BT Mobile Review: 4G SIM Cards & Handsets With Coverage From EE
February 11th, 2017
BT Mobile provides a 4G mobile service using coverage from EE. Customers living in a BT Broadband household get a £5/month discount.
In the UK, BT Mobile offers a 4G mobile service with 99% population coverage from EE. Customers living in a BT Broadband household receive a £5/month discount, making the entry-level tariff just £5/month. Customers also receive unlimited BT Wi-Fi and a monthly spend cap on their plan.
In this article, we’ll review the BT Mobile network. We’ll start by looking at BT’s mobile price plans including SIM Only, Family SIM and Pay Monthly with a new handset. We’ll then look at the key features of BT Mobile including BT Wi-Fi, monthly spend caps and BT Sport. Finally, we’ll compare BT Mobile to rival networks, we’ll look at the level of coverage you can expect and how to keep your existing phone number.
- 1 Pricing & Tariffs
- 2 Key Features
- 3 Comparison to Alternatives
- 4 Network & Coverage
- 5 Keeping Your Phone Number
- 6 Popularity & Number of Subscribers
- 7 More Information
Pricing & Tariffs
At present, BT Mobile offers three types of price plan:
- SIM Only: Starting from £5/month on a 12-month contract, you can get a BT Mobile SIM card to use in your unlocked smartphone.
- Family SIM: If multiple members of your family take a SIM card from BT Mobile, you can save up to 45% with the Family SIM offering.
- Pay Monthly Handsets: You can also buy a brand new smartphone directly from BT Mobile. Prices start from £12/month on a 24-month contract.
If you already have an unlocked smartphone that you’re happy to keep, there are four BT Mobile SIM cards to choose from. Each SIM card is offered on a 12-month contract and slots into your unlocked smartphone to give you cheaper rates.
The following table shows BT Mobile’s current line-up of 12-month SIM cards:
inc. £5 discount
inc. £5 discount
inc. £5 discount
inc. £5 discount
inc. £5 discount
The prices shown in the table above include a £5/month discount for people living in a BT Broadband household (you just need to live there: it’s not necessary to be the BT Broadband bill payer). You’ll also get unlimited access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots.
All of BT Mobile’s SIM-only deals come on a 12-month contract. However, there’s a bit of flexibility to change your plan in that time. During the 12-month minimum commitment, you can upgrade your plan as many times as you like and you can downgrade your plan a maximum of once. Otherwise, if you exceed the inclusive allowances on your plan, you’ll pay 35p/minute, 12p/text and 10p/MB.
If there are multiple people in your family wanting to join BT Mobile, BT’s Family SIM offering can be a great value choice. It allows you to save up to 45% compared to getting individual SIM cards.
For instance, if each person in your family were to choose the 2GB SIM card:
- The first SIM card will cost £10/month on a 12-month contract (the same as a standard BT Mobile SIM card)
- The second SIM card will cost £8/month on a 30-day contract
- The third SIM card will cost £7/month on a 30-day contract
- The fourth SIM card will cost £6/month on a 30-day contract
- The fifth SIM card will cost £5/month on a 30-day contract
The total cost of having five SIM cards would then be £36/month (saving £14/month compared to having five separate SIM cards).
Family SIM also gives you increased flexibility as additional SIM cards are on a 30-day contract. You also get increased control with a single combined bill, whilst still allowing each user to have their own individual allowance and monthly spend cap.
Pay Monthly Handsets
If you’d like a brand new smartphone, BT Mobile also offers a range of Pay Monthly handsets on a 24-month contract. At the time of writing, devices are available from Apple, Google, Samsung and Sony. They include the iPhone 7, the Google Pixel and the Galaxy S7.
Smartphones are available from BT Mobile on a choice of four tariffs:
- 400 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB data (from £12/month)
- 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB data (from £17/month)
- Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB data (from £22/month)
- Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 15GB data (from £27/month)
The exact price will depend on which handset you choose. There may also be an upfront fee associated with the handset.
