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BT Mobile review: our genuine user test of the network in 2020

BT Mobile review

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

After joining BT Mobile as a real-life customer, we rate them as one of the UK's best networks. Here's how we found their coverage, speeds and benefits. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: February 14th 2020.

Overall rating

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, extra features like WiFi calling and 4G calling, plus reasonable pricing on SIM only deals and phone contracts. They just need a couple of standout extra perks you can't get elsewhere and we'd be tempted to give 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) Joint-best coverage in the UK
2) Excellent WiFi calling / 4G calling
3) Decent Family Plans

The 3 worst bits

1) Clunky automatic free WiFi app
2) Dodgy customer service history
3) Not the cheapest network

Information symbol We're a professional reviews website but we bought our BT 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.

In our BT Mobile review and guide

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

5G/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

BT Mobile's network

Coverage: BT Mobile use EE, the UK's biggest network

Check BT Mobile coverage

Check everywhere you'll use your phoneUse coverage checker

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

BT own the company EE. And as a result BT Mobile use the EE 5G/4G/3G/2G network for signal. You'll get full and equal access to all EE masts, just like if you were an EE customer (not the case with all providers on EE).

That's a huge advantage to joining BT Mobile. Independent testing from Opensignal shows customers on the EE network spend more time on 4G than any other network.

Their 4G reaches 99% of the population. And EE have the biggest geographical coverage too (signal away from where people live). Their 5G rollout is already in 71 cities too, ahead of all other networks.

We used our BT Mobile SIM for everyday use in multiple locations nationally and found signal actually quite hard to get away from outdoors.

The reach of their 4G is genuinely impressive and more-remote coverage doesn't seem to come with the lower-speed trade-offs you get with some of BT's rivals.

We've found that the indoor coverage for calls on BT Mobile can suffer if your phone doesn't have WiFi calling or 4G calling. The further indoors you go, the flakier and worse quality calls can become.

Of course, we can only sample a few parts of the country. And realistically, signal differs all over the place, so always check before signing up.

The main weakness would be indoor coverage for calls on BT. The frequencies they use are less able to get into buildings. So if your phone's not got WiFi calling, check your predicted signal strength using BT's map.

Useful link: Check BT Mobile indoor and outdoor coverage

Our coverage rating:
★★★★★ (best choice)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
EE

Better than:
Vodafone, O2, Three & all others

4G data speeds: BT Mobile can be up there with the fastest

BT Mobile extra 4G speeds

BT now offer faster 5G dataSee 5G difference

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

BT Mobile have the potential to be the joint-fastest for 4G speeds. The network they use delivers typical speeds of 32.99 - 35.9 Mbps. That's according to independent testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla.

The thing is, BT have built in a speed cap on downlaods into many of their plans of 30 Mbps (just below that average). Although bigger data plans have a higher 60 Mbps cap.

We've conducted a reasonable amount of speed tests in different types of places with our BT Mobile SIM and found it easy to see where the independent testers' results come from.

Despite having a speed cap of 30 Mbps, our SIM card did actually quite often succeed that. And with an Extra Speed add-on we did even sometimes measure 4G speeds above 100 Mbps.

The lowest it tended to drop to in rural locations and small towns/villages was around the 10 - 12 Mbps mark. It was rare to measure below that.

That cap will bring the average down to 30 Mbps for many customers, which is still better than most networks can manage on average uncapped. 30 Mbps is like a decent mid-tier home fibre broadband connection.

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

Our speeds rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
Depends on plan

Not as good as:
EE

Likely better than:
Three, Vodafone, O2

Call extras: we really rate BT's WiFi calling and 4G calling

BT Mobile WiFi calling alternative

Make and take mobile calls over a WiFi connectionSee supported devices

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

While BT's conventional 2G and 3G calls signal might find it harder to get indoors than other providers, BT do have WiFi calling and 4G calling to stop this being a problem. And you get them both on every plan.

WiFi calling lets your phone use WiFi instead of conventional signal to make and take calls as normal (and even send/receive SMS texts on BT). 4G calling improves coverage and audio quality.

