SIM-only deals are on the rise and show no signs of slowing down. In fact, European Communications forecasts the majority of the UK to be fully SIM-only by 2021.
Since the rise of smartphones, we’ve been a nation obsessed with pay monthly phone and SIM bundles that bring the latest in technology over a series of bite-size payments. But with ever increasing mobile phone prices coupled with a decreasing gulf in quality between newer models and their predecessors, more and more of us are choosing to save our money and hold on to our older devices for longer.
For instance, Apple iPhone sales have remained stagnant since 2016.
The SIM-only market not only provides customers with lower overall contract prices but can also be much more flexible than pay-monthly bundles that require customers to pay off their phones over a typical 12-36 month period.
Just because a SIM-only package has the potential to save you money, it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing your homework on certain things to consider before taking the plunge and getting yourself a new deal. Here, we take a look at three key factors to take into account if you’re looking at diving into the world of SIM-only deals.
Anticipate your monthly usage
There isn’t much point in saving money with a SIM-only deal if you regularly find yourself getting charged for exceeding your allowances.
Your SIM-based options typically cover the amount of time you’re able to talk on your handset, the number of text messages you send, and the size of the data that you use on a monthly basis.
Regularly exceeding data limits is a trap that many users fall into when buying any type of contract for their mobile phones – whether a handset is bought in the deal or not.
To ensure that you stay on top of your allowances, take a look at your current usage figures on your mobile phone. These can usually be found in the settings menu of your device. You may find that your minutes allowance for phone calls and the number of texts that are free to send are ‘unlimited’ in many of the SIM-only deals you find. The rise of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger has also acted as significant free alternatives to the more antiquated SMS text services that became prevalent in the late 1990s.
Times have changed, but just as we find we’re collectively talking and text messaging less on our smartphones, faster mobile data services have created a greater need for higher allowances for browsing the internet and using apps that work online.
In trying to quantify how much data the average smartphone user gets through every month, 3G.co.uk estimated that we typically use 3-6gb while browsing on our phones. The price of a SIM-only deal varies significantly based on the amount of data you decide to allow yourself, so be sure to look at your current usage and get a little extra to ensure that you’ll always have enough to get by without breaking the bank.
Consider the level of flexibility that’s right for you
Some of us are a little more afraid of commitment than others, and a considerable advantage of going SIM-only is the fact that many service providers offer 30-day rolling contracts – enabling you to cancel your deal whenever you like, rather than getting stuck on a 36-month SIM and smartphone contract that no longer suits your needs.
It’s a good idea to review your circumstances before getting yourself a SIM-only contract. Perhaps you’re a graduate who may be considering going travelling before the end of the year, or maybe you’re currently between jobs and in need of a hassle-free, low-cost tariff for a short while.
Because there’s no need to spend a pre-determined amount of time paying off a £600 smartphone as part of your contract, SIM-free deals offer much more flexibility to customers.
Spare a thought for the handset you’ll be using
SIM-only deals give us greater flexibility to choose the type of handset we want to use alongside our contract, but it pays to have a good idea of the mobile phone you’ll be using when it’s time to fire up your SIM for the first time.
The different phones you’ll use with your SIM can have profound effects on your usage of calls, messages and texts. For example, iPhones have their own built-in messaging service that automatically takes the place of text messaging. iMessage is a free service that iPhone users can utilise when sending texts to another iPhone owner – and will significantly reduce the number of text messages you send each month.
The handset you use with your new SIM can play differing roles in the amount of data you ultimately get through each month. If you’re making the step from an older handset to a newer smartphone, you’ll likely notice that you’re using more data than before due to the greater array of apps at your disposal and the data-guzzling power of 4G roaming.
If you plan on buying a handset that you’re completely unfamiliar with when finding a SIM-only deal, it pays to start on a shorter-term contract to keep on top of how much of your calls, messaging and data allowances you’re using before committing to a longer-term deal.