Plusnet Mobile Review: Low-Cost 4G With Smart Caps & Mates Rates

November 15th, 2016

Plusnet Mobile, previously known as LIFE Mobile, is a low-cost 4G network with SIM-only plans from £5/month.

Plusnet Logo ProudIn the UK, Plusnet Mobile offers SIM-only plans from £5/month, with high-speed 3G and 4G coverage from the EE network. Key features include ‘Smart Cap’ which limits out-of-allowance charges and ‘Mates Rates’ which will double your data allowance if you have Plusnet Home Broadband.

Plusnet Mobile is the replacement for LIFE Mobile so existing customers on LIFE Mobile will see their service transitioning to Plusnet. An upgrade to one of the new Plusnet Mobile plans is required to access 4G coverage.

In this article, we’ll review the Plusnet Mobile service. We’ll start by looking at the price plans available on Plusnet Mobile and how they compare to offerings from other mobile networks. We’ll then discuss how to use your handset on Plusnet Mobile, the level of coverage you can expect and how to keep your current phone number.

Pricing & Tariffs

SIM Only Plans

Plusnet Mobile Bundle

Plusnet Mobile’s 30-day plans include an allowance of calls, texts and data.

Plusnet Mobile currently offers a choice of four SIM-only plans. Each of them is on a 30-day rolling contract so you always have ultimate flexibility and are never tied in to any lengthy contracts.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Plusnet Mobile5001,0001GB£5.00
Plusnet Mobile250500500MB£5.00
Plusnet Mobile1,000Unlimited1GB£7.50
Plusnet Mobile1,500Unlimited2GB£10.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£15.00

You’ll be able to use the Plusnet Mobile SIM card in any unlocked smartphone.

Mates Rates: Double Data

If you’re also a customer of Plusnet home broadband, you’ll be able to benefit from the Mates Rates special offer on up to 5 SIM cards. This will give you double data on Plusnet Mobile plans for as long as you have Plusnet home broadband.

If you’re not currently a Plusnet home broadband customer, you can see the Plusnet website for information about their home broadband service. Their cheapest home broadband package starts from £20/month including line rental.

The Mates Rates offer is not available on any of the introductory deals offered by Plusnet Mobile.

Smart Cap

The Plusnet Smart Cap is a way to prevent unexpected bills.

A key part of the Plusnet Mobile service is the Smart Cap feature which gives you greater control over your spending.

With Smart Cap, you’re able to specify a small buffer over which your out-of-allowance charges can’t exceed. For instance, if you had a £5/month SIM card with a £2 Smart Cap, your bill would be guaranteed not to exceed £7/month. The aim of this is to put a stop to unexpected phone bills (this also makes it ideal if you’re giving the SIM card to your children).

By default, the Smart Cap is set to £10. However, you can call Plusnet Mobile customer services to change this to any amount of £2 or more (subject to credit status).

Smart Cap was a popular feature of the LIFE Mobile service which has now been inherited by Plusnet Mobile on their new plans. Several other mobile networks now also offer a similar capability for you to cap additional charges on your price plan.

Bolt Ons

If you’d like to customise your Plusnet Mobile plan, a range of flexible bolt-ons are also available. These can be added to your basic tariff. For instance, an extra £4/month would allow you to add either 250 minutes, 500 texts or 500MB of data.

The following table shows available bolt-ons from Plusnet Mobile:

Minutes
100 minutes £1.50
250 minutes £4
500 minutes £8
1,000 minutes £12
Texts
100 texts £1
500 texts £4
1,000 texts £6
Data
250MB data £2
500MB data £4
1GB data £6
2GB data £10
4GB data £15

In general, we’d typically advise against buying a bolt-on from Plusnet Mobile. You’ll almost certainly be better served by upgrading to a higher-priced plan (e.g. the £15/month plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data).

Comparison to Alternatives

500MB Plan

5 Pound NotePlusnet’s entry-level mobile tariff costs £5/month for 250 minutes, 500 texts and 500MB of data. In general, the 500MB plan compares incredibly well to rival mobile networks. On other mobile networks, you’ll typically need to pay at least £7/month for 500MB of data.

