapped over to Mobile by Sainsbury's,which were good value for money,but they didn't have the internet settings for my phone.So I switched to Tesco mobile which has great coverage and the internet works okay,but call costs are much more expensive than the previous 2 networks.For instance I am on the triple tariff so for £10.00 I get 120 minutes of calls,but with Sainsbury's I'd get 300 although no internet,so I have decided I need to talk time more so will switch back soon.

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