By Dan Howdle | Friday, February 14th 2020
iD Mobile was launched by Dixons Carphone in 2014 with a promise to solve common frustrations with other mobile operators by offering cheap, flexible 4G services on the Three network.
It has since developed a reputation for value and flexibility, offering a range of pay monthly, SIM-only and pay-as-you-go tariffs. Powered by the resources and reach of its parent company, iD is now one of the most influential mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the UK, offering a genuine alternative to the big four operators, and services from Sky and Virgin Media. But is iD Mobile right for you?
iD Mobile offers a range of pay monthly, SIM-only and pay-as-you-go plans, so it has the whole of the mobile spectrum (pun intended) covered. Data allowances start from as little as 250MB and go up to deals with unlimited data. These come with various configurations of minutes and texts.
Most pay monthly deals with a handset will tie you down to a 24-month contract, but SIM-only deals are available on a rolling monthly basis. This means you don’t have to commit to a full year to get the best prices.
All iD plans come with data rollover, which means that if you have any unused allowance at the end of the month, you can use it in the following month. This data is used up first and you have the entire month to consume it all. Additionally, you can also set a cap on your monthly spend, so there’s no prospect of bill shock if you go above your allowance.
If you want a phone, then iD has a wide range of handsets to go with your SIM card, including devices from most major manufacturers such as Apple, Google, Huawei, LG, Nokia, Samsung and Sony. There are plenty of budget choices to keep the cost of your contract down. Some are available without an upfront cost.
In terms of high-end smartphones, there’s a good selection. The most recent iPhones, Galaxys and Pixels are all present and correct.
If you’re looking for something even cheaper, then iD also offers refurbished phones. The downside is that this tends to be restricted to older devices.
iD Mobile has a live online chat service running between 9am and 8pm during the week and between 9am and 6pm on weekends and bank holidays. If that’s not your bag, then you can ring them up during the same hours. Like most other operators, there is a database of frequently asked questions (FAQ) that might solve your issue before you need to make contact.
iD Mobile is not covered by regulator Ofcom’s regular complaints bulletins, so there’s not much in the way of impartial evidence, although host network Three has a below-average number of grievances.
Online reviews should always be taken with a healthy dose of scepticism because people tend to report negative experiences more frequently than positive, but according to TrustPilot, the main issue with iD tends to be coverage, which of course depends on your location.
In terms of base cost, iD Mobile is excellent value for money as it has some of the cheapest, most flexible SIM-only plans in the UK. Its handset deals may not offer the same level of freedom because of the 24-month minimum term, but the monthly cost compares favourably with the competition.
But iD Mobile’s ‘no-frills’ attitude does mean its plans are comparatively spartan. There’s no loyalty app, streaming offers or free content to sweeten the deal, so when you’re comparing an iD tariff to one from another network it’s important to remember what you might be giving up.
Roaming is limited to the EU and a few bonus countries (Kazakhstan anyone?) outside the bloc, so there are better-value options if you plan to use your phone further afield.
iD Mobile uses Three’s mobile infrastructure to power its network, so you’ll benefit from all the investment made in recent years. Three’s 3G and 4G networks cover 98.5 percent of the UK population and the operator has been rolling out new spectrum over the past few years to spread coverage, especially indoors. At the time of writing at the start of 2020, you won't get any 5G signal from iD Mobile, and yet it is selling 5G phones. That's likely to change soon, but it's just something to keep in mind if that's a consideration for you.
Three was the last UK operator to launch 4G, but it has made significant strides in the past few years as demonstrated by its performance in independent tests.
According to the most recent tests from benchmark firm RootMetrics Three ranks number 2 in the UK behind EE for overall performance and second in the reliability, data and text categories. It is joint first in the call category, but its speeds trail behind both EE and Vodafone.
iD Mobile does offer 4G calling if you have a compatible handset. 4G Calling offers superior call quality, uses less battery life and can make it easier to make and receive calls indoors because 4G networks use low-level, high-range spectrum that can penetrate buildings and walls far more easily.
If you’re looking for a cheap contract, then there are few better places to go than iD Mobile. Its cheapest offers are hard to beat from a financial perspective, and Three’s network has massively improved over the past few years. The 30-day SIM-only deals mean it's possible to take a punt without any risk. Just bear in mind there's no 5G yet and you won't find any SIM deals with a contract.