Hello and welcome to Ken's Tech Tips, one of the UK's largest independent mobile technology websites. Our mission is to demystify the world of mobile technology. We're doing that by providing a no-nonsense guide on smartphones & mobile technology here in the UK. Whether you're looking to understand mobile technology, to compare the best deals available on the market, for a full review of the tariffs on each network or for information about changing your network or handset, we're here to help.

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Mobile Internet: How Many Gigabytes Do You Need? Download Limits Explained

March 1st, 2015

In the UK, almost all mobile phone plans have a monthly limit on how much you can download. In this article, find out what you’re able to do with a gigabyte of data. Also, discover the right data plan for your usage every month.

SmartphonesAfter choosing a new smartphone, the next thing you’ll need to do is to choose an appropriate tariff on which to use the handset.

In the old days, choosing a mobile phone tariff was simple. You simply needed to know how many minutes and how many texts you wanted every month. In the new world of high-tech 4G smartphones, choosing a tariff is now much more complicated. Instead of minutes and texts, it’s now all about the data. You’ll need to work how many gigabytes you want per month (on average, that’s about 2GB per month but it depends very much on how you use the handset).

On today’s smartphones, almost all of the functionality requires data to work. You’ll need data when browsing the internet, when sending messages on WhatsApp and when reading your e-mail. You’ll also need data when using applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, Skype and YouTube. Unfortunately, different apps and activities all consume data at substantially different rates. This can make it a little bit tricky to work out how much data you’ll actually need every month.

In this article, we’ll explain the real-world meaning of monthly download limits. We’ll show you what a gigabyte of mobile data actually means in reality: how many web pages you’ll be able to access, how many messages you’ll be able to send and how many apps you’ll be able to download. We’ll also help you to find the best value data plans available for your handset. Finally, we’ll show you how to measure your current data consumption and how to make your monthly allowance go a lot further.

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The UK’s Best Value Smartphone SIM Only Tariffs with Internet

February 17th, 2015

If you already have a smartphone, you can save more than £200/year by switching over to a SIM only deal. We compare across the UK networks to find the best value SIM card available.

SIM card for SIM Only tariffNowadays, many of us already have a smartphone that we’re happy to keep. When your 24-month contract comes to an end, there are normally two options you’re able to choose from.

The first option is buying a new handset. This requires taking out another 24 month contract. You’ll be able to upgrade to the latest handset such as the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus or the Galaxy S5. Expect to pay around £40/month on the new contract. Typically, there will also be an upfront charge for the handset.

The second option is switching over to a SIM Only deal. This is a much better choice if you’re happy with keeping your current smartphone. You simply pick up a new low-cost SIM card that slots into your handset and gives you much lower rates. As the SIM card will be on an airtime-only contract, it’ll be much cheaper than normal Pay Monthly. You can normally expect to save around £15 to £20 per month with a SIM only deal. Over a year, the savings can easily add up to more than £200.

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O2’s Big Bundles Reviewed: Pay As You Go Packages from £10/month

February 11th, 2015

O2 currently offers “Big Bundle” packages from £10/month on Pay As You Go. 4G internet is available on Big Bundles from £15/month.

O2 Big BundlesCustomers on O2 Pay As You Go can buy a monthly “Big Bundles” package for a one-month allowance of calls, texts and internet. The Big Bundle packages start from £10/month: you convert £10 of your normal Pay As You Go credit into a one-month allowance of 100 minutes, 100 texts and 500MB of 3G internet. 4G internet is available on higher priced bundles from £15/month: there’s faster downloads and a larger allowance of either 1GB or 2GB of mobile internet.

In this article, we review the O2 Big Bundles tariff. We’ll look at O2’s range of 3G and 4G bundles. We’ll also compare the Big Bundles offering to key alternatives such as giffgaff’s goodybags, EE’s Everything Packs and Vodafone’s Freedom Freebees. We’ll also discuss how to buy a Big Bundle and how you can join O2 as a new customer on the Big Bundles tariff.

