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BT Mobile review 2018: why we rate this network as one of the UK's best

BT Mobile review

Our detailed review of BT Mobile looks at their 4G speeds, coverage and benefits to see if it's worth taking a SIM only plan or phone contract from them. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: November 6th 2018.

Overall rating

BT Mobile

SIM Sherpa rates BT Mobile as an excellent, recommended network to join ★★★★☆ (4/5, excellent)

"BT Mobile offer an excellent blend of an extensive, fast mobile network and reasonable pricing but don’t quite nail the finishing touches of high-quality perks that’d earn them our best rating.

Our guide below details the 4G speeds you can expect, network extras like free WiFi, tethering policy, roaming and other little bonus perks you'll get on BT Mobile."

The 3 best bits

1) The joint-best coverage in the UK
2) Lucrative joining rewards
3) Our best-rated Family plans

The 3 worst bits

1) WiFi calling supports too few phones
2) No short 1-month SIM only contracts
3) No unique extra perks

In our BT Mobile review and guide

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

4G/3G coverage
Data speeds
Call quality
Free WiFi hotspots
Tethering
WiFi calling

Perks review

Perks & extras

Inclusive roaming
Spending caps
Rewards/incentives
Multibuy discounts
Free subscriptions
Free data schemes
Data rollover

Deal review

Deals

Special offers
SIM only plans
Phone contracts
Pay As You Go
Mobile broadband

Customer service review

Customer service

Ofcom complaints data

What to expect from BT Mobile's network

Coverage: BT Mobile has the UK's joint-best network reach

Check BT Mobile coverage

Check the BT Mobile signal in your areaUse coverage checker

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

You probably already know that BT Mobile use the EE network to bring their customers signal. EE is the UK's biggest mobile network and you'll get identical reception on BT Mobile as you would directly on EE.

That's handy to know if you're thinking of switching to BT Mobile from EE or a network that uses them. You'll enjoy 99% population coverage for 4G, 98% for 3G and 99% for 2G, plus you'll benefit as the network grows.

Accessing that quality mobile network but without paying the high prices that you get on EE makes joining BT Mobile a very sensible and good value proposition (particularly with BT's generous offers, see here).

If you've not been with a network that uses EE before, it's still definitely worth having a quick check of their signal in the places you plan your phone, just to make sure it meets your expectations.

Use their coverage checker under the useful link below to make doubly sure.

Useful link: Check BT Mobile coverage near you on their official network map.

Our rating:
★★★★★ (best choice)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
EE, Plusnet Mobile, Virgin Mobile

Better than:
Vodafone, O2, Three & all others

4G speeds: BT Mobile are up there with the fastest

BT Mobile extra 4G speeds

4G up to 60 Mbps on qualifying plansExtra 4G speed locations

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

The network that BT Mobile uses is the UK's fastest, which brings an advantage to their customers. On average, we expect EE customers to receive around 31 Mbps, faster than many people's home broadband.

On BT Mobile, the majority of their plans come with a top speed cap of 30 Mbps (the highest speed you'll get with those deals).

On plans with larger amounts of data, BT Mobile offer an upgrade to their "Extra 4G Speed". This has a maximum of 60 Mbps. But check Extra 4G Speed is available near you with the map here.

Whichever speed tier you end up on, we'd 4G downloads on BT Mobile to be in the upper third of what's available among all networks.

Useful link: SIM only plans with extra 4G speed included

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (recommended)

Likely rank:
Top third of league

Not as good as:
EE

Likely better than:
Three, Vodafone, O2

Call quality: 4G Calling means clearer audio in more places

BT Mobile 4G calling banner

Having 4G Calling improves audio qualitySee BT's 4G Calling

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

In this section of our reviews, we're looking for mobile networks that have 4G calling enabled. This is service that lets your phone use 4G signal to make and take calls (normally it's just for data).

You'll need to have a phone that supports 4G Calling itself for the service to work (see models in their pay monthly range here that have the feature). All new iPhone devices do have it.

Compared with making regular calls over 2G and 3G, 4G Calling offers even clearer sound quality. You'll get it as standard on any BT Mobile pay monthly phone or SIM only deal.

The minutes you use on 4G Calling come out of your regular monthly allowance (most BT's plans now have unlimited minutes anyway).

Useful link: Read what difference 4G calling makes in BT's guide

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (very good)

Rank:
Joint best

Equal to:
EE, Plusnet, Virgin

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

WiFi calling: BT Mobile have finally launched it!

