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Sky Mobile review 2018: will their network leave you 'believing in better'?

Sky Mobile logo with a phone and a SIM card

You expect quality from Sky. And their new mobile network offers some unique benefits. We see if they have the coverage and 4G speeds to match. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: June 22nd 2018.

Overall rating

Sky Mobile

SIM Sherpa rates Sky Mobile as a good network to join but finds it hard to get too excited overall ★★★☆☆ (3/5, good)

"There's a lot to like about Sky Mobile with their excellent coverage, generous data rollover scheme and cheap smartphone contracts with discounts for their TV customers.

But our guide below also shows how Sky Mobile aren't yet the complete package, with slower-than-average 4G speeds and missing benefits you can get elsewhere."

The 3 best bits

1) Excellent 4G UK coverage
2) Keep mobile data you haven't used
3) Cheap smartphone deals

The 3 worst bits

1) Slower than average 4G speeds
2) No really big data plans
3) No free Sky TV content

In our Sky Mobile review

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

4G, 3G, 2G coverage
Data speeds
Call quality
Tethering
Free WiFi hotspots
WiFi calling

Perks review

Benefits & features

Data rollover scheme
Sky TV customer perks
Inclusive EU roaming
Shared family plans
Free entertainment content
Unlimited streaming options
Spending caps

Deal review

Deals & plans

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

Customer service review

Customer service

Ofcom data

Sky Mobile's network

Coverage: if you missed it, Sky Mobile uses the O2 network

Map showing Sky Mobile's coverage

Sky's map shows you where there's coverage Check Sky Mobile signal

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

They don’t make a huge song and dance about it but Sky Mobile runs on O2’s reliable UK network for signal.You’ll get identical coverage to being on O2 direct with but with Sky’s unique added mobile benefits.

In terms of general UK population, 97% live in an area where you can get 4G Sky Mobile signal. For 3G, it’s slightly higher at 98%. O2 have invested millions in their network and Sky Mobile customers gain from that.

These are the second best coverage statistics, following the UK’s biggest network EE. So you’ll rarely struggle to make calls or get online on Sky Mobile.

It’s still definitely worth checking their specific coverage near you though.

Useful link: Check your local Sky Mobile coverage using their official network map

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
Joint 2nd
(out of 14 providers)

Not as good as:
EE, BT Mobile, Virgin Mobile

Better than:
Three, iD Mobile, TPO, SMARTY

Speeds: are slow results why Sky are shy about using O2?

Logos of independent speed testers for Sky Mobile 4G speeds
16.95 Mbps
(O2's result)
15.16 Mbps
(O2's result)

Sky Mobile customers might get to benefit from the expansion work O2 have put into bringing 4G to more places but independent network testers point to slower average 4G speeds than the competition.

That’s what Speedtest and OpenSignal both say, who use apps on people’s phones to measure data speeds experienced on each network (we have to use O2’s results as they don’t test virtual networks like Sky).

Their two most recent reports put Sky Mobile’s host O2 as the slowest of the UK’s 4 main networks with average 4G downloads clocked at 15.06 - 16.95 Mbps.

These are still OK results that will let you load internet pages in less than a second and watch videos without buffering. They’re just not going to support hard-core gaming or downloading huge files as fast.

Useful link: What Sky Mobile customers are saying about 4G speeds

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
Joint last

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

Same as:
O2, Tesco Mobile, giffgaff

Call quality: there may be better options than Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile call quality

We'd expect satisfactory call quality on Sky MobileRead full report

at p3-networkanalytics.com
(opens in new window)

Call us old fashioned but it’s still important that your phone works well on a mobile network for making phone calls, even if the majority of what we now do on them is internet based.

We’ve looked at the reports of P3 network analytics who specialise in running tests across the UK into how quickly calls connect with each major provider and the sound quality once you’re talking.

They give Sky Mobile's host network O2 a 'satisfactory' rating in their voice category (EE got 'very good', Vodafone and Three both got 'good'). They don't test providers like Sky who don't have their own network.

This means you shouldn't expect bad call quality on Sky Mobile, it's just that calls may connect more quickly and give you clearer sound on other mobile networks.

Useful link: Read full test report by P3 on each network's call quality

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
Joint last

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

Same as:
O2, Tesco Mobile, giffgaff

Free WiFi hotspots: Sky Mobile are one of the better choices

Free WiFi data when you're out and aboutHow free WiFi works

from Sky's own help guide
(opens in new window)

Sky point out to their new mobile customers that they can access Sky Wifi (The Cloud) hotspots free of charge as a Sky Mobile customer.

We’d point out that this service is actually free for anybody who isn’t a Sky Mobile customer too, but it’s still useful. Using their hotspots saves on your mobile data when you’re out and about.