We're happy to say that BT's WiFi calling and 4G calling features are excellent in our experience.

We tested our SIM in multiple iPhone and Android models not bought from BT or EE and the features worked in each one (this isn't the case on every network).

WiFi calling on BT "kicks in" easily whenever you're logged into WiFi. It doesn't wait for weak signal like on other networks.

Calls connect fast, the audio quality is good and you can move from a WiFi call to a 4G call without it dropping, if you move away from the hotspot.

We also successfully tested the SMS feature of BT's WiFi calling. Messages sent and came through just as quick as they would over a mobile signal.

In our guide to the networks that have WiFi calling, we place BT highly because their list of supported devices is huge (some networks struggle with Androids bought from elsewhere).

We like how BT's WiFi calling and 4G calling kicks in easily, the audio quality is good and the calls connect at the same speed as using their regular network. You can use it in combination with free WiFi on BT too.

Useful link: Read what difference 4G calling makes

Our rating:
★★★★★ (excellent)

Rank:
Joint 2nd

Similar to:
Three, EE

Better than:
All others

Free WiFi hotspots: BT Mobile have the best scheme

Free WiFi on BT Mobile

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

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

Every BT Mobile customer gets free and unlimited access to the BT WiFi network of hotspots in handy public places all over the country. It's the UK's biggest WiFi network, with 5 million hotspots.

Even if you don't end up using it particularly frequently, it's a handy backup. Everyone runs out of data at some point (see extra charges here). And you can end up in places with no signal where you need to get online.

The ability to log in to BT WiFi hotspots is useful. It can get you out of scrapes when you're somewhere with no mobile signal or you're out of data.

Having used the BT WiFi app, we'd probably say you're better off just manually logging in when you actually need the WiFi than running the automatic app.

On Android, the app forces a persistent notification at the top of your screen, which you can't get rid of and frankly gets annoying.

The app also keeps registering you on hotspots that are worse than mobile signal, which you then have to turn off to get a decent speed.

You can either log in to hotspots manually using your BT ID, which you get when you sign up. Or download BT's WiFi app, which will log you in automatically whenever you're in range of a hotspot.

The point of a mobile network is to keep you connected on your phone in as many places as possible. BT's free WiFi is an extra on top of their excellent mobile coverage that really achieves this.

Useful link: See where hotspots are near you

Our free WiFi 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 on BT Mobile basically just feels like you're using a regular home broadband connection (if you're in a 4G area). In public, it'll often be better than free WiFi.

Their high speeds means that you don't get the lag on desktop web browsing that you can get when you're tethering on weaker networks.

Combine that with decent coverage and having BT Mobile for tethering is a handy asset if you travel for work or want to keep your kids entertained on journeys.

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 tethering rating:
★★★★★ (Joint best choice)

Rank:
TBC

As good as:
TBC

Better than:
TBC

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.

We took our SIM abroad with us within the EU. And everything just works automatically. There's nothing different you need to do.

You get 4G data speeds while you're away. And BT seem to partner with some decent networks internationally, because you can get some frightening speeds with them.

Roaming on BT is just how it should be: barely any different from being at home. We haven't used our SIM outside of the EU though.

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 roaming 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 can spend. Extra costs include roaming fees, charges for going over allowances or using premium services (see all here).

You set your spending cap up when you first order with BT Mobile but it's pretty straightforward to go in and edit it later on.

The BT Mobile app shows you what your cap is but to edit it you need to login to your account on the BT website. Once you've done that, you can choose your cap from the dropdown:

Screenshot of BT's spending caps

Once we'd made a change, it did take 5 - 10 minutes to kick in but you do get a confirmation through via text. If you're about to hit your limit BT send you a text and an email.

BT spending cap text

And when you hit the limit too. If you try to do anything chargeable after that, it simply doesn't work.

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 or upwards in increments of £2.50 and £5. They'll text you when you're near any limits or have readched them.