BT Mobile WiFi calling alternative

Make and take mobile calls over a WiFi connectionSee WiFi calling benefits

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

If you’re unfamiliar with it, WiFi calling is when mobile providers enable you to make calls and send texts on your phone using a WiFi connection instead of regular mobile phone signal.

This is handy if you’re in a thick-walled building that mobile signal struggles to penetrate or underground.

Until April 2018, you couldn't get it on BT Mobile but now we're pleased to say they've launched it for all pay monthly phone contract and SIM only and Family SIM customers (see for yourself here).

It's a good start but the number of supported phones (see FAQs on this page here) is still quite limited to begin with. And for Android models, you'll need to have bought it from BT in the first place.

It's a nice development but needs improving fast to be useful for more people.

Useful links: BT's full guide to WiFi calling and supported phones

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
5th

Better than:
All others

Free WiFi hotspots: we rate BT Mobile as the best mobile provider for them

Free WiFi on BT Mobile

BT's WiFi app connects to hotspots automaticallyHow free WiFi works

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

One area that BT Mobile continue to excel over even the UK’s main mobile networks is how much free public WiFi they offer. This is understandable given that BT are the UK’s biggest broadband provider.

Every BT Mobile smartphone or SIM only customer gets unlimited free access to BT’s network of 5 million fast WiFi hotspots in the UK and 13 million abroad (see their WiFi app here).

The reason this is useful is because you won’t use up your mobile data when you’re connected to WiFi and you won't incur roaming charges abroad (see charges for going over data limits and roaming here).

The hotspots are located in public places like shopping centres, bars and cafes, plus transport hubs.

For free WiFi provision, we actually rate BT Mobile as the best option to join among all mobile networks.

Useful link: See how many BT hotspots are near you on their useful map.

Our rating:
★★★★★ (best choice)

Rank:
1st

Way better than:
Everyone else

Tethering: you can do it as much as you want on BT Mobile

BT Mobile tethering allowed

You're free to use your phone as a personal hotspotRead BT's full terms

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

Not everyone will end up using it, but tethering is a useful feature on smartphones that lets you create a miniature WiFi hotspot around you, using mobile data from your phone.

The idea is that you can then connect other devices like laptops and tablets where there’s no other WiFi.

Some networks don’t let you tether because it uses a lot of data, which costs them money. But BT Mobile do let you do it at no extra cost.

Tethering tends to use up data faster than just using your phone. This increases the chance that you could go over your monthly data allowance limit. If you do, you’ll pay for any extra data at these rates on BT Mobile.

Useful link: Full tethering terms and conditions from BT Mobile's help section

Our rating:
★★★★★ (Joint best choice)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
EE, Vodafone, O2, BT, Plusnet, Tesco

Better than:
iD Mobile, Virgin Mobile

Reviewing BT Mobile's perks & extras

Inclusive roaming: use your plan for no extra cost in the EU

BT Mobile roaming for free within the EU

Free roaming in 47 selected destinations in the EUFull list of countries

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

In case you missed it, every mobile network in the UK must now give you free roaming within the EU on their pay monthly plans. That means no charges for using your plan’s regular minutes, texts and data.

BT Mobile call their scheme Roam Like At Home and it comes on all smartphone and SIM only contracts. The scheme covers these 47 European destinations.

Outside the included areas, you'll still pay for roaming in the old fashioned way, per minute, text and MB used at these latest rates published here.

Because BT Mobile’s inclusive roaming doesn’t offer any worldwide destinations outside the EU, it’s basically the same as what’s on offer at every mobile network, so only gets our ‘good’ rating.

Useful links: Other roaming charges on BT Mobile | More about Roam Like At Home

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
Joint 7th

Slightly better than:
giffgaff, iD, Virgin

Spending caps: choose to avoid extra costs on BT

BT Mobile spending caps

BT's spending caps are easy to manageHow to cap bills

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

By law, every mobile network now has to let you set a spending cap on your pay monthly deal, if you want to be prevented from incurring extra bills. BT have offered these for a while now anyway.

You can set a limit in pounds (£) of how much over your regular monthly cost you’re willing to spend. Extra costs include roaming fees, charges for going over allowances or using premium services.

Instead of incurring large bills, once you’ve hit your spending cap limit, the network prevents you from using any more services that will cost you extra. Crucially, you can still use any free services.

