iD Mobile deals – what you need to know
By Dan Howdle | Wednesday, June 5th 2019
In this guide
ID Mobile is the in-house mobile provider for The Carphone Warehouse. Time flies, and although iD still seems pretty new to us here at Cable.co.uk, the provider has actually been around for five years now. How time flies.
Thanks to some 1100+ stores around the UK, Carphone Warehouse – and by extension iD Mobile – is able to compete with the four main network providers (Three, Vodafone, EE and O2) in a way that no one else really can. As such it offers everything under the sun from data-only SIMs to buy-outright handsets, PAYG deals, contract phones and more. Let's take a closer look.
Who is iD Mobile?
ID Mobile was launched as a discreet mobile network provider in 2014 by The Carphone Warehouse – a company now renamed 'Dixons Carphone' after the two high street electronics outlets merged, also in 2014. In that time, iD Mobile has developed a solid reputation for value and flexibility, offering just about every kind of mobile deal you could think of. Here's what makes iD Mobile stand out.
- Data rollover – Plenty of providers offer this these days, and it works slightly differently with each provider. The concept is pretty straightforward no matter who you choose, though: Data you don't use can be rolled over into a month where you do actually need it
- Data boost – If you choose a plan with data boost, you will get a piggybank of additional data – 50GB, say – that is valid for three years. When you go over your data limit, rather than charge you extra or cut you off, iD will instead automatically have you dip into your boost amount
- Inclusive roaming – Your allowances – calls, data and texts – can be used in 50 other countries with no additional charge. To see which countries, see the roaming section further down this page
- Bill capping – Allows you to place limits on your monthly bill. In case you use up all your data, for example, bill capping will ensure your bill never exceeds a certain amount. Also very handy if you're going abroad somewhere not included in the 50 countries where roaming is free
- 30-day plans – iD Mobile offers a range of 30-day plans, where the contract rolls over every 30 days and you can leave whenever you want with no penalty. These deals do tend to be more expensive, however
- iD community – iD has a good user community where you can ask questions and post any issues that may be troubling you
- iD app – Allows you to take control of your iD Mobile account wherever and whenever you need to
What does iD Mobile offer?
You'll struggle to find anything iD Mobile doesn't currently offer. Well, not bananas and such obviously, but anything mobile-related. The vastness of its offering competes head-on with the UK's biggest providers, offering SIM only deals, a vast array of contract handsets, PAYG SIMs, new phones to buy outright or as part of a contract, refurbished phones and more. It's pretty unusual to find a moment where iD doesn't have some sort of special offer on too. Here's a bit more detail.
- Pay monthly phone deals – There is a huge selection of contract phones to choose from on iD Mobile, which includes refurbished phones as well as brand new ones. You'll find handsets from Alcatel, Apple, Doro, Google, Honor, Huawei, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony, although at the time of writing, iD won't sell you a Huawei or (Huawei's sub-brand) Honor phone due to a dispute with Google involving use of the Android operating system
- SIM-free new and refurbished phones – You can buy handsets outright from iD Mobile, both new and refurbished. Refurbished phones are factory renewed handsets that are exactly as good as new phones but will often cost you significantly less
- SIM-only deals – You'll find a wide variety of SIM-only deals on iD Mobile, if you're already happy with the phone you have
- Pay as you go SIMs – Yep, you can get free pay as you go SIMs with iD Mobile, at competitive rates
Roaming specifically refers to taking your phone abroad and is not to be confused with phoning abroad from the UK. Depending on where you are visiting, what you are charged for making calls and using data can vary wildly – anything from nothing at all in 'roam like you are home' mainly EU countries, to potentially hundreds or even thousands of pounds in more remote locales.
iD roaming offers two 'bands' of countries. In band one, you will be able to use your services at no additional cost. Countries in band one are: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus (South), Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guinea, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Réunion, Romania, Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts), Saint-Martin, Sam Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Vatican city.
In band two, you can roam like you are home, but you can only call or text the UK, or other phones in the country you are in. Anything other will incur standard roaming charges for that country. Band two is comprised of only Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Macedonia. For other destinations you should check what the costs are going to be with iD Mobile prior to travelling.
