A SIM-free phone is the path to cheaper mobile

Nuno Brito e Cunha

Why is a SIM-free phone better?

SIM-free means the iPhone will come without a SIM. There are two types of SIM-free phones – locked to a specific network, and unlocked. It's much better to have an unlocked SIM-free phone because you’re free to use any SIM from any network.

What makes SIM-only smarter?

A SIM-only deal is a package of minutes, texts and data for a monthly cost. The difference to a traditional bundled mobile contract is that you don’t pay for your device as part of the plan, you have a SIM-free phone and get the SIM… only, from the network. Here we look at why SIM-only is smarter and how to do it as cheaply as possible.

First and foremost, it’s cheaper. The average person in the UK uses less than 2GB of data per month according to the Ofcom Communications Market report 2018. However the networks make us think that we need considerably more – their bundled SIM and phone contracts typically include 30-60GB per month, and upselling to 100GB or unlimited plans is common. By ‘decoupling’ the SIM and device you’re free to choose from a wide variety of great SIM-only deals that suit your actual usage needs.

Secondly, it’s more flexible. With a SIM-only contract you don't get locked into lengthy contracts. A lot can change in 24 months, and the price of data has been falling consistently over the last few years. SIM-only plans are typically either monthly rolling or 12 months. This frees you up to switch both networks or deals if a better option comes up.

How to be smarter with your SIM-only plan

Even those already embracing the benefits of SIM-only often have very little idea how much data they use each month, and the networks use this to their advantage.

If you have an iPhone you can follow these simple steps to work out your average monthly data usage.

  1. Go to Settings > Mobile Data
  2. You will see a section called “MOBILE DATA” just above the list of your apps. Take the figure for “Current Period
  3. Scroll to the very bottom of the screen where you’ll see a date next to “Last Reset”. Calculate the number of full months between this date and the current date
  4. Your average monthly data usage in GB can be calculated by dividing the “Current Period” number by the total number of months since the “Last Reset

How much should you be paying for your SIM deal?

Here are a few examples of what you could be paying depending on your usage.

SIM deal prices from MoneySavingExpert as at 19.06.19

If you’re worried about going through your monthly limit now and again, you can leave yourself a little headroom… but new legislation allows consumers to set a monthly bill cap (your network must offer this) so you won’t get bill shock and you can decide if you need to top-up mid month.

Hints and tips for the best SIM-only deals

If you’ve been on a network website lately you’ll probably agree that it’s information overload. You might also notice that the best deals are not always on the networks’ own website (crazy we know) but instead on a third party website. To get a sensible independent view we recommend checking out MoneySavingExpert’s Best SIM-Only deals section.

Switching your provider and keeping your number – it’s easy!

The networks make it sound like switching and keeping your number is a lot of hassle. It’s not. Simply ask for your current network provider for your “PAC” (porting authorisation code), which must be provided to you immediately over the phone or within two hours by text. Once you have a PAC, it is valid for 30 days. When you provide it to your new network, they will contact your current provider to advise them of the change. This should take no more than one business day, and once the process is complete your old network contract will be cancelled automatically. Just remember that you may have to pay early termination charges.

So there you have it – we hope you can save money and enjoy the flexibility of being SIM-only. If you’re SIM-only and ready for a new SIM-free phone, join the Raylo waiting list for a smarter way to get the next iPhone this September.

Feeling fired up about SIM freedom, or do you have any savvy tips you’d like to share? We’d love you to join the conversation on our community.

Other articles

Karl Gilbert
Text to Switch: the telco industry speaks to millennials in a language they understand

Recent regulation from Ofcom means that customers can now switch mobile providers by simply sending one free text message. At Raylo, we believe this move is only the start of a major shift in the industry.

Nuno Brito e Cunha
Our eco friendly phone case

As it stands the mobile space is not known for being the most sustainable of industries and there is much still to be done to move it away from that but we want to start in the right way, by making a responsible choice with our case. The numbers say it all, more than 400 million pounds of plastic are used to manufacture approximately one billion plastic phone cases every year. Hopefully our choice will inspire others to follow the same path.