Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Mobile data is the internet for your mobile phone. Whenever you use the internet, you send and receive bits of data – mobile providers will offer you a certain amount of data for you to use to access the internet as part of your monthly contract, SIM-only plan or pay-as-you-go deal.
Yes, it usually is. It’s a common part of most mobile deals and means that you can use the internet as much as you like.
If it’s not truly unlimited, then it’ll have to mention usage limits and data caps somewhere. If you’re not sure, get in touch with the mobile provider.
If you’re a keen mobile data user, then yes.
Some plans offer very high data allowances (like 30 to 40Gb) and although it’s unlikely you’d go over that, an unlimited plan probably wouldn’t cost much more but you’d have the peace of mind that you won’t be charged extra for going over your allowance.
🤝 About the deals
That depends on who you’re asking. Some might say Virgin Mobile, others could insist that it’s actually EE or O2, while Ofcom says it’s Tesco Mobile.
But the provider that meets your needs is the one that’ll suit you best. It’s handy to have advice from other people, but you should always do your own research and compare deals to see what’s right for you.
Pay monthly – you pay a fixed amount every month in return for a new phone and a certain amount of minutes, texts and data. There may also be a one-off cost to pay for the phone when you first take out the contract.
SIM-only – you pay monthly only for the number of minutes, texts and data you use – you don’t get a new phone included with the deal. If you wanted a new phone to go with your new SIM-only plan, you’d have to buy it yourself.
Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) – you pay for the exact amount of minutes, texts and data that you use and can pay more to ‘top up’ this amount whenever you want.
Before you buy a mobile contract, check:
- The amount of data, minutes and texts you get
- Whether there’s a one-off payment upfront
- How long the contract lasts – 12, 18 or 24 months are fairly common
- That the phone model supports 5G if that’s something you want
- How much of the total cost is for just the new phone itself. Some providers will show you a cost breakdown, but for others you’ll need to see how much an equivalent SIM-only deal costs by comparison.
Mobile data is measured in megabits (Mb) – ‘mega’ meaning ‘million’, and ‘bits’ as in ‘bits of data’. There are 1,024Mb in 1 gigabit (Gb).
For example, your mobile provider might offer you a contract with a 2Gb data allowance per month. This means you can send and receive bits of data (in other words, use the internet) until you reach this amount. Put in context, according to Vodafone, this would allow you to browse social media for 10 minutes every day of the month before you hit your 2Gb allowance.
4G and 5G are the networks your phone uses to connect to the internet. The ‘G’ stands for ‘generation’, so 4G is 4th generation and 5G is 5th generation.
As with most tech-related things, the higher the number, the newer and better it is, meaning 5G is speedier and more reliable than 4G.
A SIM-free phone doesn’t have a SIM card that comes with it – this happens when you buy the device directly from the manufacturer, like an iPhone directly from Apple or a Galaxy from Samsung. The benefit is that you’re not stuck with a particular provider on contract, so once you get your device you can pick a SIM-only plan or pay-as-you-go deal that suits you.
If your current contract has ended, switching can be pretty easy:
- Find out whether your phone is unlocked (see FAQs below for more info)
- Text PAC to 65075, or STAC to 75075. You’ll then receive a code from your current provider which lasts for 30 days
- Choose your new deal
- Send this PAC or STAC code to your new provider – you’ll either be able to enter the code when buying your new deal, or by texting or calling your current provider once you have your new device and/or SIM card
Which code you need depends on whether you want to keep your mobile number the same or not:
- PAC (Port Authorisation Code) – to keep your current mobile number
- STAC (Service Termination Authorisation Code) – if you don’t want to keep your mobile number the same when you switch
If your current contract hasn’t ended, check whether you’d have to pay an early exit fee and consider whether switching providers would be worth it. You should be sent this info alongside your PAC or STAC code.
You can ask your current provider for a Network Unlock Code (NUC) to unlock your device. Some providers can even unlock your phone remotely but exactly how it’s done, how much it costs and how long it takes varies.
There are also websites offering unlocking services (be careful you don’t get scammed – read reviews!), high street unlocking services or you could try it yourself (but you’d need specialist software) and you’ll likely have to pay.
Not yet, we don’t automatically switch your mobile deal when the contract ends. But we can help you compare pay monthly or SIM-only deals though, to get you the right mobile plan for a great price.
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