It’s unlimited and there are thousands of hotspots located in busy public areas like shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, pubs and public transport hubs (read our guide to free WiFi to see how Sky compare).

One of our criticisms of Sky Mobile is that you can’t get a huge amount of mobile data in their plans so anything that saves yours is a welcome bonus.

Useful link: How to get free Sky WiFi access on Sky Mobile

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Better than:
All others

Tethering: it's included with Sky Mobile's plans

Tethering on Sky Mobile

Tethering's allowed on Sky MobileRead full terms

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

In all our reviews, we look at whether a mobile provider lets you use your plan for tethering. And if they do, whether there are any sneaky terms and conditions or restrictions.

Tethering is when you use your phone's mobile data to create a small WiFi hotspot around you, which you can connect other devices to. Most modern phones let you do it but not all networks allow it.

Sky Mobile's terms and conditions contain nothing preventing your from using your SIM or phone creating a hotspot, including abroad.

The devices you connect via tethering may use more data than your regular phone does, so it's worth checking Sky's extra charges here in case you go over your limit. Or pick a bigger data plan in the first place.

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

Our rating:
★★★★★ (joint best choice)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
EE, Vodafone, O2 & most others

Better than:
Three, iD Mobile, Virgin Mobile

WiFi calling: there isn’t any on Sky Mobile, not even an app

No WiFi calling on Sky Mobile

Other networks let you make/take calls over WiFiRead our guide

Sometimes you’ll find yourself somewhere that mobile signal can’t get, even if a provider has the best coverage: underground or in a building with thick walls.

WiFi calling is a feature that solves this on some networks.We list and compare the UK networks with WiFi calling in our article here but Sky Mobile aren’t on there.

WiFi calling works by letting your phone connect to WiFi instead of conventional mobile signal to make and receive calls. It’s a handy feature but it’s up to you whether you think it’s a deal breaker or not.

Particularly when there are so many apps that do a similar job now like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Facetime, Skype and Viber (plus more). Download one of these and you effectively have WiFi calling.

Useful link: Read our guide to the best WiFi calling networks

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

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

Same as:
All others

Sky Mobile benefits

Data rollover: Sky let you keep unused data the longest

Sky Mobile's Roll data rollover scheme

Keep data you've not used for up to 3 yearsHow 'Roll' works

from Sky's detailed guide
(opens in new window)

Only a few mobile networks let you keep data you haven’t used (read our data rollover guide here). And we say Sky are very nearly the best: only SMARTY who discount your future bills beat Sky in our view.

Sky's scheme is called 'Roll' and it adds any data you haven't used up at the end of the month to what Sky call your Piggybank. It’s basically like a savings account for mobile data.

You can store unused data there for up to 3 years (on other networks it’s only a month). And if you find one month you do use up all your data, you simply make a withdrawal from your Piggybank and carry on.

It's an excellent system because we all know our data usage varies month-to-month. It beats similar schemes because you get to keep data for much longer, and you can share it with other people on your account.

Useful link: Read Sky's full guide to how data rollover works

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
2nd place
(out of 14 providers)

Not as good as:
SMARTY

Better than:
iD Mobile, Virgin and all others

Customer rewards: discounts and perks if you Sky TV

Exclusive benefits for Sky TV customers

Sky TV customers save '£10 a month'See all benefits

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

There are two ways that Sky go about rewarding their existing customers when they take a mobile deal:

Firstly through discounts on the plans themselves: if you have Sky TV you’ll get unlimited calls and texts with your plan at no extra cost, where non-customers would have to pay £10 extra a month.

We’re fairly unimpressed with this as a ‘real’ discount. Plans where non-customers pay the extra tenner are far from competitive vs the competition, so aren’t really a genuine option to compare against.

The second way is through their scheme which lets you watch recordings from your home Sky+ box on your mobile via their Sync feature (see full details here).

We do worry that this is a sure-fire way to burn through the precious little data you can get on Sky Mobile. As some video streaming services can use around 1GB per hour.

Useful link: See all Sky Mobile benefits in one place

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
7th place
(out of 14 providers)

Not as good as:
O2, Tesco Mobile, giffgaff, Plusnet, BT Mobile, Three

Better than:
Virgin, EE & all others

Roaming: free within the EU and some worldwide passes

Sky Mobile roaming passports banner

Free roaming in 30 countries, passes for 10 moreSee the latest countries

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

When it comes to roaming, Sky Mobile are pretty much the same as every other network in the UK. They offer free EU roaming as standard in these 30 countries using your plan’s inclusive minutes, texts and data.

