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O2 mobile review 2017

Jaskiran Jutla
Monday, January 9th 2017

O2 has a reputation for good customer service to go with its wide range of handsets and deals, as well as good coverage across the UK.

However, O2, which began life as BT Cellnet, is not the cheapest mobile provider on the market, and its mobile phone packages are only available on two-year contracts. It also has a number of handsets which are not 4G-compatible. We look at the details.

Is O2 any good?

O2 Mobile Jaskiran Jutla
  • Tariffs & plans
    4/5
  • Phone & device range
    5/5
  • Customer service
    4/5
  • Value for money
    3/5
  • Coverage
    4/5
  • Overall
    4/5

O2 offers a selection of mobile handsets, deals and extras, including O2 Priority, which is an online loyalty scheme that enables you to buy pre-sale tickets for entertainment events and get discounts from highstreet stores.

O2 seems to be a popular network with consumers and has the advantage of a 4G service. However, it isn’t the cheapest network on the market. Taking everything into account, is O2 worth consideration? Read on to find out.

Pros

  • Good 4G coverage
  • Flexible monthly tariffs
  • Good customer service
  • Plenty of extras

Cons

  • There are no unlimited data plans
  • 30 day plans are more expensive
  • Handset contracts are 24 months long
  • Mid-contract price hikes

What we like

Good 4G coverage

4G is the fastest available mobile data technology, enabling users to browse the web and watch videos online quickly. O2’s 4G network can reach more than half of the UK population and it is expanding, but the strength of the signal depends on location. You can find out if you’re covered by using O2’s 4G coverage checker.

Flexible monthly tariffs

A 12-month or 24-month contract isn’t for everybody. They might be cheaper, but being tied in for that long can be a risk, especially if you’re not certain whether or not O2 is for you. However, 30-day SIM-only contracts are available.

Good customer service

Industry regulator Ofcom has rated O2 as having the best customer service of any mobile provider in the UK. As well as being rated as the best overall in the report, O2 scored particularly well for time taken to handle an issue.

Plenty of extras

O2 is known for offering perks, including O2 Priority. You can purchase tickets up to 48 hours before they go on sale; you can also get discounts from various high street and online brands. O2 also has public wi-fi hotspots around the country, so you can browse the internet on your phone without eating into its monthly data allowance.

Visit O2 Mobile

What we don’t like

No unlimited data plans for tablets

Unlimited data plans are aimed at those who regularly watch films or play online games on their tablet, dongle or mobile broadband device. However, O2’s data plans are restricted to just 12GB of data. This is just enough for streaming videos daily. If you find these plans too restrictive, Three offers unlimited data plans, and so does giffgaff.

30-day plans are more expensive

O2 charges more for 30-day plans than for the longer 12-month tariffs. Although these cost more, 30-day plans have more flexibility than the 12-month or 24-month contracts.

24-month phone contracts

24 months is a long time to be tied to a company, but that’s the only option if you want a new handset from O2 without buying it upfront. It is cheaper per month than a 30-day SIM-only deal, but you will be charged if you leave before the end of the contract. If you’re looking for flexibility when buying a shiny new handset, you may want to shop elsewhere.

Mid-contract price hikes

O2 has been known to implement mid-contract price hikes, which may mean your monthly cost increases before the end of your contract. According to Ofcom, if the price increases significantly during the contract, you can leave without penalty within 30 days of the price change coming into effect.

Coverage checker

Use O2’s coverage checker to see if your area is covered by the network and to check the strength of its signal.

Check coverage

O2 Mobile SIM-only deals

SIM-only deals are aimed at those who are happy with their handset and just need to pay for their minutes, texts and data. All of O2’s plans include unlimited texts, and customers can choose from a range of minutes and data.

O2 offers a choice of 30-day or 12-month plans. Here’s all you need to know to work out which O2 SIM is the best option for you.

30-day SIM-only deals

Minutes Texts Data Monthly cost  
250 - Unlimited Unlimited 250MB - 8GB From £12 Buy Now

30-day plans offer more flexibility

If you don’t want to be tied to a long-term contract, O2 gives you a choice of 30-day SIM-only plans. These plans give you more freedom to switch tariffs without having the burden of cancellation charges.

Unlimited texts with all plans

No matter which 30-day plan you go for, you’ll get unlimited texts to any UK mobile network. You can also get unlimited minutes, but only on 2GB and above, but there is no unlimited data option at all.

12-month SIM-only deals

Minutes Texts Data Monthly cost  
250 - Unlimited Unlimited 250MB - 25GB From £10 Buy Now

12-month contracts are the cheaper option

Although you’ll be tied to a contract for longer, the 12-month contracts are slightly cheaper than 30-day contracts.

Choose up to 25GB of data

The 12-month contracts come with a data allowance of up to 25GB of data. All plans are on 4G and all come with unlimited texts.

O2 pay-as-you-go plans

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plans give you more flexibility and freedom to switch contracts without having to pay any cancellation fees. This is ideal for those who don’t like being tied to a long-term contract. All you need to do is top up when you need more minutes, texts or data.