BT Mobile let you set a cap as low as £0 a month and will text you when you’re getting near your limits. We like this system as it’s voluntary (other networks force you to take one) so it gets our ‘recommended’ rating.

Useful link: Read BT’s help articles on managing your mobile service

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (recommended)

Rank:
Joint 2nd

Not as good as:
Tesco

Equal to:
iD Mobile, Plusnet

Customer rewards: BT broadband customers get a discount

£5 discount for BT broadband customers

£5 monthly discount for BT's broadband customersGet exclusive prices

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

In this section, we're on the lookout for how mobile providers pay back their customers for their loyalty on an ongoing basis. This can be through reward apps or exclusive pricing and deals.

BT focus on giving their broadband customers a £5 monthly discount on all mobile contracts (SIM only or phones). They also offer impressive multi-buy discounts covered in the dedicated section below.

With the broadband customer discount, BT Mobile typically works out among the best value mobile providers.

To qualify for the discount, you merely have to live in a household with BT broadband. You don't have to be the account holder yourself. In fact, you can even have your SIM or phone set up and sent to a different address.

So practically, you only really need to know someone with BT broadband at home. That could be a friend, a colleague or another family member. Either way, it's effectively a £60 annual discount on any plan you choose.

Useful link: BT broadband customer? See your exclusive deals here

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
5th

Not as good as:
O2 Priority, Tesco Mobile Clubcard Points, giffgaff recruiter scheme, Plusnet Mobile Mates Rates

Better than:
All others

Multi-buy discounts: BT's Family SIMs are our best choice

BT Mobile Family SIM alternative

Family SIMs offer the best multi-buy discount schemeSee savings per plan

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

In this segment, we look for mobile networks that give you discounts when you buy more than one plan from them. And we're happy to report that BT Mobile have the best scheme for this, in the form of their Family SIMs.

The simplest way to describe them is like a discount for bulk buying your mobile contracts. Every SIM you add to your account comes with a greater monthly saving than the last (see latest discount amounts here).

Other than the savings, the real thing we like about Family SIMs is their flexibility:

Firstly, you can add Family SIMs to your account at any time whenever you're ready. Secondly, each additional SIM is on just a 30-day contract so you're free to drop them at short notice too.

All in all: real savings, managing multiple contracts in one place and flexibility makes Family SIMs the best multi-buy scheme out there.

Useful link: See BT Mobile's Family SIMs

Our rating:
★★★★★ (best choice)

Rank:
1st

Better than:
EE, Three, Vodafone

Way better than:
All others

Free subscriptions: get free BT Sport app on selected plans

Free BT Sport app access on BT Mobile

Pick the right plan for free BT Sport app accessSee qualifying plans

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

Here's one benefit you get from joining a TV provider for your mobile deal: free access to the BT Sport app on qualifying plans.

Take a pay monthly SIM only plan or smartphone contract with 6GB data or more (as long as this isn't a boosted amount of data for a promotion), and you'll get free access to the service for the duration of your deal, without paying an extra subscription.

The app lets you watch live sport covered by the BT Sport channels, including UEFA Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup football. It only works on your mobile though (it doesn't on your TV or laptops via Chromecast).

Despite being limited to mobile-only, we still think it's a decent enough benefit and it's a genuine freebie from BT with a mobile deal.

Useful link: How free BT Sport app with BT Mobile works

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
TBC

Similar to:
Vodafone, EE, Virgin

Better than:
Most others

Data rollover: BT Mobile don't offer it on any plan

BT Mobile no data rollover

Virgin have data rollover and use EESee Virgin's scheme

at virginmedia.com
(opens in new window)

One area where BT Mobile fall short of some of their rivals is the lack of any data rollover plans.

Data rollover is when a network lets you keep any data you haven't used at the end of the month; either for the next month (iD Mobile and Virgin Mobile or for up to 3 years (Sky Mobile).

New network SMARTY go one step further and give you money back off your next bill for data you've not used.

The basic idea behind these schemes is fairness: you've paid for it so why should you lose it? Data rollover also helps with the fact that some months you might use very little dat and others you'd go over your normal limit.

None of BT Mobile plans include data rollover so we've given them a poor rating in this category.

Useful link: Read our full guide to Data Rollover plans

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Equal to:
All others

Free data schemes: nothing innovative from BT Mobile

Three's Go Binge

Stream and use Snapchat without using data on Three
Stream for free

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

The last measure we look at in our mobile network reviews is whether the provider offers up any innovative data-saving schemes beyond free WiFi. More networks are giving away free data for certain activities.