How good is iD Mobile’s network?
ID Mobile doesn't actually own its own mobile network. There are only four providers that have their own network in the UK – four networks. They are Three, O2, Vodafone and EE. The other dozen or so providers – many more if you include the piddly little ones – all 'piggyback' (rent capacity) from one of these four networks. ID Mobile is on the Three network.
Three won't break any records for its 4G download speeds. It comes in third, in front of O2, but behind EE and Vodafone, and offers average download speeds of 18.78Mbps. Your actual experience will of course vary wildly, depending on where you are and what you are doing. Three's coverage is good, but not quite as good as EE's. Three covers more than 99% of the UK population.
What are the alternatives?
Of course, iD Mobile is far from the only game in town. Depending on what you're after, there are a whole host of other providers, offering various products at varying price points. We can't possibly cover it all here, but this quick rundown of what is offered by some of these other providers may help point you in the right direction if you still haven't set your heart on a particular provider.
- ASDA Mobile – Offers pay as you go SIMs only, but you can use your top-up to buy bundles which offer better value on minutes, data and texts, but expire after 30 days. ASDA Mobile is on the EE Network
- BT Mobile – Offers everything under the sun with some sweeteners for those who are also BT broadband and TV customers. It operates on the EE Network
- EE – Is the largest of the four UK network providers and as you might expect offers pretty much everything. EE operates on its own network
- giffgaff – Distinguishes itseld through its community-led customer service. This keeps down costs and means giffgaff often offers some of the cheapest deals. It operates on the O2 network
- O2 – Is another of the UL's four network providers. It offers the slowest data speeds, but don't let that put you off necessarily. All four networks are fast enough. O2 operates on its own network, naturally
- Plusnet Mobile – Offers only SIM-only deals and nothing else. You'll not find a huge range either, and data limits are fairly low compared to the wider market. It is incredibly cheap, though. Plusnet Mobile operate on the EE network
- Sky Mobile – Is kind of terrible value for money, especially on its SIM-only deals. You can make the proposition a little better if you are a Sky broadband and/or TV customer, but with a narrow range of handsets and SIMs that are far from generous, we don't recommend Sky Mobile highly. It operates on the O2 network
- SMARTY – Is a sub-brand of Three. It operates on Three's network, offers only SIMs and focuses heavily on keeping its prices as low as possible
- Tesco Mobile – Offers everything under the sun and at competitive prices. It operates on the O2 network
- Three – Another of the UK's four major network providers, Three is the only one to offer unlimited data on its SIM and handset deals. You'll have to pay for it by selecting it (usually the most expensive), but it's there. Three operates on its own network
- Virgin Mobile – Operates on the EE network. As well as handsets and SIMs, Virgin Mobile also (like Three) offers unlimited data. There's a catch, though – you have to be a Virgin Media broadband and/or TV customer to get it
- Vodafone – Another of the UK's four network providers, Vodafone offers everything including the kitchen sink. It operates on its own network
Frequently asked questions
What network does iD Mobile use?
ID Mobile is on the O2 network, meaning it shares coverage and data speeds with O2. It is still classed as a separate provider, however, and iD Mobile SIMs will not work in O2-locked phones and vice versa.
Does iD Mobile do wifi calling?
Yes. You can switch this option on if you are about the house in spots where mast reception is poor and your wifi signal is strong. Very handy.
Can I pay monthly for a SIM-free phone on iD Mobile?
No. You can only get a contract phone from iD Mobile with an iD Mobile SIM includes, which will also be tied into the contract. You can, however, buy handsets outright, both new and refurbished, from iD Mobile.
What coverage does iD Mobile have?
Being that iD Mobile is on the O2 network, its coverage footprint is identical to O2's. O2 currently covers more than 99% of the UK population.
Is iD Mobile legit?
Absolutely. It's a part of The Carphone Warehouse and has been going strong since 2014, with a lot of positive feedback and buzz from its customers across those years.
Does iD Mobile offer early upgrades?
No. You will need to be entering the final month of your existing iD Mobile plan in order to qualify for a handset upgrade. You can also upgrade to a handset deal if you've been SIM-only with iD for six months or more.
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