Welcome to the UK Full Mobile Phone Guide Website or UKFMGW for short. We are a not for profit group set up to clear up malfeasance within the mobile phone industry. We have seen many firms leech off their customers and our guide helps you make better decisions. There are over a million combinations of phones, retailers, contracts, and tariffs, so it’s not surprising if you feel like just sticking with what you have and taking what your network offers.
But this is important: Be willing to switch networks to get a better deal.
Research by YouGov has shown that 93% of Brits are lazy or reluctant to leave their networks when it’s time to get a new deal. If you’re one of them, maybe you expect switching to be difficult.
It’s easy. It takes literally 3 minutes to move your number over to a new network.
Below, our mobile deal experts have put together clear steps and tips so that you can:
- Spend less money
- Save time
- Clear up confusion
- Get a newer, better phone
- Get a better contract
- Read through step by step
- Use the menu on the right to get advice on something specific
- Look at the ‘Notes’ in each section for more useful tips.
- When you’re done, you won’t pay more and settle for less on your next phone deal.
You’re on your way to becoming a mobile phone deal ninja!
Step 1: Your Budget
Ask yourself these two questions
- How much up front?
- How much per month?
Our Tip: The average mobile phone bill is £36 per month, but you can get very good deals for £20 to £30 per month.
Sleek new smartphones are expensive. But boy are they tempting.
You can either give your bank account a big slap upfront or spread the cost over a contract.
Step 2: Your Phone
Ask yourself these questions
Do I want a new phone?
That’s great, now lets determine which one.
Nope, I like mine.
Want to keep using your faithful old handset?
Get a SIM-only deal in step 6.
Do I want a smartphone?
A huge leap over a regular phone, smartphones are sexy minicomputers, offering you Web browsing, email, social media, GPS, multimedia, thousands of apps, and intuitive interfaces on large touchscreens. Having more computing power in your palm than all of NASA circa 1969 can’t be a bad thing.
No, I want something simpler.
Think carefully about whether you really want to pass on all the brilliant smartphone capabilities. If you’re sure you want a dumbphone (that’s the technical term, no offense intended), you’ll be able to get very cheap deals.
Which type of smartphone?
Which operating system do you prefer? The OS determines much of your phone’s personality and abilities. Your main options are: Android, iOS (iPhone), Windows Phone, and Blackberry.
Good ways to choose a phone:
See what’s new
Want something that’s fresh from the factory?
Search by features
What’s important to you? The main options are screen size, processor power for speed and gaming, camera quality, front camera for video calls, storage capacity, physical keyboard, HD video recording, battery life, design, weight, and size. Phonearena lets you easily search by phone specs.
Try them out
Get advice from friends, and ask to try their phones. Pop into a store to get a feel for what you like, but don’t get pushed into buying before you’re ready.
See the best
Make it easier by narrowing your search to the best phones because hey, you deserve the best.
Browse through and see what stands out. Our phone search lets you see quick summaries and search by rating, newness, brand, OS, and colour.
Geekaphone lets you easily compare handsets.
Our Tip: Choose the smartphone OS that is best for you, and get the top handset you can afford.
Step 3: Your Usage
Ask yourself these questions
- How many minutes of calls do you need?
- How many texts do you need?
- How much internet data do you need?
- Check old bills to get an idea how many minutes, texts and data you need per month
- Most casual users will find 500MB/month to be enough. When your phone is connected to Wi-Fi (e.g. at home) you won’t use your data allowance
- 3’s The One Plan is good for people who want a plan that will meet almost everyone’s needs, saving you the hassle of working out your usage. A safe retreat from the intimidating prospect of math.
Step 4: Length of Contract
There are several different contract lengths:
- 12 to 24 months
- None (Pay As You Go)
- 1 month rolling
- Existing SIM
Our Tip: If you get a spiffy market-leading phone, it should last you some time, so a longer contract is fine.
Step 5: Choose a Network
Ask yourself this question
Am I ok with a new network?
Yes, a new network will do.
If you’re not in your minimum contract period, you’re free to switch away for a better deal
No, I want to stay on my network.
If you’re still in your minimum contract period, you won’t be able to switch without paying a penalty
Advice on switching:
People who switched networks saved approximately £80/year (Uswitch).
