Cookies on the SIM Sherpa website

We use cookies to track which pages on our website readers visit most. This helps us understand which topics people find interesting, to write more articles about them.

You can accept these tracking cookies or choose to block them. You can change these settings at any time.

X close

✖ Tracking cookies blocked

Ok, we will not track your page views as you move around any part of the SIM Sherpa website. But we will use that one cookie to remember you don't want to be tracked.

Click here to unblock tracking cookies

X close

✔ Cookies accepted

Thank you for accepting cookies for the SIM Sherpa website. This will help us constantly improve our content.

If you ever want to change your cookie settings for our website, go to our Cookies page here.

Free data for streaming, social media & messaging on UK mobile networks

Free data for social media and streaming

We compare the UK mobile networks giving away free unlimited data for streaming music and videos, messaging or social media. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 26th April 2018.

Free streaming data and social media explained

Free data... endless this… unlimited that... - what’s it all about?

Example services

Example services you can use data-free

Mobile networks are forever trying to find more and more clever ways to lure in new customers. And they know that one of the things we’re most concerned about is how much data we use.

That’s why a few of them are starting to change the way their deals work, so that some of the activities you do on your phone no longer eat into your main data allowance.

So far there are two main patterns we’re seeing:

Green number 1 Networks that let you stream selected video and music services without using up data

Green number 2 Providers that let you use selected social media or messaging apps without using up data

In this guide, we compare each network’s scheme and look for any potential restrictions and catches.

Free video and music streaming data schemes

Unlimited / free data for streaming is the most valuable type of scheme on offer

Music and video streaming

Video and music streaming normally use lots of data

We estimate that watching an hour of video on your phone in standard definition will use up 1GB of your data. And that an hour of music will be around 70MB. Of course this varies depending on provider and quality.

The main point is that watching video and listening to audio are probably the most data-heavy activities we do on our phones. Until now, you really had two choices:

Green number 1 Get an expensive plan with a huge monthly data allowance

Green number 2 Watch fewer videos and listen to less music than you wanted

So when a mobile network says you can watch or listen to a service without using data, it’s problem solved for both choices. You can probably take out a cheaper, smaller plan and you don’t have to restrict your own usage.

There are only two providers so far that are including this. Read the details in the next section.

1st: Three’s ‘Go Binge’ is the best free streaming data scheme

Three Go Binge unlimited streaming

Stream selected services without using dataSee how it works

at Three.co.uk
(opens in new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Covers 4 different services including Netflix
Green plus sign No restrictions on how much you can watch
Green plus sign Now includes unlimited Snapchat too
Green plus sign Comes with every Advanced plan above 12GB

What we don't like:
Red minus sign You still have to pay for the subscriptions
Red minus sign Video streaming is in standard definition only

The only mobile provider who’s writing off any data used for video streaming is Three with their new Go Binge service, which we rate as the best free data scheme in the UK simply because it’s the most generous:

It lets you watch as much Netflix or TV Player as you like on your mobile without eating into your mobile data. In addition, you also get an unlimited allowance for listening to Apple Music, Deezer and SoundCloud music/audio services.

You can get Go Binge with any Advanced Three phone contract or SIM only plan that comes with at least 12GB (compare latest deals and pricing here).

The main restrictions are that you’ll need to have at least some of your regular data left for Go Binge to work, plus you’ll only be able to stream video in standard definition (could be noticeable on larger screens).

Get the full story on Three’s Go Binge on their dedicated page here.

Useful links: Terms and conditions for Go Binge | Latest Three offers

Our ranking:
1st

Content you can stream:
Video: Netflix & TV Player
Audio: Apple Music, Deezer & SoundCloud
Social media: Snapchat

Restrictions:
Must have some regular data left

2nd: EE’s free data for Apple Music is good but time limited

6 months free Apple Music streaming data

The data used for streaming Apple Music is now freeHow to get it

at EE.co.uk
(opens in new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Listen to as much as you like
Green plus sign Existing customers can add the free data

What we don't like:
Red minus sign It’s a time-limited deal to 6 months only
Red minus sign Apple Music subscription becomes payable later

For a while now, EE have been offering new and existing customers a free 6-month subscription to the Apple Music service. But when Three launched their Go Binge free streaming data service, EE responded too:

You might have noticed EE’s recent adverts for free Apple Music now say “And the data’s on us”. That’s because, for 6 months, EE won’t charge you for the data you use to listen to Apple Music.

This is a handy benefit as music streaming uses up data fairly quickly but not as fast as video streaming. It’s a bit frustrating that the data-free streaming only lasts 6 months, as Three’s Go Binge lasts your entire contract.

To EE’s credit, if you’ve already had the free 6-month subscription, you can still cash in on the free data for Apple Music by following the instructions here.

For the time being, we rate EE as having the 2nd best free video/audio streaming data scheme.

Useful link: How to get 6 months free Apple Music

Our ranking:
2nd

Get free streaming data with:
Phone contracts, SIM only plans

Content you can stream:
Music: Apple Music

Restrictions:
Must have some regular data left, only lasts 6 months

3rd: Vodafone offer unlimited video and music streaming for an extra charge

Vodafone streaming passes

Unlimited streaming but for an extra chargeSee latest prices

at vodafone.co.uk
(opens in new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Covers largest number of services
Green plus sign No restrictions on how much you can watch/listen

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Passes cost extra (up to £7 at last check)
Red minus sign You still have to pay for the subscriptions
Red minus sign Video streaming limited to standard definition

Vodafone have responded to Three's Go Binge, with a range of Passes that let you stream selected video and music apps without eating into your normal data allowance.

