Plusnet Mobile review:
the cheap 4G network shaming the rest in 2018
We look at why so many people are joining Plusnet Mobile. Is it just the cheap SIM only deals? Or does 4G coverage and speeds via EE help? SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: January 2nd 2018.
SIM Sherpa rates Plusnet Mobile as good overall but excellent for a low-cost, no-frills network ★★★☆☆ (3/5, good)
"We can't pretend Plusnet Mobile has it all, because there are loads of extra perks you don't get with them that you'd get elsewhere. But for out-and-out low prices on a reliable mobile network, we can't find fault in them.
Our guide below shows they offer the UK's best 4G and 3G coverage with good speeds and some handy little extras for a market-beating price."
The 3 best bits
1) UK's best 4G network coverage
2) Free EU roaming
3) Market-beating cheap deals
The 3 worst bits
1) Not many perks or extras
2) Compulsory spending caps
3) No data rollover scheme
What's in our guide to Plusnet Mobile?
✔ Overall rating
✔ 4G/3G coverage
✔ Data speeds
✔ Call quality
✔ WiFi calling
✖ Free WiFi hotspots
✔ Inclusive roaming
✔ Spending caps
✖ Multibuy discounts
✖ Data-saving schemes
✖ Free subscriptions
✖ Data rollover
✔ Special offers
✔ SIM only plans
✖ Phone contracts
✖ Pay As You Go
✖ Mobile broadband
✔ Ofcom data
Is Plusnet Mobile's network any good?
Coverage: Plusnet Mobile use the UK’s biggest network
✔ Check the Plusnet Mobile reception in your areaUse coverage checker
Plusnet Mobile don’t actually have their own mobile network of masts across the country. Instead they tap into EE’s network. So wherever there’s EE reception, you’ll have identical Plusnet Mobile signal too.
This is brilliant news for Plusnet customers because EE is the UK’s biggest network. It has by far the best national coverage for 4G (99% population) and is equal with other providers for 2G and 3G too (97%).
For us, the combination of the quality of EE’s network with Plusnet Mobile’s low prices is hard to beat.
But even though it’s the largest network, don’t automatically assume their signal will be perfect in your area. We’d still always recommend checking your local reception using Plusnet’s official network map.
Useful link: Check you'll get Plusnet Mobile signal using their official coverage checker.
★★★★★ (best choice)
As good as:
EE, BT Mobile, Virgin Mobile
Vodafone, O2, Three & all others
Speeds: the network Plusnet Mobile uses is the fastest
Generally, we like to be able to provide our readers with accurate independent test results for 4G speeds. But because Plusnet Mobile uses EE’s network, there are no direct results for them.
Our next best option is to look at EE’s test results and look for any restrictions on Plusnet Mobile.
The big question is how fast Plusnet Mobile customers can go. Their terms and conditions don’t mention speed caps but we suspect Plusnet’s limit is 30-40 Mbps, as they don’t use EE’s faster 4G+ technology.
This is still exceptionally fast, beats other networks, and will comfortably support HD video streaming.
Useful link: Read what customers are saying about Plusnet's 4G speeds in their forum
Not as good as:
EE, BT Mobile
Probably equal to or better than:
Three, Vodafone, O2
Call quality: Plusnet Mobile’s parent network came last in tests!
✔ Calls were slower to connect in testsSee the report
As with data speeds, there are no independent results for Plusnet Mobile so we’ve had to look at EE’s again.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the network’s strong point when we looked at the most recent report by the testing company P3, compared to other mobile providers. There’s no reason why Plusnet would be different.
P3 found that on Plusnet Mobile’s parent network, it took 1.5 - 2 seconds longer to set up a call than other providers and the audio quality of the call itself was lowest out of the major providers.
In short: overall coverage and data are strong points on Plusnet Mobile but calls aren’t so much. We’ll leave it you to decide which is more important for you.