As previously, the prices shown include a £5/month discount for people living in a BT Broadband household. If you’re not living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll need to pay an additional £5/month. For handsets, it’s often possible to get a free gift voucher when ordering online. You should see the BT Mobile website for a list of their currently-available deals.
Pay As You Go
Unfortunately, BT Mobile doesn’t yet offer any Pay As You Go tariffs. If you’re looking for a Pay As You Go deal, you can instead order a SIM card directly from EE (EE is also a part of the BT Group).
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a cheaper deal that also uses coverage from EE, we recommend ordering a free ASDA Mobile SIM card. You’ll pay just 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB and there’s no need to top-up your phone every month. There are also some great value bundles (e.g. 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet for £10/month).
For more information and for a complete overview of available deals, please see our guide to the UK’s best value Pay As You Go SIM cards.
BT Broadband Discount
Customers with a BT Broadband connection in their home will get a £5/month discount on all BT Mobile tariffs. You’ll need a consumer broadband package to qualify for the discount: this could either be standard home broadband or BT Infinity fibre broadband.
It’s not necessary to be the BT Broadband bill payer to benefit from the £5/month discount. You simply need to be living in a household with a BT Broadband connection. There’s no limit on how many people can benefit from the discount in each household.
If you’re living in a household that uses a different broadband provider, it’s still possible to sign up to BT Mobile at the full price. In this case, you won’t benefit from the £5/month discount. Therefore, in certain cases, it may be cheaper overall if you switch to BT Broadband at the same time as joining BT Mobile.
All customers joining BT Mobile will get unlimited access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots (previously known as BT Openzone).
There are over 5 million BT Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK making it one of the most extensive nationwide networks. Locations with a BT Wi-Fi hotspot include shopping centres, train stations, cafés, restaurants, service stations and more. You can enter your postcode on the BT Wi-Fi website to find nearby hotspots.
A typical standalone subscription to BT Wi-Fi will cost £15/month on a 12 month contract.
Monthly Spend Caps
Another key feature of BT Mobile is the monthly spend caps offered on the service. This helps you to control your spending, preventing “bill shock” and unexpectedly large charges.
When signing up for BT Mobile, you’ll be assigned an initial spend cap of between £5 and £45 (the exact amount will depend on the result of your credit check). Your spend cap will only apply to out-of-allowance usage. So, for instance, if you had a £5 per month tariff with a £5 per month spend cap, you’d be guaranteed to never pay more than £10 per month.
After signing up, you can change your monthly spend cap through the My BT website. Your monthly spend cap can be set to any amount between £5 and £200 (although larger spend caps may be subject to credit status).
On BT Mobile Family SIM, each user will have their own individual spend cap. By default, only the billpayer will be able to adjust the spend cap for each SIM card (making this perfect if you’re giving the SIM card to your children). However, it’s also possible to delegate control over spend caps to individual users if desired.
For more information about monthly spend caps, please see our in-depth article about capped mobile phone contracts.
Finally, customers on the BT Mobile 15GB Plan will also receive free access to the BT Sport mobile application. This allows you to watch live sporting action including 42 live matches from the Premier League. You can also watch every game live from the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
The BT Sport app is available for iPhone and Android. When using the app on 3G or 4G, video will count as normal towards your monthly download allowance. For this reason, it’s normally best to use the BT Sport application on wi-fi.
For more information, please see the BT Sport website.
Comparison to Alternatives
BT Mobile 500MB Plan
According to BT, their BT Mobile 500MB tariff is “the UK’s best value 4G mobile plan”. For just £5/month, customers with a BT Broadband connection at their home can get 400 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of 4G internet (the full price is £10/month for non-BT Broadband households).
For customers who qualify for the BT Broadband discount, the £5/month deal compares incredibly well to other mobile networks. For customers who don’t qualify for the £5/month discount, cheaper deals may be available elsewhere (e.g. on Three, Tesco Mobile or giffgaff).
inc. £5 discount
BT’s 500MB plan is not available on the Family SIM offer.