O2 offers a wide range of PAYG plans that come with a set amount of minutes, texts and data. Let’s take you through the deals…

PAYG SIMs for phones

Minutes Texts Data Monthly cost  
250 - 3000 1000 - 4000 500MB - 20GB £10 - £30 Buy Now

O2 PAYG SIMs are free

PAYG SIMs are free when you order from O2’s website and you only need to buy credit for your SIM when you need more minutes, texts or data. You’ll need an unlocked handset that is compatible with your SIM. If your handset in locked to a different network, O2 will be able to unlock it for a fee.

You can stay in touch with family and friends abroad

An International SIM is a standard O2 PAYG SIM that comes with a set amount of UK minutes, data and texts. You’ll also be able to call mobiles and landlines in selected countries from 1p per minute.

PAYG SIMs for tablets

If you don’t want to buy a monthly contract for your tablet, O2 offers a selection of 4G-ready PAYG Tablet SIMs.

O2 mobile phones

If you need a new handset, O2 Refresh offers a wide range of handsets, including the iPhone 7. O2 Refresh plans come with unlimited texts and up to 20GB of data, and you can match flexible handset payment plans to different packages of minutes, texts and data.

O2 Refresh plans are available with 3G or 4G and are all 24 months long. Here’s all you need to know about O2 Refresh plans.

24-month deals

Minutes Texts Data Upfront cost Monthly cost  
Unlimited Unlimited 1GB - 50GB From £59.99 From £18 Buy Now

O2’s mobile phone plans use the Refresh tariff

On O2’s Refresh tariff, customers combine two plans: one to pay for the handset over 24 months and one to pay for a set amount of minutes, texts and data each month.

Upfront costs vary according to handset

When you choose your new phone, you will have some choice in how much you pay upfront for it. For phones at the bottom of the range, customers can choose to pay nothing up front and pay off the whole phone over 24 months. More expensive devices usually require a minimum payment upfront, with the balance paid off over 24 months.

You’ll be tied to a 24-month contract

On Refresh, you have to commit to a two-year contract because O2 doesn’t offer any 12-month pay monthly handset deals. If you feel that you can’t commit for that long, then you should check out shorter contracts from other mobile networks.

All plans are available on 4G

All O2’s Refresh plans come with 4G coverage – offering faster download and upload speeds for mobile browsing. If you are in an area that doesn’t have 4G coverage, you’ll still be able to browse at a slower speed with 3G.

O2 Sharer plans

Sharer plans allow you to share a data allowance across several phones and tablets on the O2 network. You can share your data allowance with up to ten devices. Here’s how you can get one…

You’ll need a phone or tablet on an O2 Refresh tariff

You will have to purchase an O2 Refresh plan with a minimum of 1GB of data. These plans are 24 months long and come with up to 20GB of data. Once you are set up, you can add up to nine other devices for an extra monthly fee. If you already have an O2 Refresh plan, you can share that.

How to get a Sharer plan

Sharer plans can only be purchased from an O2 store or via phone on 0333 8800 908. If you want to switch your current O2 Refresh plan to a Sharer plan, sign into your My O2 account online or visit an O2 store to see how you can get started.

A sharer plan will cost you at least £6 per month

The cost depends which of two options you take. On the basic Sharer Plan you can share just data from £6 extra per month; it will cost you more to share data, minutes and texts on the Family Sharer Plan.

O2 Tablet SIMs

If you regularly need internet access on your tablet when away from a wi-fi connection, then you may want to consider going for a tablet SIM to get O2 mobile broadband. You can get up to 12GB of data for tablets, iPads, dongles or mobile broadband device.

Tablet SIMs are available on one-month plans on 4G. Here are the best deals…

One-month contracts

Data 3G/4G ready Monthly cost  
300MB - 1GB 4G £3 - £10 Buy Now
3GB - 5GB 4G £16 - £20 Buy Now
8GB 4G £25 Buy Now

Recurring plans are available

O2 offers one-month SIM deals on one-off or recurring plans. Recurring plans automatically roll on each month, whereas one-off plans end after the contract length. If you want to end your plan you’ll need to contact O2 up to midday before your next monthly bill. If you contact O2 after this time then the service will continue for another month and you will be charged.

You can get a tablet SIM that lasts 24 hours, 90 days or 12 months

If you feel that even a month is too long for your needs, O2 does offer a one-off 24-hour data SIM that comes with 300MB data. Or if you feel that one month isn't long enough you can get a 5GB SIM on a 90-day contract or a 12GB SIM on a 12-month contract.

Alternatives

If you feel that O2 tablet SIMs aren’t for you, there is a variety of deals to choose from. You can see what deals are available by clicking on the blue button below. You will then be redirected to our comparison page, which will have a list of deals from other providers.

Compare tablet SIM deals

Can I get 4G on O2?

UK coverage

O2’s 4G network now reaches more than half of the UK population. However, EE currently has the largest coverage with 99%. You can use O2’s coverage checker to see if you can get its fast 4G service. If you can’t, there are a variety of 3G deals to choose from.

