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Various logos of UK mobile networks

Plusnet Mobile review 2019: simple, cheap but with a few flaws

Plusnet Mobile SIM only review

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

While Plusnet Mobile's coverage is superb, there are a few network features you don't get, which are worth knowing about before you sign up. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: October 17th 2019.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates Plusnet Mobile as a good low-cost option ★★★☆☆ (3/5, good)

"Plusnet Mobile are the best choice for anyone who wants a simple, cheap deal on the EE network on a short contract. There aren't many fancy extra benefits to shout about. And that's kind of the point. They just offer excellent coverage, decent speeds and that's about it."

The 3 best bits

1) Cheapest 1-month deals on EE's network
2) Superb coverage and speeds
3) Mates Rates for broadband customers

The 3 worst bits

1) No WiFi calling / 4G calling
2) No data rollover scheme
3) Short on other extra benefits

What's in our guide to Plusnet Mobile?

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

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

Perks review

Perks & extras

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

Deal review

Deals

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

Customer service review

Customer service

Ofcom data

Is Plusnet Mobile's network any good?

Coverage: Plusnet Mobile's 4G reaches impressive amounts of the UK

Plusnet Mobile 4G and 3G signal strength

Check everywhere you use your phoneCheck local signal

via Plusnet's website
(opens in new window)

Plusnet Mobile using EE's 4G, 3G and 2G network is basically the best thing about joining them. And it's a big advantage over all other low-cost providers that use other networks (apart from BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile).

EE is still the biggest mobile network in the country, reaching 99% of the population with 4G. But more importantly, their geographical coverage is the most extensive (how much of the landmass of the UK gets 4G).

Technically speaking, no. For 2G and 3G, which are used for calls, texts and slower data, coverage is identical. For 4G, it's practically identical in the vast majority of places but there is a technical difference:

EE broadcast 4G on four frequencies but Plusnet only access three of those. Fortunately, the three Plusnet utlilise are the most-commonly available ones in towns, cities and villages. So what are you missing out on?

Plusnet don't have access to the lowest-frequency 4G signal. This is used for travelling long distances in rural/remote locations and improving capacity in more built-up places too (how many people can access 4G at once).

As a Plusnet customer, this means you might not get 4G in some remote places where EE have it (but 2G/3G will likely be there) and in busy places (stations/crowds), you might get a slower 4G connection or rely on 3G.

If you have any concerns, use Plusnet's coverage checker here, because it's up front about where there is and isn't each type of signal.

That means you get fewer blackspots when you're away from big towns and cities. It's genuinely impressive the amount of places in the middle of the countryside you can still get a signal, like on roads and train lines.

Getting access to EE's quality mobile network on a cheap deal with no long-term commitment is what joining Plusnet Mobile is all about. But no network is universal, so always check your coverage before signing up.

Useful link: Check Plusnet Mobile signal here

Our rating:
★★★★★ (best choice)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
EE, BT Mobile, Virgin Mobile

Better than:
Vodafone, O2, Three & all others

Speeds: the network Plusnet Mobile uses is the UK's fastest

Plusnet Mobile 4G speeds

As we say above, Plusnet Mobile using EE for their signal is an advantage when it comes to coverage. It's also an advantage when it comes to the speed of your data connection too.

EE is the UK's fastest mobile network. Independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla measure their typical downloads at 32.5 Mbps and 32.99 Mbps. That's home broadband fast.

EE have already launched their 5G network, so when will Plusnet Mobile customers get access to it?

Our guess would be not for a very long time. We already see that Plusnet have some network features stripped out to make them low-cost, like WiFi calling or 4G calling. We predict the same will apply for 5G.

We think EE will hold on to 5G as an exclusive reason to join their network for quite a long time, especially as the coverage so far is very limited and the technology is still being rolled out.

All-in-all, don't expect 5G on Plusnet any time soon.

Even though Plusnet say they have no active speed caps, we do expect their top speeds to be limited by the fact they don't use speed-boosting 4G+ technology. We expect top speeds around the 40 Mbps mark.

That's just above EE's average. And in areas where EE's 4G is slower than that anyway, we don't expect a disadvantage for Plusnet vs being on EE directly for speed.

