Giffgaff mobile review 2023
By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, April 25th 2023
Giffgaff advertises itself as the 'mobile network run by you'. It is, currently, the only UK provider whose 'members' (not customers) help one another out in place of a call centre. It could have been a total disaster. But it's not.
Giffgaff is one of many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) in the UK, along with the likes of Tesco Mobile, iD Mobile and even Sky Mobile. It is owned by Telefonica, the parent company of O2, and so naturally it operates on the O2 network.
Giffgaff's focus on its community of members has led to some quite extraordinarily positive word-of-mouth. The fact that giffgaff has no call centres to staff, and otherwise relatively low overheads also means it is able to offer some of the cheapest SIM-only and handset deals in the country.
Tariffs & plans
Giffgaff currently offers handsets from a very wide range of manufacturers, with the option to either buy outright, or to pay off the value of the handset in instalments over 12, 24 or 36 months. Giffgaff offers both the newest flagship phones from Apple and Samsung as well as refurbished models, which are also available on repayment plans starting from just six months. You can even sell your existing phone to giffgaff and either pocket the cash or put it towards a new handset.
Giffgaff also offers a wide variety of SIM-only deals, including both rolling pay monthly plans and pay-as-you-go bundles. All deals come with unlimited minutes and texts and data allowances that range from 2GB to unlimited.You can switch your plan up and down each month or cancel at any time with one month’s notice.
In terms of where giffgaff sits in the wider market, it's almost always among the cheapest out there. The question that usually follows that, of course, is whether the service itself is lacking in any way? No. Definitely no. But it is different.
Phone & device range
Giffgaff has pretty much everything and anything you could be looking for when it comes to phones. Either new, or refurbished, you'll be able to get everything from an iPhone SE or Samsung Galaxy A04s, through to the very latest handsets such as the iPhone 14 Pro, or Galaxy S23.
Apologies for the clear bias towards Apple and Samsung evident in our examples here, it's just you can only have so many examples, and these are the phones most people either have or want to have. You'll also find phones from Sony, Motorola, Doro, Oppo, Nokia, Google, Xiaomi and the bizarrely named Nothing (which specialises in affordable smartphones) on the giffgaff website, meaning pretty much all tastes and budgets are covered.
Unlike some of the bigger providers, giffgaff does not offer a choice of tablets with SIMs or other smart tech such as VR headsets, Air Pods or Apple Watches, so if you’re after that kind of thing you’ll be better off looking at another provider such as O2 or EE.
As previously mentioned, customer service with giffgaff is a very different proposition from any other provider you could name. How 'good' or 'bad' the experience is doesn't rely on how upbeat the call centre employee is, but how responsive the giffgaff community is and how extensive its knowledge base.
The community is divided into sections covering service updates, help and support, tips and guides and a lot more. All of which sounds great, but the proof is in the pudding: what do giffgaff users make of this system and how well does it work for the average customer?
In Ofcom’s latest report on the levels of customer satisfaction amongst mobile providers, giffgaff ranked extremely well, with 95% of customers saying they were satisfied with the service overall, surpassing the sector average of 91%.. Only Tesco Mobile did better, with 96%.
Value for money
As alluded to further up the page, giffgaff is often second to none when it comes to value for money. In fact, there have been numerous occasions when the latest iPhone is to be found cheapest with giffgaff. That's because giffgaff not only doesn't have to support its own network (it uses O2's), but it doesn't need to make its customers bear the weight of all that infrastructure other network providers tend to have, from highstreet shops to call centres.
Ofcom’s latest research shows that 96% of giffgaff customers are satisfied with their value for money – this is a tie with fellow first place holder Tesco Mobile, and both achieve 10% higher satisfaction with value for money than their nearest competitors.
You can use our comparison tool to see how giffgaff's current range of handset and SIM-only deals stacks up price-wise against the competition.
Giffgaff operates on O2's network that covers 99% of the UK population, with 4G widely available. O2’s 5G network is growing but is currently still more limited than 4G, although it is now available in over 750 towns and cities across the UK. All giffgaff’s deals come 5G ready as standard, although bear in mind that a 5G-ready SIM will only provide a 5G connection if you have a 5G-ready phone and live in an area that has a 5G signal.
It’s worth bearing in mind that although O2 claims to offer 4G to 99% of the population both indoors and outdoors, the signal can still be affected by local geography, such as hills or large buildings that may stand between you and your nearest mast.
It’s also the case that 99% of the population means just that – the population, not the landmass. This means coverage is heavily weighted towards built-up areas, and that the further away you are from those built-up areas the less likely you are to get a good signal.
These issues do apply to all mobile providers, however. To find out what sort of signal is available where you live, you can use giffgaff’s O2 network coverage checker.
We admire giffgaff very much. It's a company that decided to do things differently. Not only do its systems work, not only does it have a lot of very happy customers, but the savings it makes by not having all that additional infrastructure are actually passed back to its customers. Giffgaff is one of our favourite providers and we would not hesitate for a second in recommending it, whether you are looking for a smart new phone or just an affordable SIM-only deal.