Sky Mobile deals – what you need to know
By Dan Howdle | Friday, May 24th 2019
In this guide
Sky, a company known primarily for its satellite TV service, and then perhaps its broadband, began dipping its toe into the mobile market in 2017, offering SIM-only deals to Sky customers primarily. Sky Mobile does not operate its own network, but rather piggybacks on the O2 network.
Since 2017, Sky Mobile has blossomed into a fully fledged provider, offering contract handset, SIM-only, data only and even contract tablet deals. And you don't even have to be an existing Sky customer. Let's take a look in a bit more depth.
Who is Sky Mobile?
Sky Mobile has named its defining selling points as a series of not entirely clear single-word 'brands': Roll, Watch, Swap, Watch and Mix. Rather than go digging through Sky Mobile's website to find out what these mean exactly, we've boiled them down into a series of features that we feel are much easier to understand.
This is what you'll get with a Sky Mobile deal.
- Data rollover – In essence, data you don't use can be rolled over in 1GB increments to the following month and be stored in a data 'piggybank' for up to three years. Theoretically, this means that if you accrue a decent amount of excess data you can reduce your monthly tariff using Sky's 'Mix' feature, which allows you to adjust your allowances every 30 days
- Remix your minutes, data and texts – 'Mix' as Sky Mobile laconically puts it, describes the ability to alter your usage allowances from one month to the next. It sounds like a lot of faff if you ask us, but you might have a good use for it we havn't thought of
- Benefits for existing customers – Some Sky Mobile SIM deals have additional or doubled data if you happen to be a Sky TV and/or broadband customer. To be absolutely honest, though, even with doubled data, Sky Mobile SIMs are still on the pricey side
- Upgrade every 12 months – Sky calls this 'Swap'. When you sign up you choose either Swap12 or Swap24. With Swap24 you will have paid for your handset by the end of the contract and are free to upgrade to a new one as normal. With Swap12, though, you can upgrade every year. Sky will buy your old handset from you and credit whatever it's worth to the hire-purchase loan on your next phone – your monthly repayments will then be worked out accordingly on your new contract
- Unlimited Sky Go streaming – Provided you are a Sky TV customer, you can stream Sky TV using the Sky Go app without using any of your data allowance
What does Sky Mobile offer?
Sky Mobile offers contract phones from a small-ish selection of popular manufacturers – it has the main bases covered, basically. On top of that it offers a (also small) range of SIM-only deals with bonus data for Sky TV and broadband customers.
- Pay monthly phone deals – Sky offers a wide range of handsets, both new and refurbished, from a small group of manufacturers: Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Google and Sony. All handsets are available on either Swap12 or Swap24 terms (see above for definition). All Sky Mobile handsets are contracted – it won't sell you one outright
- SIM-only deals – Sky Mobile only offers a handful of SIM-only deals, some with double data if you're already a Sky TV and/or broadband customer. You won't find any particularly high mobile data allowances on Sky, though. So if you eat a lot of data each month, you might want to look elsewhere
- Pay as you go – Sky Mobile does not offer any PAYG SIMs at the time of writing
- Data only SIMs – Sky Mobile does not offer any data-only SIMs at the time of writing. However, it does offer some contract tablets, where the data-only SIM comes as part of the deal
- Contract tablets – Sky Mobile offers a good selection of contract tablets from Apple and Samsung
Roaming on Sky Mobile
There are a number of European countries you can travel to on Sky Mobile, where you will be okay to use your call, data and text allowances as you would at home with no additional charges.
They are Austria, Azores (Portugal), Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia Cyprus (excluding Northern Cyprus), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland (Republic of), Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira (Portugal), Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
You can also add something called 'Roaming Passport Plus', which will allow you to use your minutes, texts and data as you would at home for 24 hours, for a flat fee – around £6 at the time of writing. Countries included in Roaming Passport Plus are USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Qatar, Switzerland, Thailand, Hong Kong, Christmas Islands and Cocos Islands, and Turkey.
For other destination, you will need to check what the situation is before departing. Sky Mobile will also allow you to add a roaming spend cap, meaning you will not be able to accidentally spend over a set amount.
How good is Sky Mobile’s network
Despite a very long list of UK mobile providers, there are actually only four network providers. Network providers are companies who do everything other providers do, but also own and maintain their own physical UK mobile network. They are: Three, O2, EE and Vodafone. As for everyone else, they piggyback (lease space) on one of these four networks.
