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iD Mobile network review: what we like and what we don't in 2018

iD Mobile logo with a phone and a SIM card

You buy cheap, you buy twice right? We put that to the test with a review of iD Mobile's coverage, 4G speeds, SIM only deals and phone contracts. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: July 30th 2018.

Overall rating

iD Mobile

SIM Sherpa rates iD Mobile as a very good provider
 (3.5 / 5, very good)

"Where other low-cost providers skimp back on the added perks and network features like WiFi calling, iD Mobile still deliver the goods, while keeping their prices down too. A great-value combination."

Our full guide further below takes you through the good, the bad and the inbetween about joining iD Mobile.

The 3 best bits

1) Data rollover scheme
2) Help you avoid overspending
3) Cheap SIMs and smartphone deals

The 3 worst bits

1) Higher-than-average complaints
2) No tethering allowed
3) Limited extra perks

In our iD Mobile review

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

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

Perks review

Benefits & features

Data rollover scheme
Spending caps
Inclusive EU roaming
Customer reward schemes
Free app subscriptions
Unlimited streaming options
Shared / family plans

Deal review

Deals & plans

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

Customer service review

Customer service

Ofcom data

iD Mobile's network

Coverage: iD Mobile use Three’s award-winning network

iD Mobile's official coverage checker

iD Mobile uses Three's reliable network Check your local signal

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

iD Mobile are owned by Carphone Warehouse but use Three's mobile network to bring their customers signal.

Although Three is the smallest of the four mobile networks in the UK, it has doubled in size over the last 8 years.98.3% of the UK population can get their 3G signal. And 99.8% can get their faster 4G data.

iD Mobile are keen to point out the reliability of this network, based on consumer surveys by YouGov. Although that claim’s getting a bit long in the tooth now, it’s still true Three do carry the most data of any UK network.

As a customer of iD Mobile, you get the exact same signal strength as being on Three. If you’ve not been on the Three network before, we recommend making sure they’ve got reception in the places you use your phone.

Useful link: Check iD Mobile's coverage using their official signal checker

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
Joint 4th
(out of 4 places)

Not as good as:
EE, O2 and Vodafone
(and all providers that use them)

Same as:
Three, TPO, SMARTY

4G speeds: we’d expect good things for iD Mobile

Mobile network 4G speed tester logos
22.31 Mbps
(Three's result)
20.39 Mbps
(Three's result)

Most people probably know that the fastest 4G network in the UK is EE. They’ve had 4G the longest and all their marketing and investment goes into going ever faster to remain the dominant network.

But you might not know that iD Mobile’s host Three typically comes second in independent tests carried out by normal users up and down the country. That’s according to leading testers OpenSignal and Speedtest.

Their most recent reports put Three in second (OpenSignal) and third (Speedtest) with average speeds of 20.39 - 22.31 Mbps. They don’t measure iD directly, as they don’t test providers who piggyback on others.

For iD Mobile customers, this is good news. Nothing in their Terms and Conditions mention a speed cap vs Three, so there’s no good reason you won’t get that same excellent speeds.

Useful link: What iD say about their 4G on their official pages

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
Joint 2nd

Not as good as:
EE
(and other providers that use them)

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

Call quality: good results for the network iD Mobile use

iD Mobile 4G Calling banner

Better calls on iD using 4G CallingRead about 4G Calling

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

Every year independent testing company P3 network analytics goes around the country measuring the performance of each mobile network. One element they look at is the audio quality of calls and how quickly they connect.

Their latest report awards iD Mobile hosts Three a ‘good’ score. They don’t test virtual providers like iD Mobile, who use someone else’s masts for signal direct, so we can only rely on Three’s score.

Calls were a little slower on average to connect than on EE or Vodafone by around 1.5 seconds. But the audio quality was on basically the same level.

iD Mobile only use 3G signal for calls (not older 2G like other networks), which gives a more consistently high quality audio. And now iD have added 4G calling too, which many of their low-cost competitors do not have.

Useful link: Read what difference 4G calling makes from iD's guide

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
Joint 3rd
(out of 4 positions)

Not as good as:
EE or Vodafone
(and other providers that use these)

Better than:
O2, Tesco Mobile, giffgaff, Sky

WiFi calling: iD Mobile lead the low-cost networks

An iD Mobile banner for WiFi calling

Make sure iD Mobile support your phoneSee list of phones

from iD Mobile's help guide
(opens in new window)

This is an area where we’re really impressed with iD Mobile. Unlike other low-cost providers like Plusnet Mobile, giffgaff, SMARTY and Virgin etc, iD do offer a full-on WiFi calling service as part of their deals.

