Try shopping for a mobile phone contract or a sim card and you’ll be inundated with messages that promise ‘the best deal on data’. But have you ever questioned whether you actually need that deal on data? In this blog we explain how data deals usually work and how you can better understand how much data you really need.
What does a deal on data really mean?
It’s a comfortable choice to go with a network you’ve been with for many years, or to sign up with a new one, due to their attractive deals on data. After all, in our hyper-connected world, data is a huge selling point for a lot of us.
A deal on data is usually a contract with a network, often with a mobile phone handset included. And as the gold standard offer for most mobile networks out there, it can be very attractive to know exactly what you’re getting each month and to be assured that you’ll have enough data to cover social media, messaging, streaming and more – so no panicking about being cut off.
What we’ve found, though, is that while we’re very happy to sign up to data deals knowing exactly what we’re getting, it’s often worth taking a look at what we’re actually using. And we can do this research ourselves before deciding what our best choice is. We call that savvy mobile phone usage.
What to do?
The solution is actually very simple. We love platforms like Money Saving Expert which helps consumers identify where they might be mis-sold offers or are overspending when they don’t need to be. An investigation into how much data people are using in 2019 shed some interesting light; in a survey of mobile data users, 41% of respondents used less than 1GB and just 10% used 10GB or more each month. So when you’re being offered a contract with 20GB or more, why not think twice about that data deal and check if you actually need it?
Your iPhone itself can provide useful insight into how much data you’re using...
Sites like Bill Monitor can help you work out what you need each month - though be weary that Bill Monitor promotes signing up to a contract with one of the big networks. While this may seem like a great option as you’re guaranteed great coverage, you’ll likely end up paying more as these big networks carry the cost of maintaining a network infrastructure. We covered this in our five ways to save money on your mobile in 2020 blog – but more on that later.
It’s also really worthwhile using all the tools at your disposal. Your iPhone itself can provide useful insight into how much data you’re using and through what apps you are using the highest proportion. Simply head to Mobile Data in Settings, then hit Current Period and view the date of the last reset so you know how much you’ve used since the last reset. You can reset this counter at the start of each month to get a better understanding of how much data you need.
A case study
We had a look at Vodafone’s offering and discovered their mobile data calculator, a tool designed to help customers work out what they really need. Described as “Our handy mobile data calculator helps you work out how much data you need, based on the apps you use most, so you can find a plan tailored to your needs,” you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
While the concept of a data calculator is really useful for breaking data usage down into layman's terms, we found that the prices came out pretty high for what we would consider to be quite basic usage of data per month.
While the concept of a data calculator is really useful for breaking data usage down into layman's terms, we found that the prices came out pretty high for what we would consider to be quite basic usage of data per month. For just 30 minutes of voice messaging, 60 minutes of browsing the web, email or social media per day, the deal comes in at £15 per month which doubles to £30 per month after 6 months – plus you’re tied up for 24 months. For a 12 month contract you’re looking at £33 per month and for a 30 day contract it’s £37 for the month.
While these figures may not seem like they’ll break the bank, we know there’s a better deal out there – by going for no deal at all.
The alternative: freedom!
As with most things in life, our usage of data can flux and change from day to day, week to week or month to month. So a data deal that offers a set amount of data per month doesn’t actually make much sense when put into context.
We mentioned earlier five ways to save money on your mobile in 2020, and one of our key suggestions here is to go with a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). MVNO’s like VOXI, Tesco Mobile, iD mobile and giffgaff rent their network space from the big networks, saving you plenty of £££’s as they don’t need to cover the fees of running an actual network.
A zero contract SIM means no mid-contract price hikes, no bill shock...
When we take a look at the likes of VOXI, a data network that offers ‘Endless Social Media’, you can pay £20 for 60GB of data, with the use of social media apps not being taken from this data allowance. Plus, with no contract and the option to cancel or change your allowance as you wish, we love the flexibility offered here. A zero contract SIM means no mid-contract price hikes, no bill shock – which we touched on in our blog here - and no extra charges.
If you’re less of a social media user but still want plenty of data, giffgaff run similar offers. With giffgaff you can avail of 80GB for £20 per month – that kind of data allowance is ideal if you don’t have access to WiFi and theres no contract either.
And we’re not the only ones to pick up on this – mobile network review site Sim Sherpa compared prices between Vodafone and VOXI, placing VOXI on top: "SIM only plans are almost as a rule always better value per GB on VOXI than Vodafone. And they're way more flexible too, being on short 1-month deals with no credit checks. This is a really easy decision for us." Explore more comparisons on their site to make sure you’re being data-savvy.
Don’t stop there
While we’re on the topic of challenging the status quo, don’t forget that you also don’t need that contract deal on a mobile phone. Here at Raylo, we offer a subscription to the latest iPhone rather than charging more so you get ownership at the end of your contract, meaning we can keep prices low as well as delivering you the newest iPhone when you reach the end of your subscription.
Read more about why Raylo iPhones are a cheap, sustainable and savvy alternative to the traditional mobile phone contract and visit the Raylo blog for more insights on how to hack mobile phone usage to suit you. That’s what we’re about at Raylo, after all: no hidden costs, no tricks and no nonsense. Because otherwise, in the very apt words of Macklemore & Lewis in their song Thrift Shop, “I called that being tricked by a business.”