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1p Mobile Review 2023:
cheapest rates so what's the catch?

SIM card and 1pMobile's logoVisit

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. Last updated: 30th September 2022.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates 1p Mobile as a solid choice
 (3.5/5, very good)

"The most immediate selling point of 1pMobile is clearly their 1p pay as go rates, which are the UK's cheapest. But we've been really impressed how they've added big-network features like WiFi calling, 4G calling and 5G data recently - none of which you'd expect on such a cheap and cheerful provider.

The fact you have to top up every 4 months to keep your SIM working does mean that ultra-infrequent users might find life on 1p a bit stressful. And if you use a lot of data, you'll be better off paying monthly elsewhere. But if you mainly make a call every couple of days, 1pMobile should be in the just-right category for you.

Overall, we think most people will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of coverage, data speeds and customer service on 1pMobile. We certainly were."

The 3 best bits

1) Pay as you go rates cheaper than all others
2) Wide UK coverage through the EE network
3) Dependable customer service on call

The 3 worst bits

1) Must top up every 4 months
2) Suspected capped 4G speeds
3) No additional benefits

Who do 1pMobile piggyback on?

1pMobile use the full EE 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G network.

What is the catch with 1pMobile?

There is a requirement to top up with £10 every 4 months to keep your SIM active. This might be more than very infrequent users want to do. 1p per MB data isn’t actually that cheap either. 1GB would cost £10 at that rate, which is very easily beatable on pay monthly.

Does 1pMobile credit expire?

No. You can keep credit forever. You do have to top up once every 4 months though to keep the SIM active.

Does 1pMobile have an app?

No they don’t. Their online account system is pretty good though, with lots of the settings you’ll need.

Can I keep my number when I move to 1pMobile?

Yes you can. Just text the word PAC to 65075 from your old SIM and give the PAC to 1pMobile when you sign up or once your SIM arrives.

Information symbol We're a professional reviews website but we bought our 1pMobile SIM card to get a better view of what your experience will be if you go with this network. 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?"

Our experience of ordering a 1pMobile SIM card

1pMobile SIM pack delivery

We got our SIM the day after orderingOrder yours here

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You might have never heard of 1pMobile before. We only discovered them in the first place when we saw one of their adverts online.

It’s understandable to be wary when choosing a new network, especially one so unknown to the general public and one advertised with much less flashy branding than bigger networks.

But our job is to inform. So to find out more, we ordered a 1pMobile SIM card. Here's how it went:

We ordered a 1pMobile SIM topped-up with £10 credit. We were impressed at how quickly they got our SIM out to us. We bought it on a Wednesday at 4pm and our SIM was delivered to us via Royal Mail the next day.

The actual letter that the SIM comes with wasn’t particularly stunning, but it came with everything we paid for. The SIM card comes with every size to fit any phone. Just take out the one that fits your model and you’re good to go.

Useful link: About 1pMobile's SIM card sizes

How to set up your 1pMobile SIM

Photo of 1pMobile's welcome letter

You’re given everything you need to knowKeep your number

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After popping your SIM into your phone you’ll have to activate it online. It’s fairly easy to do, just follow the information contained in the welcome email that 1pMobile send you.

Though the instructions say the SIM should be ready in 15 minutes (or 24 hours at the most) our SIM card took 30 minutes to register on the network - 1p say 24 hours at the very worst, so don't panic if it takes a while.

We tested out how many signal bars we could get on our 1pMobile SIM compared to an EE SIM, and found they both got the same amount. Calls and data also worked right away (but 4G took around 3 minutes to start working).

We can say for certain that 1pMobile is not a scam. It’s a legit company. We hope that puts your fears to rest. Keep reading for more information on the quality of the network and features you’ll get.

Useful link: Get a 1pMobile SIM card now

1pMobile's network

Coverage: 1pMobile piggyback off EE’s network

1pMobile's coverage map

The same coverage as being on EE directlyCheck coverage now

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You don’t have to worry about getting an inferior network experience with 1pMobile just because they’re a budget network. We found them just as stable as being on their hosts EE. But what are the advantages of using EE’s network?

EE have earned the number one spot in the UK for giving you 3G, 4G and 5G data technology in most places all over the country - meaning total signal blackspots on 1pMobile are a massive rarity.

You may struggle to get strong signal indoors on EE more often than on networks like O2 and Vodafone, so this is a weakness of 1pMobile too. But 1p do now offer WiFi calling as a way around this.

Taking our 1pMobile SIM card everywhere in the country is an impossible task, but we have been able to do some spot checks in a few areas. We also compared it to being on EE directly.

We got the same number of signal bars on our 1pMobile SIM and on our test EE SIM when testing in the same areas.

For the moment we’re re-testing coverage in rural areas where signal used to be a bit patchier on 1p due to them using different frequencies. But we think this is no longer the case.