Useful link: What Plusnet Mobile customers are saying about call quality in their forum
Not as good as:
Vodafone, O2 or Three
WiFi calling: you won’t get it on Plusnet Mobile
WiFi calling lets you use WiFi signal on your phone to make and take calls or send text messages. It’s useful for when you’re somewhere that conventional mobile signal doesn’t reach (like underground).
We’d generally describe Plusnet Mobile as being a “no-frills” provider. You can’t get WiFi calling with them but you do get a much cheaper deal than on EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, who do have it.
It’s really a question of how much you value it.
Our overall advice is to check if Plusnet Mobile have signal where you use your phone. If they don’t, think about how you’d stay connected without WiFi calling.
Useful link: Check you can make calls where you live on Plusnet
Not as good as:
Three, O2, Vodafone & EE
Free WiFi hotspots: there aren’t any on Plusnet Mobile
✔ With no WiFi you could reach your data limits fasterSee costs
Another feature you generally don’t find on low-cost providers is inclusive access to free WiFi hotspots. This is free and fast WiFi provided by the network in public places in the UK and abroad.
Plusnet Mobile don’t offer their customers any free WiFi. That means you’ll either need always to use up your mobile data allowance when you’re out and about, or sign up to a separate WiFi service.
For us, we wouldn’t let this be a deal breaker because there’s so much other free WiFi around nowadays anyway. Generally we say free WiFi hotspots are a nice-to-have rather than an essential.
Useful link: Costs for going over data limits on Plusnet Mobile
Not as good as:
BT Mobile, Virgin Mobile, O2
Tethering: it’s allowed on all Plusnet Mobile plans
✔ Tether as much as you like on Plusnet MobileRead full terms
One strength of Plusnet Mobile over other low-cost mobile networks is that you’re allowed to tether.
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
★★★★★ (Joint best choice)
As good as:
EE, Vodafone, O2, BT, Plusnet, Tesco
iD Mobile, Virgin Mobile
Plusnet Mobile perks and extras reviewed
Inclusive roaming: anywhere in the EU is included on Plusnet
✔ Free roaming in 40 selected destinations in the EUHow it works
In this category, we rate mobile networks according to what free roaming they give you. Free roaming means calls, texts and data that come out of your regular UK allowances while you’re abroad.
Plusnet Mobile offer the same as every UK mobile network now does: free roaming within EU countries.
In total, you can go to 40 countries (see the latest list here) across Europe. It’s worth remembering though that you will still be charged if you use up all your mins, text or data (here are the latest extra costs).
Outside Europe, you’ll still pay for each minute, text or MB data you use at these rates.
Overall, we can give Plusnet Mobile a ‘good’ rating for inclusive roaming for the EU. It’s a welcome bonus on already cheap plans but doesn’t offer any worldwide options.
Useful links: Plusnet's guide to roaming on their network
Not as good as:
Three, EE, Vodafone, O2 or BT
Spending caps: Plusnet Mobile help you avoid overspending
✔ Smart Caps stop any services that will cost you extraHow they work
The idea behind spending caps is to stop you ever being surprised by a larger-than-usual bill for going over your monthly minutes, texts or data allowance (or using these other chargeable services).
They do this by setting an amount in pounds (£) of how much extra you can spend above your regular bill. If this is ever reached, any activity that would increase the bill will be blocked but all others stay active.
They’re particularly useful if you’re taking out and paying for a contract for someone else like your kids.
Plusnet Mobile lead the way with their Smart Cap on all their SIM only plans. When you first order, the cap will automatically be set to £10 but can be set as low as £2 or high as £30 subject to these conditions.
We give Plusnet Mobile a ‘recommended’ rating for spending caps because they’re flexible and remove the fear of overspending. We can’t give them ‘best choice’ because you can’t totally remove the cap.
Useful link: How you manage your Smart Cap from Plusnet's help section.
Not as good as:
Customer rewards: broadband customers get 'Mates Rates'
✔ Double data for Plusnet broadband customersSee your deals
We think it’s important for mobile companies to look after existing customers. Some do this with exclusive deals, others have rewards apps like O2’s well-known Priority scheme. What do Plusnet have?
