Mobile Phone Provider Recommendations

(James Cocker) #1

Decided it’s time to look for a different mobile phone provider and despite being off-topic, I figured most users here are probably pretty savvy when it comes to choosing such things, and will have done so for good reasons. So who do you use, and why?

I’ve been with EE for many years now, mainly as they had the best 4G network to start with, but I’m presuming the others have caught up by now. However, from what I can tell EE is pretty expensive so I’m looking for something that’s better value for money. A 12 month SIM-only contract with at least 5 GB data are my requirements. I’m based in Edinburgh if that matters.

A few other bits I’m interested in:

  • How is Three’s network these days?
  • Is it still the case that some providers have better indoor coverage due to the bands they work on?
  • Anyone have experience on how the data speeds from MVNO’s such as Plusnet Mobile and Giffgaff compare to their parent operators?

(sam) #2

I’ve been very happy on idmobile for past 3 or 4 years.
£9 for 4gb or £12 for 10gb

(Richard) #3

Also based in Edinburgh.

O2 are pretty decent in regards to signal, even north of Perth.
Tesco might be worth a look, they use o2, but you won’t get wifi calling.

Just left Vodafone… worst customer service, signal was largely ok, but relatively slow.

On EE, fast 4G, not the cheapest though. If your work gets discount, can be good value.

As for Three, can’t comment UK wise, did use their PAYG sim whilst in NYC and worked well!


I’m with Three. The network coverage still isn’t great - patchy in places on my commute, and not as good underground (I can see other people on their phones at City Thameslink, where I get no signal). O2 had the best coverage and depth in my experience.

But that said, I’ve not found a better package for me. I have unlimited data (pretty sure tethering is limited though), unlimited voice and unlimited texts for £23. I’ve also made a lot of use of their Feel At Home feature where calls, texts and data in 70-odd countries (including nearly all of Europe, the US and Australia) are taken from your allowance rather than charged.

Their CS is appalling but I’ve rarely had to talk to them.

(Liam) #5

Three are good if you don’t mind patchy reception or having your roaming data shaped into oblivion.

(James Cocker) #6

Thanks all, some useful info so far!

Surprised no-ones mentioned GiffGaff yet, was presuming it would be popular on this forum.


I’ve been with Three for years and never had any issues.

Customer Services have always been very good, though I rarely have to contact them.

I’m down South, there’s a good mix of 3G/4G and the phone uses Wifi calling where possible. I work in London, so come lunch time the 4G seems to get flakey, but I switch my phone to 3G as no one else seems to use that bandwith :smile:

As @Matt said, the Feel At Home feature has a good spread of countries (though other providers probably service those countries too).

A work colleague recently joined Smarty, which uses Three’s network. He’s happy as apparently, they discount your plan if you don’t use all of your monthly data allowance.


I’m with Three, with the loyalty discount, no provider can beat it not even the new one.

No problems with coverage. I live over looking fields and the coverage was never great in my house, but outside was excellent, they sent me a booster to plug into my router, had that for years, never had a signal problem ever since.

Customer service has always been good when I’ve needed them.


EE all day long. Best of a bad bunch. However there’s been some changes since BT have had their grubby mits over, which once was, a brilliant network. They’re the first to implement new Apple stuff and only network to support all of the Apple features, except visual voicemail transcription.

Like everything, you get what you pay for. The MVNOs are cheap for a reason, low network prioritisation and reduced access to VoLTE and other features.

(Dan Mullen) #10

I’m with Three. Better value than any other provider IMHO, no issues with coverage and I can use my minutes and data when I go to the US :+1:t2:

(James Cocker) #11

Visual voicemail is important for me. Been eargerly awaiting voicemail transcription but had presumed it just hadn’t been made available in the UK by Apple yet, is that the case?


I’ve been with GiffGaff for about 1 year now, and quite happy with them: I was with Plusnet and Three previously, and the coverage of both wasn’t great where I live (north west kent).

(Liam) #13

I was a little flippant in my last post, so here’s a slightly more helpful review.

It’s OK, it’s not better than that but it’s not so bad that I’ve felt the need to jump ship.
At my home in a mid-sized town I have a solid 4G signal. It took them a while to roll out to there, however.