If you’ve not heard of it, WiFi calling is a service that lets your mobile make/take calls and send/receive SMS text messages over a WiFi signal, instead or regular mobile signal.

What’s the benefit? Well, imagine you’re in a large building or underground where traditional mobile signal struggles to get through, you can automatically flip to using WiFi calling and still be able to use the functions on your phone. It eradicates indoor blackspots.

We won’t rate iD’s WiFi calling as the best of all schemes (here’s our guide) because there’s a few limitations on which phones work with it. But it’s still a benefit iD have over all other low-cost rivals.

Useful link: iD Mobile's full guide to WiFi calling

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
6th
(we're still investigating)

Similar to:
Three, O2, Vodafone, EE, BT

Better than:
All others

WiFi hotspots: no free access to any on iD Mobile

Logos of free WiFi hotspot providers

Other providers offer inclusive WiFi hotspotsRead our guide

here at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

We hold each mobile provider to the same standard. And one thing you can get with some operators is access to a network of WiFi hotspots in busy public likes shopping centres, transport hubs and cafes.

The reason we like free WiFi is pretty obvious: it lets you use your phone, without using up your mobile data allowance. We’d say the networks doing a good job of this are Virgin, BT Mobile, O2 and some others.

You’re not going to get anything like this included on iD Mobile. You’re going to have to find your own free WiFi. No other really low-cost provider offers free WiFi and you’ll find a lot of free WiFi in public anyway nowadays.

So it’s a shame iD Mobile network don’t offer anything, particularly when they score so well on the topics in this ‘network’ section of our review.

Useful link: See costs for going over your data limit on iD

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Same as:
All others

Tethering: it’s not officially allowed on iD Mobile

iD Mobile's FAQs section

Got questions about their service? iD have answersSee iD's FAQs section

One point we can’t praise iD Mobile on is tethering, because they don’t allow it on any of their plans. This puts them at odds with almost every other mobile network in the land (including their rivals Plusnet and SMARTY).

If you don’t know what it is, tethering is basically using your mobile phone to create a mini WiFi hotspot around you that you can connect other WiFi-enabled devices to. It uses your mobile data and converts it to WiFi.

It’s not for everybody. Some people will never want to use it. But if you’re the type who likes the flexibility to use their laptop on the train, or have your kids' tablets connected to the internet in the car, iD won't be for you.

We suspect this is a bit of iD just being tight with their data. Tethering tends to use it up faster than normal and can put more strain on a mobile network. And iD’s phone plans tend to be very cheap but leaner on data.

Useful link: Read iD's FAQs about tethering and more from their help section

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
Most other networks

Same as:
Virgin Mobile

iD Mobile benefits

Data rollover: iD Mobile have a good scheme

iD Mobile data rollover banner

It's a second chance to use unused dataRead iD's full guide

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

There’s now a few providers who offer what tends to be called data rollover (read our guide to them here). These are essentially schemes that let you keep whatever data’s left at the end of the month to use for future month(s).

iD Mobile are one of the networks who receive our ‘good’ rating for their scheme. Most providers don’t offer it at all and you’ll lose any data you haven’t got through each month.

On iD, you’ll get to keep unused data to use next month. It means you’ve got a second chance to use data that you’ve paid for. And avoids you having wasted money on it.

Their scheme doesn’t go as far the networks we rate more highly. Sky Mobile’s scheme lets you keep your data for 3 years instead of just a month. SMARTY go even better giving you a discount off your next month’s bill (basically paying you back).

Useful link: Get the full story on iD's Data Rollover from their extensive guide

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Not as good as:
SMARTY or Sky Mobile

Spending caps: all iD Mobile’s pay monthly plans help you avoid surprise bills

iD Mobile Capping banner

Set a limit of how much extra you can spendHow Capping works

from iD's help section
(opens in new window)

As a low-cost network, iD Mobile do an excellent job of keeping their customers in control of how much they’re spending each month. Their plans are cheap in the first place and their Capping scheme stops you overspending.

Your monthly plan includes an allowance of UK minutes, texts and data to use. But we all know sometimes you can overshoot one of these limits, or use other services like roaming or premium numbers that cost extra (here’s how much).

iD’s Capping lets you say how much you’re happy to spend on extras over your basic plan. If you try to do anything on your phone that’d overshoot that cap, iD Mobile will stop you. It’s a huge benefit if you’re buying for someone else.

