The benefits of being with O2 over any other provider are perhaps somewhat more subtle than some of the competition. You need to dig into the small print to unearth the mosaic of handy little extras O2 offers. Oh, actually, wait… we’ve done it for you.
We categorise O2’s range of handsets as perhaps the most sensible of any provider. Sensible? What does that mean exactly? It means that yes, O2 caters well to the top and premium market, offering flagship phones from the likes of Sony, Apple and Samsung – that’s practically a given.
It means that yes, it also features both mid-tier and budget handsets – budget being a relative term these days – both from those providers and others. And yes, it will also supply you with a premium phone from a couple of years back at a discount price through its refurb store.
What we consider particularly sensible about O2’s range, however, is its inclusion of Android handsets from Chinese manufacturers Huawei and OnePlus, whose flagship models easily rival (and in some instances surpass) the handsets of Apple, Samsung and so on, albeit they tend to be considerably cheaper. They are a rare case of more for less, which is why their inclusion in O2’s line-up is sensible.
All O2 Refresh tariffs (available on all Pay Monthly devices) bought on or after 22 March 2018 are flexible. This means you can change your airtime tariff up or down, once every month. Once you’ve had your new device for 30 days, you’ll be able to move between the other tariffs that were available on your phone when you bought it. Simply sign in to your account on ‘My O2’ and choose the tariff you want to move to.
If you move to a lower tariff, you could lose some of your benefits – even if you move back to a higher tariff later. This means you may no longer be eligible for the Yearly Upgrade Programme, Free Screen Replacement or Loss and Theft Cover, if they apply to your account.
This could come in handy if, for example, you wanted to up your limits during holiday time when you know you’re going to be using your phone more, and then reduce it again once you’re back at work and using it less.
O2 offers custom plans so you can choose how much you want to pay upfront and spread the cost of your monthly bill. This is a great option if you like having the latest and greatest device, because you can pay a lump sum of the cost upfront and spread the remainder of the device cost over your monthly payments.
Many providers offer new phone plans with set upfront costs and the rest spread over monthly payments anyway, but O2 lets you choose exactly how you want to split the payments. You can choose to spread the balance for up to 36 months to keep the cost down – or choose as little as three months if you want to pay it off quicker. O2’s custom plans can also be tweaked each month because they include the ‘refresh’ feature, allowing you to flex your limits up or down, depending on your monthly usage.
O2 offers ‘mates rates’ with their Multisave Plans, giving pay monthly customers 20% off the Airtime Plan of every new eligible pay monthly connection you add to your account, with up to 20 connections.
You can save on the latest phones by adding a new device to your Multisave plan, and save 20% on airtime.
Multisave discounts only apply to existing Pay Monthly or sim only tariffs that aren’t already discounted, or part of another promotion.
These types of deals are available from multiple providers these days, whereas in the past providers tended to offer free network-to-same-network calling. With the copious free minutes included in your average mobile deal these days, this is now the better way to go.
O2 Priority is a service exclusively for O2 customers. Priority is a nice bonus feature of being an O2 customer and brings customers great offers from high street brands, tickets and experiences, as well as access to the best in entertainment. You can get early access to tickets for thousands of gigs and events across the UK, discounts, free coffee and more. There’s also a free app for quick and easy access to Priority whenever you like.
There pretty much aren’t any kids over the age of 10-11 who don’t have a mobile these days. Thinking about this positively, the proliferation of the technology among youngsters has allowed parents unprecedented peace of mind on the one hand. Your child or children are never more than a text away.
But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows out there. There are both those who seek to abuse the communications boom as well as dark corners of the internet that you almost certainly don’t want your kids frequenting. Parental controls, then, have become a vital part of the way we use your mobiles as a family.
O2 is especially committed to online safety for our kids. It provides a complete suite of parental controls on all its mobiles and SIMs, and works with the NSPCC to provide a wealth of online advice on everything from parental controls to cyberbullying and its prevention.
O2 recently consolidated its somewhat confusing range of apps, saving customers time and phone storage space with its successor, the My O2 app. The free My O2 app allows you to track your phone usage, upgrade, check your bills, manage your account (including changing your flexible tariff up and down), access Priority and more. There is a standalone O2 Priority app as well but you can access Priority benefits from the My O2 app.
The ‘O2 Priority’ app is a bit like Three’s Wuntu app – over time you accumulate rewards and these are presented to you in the form of special offers – discounts and such. These do tend to amount to an invitation to buy something (advertising), but the feeling of getting something for free or with money off is present and correct nonetheless.
O2 certainly doesn’t have the most sprawling or well-populated Wi-Fi network of all the providers. BT Mobile offers five million hotspots nationwide (so you don’t have to use your mobile data allowance when you’re within range). Virgin Mobile offers two million. So you’ll probably be less than impressed with O2’s 16,000 or so.
But it’s worth bearing in mind that by far the majority of providers has no wi-fi hotspots at all, so compared with nothing at all, 16,000 is positively stratospheric. If this is a feature that matters to you, you can check whether there are hotspots where you need them using O2’s website.
O2 loves loyalty and offers generous discounts on its ‘pay monthly’ tariffs if you add other customers to your plan—great for family and friends. Text LOYALTY to 21500 from your new number, within 28 days and you'll get a discount on any new qualifying plans. O2 also has its Priority service for discounts, prizes and other benefits, exclusively available to O2 customers.
You'll be able to upgrade your O2 device for free if you've already paid off your Device Plan, or your contract has come to an end. If you're on O2 Refresh, you can pay off the rest of your Device Plan and upgrade whenever you like. You don’t even need to pay anything upfront for your new device. And if you're on a standard contract, you might be able to pay a fee to upgrade early, if your contract hasn't come to an end yet.
It's almost always cheaper in the long run to buy a phone outright and take out a SIM-only deal. However, because of the way O2's Refresh contracts work, they're actually not that much more expensive than going SIM-only. With O2 Refresh your bill is automatically lowered when you’ve paid off your phone. So you won’t pay for a phone you already own.