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1p Mobile Review 2020:
cheapest rates but there is a catch

SIM card and 1pMobile's logo

The retailers featured on this page may compensate us when our readers follow links to their websites and make a purchase. More

They've got the UK's cheapest pay as you go rates but have 1p Mobile got the mobile network coverage to back it up? We find out. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: October 29th 2019.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates 1p Mobile as a solid choice
★★★☆☆ (3/5, good)

Obviously the main appeal to 1p Mobile is their 1p pay as you go rates. But for that, you're getting access to the UK's biggest 4G network with really easy customer service on the end of a phone.

There's no fancy extras you'd get with pay monthly networks but if you just want a SIM card you can use every now and then without getting ripped off, 1p Mobile are a credible option.

The 3 best bits

1) Cheapest pay as you go rates in the UK
2) Coverage via the UK's largest network
3) Responsive customer service you can phone

The 3 worst bits

1) Must top up every 4 months
2) Suspected capped 4G speeds
3) Zero extra benefits

Special feature: "Is 1p Mobile legit?"

We ordered a 1p Mobile SIM card to see what happens

1P Mobile SIM pack delivery

We received the SIM the very next dayOrder yours here

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The chances are that you've never heard of 1p Mobile. We hadn't before we were targeted by an online advert. So they're probably a bit of an unknown to you.

Naturally, people are careful when dealing with unknown companies. 1p's branding is hardly confidence inspiring. And we'd read social media comments asking if they're "legit" and can be trusted.

So we ordered a 1p Mobile SIM card to find out for you. Here's what happened:

After you've ordered and paid for the initial £10 top-up, you get an instant confirmation email from 1p Mobile. We ordered on a Wednesday afternoon at 16:00 and received the SIM card via Royal Mail on the Thursday.

The letter and SIM pack you receive isn't the snazziest or glossiest we've seen but it has everything you need in there. You just need to pop out the right-sized SIM card and stick it in your phone to get going.

Useful link: About 1p Mobile's SIM card sizes

Activating the SIM card and getting started on 1p Mobile

Photo of 1pMobile's welcome letter

The pack shows you how to get startedKeep your number

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The SIM doesn't come activated. You'll need to put it in your phone and activate it online. The welcome email has the instructions and your password. It's worth turning on roaming at this stage. And you can choose to turn on auto-top ups.

The instructions say the SIM card should become active in around 15 minutes (or a maximum of 24 hours) once you've done that. Our SIM card took 30 minutes to register on the network. - so do it before you need it.

Once it registered, our test phone had just as many 4G bars as with an EE SIM in it just a few moments before. Calls worked and data did too (it first registered on 3G and then 4G worked about 3 minutes later).

All in all, 1p Mobile is definitely a real mobile provider (it's not some elaborate scam!). We hope that allays any fears the general public have. Read the rest of this review to learn about our full experience on their network.

Useful link: Get a 1p Mobile SIM card now

In the rest of our 1p Mobile review

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review


4G, 3G and 2G coverage
Data speeds
Call quality
Free WiFi hotspots
WiFi calling

Perks review

Benefits & features

No credit expiry
EU roaming at no extra cost
Everything you don't get

Deal review

Deals & plans

Pay as you go SIM card
Comparison with competition
Data bundle pricing

Customer service review

Customer service

Testing response times
Ofcom complaints data

1p Mobile's network

Coverage: 1p Mobile uses EE - the UK’s biggest 4G network

1pMobile's coverage map

Look up everywhere you'll use your phoneCheck coverage now

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If you'd thought that cheapness would mean you're in for terrible mobile network coverage, that's not the case with 1p Mobile at all. We think they've chosen the best network to piggyback on, EE.

This is a huge advantage to 1p Mobile customers, because 99% of the UK population can get their 4G where they live, 98% 3G and 99% 2G. And the amount of the UK's landmass covered is largest too.

That means more places in the middle of nowhere where you carry on using your phone, like on roads and railways. We’d still recommend double checking your 1p Mobile coverage using their map here, before you sign up.

In the majority of places, 1p Mobile coverage is identical to EE's. But 1p Mobile don't have access to one of EE's 4G frequencies. The one used in ultra remote places and to improve capacity in built-up places too.