It was practically impossible for us to find blackspots outdoors and call signal held up alright indoors. We did however find that quality could be a little flakey the further inside you are.

We’re fairly certain you get the same coverage on 1pMobile as EE. They used to only use one sort of 4G mast. But these days we think there is no difference in signal between the two networks.

Before signing up, we recommend working out where you are likely to use your phone. This way, you’ll know what kind of signal to expect when you’re actually using it. Use their coverage checker here

Useful link: Check 1pMobile 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: we're re-testing if there are still caps on 1pMobile

1pMobile 4G speeds vs EE

In the past we have found that being on 1p did give you inferior download speeds against being on EE directly.

The last time we tested 1pMobile there seemed to be a 20 Mbps speed cap. We suspect this has now gone with their recent upgrade to EE's full network and access to 5G - so we're re-testing and will update shortly.

According to independent network testers Opensignal, typical 4G download speeds on EE sit around 44.0 Mbps. They’re the fastest UK network by a country mile which is good news for 1pMobile users.

We would caution that 1p per MB data isn't actually as cheap as it sounds. 1GB would cost you £10. That's far more than data costs as part of many pay monthly SIM only deals.

Useful link: Read 1pMobile's guide to data

Our rating:
☆☆☆☆☆ (tbc)


Not as good as:

Better than:

5G: 1pMobile get access to our favourite network

1pMobile 5g SIM card

5G goes well with new pay monthly SIMsSee biggest data plan

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1pMobile’s hosts EE are our number one pick for the best 5G network, having a brilliant mix of speeds, amount of locations covered and coverage within their 160+ covered UK towns and cities.

According to independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla, you’ll get speeds between 131.9 Mbps - 158.30 Mbps using EE’s 5G and the same should go for 1pMobile.

There are a couple of networks that claim to cover more locations, but we think EE seem behind because the only claim a location as covered when you can get 5G in 50% of that area. You can get 5G in more places than they claim, albeit weaker.

You get 5G access for no added cost on pay as you go and on 1pMobile’s pay monthly plans. Getting access to the overall best 5G network is brilliant, especially since their fellow EE-users Plusnet don’t offer it.

Useful link: Check 5G coverage near you

WiFi calling and 4G calling: brilliant features on 1pMobile

1pMobile WiFi calling

Improves coverage and call qualityRead full guide

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More and more low-cost networks are beginning to offer WiFi calling and 4G calling and 1pMobile are one of them. You get it on pay as you go and on any of their SIM only plans.

It means if you've ever struggled with poor indoor call signal, your phone will be able to use a WiFi connection to make and take calls, and send and receive SMS text messages.

We’re fairly certain that 1p use the same WiFi calling technology as EE (rather than developing their own one). In our tests we found that it gave us similar audio quality and worked on the same models as on EE.

Your phone will need to have the feature for this to work. If you've got a modern smartphone, it will almost certainly have it. But bear in mind, a cheap £19.99 Nokia type phone might not have WiFi calling.

Useful link: 1pMobile's own guide to their WiFi/4G calling

Extra network features: no WiFi hotspots, but tethering allowed

BT Mobile logoVirgin Mobile logoO2 logo

These networks offer lots of free WiFi hotspotsRead our guide

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Networks often add extra features to help people get more use out of their phone or SIM card. 1pMobile offer quite a lot on top of their cheap rates that we think customers will like:

Access to free WiFi hotspots is sadly not an option. This is a bit disappointing as this can help pay as you go customers save a lot of credit when out and about. Find out more in our dedicated guide.

1pMobile also let you tether, which is where you make a personal WiFi hotspot using your phone’s data signal that you can connect non-data devices like laptops to, so you can stay connected on the go.

Finally you can’t get an eSIM on 1pMobile, you can’t forward incoming calls to a different number and they don’t offer visual voicemail but they offer a decent amount of customisation with your voicemail.

Useful link: 1pMobile's About Us page

1p Mobile benefits

Credit won’t expire so long as you top up

Topping up on 1pMobile

You can top up in a few different waysHow to top up

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If you very rarely use your phone, then you’ll appreciate the fact that your credit will never expire. That means you don’t have to worry about wasting your money on credit that will just disappear if you don’t use it all.

But it's worth knowing that you do have to top up with at least £10 every 120 days to keep your 1p SIM active. If you haven't used all your credit, you'll keep whatever you had, plus the new top up.

That averages out to £2.50 a month that you have to top up with to keep your SIM active. If you don’t use that much credit per month, you might start piling up credit that you might never even use.

1pMobile have also brought in an option to get a year’s worth of credit when you first buy your 1p SIM card, getting rid of some of the hassle of remembering to top-up. Here’s where you buy that on 1pMobile’s site.

This top-up requirement might be a turn off for some users. They do let you set an option to automatically top up your SIM when your credit is low. Or you can easily top-up online or by text.