BT Mobile 2GB Plan
For customers requiring 2GB of data per month, the £10/month BT Mobile SIM card comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet (the full price is £15/month for non-BT Broadband customers).
Once again, this is fairly competitive if you benefit from the £5/month BT Broadband discount. If you’d need to pay the full price of £15/month, cheaper deals may be available on rival mobile networks:
inc. £5 discount
With BT’s Family SIM offer, additional 2GB SIM cards start from £8/month for the second SIM card and drop to £5/month for the fifth SIM card.
BT Mobile 6GB Plan
For customers requiring 6GB of data per month, BT has a £15/month SIM card with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of internet (the full price is £20/month for non-BT Broadband customers).
This compares as follows to rival Pay Monthly mobile networks:
inc. £5 discount
With BT’s Family SIM offer, additional 6GB SIM cards start from £12/month for the second SIM card and drop to £7/month for the fifth SIM card.
BT Mobile 15GB Plan
If you’re a heavy data user, BT Mobile currently offers a 15GB tariff for £20/month (or £25/month for non-BT Broadband customers). It comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 15GB of 4G internet.
For the same monthly price, Three is offering a SIM card with 600 minutes and 30GB of 4G internet. Alternatively, giffgaff has a £20/month SIM card with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and Always On data (unlimited downloads with tethering and 4G internet on the first 6GB per month).
inc. £5 discount
On BT’s Family SIM offer, additional 15GB SIM cards start from £15/month for the second SIM card and drop to £10/month for the fifth SIM card.
For a more in-depth comparison, please see our full listing of the UK’s best value SIM-only deals.
Network & Coverage
2G, 3G & 4G Coverage from EE
BT Mobile uses EE as its network coverage provider. Customers using BT Mobile therefore receive the exact same coverage as customers on EE.
At the time of writing, BT Mobile has 99% population coverage. This includes 98% population coverage for 3G internet and 87% population coverage for 4G internet.
Before ordering your new phone or SIM card from BT Mobile, we strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on the BT Mobile online coverage map:
Extra Speed 4G
By default, customers joining BT Mobile will have access to EE’s standard-speed 4G network. This gives typical download speeds of 12-15Mbit/s and a maximum download speed of 30Mbit/s.
For customers living in an Extra Speed 4G coverage area, it’s possible to upgrade to higher speeds by buying the £4/month Extra Speed add-on. The add-on gives you access to EE’s double-speed 4G mobile network with typical download speeds of 24-30Mbit/s and a maximum download speed of 60Mbit/s. The Extra Speed add-on comes on a 30-day rolling contract so you can add or remove it at any time.
Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet). It’s a convenient way of getting your devices online when you’re out-and-about.
From June 2016 onwards, tethering has been allowed on all BT Mobile plans. Prior to June 2016, tethering was prohibited by the old terms and conditions.
For more information about tethering on UK mobile networks, please see our guide to the UK’s best value tariffs for tethering.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re joining BT Mobile from another mobile network, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.
To do this, you should contact your old mobile network and ask them for a PAC Code. This is a nine-digit code that authorises the transfer of your phone number to BT Mobile. It’s a legal requirement for your old mobile network to provide you with a PAC Code – they must do this within two hours of your original request.
Once you’ve received the PAC Code from your old mobile network, you should order your new phone or SIM card on BT’s website. When your new phone or SIM card arrives, you can contact BT Customer Care on 150 to give them your PAC Code. Your phone number should then normally be transferred on the next working day.
For step-by-step instructions on moving your phone number to BT Mobile, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:
|PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to BT Mobile|
Popularity & Number of Subscribers
BT Mobile originally launched in March 2015. Just over a year after launch, in May 2016, BT Mobile was reported as having “a customer base of over 400,000” people. This makes it one of the fastest growing mobile networks in the UK.
In January 2016, BT completed a takeover of EE. Today, EE is a division within the BT Group. However, it is still being run as a separate business and as a separate brand from the BT Mobile service.
My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.
Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.