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Tesco Mobile SIM-only review

If you’re happy with your current handset and just want a new data, minutes and texts package, Tesco Mobile offers a range of SIM-only deals on contracts ranging from 30 days to 18 months.

Tesco Mobile uses O2’s network, which provides wide coverage across the UK. You can cap your contract, so you don’t get hit with a big bill, and you also earn Clubcard points on what you spend.

Cable.co.uk overall rating
2.6

Tesco Mobile’s 4G-ready SIM-only plans are not particularly cheap when compared to similar deals with other providers, and they are short on extra features too. Contracts can be capped and controlled so you don’t overspend, and you can earn Clubcard points on your bill. If you’re after a lot of data, however, it might be cheaper to look elsewhere.

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Coverage & data speed

Rating

3

Tesco Mobile’s speed and coverage should be similar to O2’s as it uses O2’s network. The most recent Ofcom research found that O2’s 3G coverage reaches 98% of all UK premises, with its 4G coverage reaching 97%. Both figures are impressive, but neither of them are the most comprehensive in the market, so use Tesco Mobile’s coverage checker page to see if you are covered. 3G is the older technology, carrying data, texts and calls, while the faster 4G networks are essential for users who need high data speeds.

Ofcom has also released a report on what speed you can expect over a 3G and 4G connection with O2. Tesco Mobile is carried over the O2 network, but its speed might differ from that experienced by O2 customers. The report says you should receive on average 5Mbps on 3G, which is enough to browse, send emails and keep in touch on social media, and 18Mbps on 4G, which is enough to stream videos and music without too much interruption and buffering.

3G coverage
98%*
4G coverage
97%*
Average 3G speed*
5Mbps*
Average 4G speed*
18Mbps*
Call allowance
250 minutes - 5,000 minutes
Text allowance
5,000
Data allowance
none - 20GB
Minimum contract
30 days
*Tesco Mobile runs on O2’s mobile network, so coverage and speed figures are taken from Ofcom results for O2
Prices from
3G coverage 98%*
4G coverage 97%*
Average 3G speed* 5Mbps*
Average 4G speed* 18Mbps*
Call allowance 250 minutes - 5,000 minutes
Text allowance 5,000
Data allowance none - 20GB
Minimum contract 30 days
Prices from £7.50 per month
*Tesco Mobile runs on O2’s mobile network, so coverage and speed figures are taken from Ofcom results for O2
Info

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Data usage

Rating

2

Tesco Mobile has SIM-only plans that offer between 500MB and 20GB of data. You can also choose a plan without data. How much data you need depends on how frequently you connect to the internet from your phone. Over the course of a month, 500MB will only really be enough to infrequently browse the internet, connect to friends on social media and send emails. With 20GB, you’ll be able to do much more, like stream videos and download apps and music.

Tesco Mobile lets you include a safety buffer on your plan. This means you’ll never exceed your data, minute or text allowance, so there won’t be any nasty surprises. Tesco Mobile will text you when you near your limit.

Calls & texts

Rating

4

All Tesco Mobile’s SIM-only deals come with 5,000 texts and between 250 and 5,000 minutes. You have the opportunity to cap your contract when you sign up, which will prevent you from inadvertently spending over your contract’s texts and minute allowance.

Your monthly allowance includes calls to standard UK mobile and landline, listening to voicemail and calling customer care. It does not cover picture messages, calls to non-geographical numbers and video calling. If you go outside your allowance, you’ll be charged 25p per minute for calls, 10p per text and 10p per MB downloaded.

Extra features

Rating

2

Tesco customers can download the Tesco Mobile app, which lets you keep track of how far through your usage allowance you are, check your bill and manage your account. The app can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Android Marketplace.

If you’re a Tesco Clubcard user, you can earn Clubcard points on every pound you spend on your mobile bill. These points can be exchanged for money-saving vouchers for use in-store or online. You need to register your Clubcard to your Tesco Mobile account before you can start earning.

Value for money

Rating

2

Tesco Mobile’s SIM-only plans are not the cheapest on the market compared to the likes of Giffgaff or Virgin Mobile. If you’re after a lot of data, there are cheaper packages to choose from, such as Three’s all-you-can-eat data SIM-only plan.

There isn’t a great deal of added value with Tesco Mobile’s extra features. An app that lets you manage your account and extra Clubcard points, while nice, doesn’t add the same amount of value as a free Netflix membership or access to a public wi-fi network, as offered by EE and Vodafone.

Overall Rating

2.6

Tesco Mobile offers 4G-ready SIM-only plans that come with 5,000 texts and a choice of minutes and data on either 30-day, 12-month or 18-month contracts. It uses O2’s mobile network, so coverage is good throughout the UK. When compared to other mobile providers, Tesco Mobile is expensive, and doesn’t have much in the way of extras to back the cost up. If you want something simple that you can control, and don’t want a huge amount of data, this might be the provider for you.

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