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

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)


Better than:

Worse than:

Roaming: get the same 1p tariffs while in the EU

A free month for you and a friend of SMARTY

The same cheap rates in 46 EU destinationsSee all the countries

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While some networks are getting rid of their free EU roaming (see which networks still offer it here) 1pMobile have kept their inclusive roaming policy in place.

With 1p you’re getting the same cheap 1p per minute, 1p per text and 1p per MB data rates when roaming in any of these 46 European destinations.

You shouldn’t run into any issues with the network while you’re abroad. Roaming is now on by default with your 1p SIM, so that removes a bit of the frustration of arriving with no access to your network.

Outside the EU, 1pMobile’s cheap rates won’t apply. But the fact that 1p are keeping their EU scheme puts them head and shoulders above some bigger networks, so we can forgive them for lacking worldwide roaming.

Useful link: All about roaming on 1p Mobile

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)


As good as:

Better than:

What you don’t get on 1pMobile

Other networks with free content

Some networks offer freebies for joining

It’s important to know what sorts of benefits you get on top of your plan with the different networks. Whether or not these are useful depends on what you actually need, but we list them just to let you know what you’re getting.

Of course, with a budget network like 1pMobile you’ll be missing out on these things that pricier networks can get you:

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

As their name suggests, 1pMobile’s main draw is their budget tariffs of 1p per minute, text and data. So if you don’t mind missing out on these benefits then this shouldn’t impact your decision to join them.

The money you save from going with 1pMobile may even free you up to pay for these otherwise “free” subscriptions anyway, but for many the lack of data rollover and worldwide roaming may be hard to get over.

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Joint last

Not as good as:
Most networks

Better than:

1p Mobile deals and plans

The cheapest pay as you go tariffs in the UK

1p per minute, text and MB of dataSee all other costs

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Proper pay as you go schemes are largely a thing of the past these days. The majority of networks prefer to offer monthly bundles, with Three and O2 getting rid of their impressive 3p 2p 1p rates.

While other networks are abandoning the pay as you go model, 1pMobile sit comfortably at the top of our list of the cheapest pay as you go rates. There is truth in 1p’s claims of being the UK’s cheapest provider.

If you only want to use your SIM for a few calls, a little bit of internet browsing and a handful of texts then 1pMobile are a brilliant choice and should probably put 1pMobile at the top of your list.

1pMobile are also a brilliant choice if you want a second SIM card for your dual SIM phone, as you can get super cheap texts and calls while also benefiting from another network. You can also use it for things like sat-navs and alarm systems.

This deal won’t suit everyone though. If you barely use your phone you might be wasting your money with the required minimum top-up. If you need more then you’re likely better suited to a monthly plan.

Useful link: Order a 1pMobile SIM card

1pMobile offer some good value pay monthly deals too

1pMobile's Data Boost Options

Some very competitive value on pay monthlyLatest bundle prices

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1pMobile aren’t just a pay as you go network these days, as they’ve begun to offer some pretty cheap pay monthly SIM only plans as well. These are all on 1-month plans, so you can change or leave whenever you like.

While low-cost competitors like SMARTY and fellow EE users Plusnet might offer even lower prices and VOXI might offer more benefits, 1pMobile are the cheapest way to get on EE’s brilliant 5G network.

You get the same benefits as you would on pay as you go, including EU roaming (you can use up to 14GB while abroad), WiFi calling and the like. But you’re getting much better value for your data than on pay as you go.

If you are on pay as you go, then 1p do offer extra data boosts that offer much better value than using the same amount of data at their 1p per MB rate. But their pay monthly plans give you better value for data as well as unlimited calls and texts.

Useful link: Compare all SIM only deals

1p Mobile customer service

Customer service: a cheap network that actually offer over-the-phone services!

1pMobile customer service review

We rang 1pMobile and didn't have to waitWhere to get help

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Regularly the big downside of going with a low-cost network is that you can get stuck with online-only customer service that might not be ideal for you. Low-costs are the trade off for not having call centres. But 1pMobile are different:

You can get support from a real person, based in the UK on the phone (see their contact page for latest phone numbers and opening hours). This is refreshing for those fed up with lacklustre customer service.

We called up 1pMobile’s customer service and right away we were impressed with how quickly we were in touch with an agent. This could just be due to the fact that they don’t have a lot of 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!

We tried sending emails to test their response time and they responded within 3 minutes. And their online chat option is very good, but at worst it can take around 10 minutes to actually get your issue resolved this way.

Overall, 1pMobile’s customer service should be an example for all budget mobile networks. In all the ways we contacted them we found little difficulty in getting through to someone.

There’s really little to fault 1p on here. There’s no trade off of low prices for good customer service, you get both! The fact they have fewer customers means you can get through to them quicker.

Useful link: Visit 1pMobile's online help section

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