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Sky Mobile review 2020: real-life coverage & speeds user test

Sky Mobile logo with a phone and a SIM card

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

We've bought a Sky Mobile SIM card for real to test their 4G coverage, speeds and benefits like a genuine customer. Here's what we found. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: April 21st 2020.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates Sky Mobile as an excellent option
 (4/5, excellent)

"The overall package you get with Sky Mobile is among the best on the UK market, thanks to a winning combination of network competence, added-value benefits, pricing and customer service.

They’re a safe pair of hands when it comes to their actual mobile network, with excellent coverage and even extras like 5G, WiFi calling and 4G calling, although lacklustre data speeds do let them down.

But it’s Sky Mobile’s benefits that are the swinger for us. Free unlimited streaming data for Sky TV apps and keeping unused data for 3 years help you get the most out of your phone and squeeze out maximum value too.

And you get it all on well priced phone contracts and SIM only plans. People are going to like being on Sky Mobile, whether they’ve got Sky at home or not."

The 3 best bits

1) Excellent UK coverage
2) Unlimited Sky TV app streaming
3) Keep mobile data you haven't used

The 3 worst bits

1) Slower than average 4G speeds
2) Patchy WiFi calling support
3) No free Sky TV content

Information symbol We're a professional reviews website but we bought our Sky Mobile SIM card as a regular consumer, to test what it's actually like for real life paying customers. The contents of this review are a combination of our expert industry knowledge and what we experienced during our test.

In our Sky Mobile review

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

5G, 4G, 3G, 2G coverage
Data speeds
WiFi calling / 4G calling
Tethering
Free WiFi hotspots
WiFi calling

Perks review

Benefits & features

Unlimited streaming options
Data rollover scheme
Inclusive EU roaming
Shared family plans
Free entertainment content
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: Sky Mobile uses the extensive O2 network

Map showing Sky Mobile's coverage

Sky's map predicts indoor and outdoor coverage Check signal here

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

They don't make a huge deal about it but Sky Mobile use the O2 network to bring their customers 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G signal in the UK. Like any mobile network, O2's has strengths and weaknesses for Sky Mobile:

Coverage for calls on Sky Mobile is second-to-none. They've got the largest amount of the UK's geographical landmass covered with call signal and they use more-optimal frequencies to avoid indoor blackspots too.

We've used our Sky Mobile SIM for everyday use in small towns, out in the country and in big cities to get a feel for what their signal is like. Our experience was similar to the big independent network testers.

It was extremely rare that you'd drop down 3G (H or H+) when you're anywhere near places people live.

We were particularly impressed with Sky's indoor reception. Where we'd have to go to the windows to make calls with other test SIMs, our Sky Mobile SIM worked throughout the house.

For 4G data, Ofcom say O2 lags behind all other providers on how much of the geography they've got covered, meaning worse 4G signal in rural areas. But there's no disadvantage in residential places vs other networks.

The most important thing is to know what Sky Mobile is like in the areas you actually use your phone. Use their network map to check here. Don't just check at home but also places you regularly travel to too.

Useful link: Read differences between Sky and O2

5G: Sky Mobile now have it in all the locations O2 do

Sky 5G map

5G isn't universal within covered citiesFind 5G locations

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky Mobile now feature on our list of mobile networks with 5G data, because you can now get 5G with them as long as your phone supports it and it's comes with your plan.

So far, O2 have rolled out 5G in parts of 30 UK towns and cities. And Sky Mobile have it in all the same places too. It's not the whole cities that are covered yet though, it's still mainly the busiest places being targeted first.

It's a rapidly changing picture and all networks have agressive rollout plans to bring 5G to more places. It's worth saying you don't automatically get 5G on Sky Mobile though free of charge.

The main downside is you have to either buy it as a £5 monthly add-on or join Sky's VIP loyalty programme to get the new technology for free with your plan, whether you're joining on a phone contract or a SIM only plan.

Useful link: How to get Sky's 5G

Our coverage rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
Joint 2nd
(out of 14 providers)

Not as good as:
EE, BT Mobile

Better than:
Three, iD Mobile, SMARTY

4G speeds: Sky Mobile's downloads are slower than average

Sky Mobile 5G banner

Sky now offer 5G data tooLatest 5G news

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Using O2 is a plus point for Sky Mobile for overall coverage but it's probably more of a negative when it comes to the download speeds you'll get over 4G, which are the joint slowest on average (with all providers on O2).

That's what our own spot testing with a Sky SIM confirms. And it's what independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla, who take millions of measurements around the country say too.

Their reports show you can expect typical 4G download speeds of 16.95 - 18.00 Mbps. That's like a non-fibre home broadband connection. And it's slower than all other providers.

Our experience out-and-about with a Sky Mobile SIM matched the findings of the specialist independent network testers too. Their 15.8 Mbps to 16.95 Mbps results seem accurate.

Over 4G, we mostly measured speeds between 10 Mbps and 30 Mbps on Sky. It was rare to get any higher or lower. That's lower than other networks but didn't particularly feel like a huge problem.