Useful link: Check 1p Mobile signal

Our rating:
★★★★★ (joint best choice)

Joint 1st place
(out of 4 network operators)

As good as:
EE, Virgin, BT, Plusnet

Better than:
Three, O2, Vodafone
(and all providers that use them)

4G speeds: downloads on 1p Mobile seem to be capped

1p Mobile 4G speeds vs EE
1pMobile logo
EE logo

Another worry when joining a low-cost provider could be that you’re going to get an inferior experience when it comes to download speeds. Compared to being directly on EE, we'd say this is indeed the case with 1p Mobile:

When we put the 1p Mobile SIM in our test phone, it never reached a download speed greater than 20 Mbps, even in an area where an EE SIM in the same phone achieved 50 Mbps.

We therefore believe EE have put a cap on 1p Mobile download speeds of 20 Mbps, which would explain 1p Mobile's explanation here about 4G speeds generally peaking at 20 Mbps.

The big question is whether this is an issue for you. We'd say if you just generally browse the internet, use messaging services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, you're barely going to notice a difference.

Even 20 Mbps is quicker than many home broadband connections. But if you're someone who's into filesharing, downloading massive apps and watching UHD movies, 1p Mobile's speeds might not be enough.

Useful link: Read 1p Mobile's guide to data

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)


Not as good as:
EE, Vodafone, Three
(and providers that use them)

Better than:
(and providers that use them)

Call quality: there’s no 4G calling on 1p Mobile

1p Mobile FAQs about calling

1p Mobile's help sectionRead all calling FAQs

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In a world dominated by people using their phones to access the internet, it’s easy to forget the importance of how a mobile network performs when making and taking phone calls.

Generally speaking, a mobile network rated good for call quality will have short setup times (the time between pressing dial and when the other ends starts ringing) and clear sound.

As before, 1p Mobile’s host network EE performs well in independent call quality tests, receiving a "very good" rating from independent testers P3 Analytics.

EE have 4G calling though, while 1p Mobile do not offer it. This brings the benefit of clearer audio but our spot tests didn't reveal any issues with 1p Mobile (dependent on phone and local coverage, we can't provide guarantees of this everywhere).

Useful link: Read full test report by P3 on each network's call quality

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)


Not as good as:

Better than:

Extra network features: in short supply on 1p Mobile

WiFi calling banner

WiFi calling's handy for indoor blackspotsRead WiFi calling guide

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In this section, we look for additional network features a provider has that improves the day-to-day experience of using your phone. Being an ultra-cheap provider, it’s not surprising 1p Mobile aren't offering much:

There’s no WiFi calling facility (a feature that lets you use a WiFi connection instead of a mobile signal to make and receive calls). You can get this with Three’s 3p 2p 1p pay as you go plan.

You’re also not going to get any access to free WiFi hotspots like we see with a few other networks. This is particularly useful on pay as you go to save precious credit (see O2’s 3p 2p 1p deal for free O2 WiFi).

One good thing on 1p Mobile is that tethering is allowed. Tethering, otherwise known as personal hotspot, is when you connect tablets / laptops to the internet via your mobile phone’s data signal.

Useful link: 1p Mobile's About Us page

1p Mobile benefits

Credit doesn't expire but there is a min top-up requirement

Topping up on 1pMobile

There are plenty of ways to top upHow to top up

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If you’re thinking of switching to 1p Mobile because you rarely use your phone, you'll be pleased to know that you won't lose any credit you buy just because you've not used it up in a certain time frame.

But it's important to note the requirement to top up your 1p Mobile SIM card at least every four months, and the minimum top up is £10. If you don’t do this, your SIM will be de-activated and you’ll lose the credit.

If you’ve not used your credit up by that fourth month, you won't lose it automatically. Your top-up will just be added to what you already have. So your credit is still there to be used.

A mandatory top up of £10 every four months won't be ideal for some. You do have to spend your credit to make it worthwhile. Otherwise you're effectively paying £2.50 a month to keep your SIM active.

You can set up auto top-ups that will charge your credit/debit card whenever your phone credit is low, or you can do it manually via text or by signing into your account online.

