The Rise Of Sim Only

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of people opting for SIM only deals. These deals are fast becoming the first choice for mobile phone consumers in the UK and a recent report from YouGov highlights the dramatic change that is happening.

Last updated: 8th May 2019 at 3:56pm

According to YouGov, in December of 2010, only one person in twenty (5%) had a SIM only deal, by 2016, this increased to one in five (19%), rising to 27% in 2017. While predictions are hard to make in a technology-centric sector, we could see the market share for SIM only rise to as much as 54% by the year 2021. So, why are more people opting for SIM only?

What is a SIM only deal?

The concept of SIM only is very easy to understand, you pay for an allowance of calls, texts, and data (without the phone). Data includes everything from sending emails, using chat services, streaming media, and checking in on your social media network of choice.

A SIM only will typically come with a 12 month term or (in the case of Asda Mobile) a 30-day rolling term. Unlike a mobile contract, the 30-day term gives you the freedom of not being tied to a plan or a phone for a long period of time. Asda Mobile offers this service in its great value bundles which are contract and credit check free and last 30-days. There are lots of bundles to choose from, some have unlimited texts others have a set amount of data minutes and texts.

SIM only tariffs do not include a mobile phone. People who choose SIM only might already have a phone to use. To save even more money you could buy a second-hand phone, or separately purchase a phone outright from the manufacturer or another retailer.

Why choose a SIM only deal?

People choose a SIM only deal for several different reasons. They might:

  • Already own a mobile phone that they are happy with
  • Want a small monthly bill
  • Like to switch between brands or models of the phone often
  • Want the freedom to switch network or operator at any time

The implications of the costs of running a mobile in various ways are highlighted in a report from Ofcom. The research shows that there are 1.5 million customers in the UK that are paying the same price, even though the minimum period of their contract has passed. This refers to people who purchased a tariff and contract together.

With handset price rises, buying a handset with a two-year contract can result in people paying as much as a 34% premium. For customers that are outside their minimum term, pay monthly with handset customers pay £25 per month, compared to £15 per month for SIM only consumers.

In a nutshell, the research shows that choosing a phone and tariff mobile phone contract works out more expensive than buying the handset outright and running it on a SIM only deal. Mobile customers could pay up to £200 more over the course of a two-year mobile phone contract, which works out to a higher rate of interest than that offered on most credit cards. In fact, it is the equivalent of taking out a loan to buy a phone with a 40% APR interest rate.

What handsets work on a SIM only deal?

Any phone that is unlocked will work on a SIM only deal. Some phones are locked to the network they were originally sold on, although this practice is now decreasing. You should be aware that if you were given a phone as part of your contract, and you are now out of the minimum contract term, then the network or provider must unlock the phone for free.

If you are within your minimum contract term or if your phone is a pay as you go phone, then you might have to pay up to £5 to £15 to have your phone unlocked. If your contract term has run its course then you will need to give 30 days notice, to terminate the contract. If you wish to move onto a SIM only deal and keep your telephone number, then you should request a PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) at the time that you request to cancel your contract.

What to look out for in a SIM only deal

Now that you have decided that a SIM only deal is for you, it is time to consider what you should look out for in order to get a fantastic SIM only deal. The first thing to do is to find a SIM only bundle that has enough text messages, voice minutes, and data, to cover all of your uses.

An adequate allowance of voice calls and data are crucial for the following reasons: The cost of voice calls outside of the bundle allowance has risen by 36% since 2012 and people’s data usage has increased by an average of 217% since 2014 (Ofcom).

The good news is that the number of SIM only plans with at least 11GB of data, has doubled between 2016 and 2018. Simply for your interest, the number of text messages that people are sending has reduced by 31%, the number of minutes used has increased by 7%, and the average price of contracts across the board is down by 4%.

As we move forward, we expect to see even better SIM only deals. This is because more UK consumers are choosing SIM only, making the tariff the sole area of competitiveness for the mobile phone operators.

In conclusion, if you have a mobile phone that you are happy with then switching to a SIM only could result in you making big savings. If you have the money to buy a phone outright or chose to buy a second-hand phone, then once again, it is time to look at how much you could save by selecting a SIM only. Take a look at Asda's SIM Only Bundles here

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With no contract you have the freedom to flex your usage whenever you need to.

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