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The UK’s Cheapest iPhone 6: EE, O2, Three & Vodafone Tariffs Compared

February 10th, 2015

The iPhone 6 is currently the most popular smartphone available in the UK. We compare the cost of the iPhone 6 on EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. We’ll also find the UK’s cheapest available iPhone 6 tariff.

iPhone 6 ColoursThe iPhone 6 is Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone. With a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, it has a super-sharp screen that 38% larger than the 4.0-inch display on the iPhone 5s. The handset has a beautifully-thin design constructed from glass, aluminium and steel. There’s also a 64-bit Apple A8 processor for superior performance and there’s an 8 megapixel iSight camera which takes great quality photos.

The iPhone 6 is primarily available on four mobile networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Between them, the four networks have more than sixty tariff combinations only for the 16GB version of the iPhone 6. Each tariff comes with varying amounts of calls, texts and internet. They also differ substantially in price: some tariffs will charge you more upfront whereas other tariffs will charge you more every month.

In this article, we’ll help you find the best available iPhone 6 deal in the UK. Below, we’ve compared all of the UK’s iPhone 6 tariffs in one easy-to-read table. We’ve also highlighted the best available deals, the tariffs to go for and the tariffs to avoid.

Looking for the iPhone 6 Plus? See our iPhone 6 Plus price comparison table.

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How To Check & Compare UK Mobile Coverage: Networks & MVNOs

February 3rd, 2015

Coverage should be your top consideration when choosing a new mobile network. Find out how to choose the mobile phone network offering the best coverage in your area.

Mobile phone coverage is provided by mastsIf you’re choosing a new mobile phone network, the level and the quality of coverage should be the most important thing to consider. You’ll need to have good mobile coverage in order to get a satisfactory experience when using your phone. Poor coverage can lead to missed phone calls, text messages being delayed and web pages failing to load. It can also affect your mobile phone’s battery life (poor mobile coverage will very quickly drain the battery life from your smartphone).

With the UK having more than 20 mobile networks, it seems rather daunting to choose the network with the best coverage. In this guide, we outline the basics of how to check and how to compare mobile coverage in the UK. We’ll discuss the UK’s system of virtual network operators: understanding this will save you vast amounts of time when comparing the coverage across networks. We’ll also discuss how to assess the quality of coverage offered on each network: the key things you should be looking out for and the factors that’ll make a difference to your mobile phone experience.

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Lycamobile Review: Cheap International Calls & 4G Internet on Pay As You Go

January 27th, 2015

With Lycamobile, you can make international phone calls from as little as 1p/minute. We review the Lycamobile service and compare it to rivals such as giffgaff and Lebara Mobile.

Lycamobile: Call the world for less.In the UK, Lycamobile is a specialist provider of international phone calls. By placing a free Lycamobile SIM card into your unlocked or SIM-free handset, you’ll be able to call abroad from as little as 1p/minute. You can also send international texts from 15p per message. Lycamobile uses O2 as a network coverage provider.

In this article, we review the Lycamobile service. We’ll look at the costs of using Lycamobile: both for calling within the UK and for calling phone numbers in another country. We’ll discuss the costs of using your smartphone on Lycamobile and for accessing the internet over 3G or 4G. We’ll then go on to compare Lycamobile to rival services such as giffgaff and Lebara Mobile. Finally, we’ll look at coverage on Lycamobile and how you’re able to keep an existing phone number when moving to the network.

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The UK’s Cheapest Mobile Network For International Phone Calls

January 22nd, 2015

In the UK, four specialist mobile networks currently provide a low-cost SIM card for making international phone calls. They also provide low-cost international text messages.

EarthIf you’re calling a phone number in another country, it’s often a rather expensive affair to use your normal UK SIM card for international phone calls. On the major mobile networks such as EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, you can often find yourself paying up to £1.50/minute just for calling abroad from your standard Pay As You Go tariff. Whilst there are sometimes special offers to reduce the cost of international calling, you can normally save money by switching over to a specialist provider of international phone calls.

Pay As You Go SIM cards for international calling are currently available from giffgaff, Lebara Mobile, Lycamobile and Vectone Mobile. With a free SIM card offered by the networks, you can call abroad for much less than the standard Pay As You Go rates charged by mainstream networks. Depending on the country and the type of phone number you’re calling, it can sometimes cost as little as 1p/minute. International text messages are also much cheaper: from 8p/message on specialist networks. Mainstream networks can sometimes charge up to 24p/message on their standard tariffs.

