Dan Howdle | Updated May 18th, 2022
BT is now a major player in the mobile world, offering contract deals for handsets, SIM-only deals and regular discounts for existing BT broadband customers. It operates over the EE network, which BT actually owns but continues to run as a separate brand, and comes with access to millions of free BT wifi hotspots. So how does it fare against the competition?
A lot has changed since BT first told us that it’s good to talk. Landlines are just sat gathering dust while people chat, text, browse and stream on their mobiles. BT now wants us to be doing all those things on its network and offers a range of tariffs on contract, SIM-only deals, tablets, the lot. Let's take a look.
BT offers a range of contract and SIM-only deals, but you have to be a broadband customer to get its cheapest prices. At the time of writing, BT broadband customers automatically get a £5 discount each month on BT Mobile SIM deals and this situation has now persisted for over three years.
BT has a wide range of data offerings, but strangely there is still no unlimited option. That is odd these days since most providers do offer one – it is rapidly becoming the norm. However, all contracts and SIM-only deals do come with unlimited minutes and texts.
The lowest data plan comes with just 1GB of data. The plans become more interesting on the higher levels, as you get free BT Sport through the BT app. This gives you access to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa league matches, plus top games from the Premier League and FA Cup to watch solely on your phone – for which you will need a sizeable amount of data. 100GB is the top data cap for BT Mobile at the time of writing.
BT's SIM-only plans all come on either a 12-month contract or a 24-month contract – there are no 30-day options on offer. There are several data options available, ranging from minimal to generous, which should cover the requirements of most customers. The 24-month contracts work out cheaper than the 12-months ones.
The BT Family SIM is a money-saving scheme whereby if more than one member of your household is using BT Mobile, you can claim a 20% discount on each additional SIM. Plus, while the first Family SIM has a 12-month contract, any extras are on 30-day rolling plans, so you can cancel or chop and change at any time without penalty. (However, note that if you want BT Sport on a SIM-only deal you would need to purchase a monthly add-on.)
BT only offers a very small selection of phones, and does not unfortunately offer the absolute latest handsets from market leaders Samsung and Apple. Other brands on offer include Google and Oppo. BT only offers a choice of three data options with any handset - small, medium or large. All the handset deals come on a 24-month contract.
If you’re not fussed about getting the latest handset or you are happy with a more basic phone like the Doro 8050, then this won’t be a problem.
Industry regulator Ofcom’s latest report reveals that 3% of BT Mobile customers had a reason to complain, and there were just 21 complaints about the provider to Ofcom out of 100,000 subscribers. This sits favourably against Virgin Mobile, with 27, and Vodafone, with 26.
If you do have concerns, you can call BT customer service on 0800 800 150 Monday to Friday 8am-9pm or 8am-8pm at weekends. BT no longer offers live chat on its website, but you can get in touch on social media via Twitter and Facebook. Alternatively you can use the BT Community forum to get answers to any problems you might have.
BT offers good value with unlimited minutes and texts included with all its deals. The vast majority of its handset contracts come with zero upfront costs, but it isn’t necessarily the cheapest network for a contract, especially if you're not a BT broadband and phone customer and entitled to £5 off per month.
It can offer good value on its SIM only deals. If you are on a Family SIM plan, the more you buy, the more you save. Plus, with certain offers, if you aren’t happy with a SIM-only or Family SIM plan within the first 30 days, BT says it will give your money back.
The network does offer some interesting extras that provide added value such as BT Sport on its app for users on data deals of 25GB or above, unlimited internet access at any of its five million wi-fi hotspots, as well as parental controls, and occasionally, free extra data.
BT owns and uses the EE network, giving customers the widest 5G coverage in the UK. You can use the BT Mobile postcode checker to see the type of signal you will get in your area and the strength of the coverage. BT lets you search for a postcode or place and see how well it is covered both indoors and outdoors. BT offers 99% coverage with its 4G service, so if you aren’t in a 5G area yet, you can be almost guaranteed to receive 4G.
The checker will both describe and show on a map the network coverage for 3G, 4G and 5G in your area. You can also choose to zoom out and see what coverage is like beyond your immediate area and elsewhere across the country.
BT Mobile offers a modest selection of handsets on contract and SIM-only deals and customers benefit from unlimited calls and minutes. The lack of unlimited data deals is a bit of a let-down in 2021, and you need to be a broadband customer to get the cheapest rates, but there are still decent packages on offer. It's also a cheaper way of getting BT Sport, which is thrown in on the bigger data deals, along with access to wi-fi hotspots.
The biggest savings can be made on the SIM-only deals. If you have a handset already or are buying one from elsewhere, you could save money by just purchasing a SIM, and the savings increase with the more that you buy with the Family SIM scheme. SIM-only customers don’t get BT Sport automatically on anything below a 25GB data limit, but you still get the unlimited BT Wi-fi on the move.
You should be assured of a decent 4G or even 5G phone signal as BT uses EE’s extensive network, and seeing as both are now part of the same brand, they should be able to work together nicely.