The smartphone seems to get better every time a new model is released. People queue around the block waiting for the latest iPhone or Samsung model while other companies release phones that easily compete with them in some areas. Edgeless screens, front-facing cameras, biometrics, all are features that get people excited.
And while the tech side of the phones may be the stuff that people talk about, there is also another core ingredient to a great phone – the provider giving you access to the mobile network on it.
Mobile phone providers are the ones who offer the packages we need with free minutes and texts, internet access and more. But which ones are best and who can help us when we have a query or a problem? Who rates best for customer services and coverage?
Do your research
When you start looking into providers, you will quickly run into their own adverts and remember, these always highlight the best of stuff – no company is going to highlight the negatives in their ads! Fantastic deals with slick advertisements, unmissable deals and the best prices on top handsets. These all look and sound great and many times, they will be great – but are they great for you?
When considering any mobile phone contract, there are some key areas to consider before you sign up such as:
- Contract length
- Monthly fees and charges
- Roaming costs
- Get out clauses and charges
- Cost of calls and texts after free limits
It is important to completely understand what you are signing up for before you commit to anything and don’t just get drawn by the promise of the latest model of your favourite phone. Consider things like the data allowance you are getting – do you watch a lot of videos and use a lot of internet usage? Do you send a lot of texts and might regularly exceed the limit on the contract which would cost you extra money?
How the company deals with their customers is also worth considering. This can be more important than what the handset is or the usage allowance. Hopefully, nothing does go wrong during the contract but if it does, their customer service standards are going to be crucial.
The top providers
Ignoring the handset question for the moment, who are the top providers of mobile phones in the UK at the moment?
O2 usually top the list of providers and are one of the best known mobile phone companies in the country. They have a good track record with customer services and also do a lot to encourage customer loyalty, rather than being focused solely on acquiring new customers. You can ring the o2 contact number when you are due to renew your contract and they will do their best for you as well as being there to help mid-contract with queries.
O2 also offer inclusive roaming to 47 European destinations so if you go abroad regularly, this is a real benefit for you. It means you won’t get hit with those expensive foreign country roaming charges for calling home or texting a friend while away.
Vodaphone is one of the origins of the mobile phone market still operating under their original name. They offer great coverage around the UK and also in Europe with new inclusive roaming offered under most contracts. They have a good range of tariffs available and Vodafone’s customer service number is a great place to find out about upgrades and new quotes as well as speaking to a real person for support during your contract.
EE pride themselves on providing superfast 4G network coverage to as many of their customers as possible. Up to five times faster than the previous 3G system, this new network allows for lightning-fast downloads and internet access. Sadly, their coverage isn’t as comprehensive as other networks, even in city centres. A full list of numbers can be found here.
PlusNet is a relative newcomer who makes use of the EE 4G network for their mobile phone customers. This has its pros and cons – great internet speeds but not the fullest coverage across the country. They are also very keen to promote their UK based customer services team and friendly, down to earth approach that appeals to people tired of salesy call centres.
Giffgaff is popular among the younger generation of mobile phone users who want cheap and cheerful access to the internet and phone features. They offer a contract-free service that was voted uSwitch Network of the Year 2017. They also promote a customer-centric approach where they are the ‘mobile network run by you’ according to their tagline so their customer services are well noted. This is key to their business as the lack of contracts mean they have to work harder to keep people with them.
While the mobile side of the BT business is tiny compared to the landlines and business services, it is still available. BT has long had a struggle with customer services and has a somewhat unreliable reputation in this area. They do offer a good range of contracts including the ability to package together with other services such as landline, broadband and even TV packages to make everything easy to manage. Call them here.
There are plenty of other providers available who can also offer that balance of great service and features with Tesco, Three and Virgin Mobile being just a few. Comparison sites can be a good option to compare all of the providers to find the right deal.
Don’t discount the smaller providers from your considerations, especially if you have specific requirements. For example, Three Mobile has excellent overseas coverage if you travel a lot. Lebara Mobile is a very small company but runs on the Vodafone network and offers really cheap international calls.
Smaller providers have to work harder to get and retain their customers so often have excellent customer services and a more personal approach than the big names. When considering your package, definitely consider some of the smaller companies too.