Tesco Mobile offers a huge range of handsets and SIM-only deals at extremely competitive prices. It’s also the least complained about mobile provider in the UK thanks to its excellent customer service. Need more reasons to choose Tesco Mobile? Well, here they are.
Tesco Mobile offers one of the widest ranges of handsets available from any provider out there. Your typical headliners are all present and correct – phones from market leaders Apple, Samsung, LG and Sony. At the budget end there are handsets from IMO, Alcatel and Doro, and Tesco has the so-called ‘premium-budget’ (technically market-leading but cheaper than main-brand) side of things covered by offering Huawei’s complete range. That’s a lot of phones.
Tesco Mobile also offers a solid range of SIM-only deals if you’re quite attached to your existing phone and/or the sort of frugal consumer who doesn’t need a new handset every five minutes. All Tesco Mobile SIM-only deals offer free minutes and texts in varying amounts, with 4G data allowances ranging from a measly-but-fine-if-you’re-always-on-wifi 100MB to an almost obscene 50GB.
Tesco Mobile doesn’t yet offer any truly unlimited data deals either on its SIM-only or pay-monthly handsets as of yet, but that’s not all that surprising – only Three and Virgin Mobile offer such a thing and in the case of the latter only to its TV and broadband customers.
While we wouldn’t label Tesco Mobile a ‘budget’ network, its prices are extremely competitive, frequently undercutting mainstay network providers EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. What we particularly like about the way Tesco does things, however, is the amount of flexibility it builds into its various contract offerings.
Let’s say you want a new iPhone X, for example. You can decide on not only the contract length – 12,24 or 36 months – but also how much you want to pay upfront. Both these factors will determine how much your monthly premiums will be, and as you click through these options on Tesco Mobile’s excellent website, you can see those monthly payments changing in realtime.
You can even select £0 as your upfront payment amount. Naturally this won’t make your monthly payments as low as they might otherwise be, but not having to pay anything on the day is going to be a hugely attractive – and not to mention rare – feature for many.
Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, releases complaint figures quarterly, and as of the start of 2018, Tesco Mobile has had the least complaints of any UK provider for the fifteenth consecutive quarter. The way Ofcom measures this is proportionally to 100,000 customers. Tesco Mobile accumulated only 11 complaints per 100,000 customers at Ofcom’s last measure. That is truly incredible.
Of course, customer service is something we often don’t consider when entering a contract, but when it’s not up to snuff it can suddenly become incredibly important. You’ll have no such worries with Tesco Mobile.
Tesco Mobile’s ‘Family Perks’ are little extras it offers those who have more than one account with the provider – typically this would be a family situation where the spouse and/or children all have a SIM and/or a handset. The way it works is that each family member gets to choose a monthly reward that most suits their lifestyle and the way they typically use their phone.
Perks come in many flavours, including a couple of pounds off your bill, extra data, additional Tesco Clubcard points, extra minutes and so on. None of them are Earth-shattering if we’re completely honest, but depending on what you use your phone for they all make a difference to some degree.
Most of us have had a ‘learning moment’ with our provider when we sent too many photos over text or flew unwittingly past our pre-arranged data limit. The end of the month arrives and we’re lumbered with a bill sometimes far in excess of what we expected. Well, with Tesco Mobile you can ensure that never happens. This is, not doubt, one of the reasons Tesco Mobile manages to keep its complaints count so low.
All you need to do is choose a safety buffer at the outset of your contract. A number of pounds that you do not wish to be exceeded in any given month. Once you hit that limit, Tesco Mobile will simply block you from doing anything that costs additionally to your monthly premium until the following month rolls around. This includes things like roaming charges, premium rate numbers and exceeding your free data and/or calling limits.
This feature allows you to upgrade your mobile handset whenever you please. However, the way this works is far from simple. When you take out a pay-monthly contract with Tesco Mobile that includes a handset you’re essentially taking on two credit agreements: One for your monthly services (the SIM) and one that’s essentially a monthly-paid hire-purchase agreement on your handset.
What Tesco Mobile is saying here, then, is that you can upgrade your handset at any time, provided you pay off the latter of these two agreements first. If you bought an iPhone 7 and the handset was worth around £600, you will have to pay whatever remains of that £600 before you can upgrade. Sounds expensive… but wait.
Remember that good handsets hold their value extremely well across the first couple of years of ownership, especially if you keep them in A1 condition. What you can do, then, is pay off your handset, upgrade, then sell your old handset, covering much of, if not all of, the incurred cost. You can even sell your old handset to Tesco Mobile if you want the most hassle-free option.
On Android phones – that’s pretty much any smartphone other than Apple iPhones – you can get an extra £2 off your monthly bill with Tesco Mobile Xtras. Tesco Xtras is an app available on the Google Play (Android) store. What it does is show you an ad whenever you unlock your phone. Just a single screen (not a video).
In return for exposing yourself to the marketing efforts of Tesco Mobile and its partners, you’ll be paying £2 less per month on your contract, whether that be SIM-only or pay-monthly with a handset. Whether or not that’s going to be a worthwhile proposition to you only you can decide, but for those not bothered by advertising it’s there if you want it.
Roaming refers to going abroad and using your phone as normal, essentially piggybacking a network in your destination country, and doing so at no additional cost to your normal monthly bill. Tesco mobile doesn’t offer the outright best count of countries it’s free to roam in – that honour goes to Vodafone – but it does put in a decent showing.
Under its ‘Home From Home’ scheme there are 48 European destinations where roaming is free. Tehy are: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St. Martin, St. Barts, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.
To be fair, few providers do actually offer unlimited data – Three with its all-you-can-eat tariffs and Virgin Mobile if you’re a Virgin broadband and TV customer – but that’s not to say that some might perceive that a weakness in Tesco Mobile’s offering. It is out there, after all, and to stay competitive providers like Tesco Mobile need to do their best to keep up.
There’s also an argument to be made that most people probably don’t need unlimited data, especially with considering the ubiquity of wifi. That’s fair, though the need for data while out and about is on the rise and unlimited mobile data, like broadband before it, is no doubt the ultimate destination. Tesco’s not there yet.
Quite a number of other providers offer various streaming benefits. For example, Three’s ‘Go Binge’ feature allows you to stream Netflix, Apple Music and a host of other streaming services without eating into your data allowance. Vodafone does something similar with its ‘Red Entertainment’ packages and so on.
No such luck with Tesco Mobile. What you see is what you get – or rather what you stream.