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Virgin Mobile SIM-only review

Virgin Mobile has 4G SIM-only deals on 30-day contracts only. Prices are competitive and all plans include unlimited text messages.

With the introduction of 4G, Virgin has now joined the other mobile providers and competes on a level footing. With perks such as free messaging and wi-fi hotspots, will Virgin Mobile suit you? We’ve looked at all the details so you can decide.

Cable.co.uk overall rating
4.4

Virgin Mobile’s average 4G download speed is a rapid 25Mbps, but there’s a blanket ban on tethering. However, the Virgin Mobile tariffs are reasonable and customer service is above average.

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Coverage & data speed

Rating

4

Virgin Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator, which means it uses another provider’s network to carry its calls, texts, and data. Virgin piggybacks on EE’s network, which covers around 98% of UK homes and businesses. The Virgin Mobile coverage map shows if you can get a signal where you are.

Virgin Mobile deals all come with 4G. Both 3G and 4G let you get online with your smartphone, but 3G provides slower download speeds. Download speed influences how long it takes information and files (such as websites, music, and video) to display on your smartphone. The faster your download speed, the less time you have to wait for pages to load when browsing. Virgin Mobile states that you should expect download speeds of up to 25Mbps with its 4G service. This is faster than many home broadband services and will allow you to download games, videos and apps rapidly as well as stream audio and video buffer-free.

3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
97%
Average 3G speed*
384Kbps
Average 4G speed*
25Mbps
Call allowance
300 - 5000
Text allowance
Unlimited
Data allowance
300MB - 20GB
Minimum contract
30 days
*According to Ofcom
Prices from
3G coverage 98%
4G coverage 97%
Average 3G speed* 384Kbps
Average 4G speed* 25Mbps
Call allowance 300 - 5000
Text allowance Unlimited
Data allowance 300MB - 20GB
Minimum contract 30 days
Prices from £6 per month
*According to Ofcom
Info

Scroll horizontally for more information.

Data usage

Rating

3

Virgin Mobile offers five SIM-only plans with data allowances ranging from 300MB to 20GB per month. These options will suit most internet users, and the pricing is standard for the market. There's no unlimited data option, however, so if this is a priority you'll need to look elsewhere.

Tethering is not allowed on any Virgin Mobile SIM-only deals, and Virgin are showing no sign of changing this any time soon.

Calls & texts

Rating

4

Unlimited texts are included on all plans. This means you can send an unlimited number of text messages to other UK-based mobiles without being charged. Many plans also come with unlimited minutes. On these you can ring landlines and mobiles for free – but there are a few caveats. The recipients must be in the UK and if your call is longer then 60 minutes you’ll be charged Virgin Mobile’s standard call rates.

The standard rate for calls to UK landlines and mobiles is 40p per minute. Calls to 0800 numbers are free. However, calls to 0870 and 0845 numbers are charged at 41p per minute. If you’re a Virgin TV or broadband customer, you can make free calls to other Virgin mobiles.

Extra features

Rating

2

Virgin Mobile offers a couple of special features, which are now available to everyone rather than reserved for existing Virgin Media broadband and TV customers. First up is the Wi-Fi Buddy app. It’s free to download and allows Virgin mobile customers to connect to over 20,000 public wi-fi hotspots throughout the country. It’s free and easy to use, with no log-in or password, and automatically connects you nearby hotspots in the UK and aboard.

Virgin have now introduced free messaging with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, meaning you can chat away to your heart's content without using up your data. This is a major perk and unique amongst mobile providers.

Value for money

Rating

2

The same prices apply to new Virgin customers and those already with the provider for their broadband or TV services. The cheapest plan is £6, which comes with 300 minutes, unlimited texts, and 300MB of data. The most expensive plan is £25, which comes with 5000 minutes, unlimited texts, and 20GB of data. There are no unlimited data plans. An extra bonus for existing Virgin TV or broadband customer is free calls to other Virgin Mobile customers.

A few hidden costs apply. You have to pay 99p for the delivery of your Virgin Mobile SIM, and if you lose it you have to pay £5 for a replacement. If you choose paper bills over electronic bills (which are delivered to your email address), you have to pay an additional £1.50 per month. If you’re an existing Virgin Media customer you’ll get unlimited calls to other Virgin Mobile numbers as standard - but it’s only really useful if the whole family are signed up or you’re able to convince your closest friends to switch.

Overall Rating

4.4

Virgin Mobile SIM-only plans will appeal to both existing and new Virgin Media customers. With the introduction of 4G, and free messaging services and wifi hotspots, Virgin Mobile is an attractive propect for all.

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