Reading the news, checking social media and other basic day-to-day internet usage were all perfectly fine over 4G. Even YouTube videos loaded without buffering.

We also checked Sky's speeds vs an identical test phone with an O2 SIM card in it in a variety of locations. We couldn't find any built-in speed caps on Sky vs being directly on O2.

We don't think basic users that just want to browse the internet and use social media will particularly notice the difference. Big downloaders and ultra high def streamers might find Sky's 4G a bit lackustre.

Useful link: What difference having 5G will make

Our speeds 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 technology: Sky Mobile's WiFi calling is ok

Screenshot of Sky's WiFi calling help page

The supported device list isn't hugeSee supported phones

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Even though Sky's 2G and 3G signal is good for getting indoors, it can still be handy to have extra calling technology to boost signal when you're inside, because blackspots happen on all networks.

Sky Mobile have both WiFi calling (make/take calls over WiFi) and 4G calling (uses 4G for calls, which is normally just used for data). We'd rate both as alright on Sky Mobile but not as good as all these networks.

We put our Sky Mobile in our manufacturer-bought Samsung Galaxy S7 test phone. And WiFi calling did not work. We'd say your Android phone definitely needs to be on the list for it to have a chance of working.

It did work when we put the same SIM in an iPhone 7. We did find Sky's WiFi calling tended to "kick in" less easily than other networks, you had to be properly out of regular phone signal for it to come into action.

Although Sky claim you can move from WiFi to 4G calling mid-call, this didn't work in any of our tests.

If your phone is supported the feature works alright, although it doesn't work with SMS texts like some providers and we weren't able to switch between a WiFi call and a 4G call without it dropping.

Sky also support a below-average number of Android phones if you're joining on SIM only (iPhone support is good though). Check their help article here to see if yours is supported before you join.

Useful link: Sky's WiFi calling help page

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
Joint 4th

Better than:
All others

Free WiFi hotspots: no special integration with Sky WiFi

Sky Mobile hotspots

Free WiFi data when you're out and aboutSee nearby hotspots

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

Some mobile networks include free automatic access to WiFi hotspots. It's handy if you're somewhere with no mobile data signal, you want to save mobile data or you've completely run out but still need to get online.

Sky have a network of free hotspots called Sky WiFi. It's free to access for anyone who registers. And their hotspots are located in plenty of high-traffic, useful places like pubs, restaurants and transport hubs.

There's no automatic login-free access to Sky WiFi for Sky's mobile customers, so when you're in range you have to sign in on a splash screen that comes up every time, although it does remember you if you've been there before.

The WiFi itself is perfectly passable for general browsing, checking social media or maps etc. You're not going to be able to use it download massive files particularly quickly.

There's no extra benefit when you use them if you're a Sky Mobile customer. Some providers detect your phone and let it automatically connect (O2) or give you free access, when you'd normally have to pay (BT).

It'd be good if Sky could sort something like O2's automatic WiFi scheme. Running a mobile network after all is about keeping people's phones connected as much as possible. It'd improve our rating in this section.

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

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Better than:
All others

Tethering: use all Sky Mobile's plans for personal hotspots

Tethering on Sky Mobile

Tethering's allowed on Sky MobileRead full terms

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Tethering is a function on pretty much every smartphone that lets it take mobile data signal and turn it into a small WiFi hotspot, which you can connect other devices too, like laptops and tablets.

Some networks block it because it can hog bandwidth and make connections worse for people nearby. But you're allowed to do it as much as you like on Sky Mobile at no extra cost (unless you go over your data limit).

Personal hotspot works automatically on Sky, you don't have to dig around in your account to turn it on like we've seen with some networks.

The experience itself was fine. We used it in a stationary location to remote desktop to another computer with a laptop pretty comfortably.

There's a bit of typical lag you see over mobile networks where images on websites take a second or two extra to load.

But otherwise, it was pretty passable for non-specialist usage.

Compared to other networks, Sky Mobile isn't the most optimal for regular tethering. Their speeds are lower than average, which could become more noticeable on larger, more demanding devices.

And if you're working on trains or keeping the kids entertained in the car, the smaller geographical 4G coverage might leave you relying on a slower 3G connection more of the time.

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

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
TBC

Better than:
TBC

Sky Mobile benefits

Sky Mobile's best benefit is their free Sky TV streaming data

Sky Mobile Watch banner

Watch Sky TV apps without using dataRead full details

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Watching videos via 4G on your phone is one of the fastest ways to rip through your monthly data allowance. So that's why we're really keen on Sky Mobile's unlimited streaming benefit Watch.

On any Sky Mobile plan, big or small, phone or SIM, you can watch all of Sky's TV, film and news apps without it using up your mobile data. That's unlimited data for streaming them, on plans as cheap as the one below:

If you've got Sky TV at home and you're a commuter or travel with kids in the car, the benefit opens up loads of possibilities to stay entertained without having to buy a massive plan (here's all the apps it covers).