Sky Mobile is on the O2 network. As such, the data speeds and network coverage match O2's own. A ccording to a 2018 report Opensignal, the O2 4G network is actually the slowest of the four when it comes to download speeds, offering average real-world download speeds of 14.61Mbps. Three fares better with an average of 18.78Mbps, Vodafone better still at 21.92Mbps, and EE is the clear winner with average download speeds of 28.9Mbps.
What are the alternatives?
We're not trying to change your mind if you've got your heart set on a deal from Sky Mobile – we're sure you'll have a fine time as a customer. However, to be absolutely fair to you, you should be aware that Sky Mobile deals are generally neither the best or the cheapest available. At the time of writing, our appraisal is that compared to the rest of the market they are on the expensive side, in fact.
It's worth knowing then what else is available. Here are the UK's other main mobile providers along with a short description of which network they use and what each offers.
- ASDA Mobile – Is a PAYG-only provider, offering SIMs (and some budget phones) you can top up as you need, and bundles of minutes, data and texts you can buy using top-up, and which offer better value but with a 30-day expiry. ASDA Mobile is on the EE network
- BT Mobile – Offers a wide range of contract handsets and SIM-only deals, which you can bundle in with broadband and TV if you choose. It operates on the EE network
- EE – Is one of the four UK network providers. It operates, therefore, on its own network. It offers a vast range of contract handsets and tablets, as well as SIM-only and PAYG SIM deals
- giffgaff – Is owned by O2 and so operates on O2's network. It's unique in that its customer services are run by its community, which translates to cheaper deals for you. Giffgaff customers love giffgaff. It offers a wide range of handsets, SIM-only and
- iD Mobile – Is the in-house brand of the The Carphone Warehouse, and offers a wide rage of contract handsets and tablets, as well as SIM-only deals
- O2 – Operates on its own network, and as with all four physical network providers, offers a vast range of devices and SIMs
- Plusnet Mobile – Only offers SIM-only deals, but at very attractive rates. You won't get huge data allowances on Plusnet Mobile, but you will get a lot for what you pay. Plusnet Mobile operates on the EE network
- SMARTY – Is owned by Three and so operates on its network. You might call SMARTY a 'sub-brand' of Three, as what it offers has some similarities, albeit a bit cheaper, and it only offers SIM-only
- Tesco Mobile – Operates on the O2 network and offers a huge range of contracts handsets and tablets, as well as SIM-only and PAYG options
- Three – Another of the UK's four network providers, Three operates therefore on its own network. As with the other three network providers, it offers anything and everything you can think of. Three (and SMARTY, which is also Three by another name) is the only provider to offer deals with unlimited mobile data without any provisos
- Virgin Mobile – Operates on the EE network and offers contract handsets and SIM-only deals which, if you're also a Virgin Media broadband and/or TV customer will come with unlimited data
- Vodafone – The last of the four mobile network providers in this list and much like the others there is nothing you cannot get from Vodafone
Frequently asked questions
What network does Sky Mobile use?
Sky Mobile is on the O2 network, meaning its data speeds and coverage/signal availability will match exactly with O2's. If you want to check whether you are likely to get a good signal where you live and/or work, you can use O2's signal map, found on its website.
Do Sky Mobile do SIM only?
No, there are no SIM-only deals on Sky Mobile.
Do I need to be a Sky customer to get Sky Mobile?
No. Sky Mobile operates completely independently of Sky TV and Sky Broadband. However, it does offer double data on some deals if you are already a Sky TV and/or broadband customer.
Is Sky Go free with Sky Mobile?
Sky Go is free if you are a Sky TV customer. You cannot access Sky Go unless you have a Sky TV subscription. However, if you do have one, watching content on your mobile with Sky Go won't use up any of your data allowance.
Why do Sky Mobile Piggyback?
Because it doesn't own its own physical network. A network consists of masts as well as the underlying fibre cables that connect it all. Most providers piggyback onto one of the four UK networks. Sky piggybacks on O2.
Does Sky Mobile have wifi calling?
Yes, it does. Although it is not available on every single device that Sky Mobile offers. You can do wifi calling on Samsung Galaxy models and Sony Xperia models. Sky Mobile is currently working to add compatibility to other models.
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