This is actually now a legal requirement of all UK networks, so isn’t actually anything special. You can read our guide to the best mobile networks for roaming here, where we compare each provider inclusive deals.

Where Sky Mobile do go one step further than some other providers is by offering 10 further countries outside the EU where you can use the data from your regular plan for a fixed daily charge (see latest costs here).

This is welcome because the data roaming charges on Sky Mobile outside the EU are really quite horrendously high. Even with a pass it’s worth noting, you’ll still pay for minutes and texts separately as you use them.

Useful link: See all Sky Mobile roaming costs and charges

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
Joint 6th
(out of 14 providers)

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

Same as:
Most others

Shared / family plans: share leftover data on Sky Mobile

Share leftover data on Sky Mobile plans

Share unused data with others on your accountHere's how it works

from Sky's own guide
(opens in new window)

On Sky Mobile, you can manage up to 5 plans on one single account. So that’s useful if you have one billpayer in a family, who wants to be responsible for other members’ phone deals.

Doing this really only has one benefit currently. And that’s being able to share unused data held in your Piggybank between other users on your account (this gets Sky an entry in our guide to shared-data plans).

It’s handy if you have someone who often gets through their data and another who regularly has some spare: the first person avoids wasting data already paid for and the second avoids charges for going over their limits.

Other than that, there are no generous discounts for extra plans like we see with BT Mobile’s Family SIMs.

Useful link: How sharing unused data works

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
7th place
(out of 14 providers)

As good as:
BT Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Vodafone, EE, Three, O2

Better than:
All others

Entertainment subscriptions: Sky Mobile don’t include any

Other networks with free content

Some networks get you free content

It’s funny for a brand who has so much TV content available to them that you don’t get any free or exclusive streaming services when you join Sky Mobile.

There is the ability to Sync your home Sky+ TV box with your mobile but no free subscriptions to entertainment providers like we’re seeing on some of the other leading UK mobile networks:

EE for instance give their pay monthly customers 6 months of free Apple Music on top of at least 3 months BT Sport App access. BT Mobile offer BT Sport App access on selected plans.

And Vodafone offer a choice of a NOW TV, Sky Sports Mobile TV or Spotify Premium with their top-whack mobile bundles.

This is definitely an area that Sky could improve on with their mobile offering.

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
EE, BT Mobile, Vodafone

Same as:
All others

Free streaming / social media data schemes: nothing innovative from Sky Mobile yet

Three's Go Binge unlimited streaming scheme

Unlimited data for streaming selected appsRead all details

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

Our reviews hold every mobile network to the same standard in and look for the features they do and don’t have. It's up to you if these are all of interest to you of course.

Four networks now offer either free social media or unlimited streaming data to their pay monthly customers.

Three’s impressive Go Binge scheme lets you stream Netflix, Apple Music and these services without using data. While EE are offering 6 months of free data for streaming Apple Music.

For unlimited social media, Vodafone’s new VOXI network’s plans all come endless data for using the most popular social media apps and Virgin Mobile have a similar but more-limited scheme for messaging apps.

Sky Mobile don’t offer any such scheme, so lag behind in this category compared to their competitors.

Useful link: Our guide to networks offering free data

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

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

Same as:
All others

Spending caps: you can’t set your own limit on Sky Mobile

Tesco's capped contracts

Tesco offer capped contracts and use O2 tooSee Tesco spend caps

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

With any mobile network provider, if you use more minutes, texts or data than are included in your monthly plan, you’ll be charged extra on top of your regular bill (here’s how much you’ll pay on Sky Mobile).

This can be a worry if you’ve taken out a plan that only just covers what you need or if you’ve taken a deal out and given it to someone else like a son or daughter and you’re not in control of what they use.

Other networks like Tesco Mobile (who also use O2), iD Mobile (use Three) and Plusnet Mobile (use EE) offer what are generally known as ‘capped contracts’. Sky Mobile do not.

These let you set a limit of how much above the regular cost of the plan you’re happy to pay each month from as little as £2 extra. This gives peace of mind to the bill payer so it’s a shame Sky Mobile don’t offer it.

Useful link: We rate Tesco as having the best capped contracts

Our rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Rank:
Joint last

Not as good as:
Tesco, iD, Plusnet

Same as:
All others

Sky 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 Sky Mobile

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

Free tablets with selected phones

Free tablet examples

See qualifying phones

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Even though most the attention with Sky this month is the launch of the brand new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, it's still a decent time to join them if you're after an Android phone. There's:

A free Samsung Galaxy Tab A6 tablet with a Galaxy S9 phone (or S9+), a free Huawei T3 tablet with a Huawei Pro P20 (or Huawei P20 Pro) or free wireless speaker with the Sony Xperia XA2 or Sony Xperia XZ1.