Useful link: Read what customers are saying about Plusnet's 4G speeds in their forum

Our speeds rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
3rd

Not as good as:
EE, BT, Virgin

Equal to or better than:
Three, Vodafone, O2
(and the providers that use them)

Call technology: Plusnet don't have WiFi calling / 4G calling

iD Mobile WiFi calling banner

Plusnet's low-cost rivals iD have bothSee supported phones

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

Here's the main trade-off between joining Plusnet Mobile on a cheap deal vs EE directly but paying more. You don't get WiFi calling or 4G calling on Plusnet, even if your phone has the features.

WiFi calling is there to improve your indoor coverage by letting your phone use a WiFi to make calls in the usual way, instead of conventional mobile signal. 4G calling improves audio quality and coverage outside.

On networks that use EE, these two features are often more necessary, because the frequencies they broadcast signal for calls on, find it harder to get through walls into buildings, which reduces signal strength.

Plusnet are pitched as a cheap low-frills product, so we're not expecting the features to be added, which is a little disappointing (their low-cost rivals iD Mobile do have them). It's the main downside to Plusnet's network.

Useful link: What Plusnet Mobile customers are saying about call quality in their forum

Our call technology rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
Three, BT, EE, Vodafone, iD, Sky

Same as:
All others

Free WiFi hotspots: there aren’t any on Plusnet Mobile

Other WiFi hotspot providers

With no WiFi you could reach your data limits fasterSee extra costs

on Plusnet's official website
(opens in new window)

All Plusnet Mobile plans come with a set amount of data. There aren't any unlimited data plans available with them. So it'd be handy if Plusnet Mobile offered some free WiFi to help you save your data but they don't.

All these networks give you some free hotspot access. We particularly rate BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile's schemes because they automtically log you in when you're in range and have millions of public hotspots.

There is quite a lot of free WiFi around nowadays. And there are good schemes like Sky WiFi and O2 WiFi that are free to customers from any network anyway, so it's not a huge disaster not having it on Plusnet.

It's just another bit of extra network quality that's missing on Plusnet Mobile, so drags our overall rating down. It just means you might have to watch your data a bit closer to avoid paying extra for going over limits.

Useful link: Costs for going over data limits on Plusnet Mobile

Tethering: it’s allowed on all Plusnet Mobile plans

Tethering allowed on Plusnet Mobile

Tether as much as you like on Plusnet MobileRead full terms

on Plusnet's official website
(opens in new window)

Tethering is using your phone’s mobile data to create a mini WiFi hotspot around you, to connect other devices like laptops or tablets to the internet. It’s pretty useful, even if most people won’t use it every day.

On Plusnet Mobile, you can use as much of your monthly data allowance as you like for tethering, which puts them above and beyond lots of other networks who place restrictions on it.

We would point out though that using your SIM for tethering will use up data more quickly and it could tip you over your monthly data allowance limit (here’s how much extra data costs on Plusnet Mobile).

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

Our rating:
★★★★★ (Joint best choice)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
All others

Better than:
N/A

Plusnet Mobile perks and extras reviewed

Inclusive roaming: Plusnet have decent EU roaming

Plusnet Mobile free EU roaming

Free roaming in 40 selected destinations in the EUHow it works

from Plusnet's roaming guide
(opens in new window)

It's now a requirement that all mobile networks have to let you use your plan's UK mins, texts and data at no extra cost in the EU (unless it's a UK-only plan). But some networks have crafty usage limits while you're there.

But we're pleased to report that Plusnet Mobile have kept their roaming simple. If you're on a plan with less than 15GB data, you can use anything up to your entire allowances while away, without paying extra.

The full list of countries you can roam like home in can be found here. There's no inclusive worldwide roaming on Plusnet, you pay per minute, text and MB at these rates outside Europe.

Overall, we find Plusnet's roaming pretty fair and straightforward. We like that you'll get 4G aborad wherever available. We can forgive the lack of inclusive worldwide roaming, because the basic price of plans is low.