As a broadband provider with roughly a million subscribers, Plusnet have chosen to look after their home services customers with a set of special deals known as Mates Rates.
Rather than a discount, Mates Rates essentially doubles the amount of data you’d get if you weren’t already with Plusnet for broadband - for no extra cost (we've written a short guide to it here).
This is a nice, simple way to reward loyalty. It gives customers extra value without having to spend more.
Useful link: See the latest exclusive Mates Rates deals if you're a Plusnet broadband customer
Not as good as:
O2 Priority, Tesco Mobile Clubcard Points, giffgaff recruiter scheme
Data rollover: unused data on Plusnet is gone each month
✔ Plusnet rivals iD Mobile do offer data rolloverHow iD's scheme works
Here’s one area where Plusnet Mobile’s low-cost rival iD Mobile really gets one over on Plusnet:
Anyone with a mobile deal already probably knows you don’t always get through your entire mobile data allowance each month. On most networks, you’ll lose what you’ve not used at the end of the month.
Some networks have decided this is unfair (see which ones here) and have introduced what’s typically called data rollover. It basically means keeping unused data each month for the next, or even for longer.
Plusnet Mobile don’t offer data rollover (their rivals iD Mobile do, see here) so you will lose any data you haven’t used. So we can only give them a poor rating in this category.
Useful link: Read our full guide to Data Rollover plans
Not as good as:
Sky Mobile, iD Mobile, Virgin Mobile
Data saving: there are no extras to help you save your data
✔ 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
Not as good as:
Three, EE, VOXI, Virgin Mobile
Multi-buy discounts: there are no savings for multiple plans
✔ 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!
✖ 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.
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
Not as good as:
EE, BT Mobile, Vodafone
Reviewing Plusnet Mobile's deals
SIM only plans from Plusnet Mobile – key facts
Number of plans available:
Price range: £ - £ a month
SIM card sizes: Standard, Micro, Nano
Data speed: 4G on all plans
Find a SIM only plan
Choose what you want in your deal:
Choose which networks you'd consider:
mins | texts | data on 3G or 4G - edit search
( possibilities) on any length contract.
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Current offers running on Plusnet Mobile
✔ Two promotional plans to choose from in April
Compare all Plusnet's SIM only plans against other providers and you'll see they're already one of the best value networks around.
But there's usually at one or two deals that shine out above all others:
Order by end of 1st May and you can get
2GB 3GB data, 1500 minutes and unlimited texts for £10 £9 a month (1-month contract).
Or join by 27th April and get 2GB data, 1000 minutes and 2000 texts for just £7 a month
You'll also get Plusnet's usual benefits of 4G coverage through EE, Smartcap contracts and a flexible 1-month plan. A great all-round deal.
Useful links: See all SIM deals on Plusnet
Phone contracts: you can't get one at Plusnet Mobile!
✔ Plusnet's rivals iD Mobile do have phone contractsSee iD Mobile phones
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).
If you're looking for a cheap alternative, our price analysis shows that iD Mobile tends to be cheapest for pay monthly phones (see their cheapest phone deals here).
Not as cheap as:
Pay As You Go: Plusnet Mobile only do pay monthly
✔ For PAYG, Three are the cheapest providerSee Three PAYG deals
All Plusnet Mobile SIMs are available only on 1-month pay monthly contracts, so there is no pay as you go on their network. Their deals do start from as littles as £4 a month though.
If you're 100% after just a pay as you go deal, we usually recommend Three. Their 321 plan offers the lowest rates on the market at just 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB data.
It’s available either with a free-to-order SIM card or with any phone you want to buy outright. There are also some pre-paid bundles of mins, text and data you can buy too.
Overall, we rate Three’s Pay As You Go the best for infrequent users who just want to be able to pick up their phone every now and then and use it as cheaply as possible.
Useful link: See all PAYG rates and costs on Three
As cheap as:
Plusnet Mobile customer service
Customer service: Plusnet Mobile have staff in the UK
✔ Plusnet have customer service based in the UKLearn more about it
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