Average 4G speed comparison

Mobile broadband speeds vary due to a number of factors. This includes your location and how many users are on the network. O2 stacks up reasonably well compared with the other mobile networks.

  EE O2 Vodafone Three
Average 4G download speed 33Mbps 18Mbps 20Mbps 17Mbps
Average 4G upload speed 17.6Mbps 9Mbps 13.1Mbps 9.4Mbps
  Go Go Go Go
Network Average 4G download speed  
EE
33Mbps
O2
18Mbps
Vodafone
20Mbps
Three
17Mbps

Source: Ofcom

Frequently asked questions

How do I switch to O2?

Let your current provider know you’re leaving

If you are coming to the end of your contract you’ll need to contact your existing provider to let them know you’re leaving. If you cancel your contract early you’ll need to pay the remainder of the contract. You will need to ask your existing provider for a PAC (porting authorisation code) number when you call to cancel.

Make sure your device is unlocked

If you want to keep your current mobile phone, you’ll need to make sure it’s unlocked. Some providers tend to supply handsets that are locked to its network. If this is the case you can request it to be unlocked. There will be a charge and it will take several days for the process to complete.

Tell O2 if you want to keep your number

If you’ve decided to keep your existing number, you’ll need to provide O2 with your PAC number. This will allow them to transfer your number. This tends to take 24 hours, but the provider will let you know when you should expect your number to be active.

Does O2 make charges outside your allowance?

Usage Standard tariff charges
Calls to landlines, O2 mobiles and other networks 35p per minute
Calls to Freephone numbers 20p per minute
Texts to UK mobile networks 12p per message
International texts 16p per message
Data (browsing the wed) Up to max £1 per day
Picture message 25p per message
Voicemail 901 15p per call
O2 customer service Free
07744, 07755 number 25p per minute
0844, 0845, 0870 numbers 20p per minute
0871 numbers 35p per minute
Does O2 make charges outside your allowance?
Calls to landlines, O2 mobiles and other networks
35p per minute
Calls to Freephone numbers
20p per minute
Texts to UK mobile networks
12p per message
International texts
16p per message
Data (browsing the wed)
Up to max £1 per day
Picture message
25p per message
Voicemail 901
15p per call
O2 customer service
Free
07744, 07755 number
25p per minute
0844, 0845, 0870 numbers
20p per minute
0871 numbers
35p per minute

If you reach your limit you can purchase a Bolt On

With Bolt Ons you can add extra minutes, texts and data whenever you need to. To purchase a Bolt On, you’ll need to call O2 or just add them on your My O2 account online. This allows you to monitor your monthly bill as well as make changes to your O2 tariff.

How good is O2’s customer service?

O2 consistently scores well for its customer service. According to Ofcom’s most recent report, the company scored 80% for customer satisfaction in the latest report, which is the best in the UK and well above the sector average of 72%.

According to Ofcom, O2 has remained a popular mobile provider and has continued to show improvement in its customer service every year.

What is O2’s customer service number?

Customers with pay monthly phones can call O2 customer service on 202 from their mobile, or 0344 809 0202 from the landline. If you are pay-as-you-go customer, you can call the team on 4445 from your mobile, or 0344 809 0222 from your landline.

Does O2 allow tethering?

Tethering allows you to share your wi-fi connection

If you can’t rely on wi-fi then tethering may be the way forward. It enables you to use your smartphone’s data allowance to get online with other devices, such as laptops and smartphones.

You can tether on O2’s SIM-only and pay monthly plans

To tether on O2, you’ll need to purchase an internet tethering Bolt On. The Bolt On lasts 30 days and comes with a data limit. If you exceed your allowance you can top up your data usage with a one-off payment. Tethering is not available on pay-as-you-go deals.

What kind of SIM can I get with O2?

The type of SIM will depend on your device

There are three different types of SIMs: Standard, micro and nano. Which one you’ll need is determined by which device you have. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 models use nanoSIMs, but it is important that you check your device carefully to ensure you order the correct sized SIM card. O2 will send you the appropriate SIM card once you’ve purchased your tariff.

SIM-only and pay monthly deals are available

O2 offers a variety of SIM-only and pay monthly deals. These come with a certain amount of data, calls and unlimited texts. SIM-only deals give you more flexibility, but pay monthly deals are cheaper.

If you want flexibility, purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM

With pay-as-you-go (PAYG) SIMs, you won’t have the burden of being tied to any contract. You just have to add credit to your phone when you need it. Data, calls and texts are charged at a standard rate.

Does O2 offer any international plans?

O2 offers an international SIM that allows you to make international calls from 1p per minute and send texts for 12p per message. You’ll also get O2 minutes, texts and data included in the plan. However, it’s only available on a pay-as-you-go tariff.

If you’re an existing O2 customer, you can easily switch to an international SIM

If you already have an O2 pay-as-you-go SIM, you won’t need to order a new International SIM. You can call 2202 for free or text INTSIM to 21300 and your PAYG SIM will automatically switch to an International SIM.

Visit O2 Mobile

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