Useful links: Plusnet's guide to roaming on their network

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
Joint 7th

Equal to or better than:
All others

Spending caps: we really rate Plusnet's flexibility

Plusnet Mobile Smart Caps

Avoid surprise bills for extrasHow they work

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

It's now law that mobile networks have to let you set a spending cap on your pay monthly deal, if you want one (for new customers). These stop you racking up unexpected levels of extra charges on top of your regular plan.

Plusnet Mobile are one of the few operators who have always allowed this anyway, via their Smart Cap system, which lets you set a limit in steps of £1 between £0 and £30 on extras that you're willing to spend.

Extras means things like premium numbers, international calls or roaming see rates here. If you hit your cap, Plusnet prevent you using anything that'd cost more, until next month, while everything else keeps working.

All of which is good news if you've been stung by extra bills before or you're taking the contract out for someone else. Although every other provider does not offer this too, so it's not a unique benefit to Plusnet.

Useful link: How you manage your Smart Cap from Plusnet's help section.

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (recommended)

Rank:
TBC

Not as good as:
TBC

Better than:
TBC

Plusnet broadband customers get 2GB extra data free

Mates Rates deals for broadband customers

Extra data for Plusnet broadband customersSee your deals

at plus.net
(opens in new window)

There's an extra incentive to join Plusnet Mobile if you already have their broadband at home. You'll get an extra 2GB data free with any of their SIM only deals (see your exclusive offers here).

To qualify, you just need to live in a household with Plusnet broadband active, choose your exclusive deal and provide your address so Plusnet can check you qualify (they do actually check).

You don't need to be the actual bill-payer yourself, you just need to live with them. And up to 5 people per household can benefit. Read Plusnet's full FAQs on how Mates Rates works here.

We think this is a genuinely generous offer from Plusnet. Their non-customer deals are usually among the cheapest already, so getting 2GB extra free means you can choose a cheaper plan that'd normally have less data, so it's practically a discount.

Useful link: See the latest exclusive Mates Rates deals if you're a Plusnet broadband customer

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
TBC

Not as good as:
TBC

Better than:
TBC

Data rollover: unused data on Plusnet is gone each month

SMARTY's data payback scheme banner

SMARTY pay back what unused data cost youHow it works

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

Low cost networks like Plusnet Mobile tend to know that their customers are looking for the best possible value in their deal, so a lot of them include data rollover schemes that let you keep data you've not used for later.

Keeping your unused data avoids you wasting something that you've paid for, so squeezes extra value from your deal. So it's disappointing that Plusnet don't have it as a feature with their plans.

Especially when their low-cost rivals have it. iD Mobile let you keep unused data for a month. But we think SMARTY's scheme is fairer than all of them:

On the majority of their plans, SMARTY will actually pay you back what the data cost you in the first place. Meaning you can never be out of pocket for data you've paid for.

Useful link: Read our full guide to Data Rollover plans

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Equal to:
All others

Free data: no extras to help you save your data

Three's Go Binge

Three offer unlimited streaming dataHow Go Binge works

In this category, we look for ways that mobile phone networks help you control the amount of data that you use each month. Some networks have some clever schemes that do this:

Our favourites are Three’s “Go Binge” that lets you stream Netflix, Apple Music and other services without using up data. Or Virgin Mobile’s unlimited data for WhatsApp, Twitter or Facebook Messenger.

Again, with Plusnet Mobile this is the case of a luxury item that you don’t get with such a cheap no-frills deal. It’s not really what they’re about.

For that reason we can only give them a poor rating in this category.

Useful links: Read how Go Binge works at Three.co.uk

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Equal to:
Everyone else

Multi-buy discounts: there are no savings for multiple plans

BT Mobile Family SIM alternative

BT Mobile's Family SIMs are a good alternativeSee the discounts

One trend we're seeing with a lot of other mobile networks is offering discounts for any extra contracts you take out with them. It's an incentive to get your whole family with the same network.

With prices already pretty much at rock bottom, Plusnet Mobile don't really have anywhere lower to go, so don't offer any such discounts on their plans, so we can only give them a 'poor' rating.

If you're interested in a a provider that uses EE's mobile network AND offers discounts for the more SIMs you take with them, we can recommend BT Mobile's Family SIMs (read our review here).

