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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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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Recommended Reading: January 2015

January 1st, 2015

Some recommended reads from around the internet and popular suggested articles from Ken’s Tech Tips.

Weekend ReadingPut your feet up and enjoy one of the mobile-related articles listed below. Learn about the latest mobile technology, about UK mobile networks and about technology in general.

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Best Places to Buy A Lumia Smartphone: The UK’s Cheapest Deals

December 10th, 2014

Microsoft’s Lumia smartphones are some of the best value handsets available today. Previously known as Nokia Lumia, the devices run on Windows Phone 8.1 and start from either £64 SIM-free and unlocked or £49 on Pay As You Go.

Microsoft Lumia SmartphonesIf you’re looking for a low-cost smartphone, the Lumia line-up of handsets made by Microsoft and Nokia are hard to beat in terms of pricing and features.

Running on Windows Phone 8.1, the Lumia handsets are able to access more than 300,000 apps through the Windows Phone Store. They include big-name applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Instagram and Twitter. There’s also a built-in virtual assistant known as Cortana which works in a similar way to Siri and Google Now.

Although the Lumia Windows Phone handsets aren’t able to access quite as many apps as Android-based rivals (e.g. the Moto G and the Moto E) they have an easy-to-use interface which is both fast and effective.

In this article, we review the cheapest ways of buying a Lumia smartphone. We’ll look at the Lumia 530, the Lumia 635 and the Lumia 735. For each of the three handsets, we’ll find and review the cheapest deals available in the UK. Whether you’re looking to buy the handsets SIM-free and unlocked, on a Pay As You Go tariff or on a Pay Monthly contract, we hope this guide will help you find the best deal.

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Pay As You Go Networks: Compare Minimum Call Charges, Per-Minute & Per-Second Billing

December 5th, 2014

Pay As You Go mobile networks differ in the method they use to charge customers for a call. Techniques such a minimum call charge and per-minute billing can add substantially to the cost of your service.

Top UpIn the UK, it’s estimated that half of all phone calls last for under one minute. With most Pay As You Go networks now imposing a minimum call charge, you could be stung up to 35p when your phone call connects and when you hang up immediately (e.g. after reaching someone’s voicemail). Many mobile networks have also switched to using per-minute billing where the length of all phone calls is rounded up to a full minute before your account gets charged. These two techniques can add fairly substantially to the overall cost of your Pay As You Go service.

In this article, we’ll compare the UK’s Pay As You Go mobile networks and how much they charge for outgoing calls on their network. We’ll look at minimum call charges and which billing method is employed on each network (per-minute billing or per-second billing).

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How to replace your SIM Card with a Micro SIM or Nano SIM Card

December 2nd, 2014

If you’re upgrading to a new smartphone, you may also need to change the size of your SIM card. Newer devices typically require a Micro SIM or Nano SIM.

If you’ve recently purchased a new smartphone, there’s a good chance it’ll require you to use a smaller version of the traditional SIM card. Before upgrading and switching to the new handset, you may first need to change the size of your SIM card. This might involve swapping your current SIM card for a new Micro SIM or Nano SIM.

Micro SIMs measure 12mm x 15mm and are approximately half the size of traditional standard SIM cards. Key devices using a Micro SIM include the Moto G 5-inch, the Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S4, the HTC One (M7), the Xperia Z2 and the iPhone 4S. Before using one of these devices, you’ll first need to exchange your SIM card for a Micro SIM.

Nano SIMs measure 8.8mm x 12.3mm and are used on the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, the iPhone 5s, the Xperia Z3 and the HTC One (M8). Before using your SIM card in one of these handsets, you’ll first need to exchange it for a nano-sized SIM card.

In this article, we’ll explain how to change your SIM card for a Micro SIM or Nano SIM. We’ll discuss how to change your SIM card type on each of the UK’s mobile networks. We’ll also look at cutting your own SIM card and using a SIM card adapter so your new smaller SIM card will work in an old handset.

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Tesco Mobile Review: Pay As You Go With Free ‘Triple Credit’ & Top-Up Bundles

November 26th, 2014

Tesco Mobile offers free ‘Triple Credit’ from £10/month and free ‘top-up bundles’ from £15/month. We review Tesco’s Pay As You Go tariff.

Tesco MobileTesco Mobile is one of the UK’s most popular Pay As You Go networks. Developed as a joint venture between Tesco and O2, Tesco Mobile offers a tariff where you get additional free allowances with every top-up of £10/month or more. Customers topping up by £10 will get £20 of free airtime which lasts for a month. Customers topping up by £15/month or more will also receive a ‘free top-up bundle’. 4G internet is available on the network for no extra charge.

In this article, we’ll review Tesco Mobile’s Pay As You Go service. We’ll look at the ‘Triple Credit’ offer and at the range of the bundles available on Tesco Mobile. We’ll also discuss the ‘Pay As You Go Lite’ tariff and how it compares to rivals such as giffgaff and Three. Finally, we’ll look at the handsets and the level of coverage available on Tesco Mobile.

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