Out of all the networks offering spending capped contracts, we’d only really rate Tesco Mobile’s Capped Contracts higher than iD’s scheme. We like the fact that it’s optional on Tesco: you don’t have to take a cap.

Useful link: iD's capping full explained in their own help guide

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
TBC
(we're still investigating)

Not as good as:
Tesco Mobile

Similar to:
Plusnet Mobile, SMARTY, giffgaff, TPO

Roaming: iD offer free EU roaming and a little bit more

iD Mobile free roaming banner

50 destinations with free roamingSee full country list

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

It’s now a requirement of all UK mobile networks to make roaming within EU countries cost the same as using your phone in the UK. For pay monthly customers, that means mins, texts and data will come out of your normal allowance.

iD Mobile’s plans therefore include free roaming within these EU countries.

It’s a useful benefit, considering how cheap iD’s deals are in the first place. But it’s worth saying it’s not something they’ve got over any of their other rivals (apart from SMARTY who have no roaming at all!) and it falls short of our best-rated roaming scheme, Three’s Feel At Home.

Where iD do go a little further is by including 4 extra countries outside the EU too. They’re not popular holiday destinations but if you’re a regular in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Macedonia or Kazakhstan, iD are very handy.

Useful link: All costs for roaming on iD Mobile

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
Joint 6th
(out of 14 providers)

Not as good as:
Three, EE, Vodafone, O2 & BT Mobile

Same as:
Most others

Customer rewards: there’s nothing interesting on iD

O2 Priority rewards scheme banner

O2 Priority is arguably the best rewards schemeSee offers on O2 Priority

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

To write our mobile network reviews, we look at the same factors for each provider to see how they compare. And one of the things we look for is how operators look after their existing customers with rewards and loyalty schemes.

In this category, it’s schemes like O2’s Priority or Three’s Wuntu with exclusive offers and treats that get our best rating. Or refer-a-friend schemes that can earn you cash (like on giffgaff) or free months of mobile plans (SMARTY).

We can’t really give iD Mobile a rating for this section. They haven’t got a scheme like any of the above, so it’s something we think they should put some work into, to hold onto their customers.

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
O2, Three, giffgaff, SMARTY and more

Similar to:
TPO Mobile

Free subscriptions: low-cost means no-frills with iD

Other networks with free content

Some networks get you free content

We’re lucky in the UK to have a really competitive mobile industry. And one of things some providers do to lure customers to them is offer up subscriptions to entertainment services as part of their deal.

Realistically, when iD Mobile are churning out SIM only plans and even phone contracts under £10 a month, there’s never going to be room to throw in some of the more-luxurious extras you get with pricier networks.

EE offer 6 months free Apple Music and at least 3 months free BT Sport app access with their pay monthly deals but use our price comparison tools below and you’ll see they don’t compete on low prices.

Vodafone offer a choice of Spotify Premium, a NOW TV pass or Sky Sports Mobile TV with their top-end, high price plans. But again these cost considerably more than what you’d pay on iD Mobile.

All-in-all, if you want any of those services, you might still be better taking a cheap iD plan and paying for them separately with the difference of what you’ve saved.

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
EE, BT Mobile, Vodafone

Same as:
All others

Free streaming or social media data: nothing on iD Mobile

Three's Go Binge unlimited streaming scheme

Unlimited data for streaming selected appsRead all details

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

Another interesting way we’re seeing that mobile providers are tempting customers to join them, is by saying that they won’t charge you for data that you use on particular services.

For instance, Three give you unlimited data for streaming Netflix and other services with their “Go Binge” scheme. EE have a similar scheme that gives you free data for streaming Apple Music but only for 6 months.

And then other lower-cost providers like Virgin Mobile are giving you free data for selected social media messaging apps. Or Vodafone’s VOXI is offering free social media data for Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and more.

This is another added benefit you don’t get on iD Mobile. We’ve already said they’re a little stingy with data. Again, it’s a question of looking at the overall deal: does the overall price justify getting the benefit. It’s your decision.

Useful link: Our guide to networks offering free data

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Not as good as:
Three, EE, VOXI, Virgin

Same as:
All others

Family plans / shared data: iD Mobile offer no discounts

BT Mobile Family SIM promotional banner

We're a big fan of BT's Family SIM discountsCalculate savings

at bt.com
(opens in new window)

It’s quite common for families to have one of the parents take out mobile contracts for their partners and kids to use. You might even want to join together with some friends. In this section, we look at how well providers cater for this.

And on iD Mobile, it’s not great. There are no schemes where you’ll get a discount for taking out multiple contracts with them under one account. And there’s no facility to share data between plans.

