Compare Mobile Phone Deals
How to compare mobile phone deals
When comparing mobile phone deals online, there are a few factors that you might want to take into account depending on your preference. We’ve listed what we consider the most important ones below:
Are you looking for a deal on a cheap mobile phone? Or do you want to find out which is the cheapest phone network? Our comparison tool at the top of the page will help you find deals which you can filter by price.
The biggest advantage of this is that you get to see which deal gets you the most for your money. Even if price is the only thing you are concerned with, some cheap deals are better than others, and a good price on an iPhone won’t be as cheap as a good price on other brands. Our tool allows you to factor all of this in.
The services offered by mobile phone networks include calls, texts, and data. The important thing is to understand which service you use most and then compare the latest mobile deals to see which provides the services you want at the most affordable rates.
The four main mobile networks in the UK are Vodafone, EE, Three, and O2, though a number of smaller operators also offer services by “piggybacking” on these networks. It’s important to check whether the mobile network you choose has good service in the area you live in. If you travel a lot, you may also want to consider the provider’s nationwide network coverage. Choosing a network with good coverage can save you a lot of trouble later on.
It’s also worthwhile to compare networks based on their customer service. Problems can occur on any network, so it pays off to be on one where you’ll be well looked-after.
If you don’t want to be tied to a contract, you can pay a one-off upfront fee for a phone and get the services you want on a pay-as-you-go basis. Other options include getting a pay-monthly deal, in which you pay a set price every month for the phone and your allowances, usually with an upfront cost, or getting a sim-only deal for a phone you already own.
Some people only use their phone to communicate, while others are also concerned with features like the camera, phone memory (for storing apps, photos, videos, etc), battery life, screen size and screen definition (for streaming and watching videos).
The more advanced features a phone has, the more it will cost you, which is why an iPhone or a Samsung will set you back so much. There’s no point paying a higher price for features you don’t plan to use, though, so always compare phone deals based on the features you need.
Keeping an eye on the latest phone deals can bring added benefits. Mobile phone companies often offer freebies to encourage sales, especially when releasing a new smartphone. Keeping an eye on freebies can earn you extra benefits, like a free pair of AirPods along with your new iPhone 13 or a top-of-the-range charging dock with your Samsung Galaxy S21, without having to pay extra for them.
What type of mobile phone deals should you look for?
The type of phone deal you should look for depends on your usage. In this section, we’ll take you through a few ways you could get a contract for your mobile phone, but here’s a general overview of what each type of mobile deal entails:
|Monthly contract||Sim-only deal||Pay as you go|
|Monthly allowance of data, texts, and minutes||✔️||✔️||❌|
Monthly phone contract
Monthly contracts usually include a handset and a SIM with an allowance of data, texts, and calls in exchange for a set monthly payment. This will suit you if you use these services a lot. We recommend you compare contracts and decide on a deal that suits your usage before you commit to one.
These deals offer you the chance to get a new phone included in the monthly price, so if you’re looking to upgrade your Samsung Galaxy S20 to an S21 or your iPhone 12 to an iPhone 13, this could well be your best option. The SIM will often come with unlimited mins and unlimited texts as standard, but the allowance of GB data tends to vary significantly according to the price you pay.
Be aware that getting a mobile phone on a contract is essentially the same as applying for credit. If you sign up for a mobile phone deal of this kind, a credit check is often involved and missing payments on it will affect your credit score. This is something you’ll definitely want to consider when weighing up your options.
SIM-only deals are also contractual agreements and are great for those who use calls, texts, and data a lot. The difference between SIM-only and a monthly phone contract is that you only pay for the allowances included on the SIM - the phone isn’t part of the contract. This is great for those who already have a mobile phone they love and want to save by just getting a SIM card.
As with deals that include a smartphone, unlimited mins and unlimited texts tend to come as standard with the SIM, whereas the allowance of GB data you go for will heavily influence the price of your deal.
PAYG deals don’t require you to enter into a contract. You pay for services you use as you use them. Some providers charge an upfront cost for the SIM but many have stopped doing this. If you already have a phone and your usage is inconsistent, this will suit you down to the ground as a money-saving measure. Bear in mind, however, that a PAYG SIM is just that - a SIM - and will not come with the latest Samsung or iPhone handset. You also won’t be able to upgrade from your iPhone 12 to an iPhone 13 on a deal like this, as your mobile phone won’t be part of your SIM deal.