Over 40% (18 million) of mobile phone owners have never switched networks and will have missed out on better deals. Many feared switching would be complicated or that they might lose their number. (Ofcom)
To switch just call your network to request a ‘PAC Code’, and pass it to the new network. Your phone number will be transferred and your old contract ended automatically. It’s liberating – like trying a new haircut, but without the fear of ridicule.
- Switching networks is easy, so be open to better deals from other networks, remembering to check coverage.
- If you want superfast internet access, Everything Everywhere (Orange & T-Mobile’s joint network) will be offering superfast 4G services a year earlier than other networks.
Step 6: Compare and find the best deals
Now that you know what you want, use our fantastically flexible search filters to find it. We compare deals from all networks and retailers, major and independent, and give you the unbiased results so you always find the best deal.
- The popular choice for expensive smartphones.Contracts are also best if you use your phone regularly. You pay less for handsets and get better tariffs.
- There are lots of contract deals that come with free gifts and cashback redemption. See more info about these below.
Getting a SIM card on its own can be cheaper if you already have a phone, or don’t mind paying for a new handset outright. You may have to unlock your old phone (see the table in Step 7).
- Contract SIM
- Pay As You Go SIM
- Little known GiffGaff, has great value SIM-only deals, and inclusive bundles with unlimited data.
Pay As You Go Deals
Get the cheapest PAYG dealsThere’s no credit check, you have more flexibility, and it’s easy to track your spending.PAYG is also good if you have low usage – say 50 minutes and texts per month.
PAYG tariffs are now offering inclusive ‘bundles’, similar to contracts (thanks for adding to the confusion guys), i.e. O2 Text and Web offers 300 texts, 500MB data when topping up £10/month.
On the downside, you can run out of credit, and the tariffs are usually not as good. You also get a smaller choice of handsets and pay more for them.
SIM-free (handset only)
Buying the handset direct gives you freedom, but it’s the most expensive option up front. A device packing that much fiendish gadgetry doesn’t come cheap.
Order and you’re done!
Action: Make a note of the deal you want, so you can find it later.
Our Tip: Filters are your friends! Use them to easily narrow down millions of deals and find the one you want.
Do you have an existing contract?
No. Go to step 8 and get the deal you want.
Am I in the minimum contract period?
No, I’m free to leave.
If you are close to the final month, you may be able to upgrade. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to wait – but it’s worth calling your network to ask.
Action: Call your network, ask for a better deal.
Our Tip: Be friendly. It’s not personal, just a matter of seeing where you will get the best deal.
Can they offer a better deal?
Be strong.. don’t get Jedi sales talked into a phone or contract that’s different from what you want. Also be aware that this probably means you will be put on a new contract.
No, they can’t.
Say you want to stay but since they can’t offer something better, ask to leave. You’ll be put through to the disconnections or customer retention department. Ask them again for a better deal.
If they can’t improve on the deal, request your PAC code if you want to switch networks.
If you’re not sure about cancelling, feel free to say that you need to think about it, and back out with grace and dignity, as befits you.
Go to step 8 and get the deal you want.
Action: If you don’t mind staying with this network, sign up for the deal. Done!
Step 8: Get your new deal
Finishing things up!
Action: Complete your order online
Most online retailers offer free 24-hour delivery if the phone is in stock.
You are buying from a retailer’s website (e.g. Buymobilephones, Carphone Warehouse), but your contract is with the network, as always.
Action: Transfer your number
Call your old network to request your PAC code (it’s 9 digits) and give it to your new network. Your phone number should be transferred within 1 working day.
Your old contract will be automatically cancelled, and you will receive a final bill from your old network. They should also refund any overpayment (e.g. if you have paid for the month but cancelled before the end)
Our Tip: Give yourself about 15 minutes to place your order online. Lock the door and take the phone off the hook. Especially if you’re at work. You’ll need bank details and address history to hand, and probably a credit or debit card.
Step 9: Enjoy your new phone and/or deal!
Action: If you chose a cashback redemption deal, set up reminders
We recommend using Google Calendar or your new phone’s calendar.
When mailing documents to claim cashback, use recorded mail.
Action: Sell your old phone if you want some extra cash
It’s easy to sell your phone to a ‘phone buying’ site like Money4mymobile, though you may not get the maximum amount possible.
eBay will usually get you more if you think it’s worth the hassle.
Our Tip: Go to bed early. Einstein showed that time moves faster when you are not moving, so you’ll have less time to wait before receiving your shiny new phone deal.