In a nutshell, BT Mobile haven't got anything clever to offer in this area.

Some of the schemes that are really attracting people's attention include Three's Go Binge (read our review). This lets you stream Netflix, Apple Music and these other services without using up your monthly data allowance.

Other notable schemes are EE giving away free data to listen to Apple Music with for 6 months. Or Virgin Mobile not charging for messaging data on WhatsApp, Twitter of Facebook Messenger.

For now, BT don't have anything to offer in this department so get a poor rating for the time being.

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Equal to:
Everyone else

How BT Mobile's deals compare

BT Mobile SIM only plans: quick facts

Number of plans available:
Price range: £ - £ a month
Contract lengths:
SIM card sizes: Standard, Micro, Nano

Minutes allowances:
Texts allowances:
Data allowances:
Data speed: 4G on all plans

Find a SIM only plan

Choose what you want in your deal:

Deal options >
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Choose data speed (3G or 4G) >
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Current offers running on BT Mobile

 
BT Mobile SIM only plans
BT Mobile SIM only deals

 

Reward Cards
up to
£80
in value

View SIM offers

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

 
BT Mobile smartphones
BT Mobile smartphone contracts

 

Reward Cards
up to
£100
in value

See phone offers

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

Phone contracts on BT Mobile quick facts:

BT Mobile smartphone contracts

Regular Reward Card offers with phone contractsCheck for phone deals

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

iPhone: Yes, full range of latest models
Samsung Galaxy: Yes, latest flagship plus mid-range
Other makes/models: Google Pixel, Sony Xperia, Nokia
Upfront costs: Yes, except cheapest models
Locked to BT Mobile?: No

Contract lengths: 24 month only
Contract types: Standard (no financing)
Expected ease of passing credit check: Normal (better than giffgaff, O2, Sky, Tesco Mobile & Virgin Mobile, same as others)

Overall, we rate BT Mobile as an "ok" place to pick up a contract phone at a middle-ranged price, as long as you get the timing right to qualify for one of their Reward Card offers and have BT broadband at home.

Their plans are straightforward to understand and there are typically only 3-4 to choose from with any phone.

Upfront costs are typical on BT Mobile's phones and our most recent price analysis found that the overall cost of a contract with BT was the second most expensive on the market if you order while there's no voucher offer.

See popular phones at BT.com: iPhone | Samsung Galaxy | Other makes

Our rating:
£££££ (above average)

Rank:
2nd most expensive

Not as cheap as:
Most others

Cheaper than:
Vodafone

Pay As You Go: You can't get it on BT Mobile

Three do offer pay as you go

For PAYG, Three are the cheapest providerSee Three's 321 plan

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

Unfortunately you can't currently get a pay as you go SIM from BT Mobile as all their deals are available on 12-month pay monthly contracts only.

If you're just looking for a simple deal where you top up and only pay for what you use, we always recommend Three's 321 plans, simply because they're the cheapest PAYG deal on the market.

The SIM card is free to order or you can get it with any phone bought outright from Three.

Useful link: See all PAYG rates and costs on Three

Our rating:
N/A

Rank:
N/A

As cheap as:
N/A

Cheaper than:
N/A

BT Mobile customer service

Customer service: BT Mobile improving but still not great

Ofcom complaints data

Higher than average complaints about BT MobileRead Ofcom reports

at ofcom.org.uk
(opens in new window)

In this section, we look at Ofcom's official data on how many complaints they receive about mobile phone providers per 100,000 customers. Ofcom are the government regulator and Ombudsman for telecoms.

The more complaints that make it through to Ofcom, the higher indication that a mobile network's customer service is pretty poor at resolving their subscribers' problems.

As BT Mobile are still one of the smaller players for mobile services (they only launched in 2015), they've only just made it into Ofcom's reporting.

Their first entry wasn't good. Ofcom received higher-than-average numbers of complaints about BT Mobile (11 per 100,000 customers). The average is 5 per 100,000.

In the most recent quarter, this number has improved though. It's moved to 8 per 100,000. That's still above average but a step in the right direction.

This is similar to how BT perform for their broadband. If you're worried about customer service, Tesco, EE, O2 and Three had the lowest number of complaints.

Useful link: How to get help on BT Mobile

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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