Choosing a mobile network

In the UK the main networks are Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, O2 and 3. EE is a new brand based on the Orange and T-Mobile networks. In addition there are other networks from companies such as Virgin, TalkTalk and Tesco that use the infrastructure of the main networks. To use their networks phone companies provide a SIM card. It is a small plastic card that fits into your phone.

The SIM card enables your phone to make calls over its network by identifying your phone. The circuitry on the SIM card also stores details about your account, your phone number, and other information such as phone numbers for your contacts.

SIM Card

All of the phones we sell are unlocked. This means that you can use any suitably-sized SIM card with the phone. This can be a Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) SIM card, a SIM card linked to a Pay monthly contract, or a SIM-only contract. The features of each type of contract are explained below.

We offer a free PAYG SIM card with all the phones we sell, but there is nothing to stop you using another SIM card if you have one.

Pay as you Go (PAYG)

With a PAYG SIM card you will need to ‘top-up’ the phone by paying for credit. This can be used for calls, texts or other services. Some networks provide free minutes or texts when you top-up with at least £10. There is not normally a time limit within which this credit must be used, but any extra ‘free’ minutes or texts must usually be used in the month following the top-up. They will not be carried forward to the following month if unused.

If you only use your mobile phone occasionally PAYG is probably best for you. It offers flexibility - you’re not tied into a contract, and you only pay for the calls and texts you use.

Pay Monthly contracts

One of the reasons why people choose a monthly contract is that phone companies often incorporate the costs of an expensive phone into a fixed monthly price. Most contracts are for either 18 or 24 months. Monthly payments range from £10 to over £75. You’ll have to pay for any calls and texts exceeding your monthly allowance.

If you already have a phone contract and a SIM card you can use it in our unlocked phones. You will simply need to swap the SIM card between the phones.

The cost of calls (per minute) tends to be lower with contracts than with PAYG, so if you make a lot of calls a contract can work out cheaper. However, if you are not looking for a new phone a SIM-only contract would make more sense.


SIM-only contracts offer contract phone call prices with PAYG flexibility. You’ll need to set up a direct debit, but will only have to give 30 days notice to cancel the contract. Prices range from around £10 per month, and as the phone company is not subsidising the cost of a new phone the fees are lower than those of an equivalent pay monthly contract.

As the name suggests with a SIM-only contract, you will not receive a new phone - instead you are provided with a new SIM card that can be used with your phone. It is worth noting that the phone must be unlocked. 

If you spend over £5 per month in phone charges we recommend that you consider a SIM-only contract.

Which network should you choose?

All the main networks offer 80-90% coverage for most of the UK population, but there are areas where signal coverage is poor. The most important thing to consider when deciding which network to choose is to find the one that offers the best signal coverage where you live. If you already have a mobile phone you will probably know which networks cover your home area. If not, ask friends, family or neighbours who live nearby for their advice.

We can supply PAYG SIM-cards for all the main networks, with the exception of 3, and unlike signing-up for an expensive monthly contract you can easily and cheaply change to a different network or contract if necessary.