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1p Mobile Review 2020:
cheapest rates so what's the 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: April 14th 2020.

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, 1pMobile 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

Information symbol We're a professional reviews website but we bought our 1p Mobile SIM card as a regular consumer, to test what it's actually like for real life paying customers. The contents of this review are a combination of our expert industry knowledge and what we experienced during our test.

Special feature: "Is 1pMobile legit?"

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

1pMobile SIM pack delivery

We received the SIM the very next dayOrder yours here

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

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 1pMobile 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 1pMobile'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

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

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, 1pMobile 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 1pMobile SIM card now

In the rest of our 1p Mobile review

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

4G, 3G and 2G coverage
Data speeds
Call quality
Tethering
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

1pMobile's network

Coverage: 1pMobile uses the EE network for signal

1pMobile's coverage map

Look up everywhere you'll use your phoneCheck coverage now

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

Despite their cheap and cheerful setup, 1pMobile actually use the UK's biggest network EE to bring their customers signal. There are advantages and disadvantages to this:

For data, EE have more of the physical landmass of the country covered with 4G than any other network. It's the same for older 3G data technology too - so they offer the best shot at staying online as you travel around.

There's probably a slight disadvantage vs using Vodafone or O2 when it comes to calls. EE are slightly behind those and their signal is less optimal for getting inside buildings, affecting calls at home.

It's impossible for us to take our 1pMobile SIM card everywhere in the country but we have been able to do some spot checks in a few areas and compare with being on EE directly.

For the most part, we found we had the same number of signal bars on our test phone with a 1pMobile SIM in as an identical one with an EE one.

There were some differences out in the countryside, where EE had 4G but 1pMobile only had 3G but could still connect to the internet (calls were still identical in these places ignoring 4G Calling).

We found it practically impossible to find blackspots outdoors and call signal held up alright indoors, although we did find the quality could be a little flakey the further inside you are.

In the majority of places, 1pMobile coverage is identical to EE's. But 1pMobile 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.

The real key is to work out what their signal is like in the places you'll be using your phone for real. Use their coverage checker here before you sign up, to be doubly sure.

Useful link: Check 1pMobile signal

Our rating:
★★★★★ (joint best choice)

Rank:
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 1pMobile seem to be capped

1pMobile 4G speeds vs EE

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 1pMobile:

When we put the 1pMobile 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 1pMobile'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, 1pMobile's speeds might not be enough.

Useful link: Read 1pMobile's guide to data

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
Mid-range

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

Better than:
O2
(and providers that use them)

Extra network features: in short supply on 1pMobile

WiFi calling banner

WiFi calling's handy for indoor blackspotsRead WiFi calling guide

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

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 1pMobile 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 1pMobile 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: 1pMobile'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

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

If you’re thinking of switching to 1pMobile 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 1pMobile 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)

Rank:
TBC

Better than:
TBC

Worse than:
TBC

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

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

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 1pMobile 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 1pMobile’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 1pMobile’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)

Rank:
TBC

As good as:
TBC

Better than:
TBC

Benefits you get elsewhere but not on 1pMobile

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 1pMobile 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 1pMobile anyway. They’re a good choice for anyone who wants an ultra-cheap, straightforward pay-as-you-go deal.

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
Most networks

Better than:
N/A

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

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

Basic pay as you go, where you actually just pay as you go, is become rarer and rarer. Three and O2 have scrapped their popular 3p 2p 1p tariffs and most other networks are trying to get you to buy bundles.

In our comparison of the cheapest pay as you go rates, 1pMobile come confortably top, miles ahead of the nearest competition. They're being straight-up when they say it's the UK's cheapest tariff:

We think it's the best deal for anyone who plans to use maybe about a couple of hours of calls, a few texts a day and use the internet every now and then out of the house.

Any less than that, the minimum top up requirement might become a waste of money. Much more than that and you're probably better off paying monthly.

Useful link: Order a 1pMobile SIM card

1pMobile's data bundle add-ons aren't really worth it

1pMobile monthly bundle prices

Prices may vary from those shown aboveLatest bundle prices

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

1pMobile are mainly set up for traditional pay as you go users (top up and just pay when you actually use it). They do offer some data bundles if you're using up your credit too quickly.

We're not particularly fans of this option though, because they work out much more expensive than just joining a pay monthly network (if you're spending more than £4 a month, this could be the better option).

Here are some cheap pay monthly alternatives if you'd spend more than £4 a month on 1pMobile:

Compare all pay monthly plans here

We'd say price-wise, 1pMobile only makes sense if you're a very occasional 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 1pMobile and didn't have to waitHow to get help

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

On a lot of budget mobile networks, the only way to get in contact with them is online. It saves them money on call centres, which they pass on to you via cheaper deals. But 1pMobile are different:

You can actually call 1pMobile and get to a real person in the UK (see their contact us page here for latest phone numbers and opening hours). We think a lot of their customers will appreciate this.

We were really impressed with the response times when you get in contact with 1pMobile. This might be because they're still quite a small provider with not that many customers.

When we rang their number, we got straight through to a call centre, with no menus or hold. It was like someone was just waiting to pick up a phone in an office!

They also responded to emails within 3 minutes of sending them. And their online chat has got better, although it can still take about 10 minutes to get through to a conversation.

Generally, we're fairly impressed with 1pMobile's service. We found it easy to get through to them on each of the methods we tried.

It's an advantage of joining a small provider without many customers. You get none of the waiting you get with the major networks.

Useful link: Visit 1pMobile's online help section

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