They offer a way to manage up to 4 additional discounted SIMs on one bill and come on short, flexible 30-day contracts. We rate it as the best multi-buy scheme out there.

Useful link: Learn about BT Mobile Family SIMs

Entertainment subscriptions: no frills means no frills!

Cheap deals with no free subscriptions

No included subscription keeps prices downCompare plans

One increasingly popular way that mobile networks are attracting new customers is by offering free subscriptions to certain entertainment services. Although it tends to be only the pricier major providers.

For example, Vodafone offer a choice of NOW TV pass, Sky Sports Mobile or Spotify Premium subscription. Or EE offer free Apple Music and BT Sport App access.

Realistically, for the low prices on Plusnet Mobile you’re not going to get costly extras. Those services may be advertised as free elsewhere but you effectively pay for them via a higher basic monthly bill.

So for included subscriptions, we have to give Plusnet Mobile a poor score but we’ll let you decide if you actually miss them or not when you consider the low monthly cost for their deals.

Useful link: Compare Plusnet Mobile SIM only prices

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
EE, BT Mobile, Vodafone

Equal to:
All others

Reviewing Plusnet Mobile's deals

SIM only plans from Plusnet Mobile – key 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

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Current offers running on Plusnet Mobile

Here are the latest promotions on Plusnet Mobile

Hidden offers: more data for a lower price

Plusnet's hidden offer

See hidden deal

at Plus.net
(opens in new window)

Use our links below to access hidden deals on Plusnet Mobile that give you more data for less money than what's advertised on the main part of their website:

They're only available via the link above. And you need to order before 20th November to qualify. At the time of writing, the cheapest 4GB plan is the cheapest one in the country.

Useful link: See all other offers

Phone contracts: you can't get one at Plusnet Mobile!

iD Mobile alternative for phone contracts

We can help you compare phone pricesUse comparison tool

here at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

At the moment, Plusnet Mobile are purely a SIM only provider so they don't offer any phone contracts to new customers (some existing former LIFE Mobile customers may have a phone still).

Generally, we'd say if you want a low-cost phone contract that uses the EE network, Virgin Mobile are worth a look (you don't need their broadband). And BT Mobile too if you do have their broadband.

If you're more flexible, use our phone price comparison tool here to find a good deal on all of the UK mobile networks.

Our rating:
N/A

Rank:
N/A

Not as cheap as:
N/A

Cheaper than:
N/A

 

Pay As You Go: Plusnet Mobile only do pay monthly

1pMobile logo1pMobile payg rates banner

Cheapest rates and uses EE's networkSee 1pMobile's deal

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

All Plusnet Mobile SIMs are available only on 1-month or 12-month pay monthly contracts, so there is no pay as you go on their network. Their deals do tend to only start from around £6 a month though.

If you're 100% after just a pay as you go deal, you could take a look at ultra-low-cost provider 1pMobile whose tariff is just 1p per minute, text or MB data. Like Plusnet, 1pMobile use the EE network for 4G/32/2G coverage.

Otherwise, if you're looking for a more familiar name, Three's 321 plan and O2's Classic Pay As You Go tariff both offer decent rates of 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB data, so are also worth a look.

We don't expect Plusnet Mobile to ever offer pay as you go. But if they do, we'll update this section with what we think about it.

Useful link: Read our 1pMobile review

Our rating:
N/A

Rank:
N/A

As cheap as:
N/A

Cheaper than:
N/A

Plusnet Mobile customer service

Customer service: Plusnet Mobile have staff in the UK

UK customer service

Plusnet have customer service based in the UKLearn more about it

at plus.net
(opens in new window)

Normally for customer service we look at Ofcom data on the number of complaints it receives about major mobile providers, which is published every 6 months. High Ofcom complaints equates to poor customer service.

Unfortunately, because Plusnet Mobile are still quite new on the scene, they do not have enough customers to be included in Ofcom's report, so we don't have any figures.

It'd also be unfair to look at Plusnet's broadband data as it's a separate product with completely different likely problems attached to it. So for the time being, we can't provide an accurate picture.

The main info we can provide is that Plusnet have customer service representatives in the UK, which may be welcome if you've had frustrations with offshore call centres before.

Useful link: How to get help on Plusnet Mobile

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