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Mobile by Sainsbury's review 2015

Hannah Ricci
Wednesday, October 7th 2015

Sainsbury’s is both a supermarket and now a budget mobile provider. It offers a selection of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) deals aimed primarily at families and SIM-only pay monthly plans on short 30-day contracts.

The provider offers a choice of call, text and data bundles starting at just £7.50, as well as bonus Nectar points for cardholders. So Mobile by Sainsbury’s ticks the affordability box but how does it compare on other key issues? Let’s find out in our independent review of the new addition to the UK mobile market.

Pros and cons


  • Good coverage
  • Earn Nectar points
  • Cheap pay monthly plans


  • Low internet data limits
  • Charges for exceeding limits
  • No 4G service

What we like

Good coverage

By utilising Vodafone’s mobile network infrastructure, Mobile by Sainsbury’s enjoys 99% network coverage across the UK, plus more than 200 countries worldwide. However, that’s where the relationship with Vodafone ends, because Mobile by Sainsbury’s is not linked to Vodafone’s new superfast 4G network.

Earn Nectar points

Customers can collect double Nectar points when buying phone top ups, equal to four points per £1 spent. Bundle customers also receive double points on Sainsbury’s shopping and fuel for the 30-day life of the bundle, although certain products and services are excluded in the terms and conditions.

You’ll just need to link your Nectar card to your mobile account when you sign up. Points can take up to up to 30 days to be added and you’ll receive text updates of your balance. Up to 10 mobiles can be added to one Nectar card, so there’s the potential to build up a sizeable stack of points if you get all of your family involved.

Cheap pay monthly plans

Mobile by Sainsbury’s has re-priced its three 30-day pay monthly bundles recently to make them better value for money and put itself on a par with the likes of Virgin Mobile and Three. The bundles come with a set amount of minutes, texts and data, and once you’ve used them up, you have to wait until the following month for them to refresh.

These pay monthly bundles come with another bonus. For the first three months that you stay with Mobile by Sainsbury’s, you only pay half price for these bundles. This makes it less of a risk if you’re uncertain about the provider and just want to try it out for the short term.

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What we don’t like

Low internet data limits

The top data allowance of 2GB per month is pretty limited if you spend a lot of time online on your mobile. Regularly browsing, checking in on social media and watching YouTube videos could eat through the allowance very quickly. There are much higher data limits available elsewhere up to 20GB and even unlimited allowances in some cases.

Charges for exceeding limits

If you go over your allowances on a pay monthly contract you will be charged for any extra use. Surpass your data limit, and you pay 5p for every extra megabyte (MB) used. Text messages will cost 4p each, and you’ll have to pay 8p per minute for a call.

No 4G service

Mobile by Sainsbury’s uses Vodafone to carry its calls, texts, and data. Now, Vodafone is a 4G provider, but Mobile by Sainsbury’s isn’t: you can only use 3G. This means that your download speeds won’t be anywhere near the speeds on Vodafone itself. If you want 4G it may be worth considering another provider, such as EE, Three, or Vodafone.


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Mobile by Sainsbury’s seems to measure up to its goal, offering straightforward and affordable phone plans with no lengthy contracts. The bonus Nectar points will attract families who regularly shop at the supermarket, and the broad UK coverage means you can expect a pretty good signal wherever you are.

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