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

Our spend cap rating:
★★★★☆ (recommended)

Rank:
TBC

Not as good as:
TBC

Equal to:
TBC

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 better 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 reward 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 one of the best schemes for this with 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).

We like Family SIMs' flexibility. You can add Family SIMs to your account at any time whenever you're ready. And each additional SIM is on just a 30-day contract so you're free to drop them at short notice.

What's not ideal is that you all have to have the same plan, with the same amount of data. That's not going to fit around many families, so BT need to change this soon.

Useful link: See BT Mobile's Family SIMs

Our Family Plan rating:
★★★★☆ (very good)

Rank:
2nd

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 costing £15 or more (after the broadband customer discount), 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 freebies 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. That's 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 data 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 data rollover 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

What type of deal are you interested in?

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BT Mobile SIM only plans: quick facts

BT Mobile SIM only deals
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Three logo
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EE logo
giffgaff logo
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VOXI logo

Current offers running on BT Mobile

Here are BT's best deals this month

Phone contracts on BT Mobile: mid-range pricing if you have their broadband

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, Huawei, Motorola, Nokia, Sony Xperia
Upfront costs: Yes, except cheapest models

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. All contracts last 24 months, and there's none of the complicated finance based on loans you get with some providers.

Upfront costs can be quite high on BT Mobile's phones. And we'd say the monthly costs are only really competitive if you qulaify for the £5 monthly discount by having BT's broadband too.

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

Compare BT's phone contract pricing

Use our tool below to see how BT stack up with the competition

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Pay As You Go: You can't get it on BT Mobile - here are some other options instead

1p Mobile logo1p Mobile pay as you go rates

1pMobile use EE's network too like BTGet a 1pMobile SIM

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

If you're after a simple deal for occasional usge, where you top up with credit and pay for your usage out of that, BT Mobile aren't an option. They only offer pay monthly plans.

For this type of pay as you go deal, we'd say it's worth having a look at the low-cost provider 1pMobile, who offer the UK's cheapest rates of 1p per minute, text or MB data. They use EE's 4G network too.

We've written a full review of their network and benefits here, where we order one of their SIMs and see how it works.

Or for a more familiar name, we also like Three's 321 payg plan with rates of 3p per min, 2p per text and 1p per MB data. A third option is O2's Classic Pay As You Go tariff, which offers the same basic rates as Three too.

Useful link: Read our 1p Mobile review

Our rating:
N/A

Rank:
N/A

As cheap as:
N/A

Cheaper than:
N/A

Mobile broadband: BT Mobile now offer data-only SIMs

BT mobile broadband device and some SIM cards

Use BT's data SIMs in a tablet or dongleSee latest pricing

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

BT Mobile have recently added a range of data-only SIM plans that you can use in tablets/iPads, dongles and other mobile broadband devices to connect to their 4G network wherever there's signal.

Price-wise, these offer a cheaper way to get a data SIM on the EE network than joining EE directly. Per GB, they work out more expensive than BT's phone SIMs, even though you're not getting minutes and texts.

If you need a mobile WiFi device too, BT offer an own-branded one here that's small enough to fit into pockets at roughly 11cm x 6cm x 1cm and lets you connect up to 20 devices simultaneously.

It's only available on a 24-month contract (longer than other networks' typical 12-month ones). There's no price difference on its plans vs going data SIM only, meaning the device is effectively free (at the cost of committing to the longer contract).

Useful link: See BT's current data SIM plans

BT Mobile customer service

Customer service: BT Mobile have above-average complaints

Ofcom complaints data

Slightly more complaints than averageRead 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.

In their latest report, Ofcom say they received higher-than-average numbers of complaints about BT Mobile (6 per 100,000 customers). The average is 3 per 100,000.

Though that's not ideal, this is actually an improving picture. BT's previous rates were 11 per 100,000 and 8 per 100,000. So they're clearly making advances in making their customer service better.

If you've been bitten by a bad experience before, it could be worth looking at Three, O2, EE or Tesco Mobile, who can all boast better than average complaints rates.

Useful link: How to get help on BT Mobile

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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