Each offer is only available until 18th October 2018. With each of the offers, you'll need to add the free tablet or speaker as an accessory when you check out to make sure you definitely receive it.

It's a quiet month if you're only after a SIM only plan, although Sky have recently added more data to each of their plans for the same price, on a permanent basis.

Useful link: See all Sky Mobile offers

SIM only plans from Sky Mobile

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

Key facts about Sky 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

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Phone contracts from Sky Mobile

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

Sky Mobile’s deals are based on finance: that's good and bad

An example of a Sky Mobile credit agreement

How the loans work

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

When you take a smartphone from Sky Mobile, you’re essentially signing up to a loan to pay for the cost of the phone. You can choose to spread that cost over 24 months (Swap 12) or 30 months (Swap 24).

Paying over 30 months gives you a lower monthly cost but Sky do increase the overall cost of the phone if you choose this. Paying over 24 months costs more per month but gets you a cheaper overall handset price.

Being a loan, the requirements to get accepted for a Sky Mobile smartphone deal will be more strict than a regular mobile contract. If you’ve been declined for a contract before, we wouldn’t recommend trying Sky.

That said, this type of phone contract does have the advantage of letting you pay off your phone early to upgrade to a new one or leave altogether (though you have to stay for at least 12 months). More below.

Useful link: How a Sky Mobile credit agreement works from Sky's help guide

Phone contracts: upgrade early with Swap 12 and 24

Sky Mobile Swap contracts

How 'Swap' works

from Sky's guide
(opens in new window)

Above, you can see that Sky’s mobile contracts are based on finance and that one advantage of this is being able to upgrade early. ‘Swap 12’ offers a way to upgrade after 12 months and ‘Swap 24’ after 24 months.

What happens is that Sky offer to buy back your phone off you. In theory, the price they pay you is equal to the amount left on your loan. This clears the loan and leaves you free to upgrade to a new phone.

For us, this system has too many risks and potential disadvantages ever to bother using:

Firstly, by the 12th or 24th month, you’ll have paid for most of your phone. So why would you give it back to Sky just to sign up to a new agreement where you’ll be paying for another phone again from scratch?

Secondly, if you’ve not looked after the device, you won’t get paid the full amount, so won’t clear your loan. You’ll then have money left to pay for a phone you don’t even own any more.

Thirdly, you might be able to get more for your phone by selling to another 2nd hand retailer or privately.

Useful link: Read more to see if Swap is right for you at Sky.com

Phone brands available on Sky Mobile

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

Pay As You Go: Sky Mobile don't offer it at all

Don't confuse Pay As You Use with regular PAYG

You may have read something about Sky Mobile offering what they call "Pay As You Use". This shouldn't be confused with regular Pay As You Go (paying for mobile deals up front).

Pay As You Use (PAYU) is just one of the two ways Sky sells their pay monthly deals:

First you select how much data you want each month. Next you choose to pay for your minutes and texts at 10p per minute or text (PAYG) or pay £10 a month for unlimited mins and texts (free for Sky TV customers).

If you're looking for the type of SIM only or phone deal where you top up with credit, then everything you use comes out of that, we'd recommend Three's 321 plan.

It offers leading rates of 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB data. Order a free SIM card below.

Useful link: Three's 3p 2p 1p Pay As You Go SIM card

Mobile broadband: Sky don't offer it

A mobile WiFi device

Sky Mobile don't offer any of the following mobile broadband products: data-only SIMs, mobile WiFi devices / dongles. It's just not their speciality.

We'll update this section if they do launch mobile broadband.

Sky Mobile customer service

Customer service: Sky have a good record with Ofcom

Ofcom customer service data for Sky

Sky receive fewest complaints for TV and broadbandRead Ofcom's report

It's worth saying it's pretty difficult to gauge in advance how good a company's customer service is going to be.

Review websites can be unreliable, as people only tend to go there to moan when they've had a bad experience. Also, some companies pay to manage their profiles on those sites to improve their scores by resolving bad reviews. Others don't pay, so their results may look worse than they are.

We use Ofcom complaints data. This is when a customer's complaint hasn't been resolved by the mobile network, so they take it to Ofcom. Lots of Ofcom complaints=a network is poor is sorting out problems.

As Sky Mobile is still quite new, Ofcom have not collected data for pay monthly mobiles with them but if Sky's broadband, landline and TV scores are anything to go by, Sky Mobile's customer service should be good.

At the moment though, this is still a bit of an assumption as running a mobile network is different to broadband. We'll watch Ofcom's data closely once Sky Mobile have enough customers to be included.

Useful link: Read Ofcom's latest telecoms report

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