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BT Mobile SIM-only review

BT Mobile has three SIM-only plans. They all come with unlimited texts, unlimited use of public wi-fi, and the BT Sport app. You’ll also get a discount if you’re an existing BT broadband customer.

The SIM-only plans all come on 12-month contracts. This means you won’t be free to leave and switch to another provider until a year has passed, and if you do attempt to leave, you’ll have to pay cancellation charges. Here’s everything you need to know about BT’s new mobile service.

Cable.co.uk overall rating
4

All plans are competitively priced and become good value once the £5 discount for BT broadband customers is applied. Only 12-month contracts are available, and call allowances are low. You get the BT Sport app for free and you can connect to any BT wi-fi hotspot without charge.

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Coverage & data speed

Rating

4

BT Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO. Rather than operate its own network, an MVNO uses the infrastructure of another provider; in this case, the network is EE. By using EE's network, BT Mobile can boast around 98% coverage of the UK population with its 3G service, and around 99% with its 4G service.

Both 3G and 4G provide mobile internet to your phone, but on 4G, your internet speed will be faster. This makes it a good choice for watching online videos, downloading games, and general web browsing. All BT Mobile plans are 4G as standard, but will automatically revert to 3G if you leave the 4G signal area.

As BT Mobile is a relatively fresh face on the MVNO scene, there’s no hard data about the internet speed you should expect. However, by looking at the average speeds of EE, you can get a good approximation. EE’s average 4G speed is 33Mbps. Its average 3G speed is 7Mbps. This is faster than the average 4G speeds of many other providers.

3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
99%
Average 3G speed*
7Mbps*
Average 4G speed*
33Mbps*
Call allowance
200 – unlimited
Text allowance
Unlimited
Data allowance
500MB – 15GB
Minimum contract
12 months
*According to Ofcom findings for EE
Prices from
3G coverage 98%
4G coverage 99%
Average 3G speed* 7Mbps*
Average 4G speed* 33Mbps*
Call allowance 200 – unlimited
Text allowance Unlimited
Data allowance 500MB – 15GB
Minimum contract 12 months
Prices from £5 per month
*According to Ofcom findings for EE
Info

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Data usage

Rating

4

There are three SIM-only plans with BT Mobile, each with a different data allowance. The cheapest plan comes with 500MB of mobile data. The most expensive plan comes with 15GB. If you surpass these allowances, you will be charged 10p per extra megabyte (MB) used.

To prevent these extra charges from getting out of hand, BT automatically implements a £100 over-usage cap. If this is too high, you can manually lower this cap to £5 through your online account. This way, if you go over your allowances, you won’t be charged too much.

You can also connect to any BT public wi-fi hotspot to make these allowances last longer. Over five million of these hotspots are dotted around the UK, and they can often be found in cafes, restaurants, city centres, and bars. You can connect to these for free with your BT Mobile.

You can’t share your mobile internet service with any other device (this is known as tethering). You can only use your SIM-only plan’s data allowance on your smartphone.

Calls & texts

Rating

3

The inclusive minutes allowances are fairly limited on two of BT Mobile’s SIM-only deals, clocking in at 200 and 500 minutes respectively. The top-tier plan comes with unlimited minutes, making it a better choice if you regularly make phone calls on your handset. If you surpass your calls allowances, you’ll be charged 35p per minute when making a call.

While the calls allowances are fairly miserly, the text allowances are anything but. On all BT Mobile deals you can send an unlimited amount of text messages to UK mobiles.

All calls to BT customer care are free, as are all calls to numbers starting with 0800, 0808, and 0500. You also won’t be charged for any calls made to BT’s voicemail service.

Extra features

Rating

5

BT Mobile is ripe with extra features. One of the main benefits is free use of BT’s public wi-fi network, which consists of over five million hotspots around the UK. If you’re within range, you can connect your smartphone to any of these hotspots and start using the internet for free.

If you don't already have BT Sport with BT Broadband or BT TV, you can get it with BT Mobile. You can download the app from the Apple App Store (if you own an iPhone) or via the Google Play Store if you have an Android-based smartphone (you can find out what kind of phone you have by checking its settings). You’ll get one channel for free (BT Sport 1) to watch on your smartphone at any time, or can get the full channel pack (including BT Sport 2, BT Sport Europe and ESPN) for an extra £5 per month. Bear in mind that if you’re watching over a 3G or 4G connection, watching BT Sport will eat into your data allowance, so try to watch it over wi-fi, if possible.

Through your online account, you can set up parental controls and activate spending caps. And if you’re an existing BT Broadband customer, you get £5 off the monthly cost of your mobile plan.

Value for money

Rating

4

BT Mobile’s SIM-only plans are fairly average in terms of price. You get about the same allowances from other providers for around the same monthly cost. Some providers give you a little more, others a little less. However, once you apply the £5 discount for existing BT broadband customers, the plans become considerably cheaper, and, as a result, better value for money.

You can have up to five separate BT Mobile plans within a single household, none of which have to be held by the bill payer. As long as you have BT broadband within your household, everyone can take advantage of the £5 discount.

All plans use 4G for a fast mobile internet connection. There is no extra charge for this, which pushes BT Mobile ahead of those providers that do charge extra for 4G (such as Vodafone and giffgaff, for example). You need to be in a 4G area to use 4G, and your smartphone needs to be 4G-compatible.

Overall Rating

4

BT Mobile, while primarily angled towards existing BT broadband customers, has a few features that will be of interest to many people looking for a mobile plan. Access to BT Sport will appeal if you’re looking for a sporting fix, and the freedom to connect to any BT wi-fi hotspot will help keep data use down. However, the 12-month contract and the low calls allowances on two of the plans may put you off.

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