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For some, only the most popular phones will do; for others, the latest tech can take a back seat if there’s a good deal to be had on a lower monthly tariff. 93% of us have a mobile phone in the UK and iPhones and Samsungs are the most popular, with Sony, HTC, Nokia, LG, Motorola, Huawei, Alcatel, Google and others making up around 25% between them. Of course, you don’t have to always get the latest smartphone – if you choose a model over two years old it’ll be cheaper and still do all the important stuff really well.
Finding the right phone starts by comparing the market - something we know a thing or two about. We have a wide selection to choose from, as well as exciting extras like 4G Wifi devices.
There are four main mobile network operators in the UK that own and maintain the mobile phone infrastructure:
O2 O2 is a popular network and offers good all-round customer satisfaction. They recently won awards for their easy to use, customer friendly website. By joining them, you also become part of O2 Priority, with tons of competitions, prizes, money-off vouchers for events (like music at the O2) and downloads, just for being a customer. Three Three offers some great deals on roaming charges at the moment, so if you travel abroad, you may want to explore what’s on offer with this major UK network. They also offer unlimited streaming of videos and music, so you won’t be slapped with huge data charges, or run out of allowance in just a few days. Vodafone Vodafone are one of the largest mobile providers in the world, active in 26 countries with nearly 450 million customers around the globe. They are committed to network coverage satisfaction, and strong on connecting services and devices together to make customers’ lives easier. Look out for deals on global roaming too. If you’re keen on using your mobile abroad but worry about eye watering charges, these guys might be for you. EE EE are part of the BT Group and took over the Orange and T-Mobile brands that used to exist in the UK. EE boast that they have the largest and fastest 4G network in the UK, giving 99% of the population access to super-fast internet on the go. It also offers the fastest 4G speeds in the UK – with an average speed of 22 Mbps. This beats the average of 17Mbps and is the fastest of the big four providers. Top Tip If you live in a rural area or have experienced network issues at home in the past, it’s always useful to check which network has good coverage in your area. You can do this on a network’s website through a coverage checker tool.
You don’t have to be tied to a monthly contract if you don’t want to, but pay monthly is a good option if you want the latest phone, as the cost of the handset is usually included in the overall price. If you’re on the lookout for the right deal in terms of minutes, texts and data, then think about going SIM only. On the other hand, if you only use your phone occasionally to keep up to date with family by text or phone call, a pay as you go (PAYG) phone might be better over the longer term. Just be aware you will pay for the phone upfront, so you may prefer a more basic model. If you’re still undecided, you can find out more in our simple guide to SIM only vs contract phone packages.