The video pass covers more services than Three's Go Binge, including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, DisneyLife, My5, UKTV Play and Vevo.

And the music pass covers more too, including Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, Deezer, Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, SoundCloud and Napster.

But the more-comprehensive range of apps comes with a price tag. On Vodafone, you'll pay £7 a month for a video pass and an extra £5 a month for a music pass.

So they're not a free benefit. And we start to question whether you'd just be better of buying a bigger regular data plan to cover your usage, rather than stumping up £12 on top of your regular deal.

Useful links: Terms and conditions for Vodafone's Passes | Latest Vodafone offers

4th: VOXI have the same passes as Vodafone but with age restrictions on their deals

VOXI Endless streaming passes

Get the passes free for 6 monthsSee the offer

at VOXI.co.uk
(opens in new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Free for your first 6 months
Green plus sign Wide range of supported apps
Green plus sign Watch/listen as much as you like

What we don't like:
Red minus sign It's only free for 6 months, then payable
Red minus sign Under 26 age limit on all VOXI's deals

If you've not heard of them, read our review of VOXI here. They're a new network from Vodafone aimed at people 25 years old and under (if you're older, you can't get a deal from them!).

VOXI offer exactly the same Video and Music passes as Vodafone, and they're even priced them same, although VOXI's basic plans are cheaper (see pricing here).

We won't repeat everything that's included from the Vodafone section above but it's worth noting that social media and messaging data is all free for selected apps, and the music/video passes are added on top.

VOXI have a free 6 months pass offer running until May 9th 2018 that lets you add both their video and music passes at no extra cost for a limited period. So if you're 25 or under, it's a great time to join.

Useful link: How to get 6 months free passes on VOXI

Unlimited social media and messaging

Social media and messaging use less data, but more often

Unlimited social media data

Social media uses less data than videos/music

The second type of free data scheme lets you either use social media apps without using up data or effectively gives you an unlimited data allowance for sending messages on selected chat services.

These activities don’t consume as much data per hour as watching videos or music, so it’s less generous for networks to write off. But we do use social media more frequently so the data savings are still valuable.

Think about how many times a day you check your status or send messages and it quickly becomes clear.

So far, there are three mobile networks who offer this type of scheme free and what you get varies between them. Read the details on each and how we think they stack up against each other.

New VOXI by Vodafone’s ‘endless social data’ is the most comprehensive scheme but only if you’re young enough!

Endless social media data

It's a benefit included with all VOXI plansHow they work

What we like:
Green plus sign Widest range of most popular social media apps
Green plus sign No sneaky limits on how much you can use it

What we don't like:
Red minus sign You have to be aged 16-29 to join
Red minus sign SIM only plans only, no phone contracts

Our favourite of the three comes from Vodafone’s new youth network VOXI. They’re the first network to make a serious offer of ‘endless social data’ - social media that doesn’t come out for your data allowance.

On VOXI, you can use the Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, Pinterest and Facebook Messenger apps as much as you like and you won’t be charged for the data consumed.

This means your plan only needs enough data for everything else (compare VOXI SIM only plan prices).

There are only two small catches. One, you have to be aged 29 or under to join VOXI (it’s aimed at youth only). Two, you’ll need some of your regular data allowance left over for endless social data to work.

Useful links: See all VOXI benefits | Compare VOXI’s deals

Our ranking:
1st

Get free social media with:
SIM only plans

Restrictions:
Must have some regular data left

2nd: Virgin Mobile’s data-free messaging is open to everyone

Unlimited WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter

Virgin's scheme focusses on messaging appsFull details

What we like:
Green plus sign No silly age limits like with VOXI
Green plus sign Truly no limits on the data

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Doesn't cover many social media apps

If you’re not lucky enough to young enough to join VOXI, there’s a similar option available from Virgin Mobile.

Their data-free messaging scheme effectively gives you unlimited messaging on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and they’ve recently also added using Twitter without using data too.

As long as you use these services in their dedicated apps (not your browser) the data used will be free.

Virgin’s scheme doesn’t cover as many social media providers as VOXI but it is at least open to everyone of all ages (18 and over) and comes with all their well-priced SIM only plans or smartphone contracts.

Useful link: Learn how it works at virginmedia.com

Our ranking:
2nd

Get free social media with:
Phone contracts, SIM only plans

Social media apps you can use data-free:
WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter

Restrictions:
Must have some regular data left, voice calls and video streaming within apps not included.

3rd: Three have added unlimited Snapchat to Go Binge

Unlimited Snapchat on Three

Use Snapchat without using up dataRead Three's guide

What we like:
Green plus sign In addition to free video / audio streaming
Green plus sign Works abroad in Feel At Home destinations

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Other networks cover more social media apps

We've already covered Three's Go Binge in the section above that deals with free audio and video streaming, but now Three have added some social media to the scheme too:

New and existing Three customers on an Advanced plan with over 12GB data can now use the Snapchat messaging app on their phones without eating into their regular mobile data allowance.

What's good is you can also use Snapchat abroad in selected countries without using your data, thanks to Three's Feel At Home scheme.

Three only have one social media app on Go Binge, which is less than VOXI and Virgin, so those could be a better choice if social's your thing.

Useful link: Three's guide to unlimited Snapchat

Our ranking:
3rd

Get free social media with:
Phone contracts
SIM only plans

Social media apps you can use data-free:
Snapchat

Restrictions:
Must have some regular data left

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

network logos