At work, in a business park within York’s ring road, I get a 4G signal on the top floor, a diabolical 3G signal on the first floor and can just about get a signal on the ground floor if I stand on one leg and outstretch my right arm.

My commute has a couple of black spots. Listening to internet radio on this journey is futile.

On trains I find Three regularly under performs to the point of being useless. In fact, I regularly set up a wifi hotspot using my O2 work phone just so I can use Spotify and WhatsApp.

Customer Service
Three’s customer services are renowned for being irredeemably rubbish. They have been from the start and do not improve.

I don’t particularly care where in the world a call centre is, so long as the staff are trained well and they try to help.

Three’s Indian call centre, unfortunately, is staffed by people who neither equipped to help or actually want to help.

On multiple occasions I have caught them saying things that are demonstrably untrue, just to get me off the phone. On multiple occasions, I have had to be passed on to their Glasgow-based team who seem to exist only to wipe the backsides of their first and second-line support.

This is not the fault of the staff in the Indian call centre - but it speaks volumes about the culture of the firm that does not invest in them… and by extension its customers.

The most recent complaint I had with Three concerned re-contracting to them. By the time I was done they’d offered me unlimited data, texts and calls on a rolling basis, without minium term for £16 month. This was the tarrif they swear doesn’t exist since they withdrew the ‘one-plan’ - but it does… I’m on it!

Feel at home is a good deal, there’s no avoiding that. Roaming with Three is not perfect, however.
In practice, they VPN your traffic back to the UK and slow it down to the point where it’s unusable.

In 2017 I tried Three’s feel at home in Las Vegas, Ibiza and in Poland. In all three of those locations it was barely possible to send What’sApp messages, let alone make a Skype call. In Ibiza and Poland I actually went out to buy a local SIM card - despite having theoretical unlimied data.

Most recently in December performance in Poland was better - but I still had to go back to my local SIM in places. This was a rural location though, so might not all be Three’s fault.

Three now does have plenty of roaming deals in place. Not many of these allow 4G data when roaming, however. Something to bear in mind.

The roaming service is perfectly good for calls and texts but with data, your milage may vary.

No complaints on this score - Three’s packages are often the better priced deals on the market.
They need to be though - coverage is second rate, cells are often congested with slow data in metro areas and their customer service is non-existant.

When you get a ‘we are sorry, please don’t take your complaint to Ofcom’ deal from them they are pretty unbeatable.

Three only enables VoLTE and VoWifi on phones it has sold you. If you are taking a phone from a third party your phone will drop to 3G to make a phone call… even if your hardware is technically capable.

If you have an iPhone I think that they still haven’t bothered to implement visual voicemail.

Smarty not only uses Three… It is Three, in the same way that O2 and GiffGaff are both Telefonica.
iD Mobile also uses Three’s network, I believe.

(James Cocker) #14

Wow, so from the responses so far, Three is by far most popular. Was considering trying a cheap monthly plan with iD Mobile for a few months to see what Three’s coverage is like for me, but having second thoughts after @Liam’s helpful critique! Coverage and usable roaming are important to me.


pic or it never happened!

(sam) #16

I’ve always just used a service called hullomail


I’d happily switch away from Three, but I just can’t find anyone who comes close on price for high volumes of data. O2 had very good customer service when I was with them (and visual voicemail on iPhones).


The only thing I would say about three is if you don’t get your phone from them it may not be worth it. I get signal everywhere as I have a phone from them but I’ve noticed people who don’t can really suffer.

I was considering smarty and tried it in my phone but the signal was much worse presumably because they don’t support volte.

I’ve been with three though for years now and have no reason to complain.

(Dan Mullen) #19

You really have to use Three’s coverage checker to see what it’s like in your area. It’s fine for me in the North East. All the networks have coverage blackspots. A few years ago, the only network I could get any sort of signal with at home was EE. I then moved house and found EE had no signal there at all.


That’s true, Apple haven’t launched it in the UK, and might possibly never do so as it’s been a long time waiting. If it’s does come, EE will the the first of it’s a network reliant feature.