Useful link: All methods of topping up on 1p Mobile

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)


Better than:

Worse than:

Roaming: the same cheap rates apply in the EU

A free month for you and a friend of SMARTY

Pay no extra in 46 EU destinationsSee all the countries

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In case you didn’t know, it’s now required by law for mobile providers to make roaming within the EU cost the same as it would at home (read our best roaming network guide for more).

On 1p Mobile that means that their cheap 1p per minute, 1p per text and 1p per MB data rates are the same when you travel with your SIM card to any of these 46 European destinations.

Make sure that before you leave the country, you log in to the 'your account' section of 1p Mobile’s website and activate international roaming (it’s disabled by default so you could get caught out).

If you’re going further afield, then it’s fair to say that 1p Mobile’s cheap rates disappear rather swiftly. See full costs for each country here. We’d say this is par for the course with a no-frills provider.

Useful link: All about roaming on 1p Mobile

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)


As good as:

Better than:

Benefits you get elsewhere but not on 1p Mobile

Other networks with free content

Free content on selected networks

In our reviews, we tend to tell you the things you don’t get with each mobile network provider, as well as what you do get. It helps people decide if their overall deal is good value.

As a low-cost provider there are quite a few benefits you don’t get on 1p Mobile including:

Free subscriptions, data rollover (keeping data you’ve paid for - 1p's data boosts expire after 30 days), worldwide roaming, reward schemes (like O2 Priority). See our best mobile network rankings for more.

But for 1p per minute, text or MB data, we don’t expect any of this with 1p Mobile anyway. They’re a good choice for anyone who wants an ultra-cheap, straightforward pay-as-you-go deal.

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Joint last

Not as good as:
Most networks

Better than:

1p Mobile deals and plans

No other network has cheaper pay as you go rates

Your basic mins, texts and data cost 1pSee all other costs

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1p Mobile is set up for casual, infrequent users. People who might have their phone with them most the time but only make a call every few days or even less (or need a SIM to put in an alarm or remote device).

Price-wise, the nearest you can get elsewhere is Three's 321 plan, which costs 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB data. Or there's O2's Classic Pay As You Go Tariffs, which has the same rates as Three.

If you're keen to join a provider that uses the EE network, 1p Mobile is far more competitive than joining ASDA (8p per min, 4p per text, 5p per MB) or Virgin Mobile (who no longer offer pay as you go).

EE themselves don't offer a pure pay-as-you-go option. For an upfront payment deal with them, you have to choose a data pack costing a minimum of £10 which expires in 30 days.

Useful link: Order a 1p Mobile SIM card

One simple pay as you go tariff

No contracts and the UK's cheapest payg rates:

UK's cheapest pay as you go rates

per minute
per text
per MB data (4G)
No contract
£10 first-time top-up
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1p Mobile's data bundle add-ons aren't as competitive

1pMobile monthly bundle prices

Prices may vary from those shown aboveLatest bundle prices

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While their basic 1p pay as you go rates clearly come out on top for casual users, we'd recommend comparing prices across all networks if you're likely to spend more than around £4 a month.

That's because you can get more value for money with one of the pay monthly SIM only deals that we compare here, than 1p Mobile's monthly bundles offer.

We'd say price-wise, 1p Mobile only makes sense if you're a very occassional user who picks up their phone every couple of days and in emergencies.

If you're keen on paying up front, take a look at the SIMs listed here, which are all prepaid and come with the benefit of not needing to pass a credit check.

Useful link: Compare all SIM only deals

1p Mobile customer service

Customer service: a cheap provider you can actually call!

1pMobile customer service review

We rang 1p Mobile and didn't have to waitHow to get help

One growing trend we're seeing with budget mobile phone networks is moving all their customer service online, with literally no way of phoning them up even if you have a problem that needs sorting urgently.

You can call 1p Mobile on the phone number listed on the page under this link. When we tried this, a UK-based employee answered almost immediately with none of the tiresome menus and hold music you get from other providers.

The phone line is only open 9:00am - 5:30pm, otherwise you'll need to email. We did this during office hours to test their response time and 1p Mobile replied to the email literally about three minutes later.

We were less impressed with the web chat option, which we tried during regular hours but seemed constantly to be offline. On balance, for a no-frills provider we were pleasantly surprised out how easy it was to get help.

Useful link: Visit 1p Mobile's online help section

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