Useful link: Read our full Sky Mobile Watch review

Our rating:
(best choice)

Rank:
1st

Way better than:
All others

Data rollover: Sky have one of the best schemes in the UK

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)

Data rollover is when a mobile network lets you keep data that you've not go through for the future (read our full guide here). Sky Mobile include it with all their pay monthly plans - and it's one of our favourite schemes:

While other providers only let you keep unused data for one month, Sky just let you keep piling it up for a way more useful three years, the longest of any provider in the UK!

Our data usage was consistently below how much our plan gave us, so we found we were stacking up more and more data each month, which Sky show you in your online account, like a bank statement:

Screenshot of data activity

It's easy to manage your Piggybank. You just go into your online account and it's one of the first options.

Screenshot of claiming data from Piggybank

If you or anyone on the same account has run out of data, you can withdraw from Piggybank to person of your choice, using a simple dropdown. It take just a few minutes to take effect.

Sky also show you how much your leftover data is worth if you decide to cash it in against buying a new device or accessory from them:

Screenshot of Piggybank rewards

Overall, we find Sky Mobile's whole Piggybank system really self-explanatory and easy to use. Have a read of their help article here if you're in any doubt.

It all gets added to your data piggybank (a sort of bank account for data). Then if you ever need it, you just make a withdrawal, 1GB at a time. That's really handy if your usage changes month to month.

You can even share data from your piggybank with others on your account or swap it for discounts on new phones or tablets with Sky. Overall, it's an excellent sweetener to join Sky for mobile.

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

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Not as good as:
SMARTY

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.

We took our Sky SIM card away with us within the EU. Everything worked very slickly without any manual input.

We got the normal "welcome to" messages with the costs while you're away, as soon we got off the plane and switched on the phone.

Our phone connected to 4G data wherever it was available, which was fast and had good signal everywhere we went.

Overall, roaming was as it should be on Sky Mobile: basically the same as being at home. We've not done any tests outside the EU though.

Outside of the EU, roaming gets really expensive with no inclusive usage. In these 12 countries, you'll automatically be charged £6 per day to use your regular allowances. That'd add up fast on a two-week trip.

But it could work out less than Sky's pay as you go roaming rates, which are horrendously high. If you mainly take holidays in the EU, you're fine. Further flung travellers might be better off with a network like Three.

Useful link: See all Sky Mobile roaming costs and charges

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Not as good as:
Three, Vodafone, O2, EE

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. Nor is there anything as flexible as EE's data gifting on shared accounts.

Useful link: How sharing unused data works

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

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 (you do get data to stream their TV apps though).

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

Spending caps: Sky Mobile are ultra-flexible

Tesco's capped contracts

Set your limit between £0 and £100How to set a cap

at Sky.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.

Now the government regulator Ofcom have changed the rules so that every mobile provider must let you choose to set a spending cap on extra charges to your account. If you reach the limit, most services that would cost extra will be stopped until next month.

We rate Sky Mobile's system as one of the best in the UK. You can choose an amount anywhere between £0 and £100 in £1 increments. And you can do it when you sign up, or later on if you want to change (here's how to set yours).

Useful link: See costs for going over limits on Sky

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
TBC

Better than:
TBC

Not as good as:
TBC

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.

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

Find a SIM only plan

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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 36 months (Swap 24).

Paying over 36 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

Compare Sky Mobile smartphone deals

See how Sky stack up with the competition by choosing a model and brand

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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 taking a look at 1pMobile's 1p payg plan or Three's Three's 321 plan.

Both are cheap deals. 1pMobile's deal is 1p per minute, text or data, while Three's is 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB data. We don't expect Sky Mobile ever to launch pay as you go themselves.

Useful link: Read our 1pMobile review

Mobile broadband: Sky Mobile offer very long tablet deals

A mobile WiFi device

Some contracts are 4 years long!See tablet deals

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

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.

They do have a small range of tablets here, which are sold with data plans on financing agreements similar to how they sell their phones (sometimes even longer arrangements up to 48 months!).

You'll get a monthly allocation of mobile data and spread the cost of the device over the course of your contract. The total you pay for the device is usually around 2% to 20% higher than buying outright from the manufacturer.

So even though the finance is offered as 0% APR, you are paying a premium vs buying outright. But the rates aren't agressively higher than other financing options. It really pays to compare though.

Useful link: See Sky's range of tablets here

Sky Mobile customer service

Customer service: Sky have a positive record with Ofcom

Ofcom customer service data for Sky

Sky are middle of the pack for complaintsRead Ofcom's report

Sky have long had a good record when it comes to customer service for their broadband and TV - when you look at how many complaints the telecoms regulator Ofcom receives about them.

And that's now carried through to their mobile services too. For every 100,000 Sky Mobile subscribers, Ofcom receive 3 complaints. That's about typical for the entire mobile industry.

People only complain to Ofcom if they've tried sorting out a problem with the provider directly. So operators with a low number of Ofcom complaints are either good at sorting problems (good customer service) or have fewer problems to start with.

If you've been bitten with a poor experience elsewhere before, Sky Mobile should be a much more re-assuring choice than many other networks.

Useful link: Read Ofcom's latest telecoms report

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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