In this article, we compare international calling rates across the four specialist networks for calling abroad. We’ve done this for 74 countries in 6 different continents so you’re able to find the best value SIM card for calling friends and family located in each country. We’ll also discuss the costs of sending a text message abroad and the rates for calling and texting within the UK.

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How to unlock your Samsung Galaxy Smartphone from a UK Mobile Network

January 14th, 2015

If you’d like to use a Samsung Galaxy smartphone on a different mobile network, you might first need to unlock it. This article will show you how to unlock a Samsung Galaxy handset from networks in the UK.

Galaxy S to Galaxy S5If you bought your Samsung Galaxy smartphone here in the UK, either on a Pay Monthly contract or on a Pay As You Go tariff, the phone will probably be locked to the mobile network from which you bought the handset.

If you’d like to use the handset on another network, you’ll first need to go through the process of unlocking it. Unlocking your smartphone is often necessary if you want to use it on a different mobile network (e.g. to take advantage of a cheaper SIM only deal, to use a different SIM card when travelling abroad or when giving the handset to friends or family). You can also unlock your Samsung Galaxy smartphone to boost its resale value on eBay and other websites.

In this article, we’ll take you through the process of unlocking a Galaxy smartphone one step at a time. We’ll show you how to check if your handset is already unlocked, how to find the IMEI number on your handset and how to unlock your Galaxy smartphone from each of the UK’s major mobile networks. We’ll also discuss the costs of unlocking and how long it’s expected to take on each of the networks. Finally, we’ll discuss some free methods of unlocking your Galaxy handset (not recommended for the majority of users).

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Orange Pay As You Go Review: Animal Tariffs With A Free Top-Up Allowance

January 7th, 2015

Orange currently offers a choice of four tariffs on Pay As You Go. We review and compare the Dolphin, Canary, Racoon and Starter price plans.

OrangeOrange is one of the UK’s most popular Pay As You Go networks. Having originally launched in 1993, Orange has been a part of EE since 2010 and continues to provide 2G and 3G services using the EE network.

There are currently a choice of four tariffs being offered by Orange on Pay As You Go: Dolphin (with free texts and internet every time you top-up), Canary (free evening and weekend calls and texts every time you top-up), Racoon (with a flat rate of 14p/minute and 14p/text) and Starter (the default price plan for new customers on the network).

Customers on Orange Pay As You Go won’t be able to access EE’s 4G network unless they first upgrade to EE’s Pay As You Go service. Upgrading to EE is now recommended for the majority users who have a smartphone. However, light and occasional users may still find it slightly better value to stay on Orange’s 3G service.

In this article, we review Pay As You Go on Orange. We’ll compare the four Pay As You Go tariffs both to each other and also to rival Pay As You Go networks.

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Three’s Feel At Home: No Roaming Charges in the US, Italy & 16 Other Countries

January 6th, 2015

Three has scrapped international roaming charges in sixteen countries. They include the USA, Italy, France, Australia and Republic of Ireland. Spain will be added to the offer from April 2015.

ThreeIt’s normally a hugely expensive affair to use your smartphone abroad. Hefty roaming charges for using your mobile can quickly add up to hundred of pounds. This can be a fairly substantial addition to the cost of your family holiday. At present, many people turn off their smartphones to avoid the large roaming charges that accompany a trip abroad.

Three currently offers a mobile roaming package known as Feel At Home. For customers travelling to 16 selected countries (18 countries from April 2015), roaming charges have now been scrapped entirely. You’re now able to use the normal UK allowances when travelling abroad including the data that comes with your plan (e.g. all-you-can-eat data). You can also call and text home without paying a penny extra. It’s great for sharing your holiday photos (e.g. on Instagram and Facebook), for finding your way around using Google Maps and for staying in touch with your friends at home.

Feel At Home can currently be used in sixteen countries including Australia, France, Italy, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America. Spain and New Zealand will be added to the offer on April 1st bringing the total number of countries up to 18.

To take advantage of the Feel At Home offer, you’ll need to have a SIM card from Three (this could either be a Pay Monthly deal, a SIM only plan or a Pay As You Go SIM card with the All-in-One bundle). If your handset isn’t normally on Three, you can pick up a SIM card to benefit from the offer.

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