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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Free Pay As You Go SIM Cards: Listed, Reviewed & Networks Compared

May 4th, 2016

How to get a free SIM card for your mobile phone: Pay As You Go offerings compared from 17 UK networks.

Pay As You Go SIM CardWhether you’re a smartphone fanatic or someone who only uses their phone on an occasional basis, there are some great deals to be had when you order a Pay As You Go SIM card in the UK.

The best Pay As You Go SIM cards offer super-low rates: they can even rival a Pay Monthly SIM card in terms of value for money. To take advantage of the best offers currently available, simply order a free SIM card below and slot it inside your existing mobile phone. There are no credit checks or upfront fees. There’s also no need to set up a direct debit: simply top-up your SIM card when you need extra credit to pay for your airtime.

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The UK’s Cheapest Mobile Network For International Phone Calls

April 26th, 2016

Several UK mobile networks currently provide a low-cost SIM card for making international phone calls. We compare international calling rates and find the best value network for calling each country.

EarthIf you’re calling abroad from the UK, having the right SIM card can save you significant amounts of money.

With a normal UK SIM card, you’ll sometimes need to pay up to £1.50/minute for calling another country. By choosing a special low-cost SIM card for international calling, you can often reduce this down to only a fraction of the price (sometimes to as little as 1p/minute).

At the moment, special offers for calling abroad can be found on EE, Lycamobile, O2 and Vodafone. You’ll need to opt-in to their offers to get the lowest rates for calling abroad. Alternatively, you can choose a specialist mobile network such as giffgaff or Lebara Mobile, both of which give super-low rates for international calling as standard.

In this article, we’ve compare the cost of international calling on EE, giffgaff, Lebara Mobile, Lycamobile, O2 and Vodafone. We’ve done this for 79 countries across 6 different continents so you can find the best value SIM card for calling your friends in each country. We’ll also discuss the costs of international text messages and the rates for calling and texting within the UK.

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

April 20th, 2016

On Lycamobile, you can make international phone calls from only 1p/minute. Lycamobile provides coverage from the O2 network and customers get 4G at no extra charge.

Lycamobile: Call the world for less.In the UK, Lycamobile is a specialist provider of international phone calls. With a free Lycamobile SIM card in your unlocked handset, you’ll be able to call abroad from as little as 1p/minute. Lycamobile uses O2 as their network coverage provider and customers get 4G internet at no extra charge.

In this article, we’ll review the Lycamobile service. We’ll start by looking at the costs of using Lycamobile: both for calling in the UK and for calling abroad. We’ll then compare Lycamobile to rival mobile networks, before looking at credit expiry, coverage and how to keep your existing phone number.

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How to unlock your iPhone from EE, O2, Tesco, Three and Vodafone

April 13th, 2016

You may need to unlock your iPhone before you’re able to use it on other mobile networks. Find out how to unlock an iPhone from UK mobile networks.

iPhone 6If your iPhone was bought in the UK, there’s a good chance it’ll locked to your mobile network operator. To use the iPhone on another mobile network (either in the UK or abroad), you may therefore first need to unlock your iPhone. If you don’t unlock your iPhone before attempting to use it on another network, you’ll receive an error message saying “SIM Not Valid”.

A key benefit of unlocking your iPhone is the ability to access cheaper tariffs in the UK (you can get a super-cheap SIM only contract for a lower monthly bill). You can also use the iPhone abroad with a different SIM card when you’re travelling (this will drastically reduce your mobile roaming rates). Finally, unlocking your iPhone will allow you to pass it on and it will boost the resale value of your handset on eBay and on other websites.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of unlocking an iPhone. We’ll show you to how to check whether your iPhone needs to be unlocked. We’ll also show you how to find your iPhone’s IMEI number and how to request an unlock from your network (including the costs and the timeframe for unlocking). We’ll also discuss SIM-free iPhones bought from a third-party retailer like the Carphone Warehouse.

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Apple iPhone: When SIM-Free Doesn’t Mean Unlocked

April 13th, 2016

If you buy a SIM-free iPhone from certain UK retailers, it will lock itself to the first mobile network you use on the handset.

iPhone 6s ColoursTypically, on mobile phones, a SIM-free smartphone is also an unlocked smartphone. With a SIM-free device, you’ll pay the full retail price for your handset upfront (this will be more than £500 for the latest flagship smartphone). In return, you’ll normally get a fully-unlocked handset that will work on any mobile network you choose. You could then get the cheapest SIM-only deal or a free Pay As You Go SIM card for the handset.

With the iPhone, things aren’t always so simple. If you’re buying a SIM-free iPhone from certain UK retailers, it will automatically lock itself to the first mobile network you use. It will also be restricted to only working on UK mobile networks.

In this article, we’ll discuss SIM-free iPhones and their unlocking status when you buy the iPhone from different UK retailers. We’ll also look at the best places to buy a permanently-unlocked iPhone and how you can unlock a SIM-free iPhone from your network.

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Mobile Phone Student Discounts: Offers Available By Network

April 6th, 2016

If you’re currently a student, you might be able to get a discount on your next mobile phone deal. We review the discounts available to students in the UK.

GraduationWith tuition fees at £9,000 per year and with living costs rising quickly as well, it’s never been more important as a student to keep a very close eye on your mobile phone bill. By taking advantage of the discounts available and by switching to a SIM-only deal, you might be able to save more than £200 per year which leaves a lot more money in your back pocket for other things.