We’ve written a whole guide on this topic. If it sounds like something you’d like, we conclude BT Mobile’s Family SIMs are the best scheme for getting discounts on multiple contracts. Followed by Tesco’s Family Perks.

Data-sharing we conclude is probably a bit more faff than it’s actually worth but EE and O2 have some decent schemes. And Sky Mobile let you share unused data between other people on the same account.

Useful link: Our guide to BT's Family SIMs

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Not as good as:
BT, Tesco, EE, O2, Three

Similar to:
Most others

iD Mobile deals and plans

What type of deal are you interested in?

Choose an option to skip to the right section:

Special offers running on iD Mobile

Here are the latest promotions on SIM only or phone contracts.

Cheap SIM only plans on iD Mobile

iD Mobile's SIM only deal

See the deal

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

iD Mobile are always one of the cheapest mobile providers when it comes to SIM only. At the moment their best value plans are:

1GB data, 500 mins and unlimited texts for just £5 a month

3GB data, 500 mins and unlimited texts for just £8 a month

20GB data, unlimited mins and texts for just £20 a month

Each deal comes on a flexible 1-month contract s with iD's usual data rollover and capped contract benefits. This offer doesn't have a published end date yet.

SIM only plans from iD Mobile

Use our price comparison tool further below to find the right deal

Key facts about iD Mobile's SIM only plans

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

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Phone contracts from iD Mobile

Here's some quick info on how iD's phone contracts work:

iD have a large range of well-priced phones

An example of a Sky Mobile credit agreement

See all phones

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

iD Mobile's phone deals are all offered on standard 24-month contracts, as opposed to deals based on finance that you see at competitors giffgaff, Sky Mobile, O2, Tesco or Virgin.

We'd expect it to be easier to get accepted for a deal with iD over any of those providers because it's not a loan, but have no inside information on iD's precise credit checking policy so can't offer any guarantee.

iD's reasonably-priced range is unusally broad for a budget provider and includes leading brands Apple and Samsung, but not always their latest top-of-the-range models. Mid-range and older phones are iD's speciality.

When you take a phone contract with iD, you'll get their regular benefits of data rollover, free EU roaming and spending caps.

Useful link: Browse iD Mobile's phone range

Phone brands available on iD Mobile

Choose which brand you want, to see iD's latest pricing

Pay As You Go: iD's PAYG SIMs have got less flexible

You now have to buy a bundle up frontSee PAYG bundles

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

We were quite big fans of iD Mobile's way of doing Pay As You Go because it gave you two choices. Either:

Top up your SIM card with credit and just pay for what you use, when you use it at market-leading rates of 3p per min, 2p per text and 1p per MB.

Or buy a monthly bundles of minutes, texts and data to use over the course of 30 days. These work out better value than the rates above but aren't as competitive as iD's pay monthly SIM plans.

iD have now made it so you have to order a SIM card with a bundle already attached (you can't just get order a free one and top up any more). Once your first bundle has expired you can just pay per minute, text and MB data again though.

Useful link: All about iD Mobile's Pay As You Go

Mobile broadband: iD offer data-only SIMs and a decent mobile WiFi device

A mobile WiFi device

It's pretty rare you see low-cost operators like iD Mobile offering mobile broadband but they do.

Choose either a data-only SIM from £5 a month, which all come on short 30-day contracts. But watch out, because these don't come with the same free EU roaming and data rollover that you get with their phone SIMs.

Or

Get a mobile WiFi device with a monthly data plan. iD have one on sale (there's no need for a huge range of these). It's by Huawei and lets you connect up to 10 devices at once.

Plans go up to 15GB, which is enough for some light daily use but you wouldn't want to replace entire your home broadband with it.

iD Mobile customer service

Customer service: iD's record with Ofcom complaints is poor

Ofcom complaints data table

iD are too small to be in Ofcom's dataRead Ofcom's report

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

Customers on any mobile network are going to run into problems. What you want to know is, if you've got issues, how good is your provider at sorting them?

To measure this we look at the number of complaints that the government telecoms regulator receives about each mobile network.

The more people who have to go to Ofcom means a mobile operator is bad at sorting the problems themselves. i.e. they have rubbish customer service.

As one of the smaller networks, iD Mobile have only just made it into Ofcom's mobile phone provider complaints data (they only publish data for providers with over 500,000 customers).

It's not a great result. Ofcom receive 10 complaints from every 100,000 iD Mobile customers. This is above the industry average of 5, which suggests iD need to improve how they deal with the day-to-day issues people report to them.

Useful link: How to get help on iD Mobile

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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