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Various logos of UK mobile networks

BT Mobile review: what are the benefits to joining in 2019?

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

We look at the advantages and disadvantages to taking a SIM only deal or phone contract from BT Mobile. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: September 18th 2019.

Overall rating

BT Mobile

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

"The best thing about BT Mobile is the EE network that it runs on, with the superb coverage, fast speeds and extras like WiFi calling and 4G calling that brings. But when it comes to added benefits, BT slip behind some of the competition and their pricing isn't always the most competitive either."

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) Network coverage, speeds and call extras
2) Lucrative joining rewards
3) Our best-rated Family plans

The 3 worst bits

1) Above-average complaints
2) Mediocre pricing
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)

BT Mobile using the EE network to bring their customers signal is a real advantage, as it's UK's biggest for 4G coverage. And you'll get identical 2G/3G/4G signal to EE on BT Mobile (read our BT Mobile vs EE guide).

The coverage stats put their 4G and 3G networks as reaching 99% of the population in the place they live. But what's more impressive about the EE network is coverage in the countryside.

They've got much more of the UK's landmass covered with 4G. So you can find yourself in surprisingly remote places with a fast data connection and calls - roads, railways and small villages / towns.

Excellent coverage is the main reason we see to join BT Mobile (and other network features below). But we always recommend checking signal everywhere you plan to use your phone up front, to avoid disappointment.

Useful link: Check BT Mobile coverage here

Our coverage 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 can be up there with the fastest

BT Mobile extra 4G speeds

Extra speed 4G in select locationsFind locations

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

Another advantage BT Mobile have from using EE's network is download speeds. Independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla measure EE as the fastest on average.

Over 4G, they expect typical downloads of 32.5 Mbps (Opensignal) and 32.99 Mbps (Speedtest) - these speeds are like a mid-range home broadband connection and would support video streaming in ultra HD.

BT Mobile are expecting to launch their 5G service in autumn 2019. But it will be reserved exclusively for their BT Plus customers.

We suspect as the months or years go by and 5G becomes more mainstream, it will be added to their regular plans too. But for the time being there's no point in holding your breath.

On BT Mobile, lower-cost plans comes with top speed cap of 30 Mbps (the highest speed you'll get with those deals). Ones marked with Extra 4G Speed have a higher 60 Mbps cap.

As the lower speed cap is around the typical speed you'd receive anyway (and faster than every other network's average too), we don't think most people will be frustrated on BT.

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

Our speeds 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 calls rating:
★★★★☆ (very good)

Rank:
Joint best

Equal to:
EE

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

WiFi calling: BT Mobile have got 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).

The number of supported phones (see FAQs on this page here) has improved. And for Android models, we believe you no longer need to have bought it from BT in the first place for WiFi calling to work.

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

Our calls rating:
★★★★☆ (very good)

Rank:
5th

Better than:
All others

Free WiFi hotspots: BT Mobile have the most locations

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 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 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:
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 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’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 bill cap 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 family plan 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

Watch BT Sport on your mobile for freeWhat you get

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

If you don't already have a BT Sport subscription through your BT broadband/TV package or elsewhere, you can get a watered-down version free with your BT Mobile plan.

Choose a pay monthly SIM only plan or smartphone contract with 6GB data or more to get a free subscription to the BT Sport app (plan has to have 6GB+ as standard, not as part of a data boost offer).

Obviously, it'd be much better if it was a full subscription to the service on TV. And you can't Cast to a bigger screen from the app either. But it still lets you watch live sport covered by the TV channels.

It's a genuine freebie. And a decent attempt by BT to add a bit more value to their mobile deals, using what they've got in the TV department. Plenty of people will find it useful.

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. These let you keep unused data each month to use again in future. So you avoid wasting what you've paid for.

We think the best such scheme comes from SMARTY who will pay you back the cost of unused data, as a discount on next month's bill, on most their plans (read our SMARTY review here).

If you'd rather a provider that uses the EE network like BT Mobile do, then Virgin Mobile let you keep unused data for one month, so you get another chance to use it (iD Mobile and Sky Mobile have it too).

We think data rollover is something potential BT Mobile customers would really appreciate, so it's a shame that they don't offer it. And we can only give 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

Free data for loads of services on Three
How it works

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

Another thing lacking from BT Mobile is any kind of free streaming data scheme like we see on all these networks. Those providers let you watch selected apps without it using your mobile data.

BT are a TV provider. We think it'd be an excellent way to encourage them to take mobile from BT if they offered something similar to Sky Mobile's free Sky TV app streaming data but with their own BT content.

Loads of networks have realised that people want to watch stuff on their mobile but don't like the idea of using loads of data. Three's Go Binge lets you stream Netflix data-free for example.

Even EE, who are owned by BT, now offer free data for streaming these entertainment services. But for now, BT don't have anything to offer in this department so get a poor rating for the time being.

Our free data rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Equal to:
Everyone else

How BT Mobile's deals compare

What type of deal are you interested in?

Choose an option to skip to the right section:

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:

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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
£70
in value

See phone offers

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

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 PAYG 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 (5 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 Sky, Three, O2, iD, 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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