Before we go on, here are the four most important things you should know as a student when choosing a new mobile phone contract:

  1. You can save £200 per year by switching to a SIM-only deal. Rather than always buying yourself the latest smartphone, switch to a SIM-only deal whenever this is possible. On a 24-month contract, you’ll normally be paying in the region of £35/month. With a SIM-only deal, this is often more like £15/month therefore saving you more than £200 every year.
  2. It’s really easy to change to another mobile network. Don’t think you always need to stay on the same network: it’s super easy to move elsewhere. Get a PAC Code from your current network and you’ll be able to move your phone number to any other UK network. If you’ve got a locked smartphone, it may be necessary to first unlock it before using SIM cards from another network.
  3. iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6 EdgePoor credit score? Get a Pay As You Go bundle instead. When you sign up for a Pay Monthly contract, you’ll undergo a credit check from the mobile phone network you’re joining. For students, this can sometimes be a little bit tricky as you might not have a huge amount of credit history. If you aren’t able to get a Pay Monthly contract, consider getting a Pay As You Go bundle instead. Many of them offer fantastic value, sometimes even rivalling the deals available on Pay Monthly.
  4. Don’t get lead astray by student discounts and offers. Some mobile networks will offer a discount to students but you shouldn’t let this lead your decision. Sometimes you’ll be better off choosing a deal from another network, even without a student discount. It’s the overall cost after discounts have been applied that you should be comparing when choosing a new deal.

In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss the student discounts available on each UK network. You should consider these discounts after finding the best mobile deal as this may help to reduce your costs even further.

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Capped Contracts: Pay Monthly Deals With Better Control Over Your Spending

March 28th, 2016

Getting a “capped” Pay Monthly contract for your mobile phone gives you better control over how much you’re spending.

iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6 EdgeIn the UK, one disadvantage of choosing a Pay Monthly contract is you’re liable for any additional charges outside of your inclusive monthly allowances. For instance, you could accidentally go over your monthly allowance or you could call non-inclusive numbers on your mobile phone (e.g. a special-rate phone number, for instance when voting in reality TV shows). This can make “bill shock” a potential problem, especially if you aren’t watching your usage very closely. It’s also a risk when taking out a contract for your kids or teenagers (they could accidentally run-up a bill without your knowledge).

Traditionally, for better control over spending, people have turned towards using a Pay As You bundle. On these pre-paid tariffs, it’s impossible to run-up a huge bill by mistake (as you’re only able to use up the credit on your account). The disadvantage of doing this is that pre-paid tariffs can sometimes be relatively expensive. They also come with a higher upfront cost when you’re getting a new handset.

Thankfully, a third option also exists in the form of “capped Pay Monthly contracts”. On a capped contract, you’ll get all the normal benefits of being on a Pay Monthly contract. In addition, your extra charges will be capped every month so you won’t find yourself getting a huge bill by surprise. In this article, we’ll review capped mobile contracts and their availability in the UK.

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Giffgaff Review: The UK’s Low Cost, People Powered Mobile Network

March 23rd, 2016

giffgaff is a low-cost mobile network running on O2. Their goodybags start from £5/month with 4G included at no extra charge. Members earn cash or free credit by participating in the network.

Giffgaff Logogiffgaff is a low-cost mobile network in the UK and is a fully-owned subsidiary of O2. Founded six and a half years ago in November 2009, giffgaff uses the same underlying network as its parent company, O2. Members of giffgaff hence receive the same level of coverage as they would on O2 with the added benefit of getting substantially lower prices.

Most giffgaff members choose to buy one of their goodybag bundles. A giffgaff goodybag is a monthly bundle that includes a set amount of calls, texts and internet. The most popular goodybag at present is the £10/month offering. This includes 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet. 4G is provided to all members at no extra charge.

Occasional users can Pay As You Go at 15p per minute, 5p per text and 5p per megabyte for accessing the mobile internet. giffgaff also has competitive rates for calling abroad.

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Talkmobile’s Happy Hour on Pay As You Go: 10p for phone calls up to an hour

March 18th, 2016

Talkmobile is currently offering a Pay As You Go SIM card where you’ll pay a flat rate of 10p for phone calls of up to one hour.

Talkmobile Happy Hour

Talkmobile, a low-cost sub-brand of the Vodafone network, is currently offering a Pay As You Go SIM card where you can talk for up to one hour for a flat rate of just 10p per call. The tariff, which is known as Talkmobile Happy Hour, also has competitive rates for texting and browsing (4p/text and 2p/MB).

In this article, we’ll review the Talkmobile Happy Hour SIM card. We’ll look at the costs of using a Talkmobile SIM card and how they compare to other Pay As You Go networks such as giffgaff and Three. We’ll also look at the level of coverage available on Talkmobile and how you can keep your existing phone number when moving to the network.

Order Talkmobile Pay As You Go SIM Card (Free) »

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Topping Up on Pay As You Go: Minimum Top-Up & Available Top-Up Methods

March 13th, 2016

Find out the minimum top-up on each UK network and the available methods for topping up your handset.

Top UpIn the UK, when you get a Pay As You Go SIM card, the top-up policy might differ depending on your mobile network. For instance, while most mobile networks allow you to top-up £5 each time, some mobile networks will require you to top-up a minimum of £10. On different mobile networks, the available methods for topping up your phone can also differ: for instance, only some mobile networks will allow you to top-up at a cashpoint.

In this article, we’ll review and compare the top-up policy on Pay As You Go networks in the UK. We’ll look at the minimum top-up amount on each UK network and we’ll discuss the available methods for actually topping up your handset. You can use this article in conjunction with our guide to the best value Pay As You Go SIM cards. You may also find it useful to see our price comparison of Pay As You Go networks and our in-depth guide to Pay As You Go inactivity and credit expiry.

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