The best time to get big discounts on broadband is during the January sales or events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Use these periods to your advantage to get the best price!
Tips to get a budget-friendly mobile phone deal *
- Start by understanding how much data, calls, and texts you use, and then find a deal that meets your requirements.
- When getting a mobile phone, understand the features you want from your smartphone and then compare the mobile phone deals providing those features.
- If you only use a phone’s most basic features, go for older models. You may not need the latest iPhone or Samsung device.
- Compare deals across multiple networks, including smaller providers - don’t limit your search to big names like Vodafone. You may find that a deal with Talkmobile suits you best, or that you’re better of bundling your mobile phone with broadband and TV with Virgin Media.
- Take advantage of discounts! Make the most of sales and events throughout the year to save money.
Compare deals by network
Vodafone, Smarty, BT Mobile, Voxi, and Plusnet Mobile are some of the mobile phone networks that offer excellent service. You can compare the deals provided by each of these and choose what suits you the best. Other networks like ID mobile and Giffgaff are great for low-cost deals. If you’re looking for better speed, we recommend you consider the likes of O2.
Compare deals by manufacturer
Ask yourself whether you are more comfortable using an Apple iPhone or you prefer a Samsung phone. If you don’t have a specific preference, check out the wide range of smartphones manufactured by brands like Huawei, Sony, Motorola, Nokia, and LG. Each of these manufacturers has its place in the market and there will be pros and cons to any one of them. Although Samsung and iPhone devices are the top picks for most users, you should compare handsets from multiple manufacturers and choose the one that suits you best.
Compare deals by contract type
Suppose you’re looking for a specific type of contract, such as a phone contract or a sim-only deal: you should compare deals from different networks and manufacturers that offer a contract type that suits you. Analyse which network provider has the best combination of service quality and affordability before making a final decision.
Compare deals with incentives
Some companies offer free allowances of services like texts, calls, and data for a certain amount of time. Others may offer freebie gadgets, like AirPods to go with your iPhone, to promote their deals. By comparing deals based on the incentives they offer, you could get lucky and save a lot of money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some deals do require an upfront payment. Making an upfront payment at the beginning can reduce the overall price of the handset, whereas deals that don’t charge an upfront cost usually end up costing more in the long run. Whether you choose a deal with an upfront payment or not will depend on whether you prioritise long-term savings over short-term ones.
It’s important to consider that expensive brands like Apple iPhone and Samsung will more often than not charge an upfront cost. If you’re looking for an iPhone 12, an iPhone 13, Samsung S20 or S21 models, you’ll find it harder to get an affordable deal with no upfront cost.
Phone contracts require you to pay the phone price over a set period. Once you’ve paid all the periodic charges and your contract comes to an end, the phone is yours. If you’re thinking of switching to a sim-only deal, the end of your current contract is the perfect time to do that. If you want a new phone or want to keep your phone but get a new deal, we recommend you start comparing mobile phone deals as soon as you’re notified your contract is coming to an end.
If you’ve kept up your monthly payments, you don’t have to return your old phone to get an upgrade. You can keep your old iPhone 12 or Samsung phone to use as a spare for yourself or for friends or family. Another option is to sell it to a business that refurbishes old phones and get some money in return.
Paying the total price of a phone in one upfront payment is the cheaper option, but if you can’t afford to pay all at once, a monthly contract is a good option. Pay-monthly deals allow you to spread the cost of the phone over a set period. When you pay through this method, however, the total amount you pay adds up to more than what you would pay in the case of a single upfront payment.
If you already own a handset and you’re happy with it, you should also consider a sim-only deal. These are often cheaper because they cover only the allowances (i.e. GB data, calls, and texts) you want with the SIM and don’t factor in the price of a handset.
There is no minimum credit score requirement to be eligible for a phone contract. Every company that offers pay-monthly phones has different standards for credit score. Some allow you to get into a contract even if your credit score isn’t good, while others are more restrictive. If you can’t get a contract due to a credit check, you can try other options like sim-only and PAYG deals.
If, for example, you want to trade-in your Samsung S20 for an S21 on the same network, you should contact your provider and request an upgrade. If you’re already tied to a contract that you’ve not completed, your provider will ask you to complete the outstanding payments first. If you want to get a SIM from another network but keep your number, you may need to request a PAC code from your existing network to make the switch.