If you’re living in a BT Broadband household, it may also be worth considering BT’s 500MB plan as an alternative. This also costs £5/month but comes on a longer 12-month contract. However, it can sometimes work out to be better value as BT sometimes provides an offer or some free vouchers.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Plusnet Mobile5001,0001GB£5.00
BT Mobile400Unlimited500MB£5.00
inc. £5 discount
Three200Unlimited500MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited1GB£7.00
giffgaff250Unlimited750MB£7.50
Tesco Mobile5005,000500MB£7.50
Vodafone500Unlimited500MB£12.50
O2500Unlimited500MB£13.00
EE500Unlimited500MB£13.99

* The price plan listed for BT Mobile is exclusive to customers who live in a BT Broadband household. If you’re not living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full monthly price which is £5/month more.

As the £5 plan already includes double data, it isn’t possible to use the Mates Rates offer.

1GB Plan

For £7.50/month, Plusnet Mobile offers 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet (boosted to 2GB per month if you’re a Plusnet home broadband customer). On other major mobile networks, you’d typically need to pay at least £9/month for 1GB of data.

The following table shows comparable SIM-only plans with at least 1GB of data per month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Plusnet Mobile5001,0001GB£5.00
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited1GB£7.00
Three600Unlimited1GB£9.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0001GB£10.00
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£11.00
inc. £5 discount
O2UnlimitedUnlimited6GB£15.00
Vodafone1,000Unlimited1GB£15.00
EE1,000Unlimited1GB£15.99

* The price plan listed for BT Mobile is exclusive to customers who live in a BT Broadband household. If you’re not living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full monthly price which is £5/month more.

2GB Plan

10 Pound NoteFor £10/month, Plusnet Mobile is currently offering 1500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of internet (boosted to 4GB per month if you’re a Plusnet home broadband customer). For a limited time only, all customers will receive double data (so 4GB per month rather than 2GB per month).

For the same monthly price of £10/month, BT Mobile and Three also offer 2GB of data. Both plans come on a 12-month contract and come with fewer inclusive minutes each month.

The following table shows SIM-only plans with at least 4GB of data per month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Plusnet Mobile1,500Unlimited2GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited2GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£10.00
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£11.00
inc. £5 discount
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£11.00
Three200Unlimited2GB£11.00
O2UnlimitedUnlimited6GB£15.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£17.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£17.99

* The price plan listed for BT Mobile is exclusive to customers who live in a BT Broadband household. If you’re not living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full monthly price which is £5/month more.

4GB Plan

15 Pound NotesPlusnet Mobile’s flagship tariff is currently their £15/month plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of internet (boosted to 8GB per month with Mates Rates if you’re a Plusnet home broadband customer).

The following table shows how their 4GB plan compares to the deals currently available on other mobile networks:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£11.00
inc. £5 discount
Tesco Mobile3,0005,0006GB£13.50
O2UnlimitedUnlimited6GB£15.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£15.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£17.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£17.99
giffgaff2,000Unlimited6GB£18.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£20.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£20.00

* The price plan listed for BT Mobile is exclusive to customers who live in a BT Broadband household. If you’re not living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full monthly price which is £5/month more.

For more information and for a full in-depth comparison, please see our guide to the UK’s best value SIM-only plans.

Handsets

You’ll need to provide your unlocked smartphone for use with Plusnet Mobile.

Plusnet Mobile is a SIM-only mobile network so you’ll need to provide your own unlocked handset to use with the service. This can either be your existing handset or it can be a new handset that you’ve purchased SIM-free.

If you’d like to use your existing smartphone and it was originally provided by another mobile network, it might be necessary to first unlock it. We’ve got a step-by-step guide to unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy.

If you’re planning to buy a brand new smartphone, numerous retailers currently sell SIM-free smartphones. These are provided unlocked for use on any mobile network. Some popular retailers for buying a SIM-free smartphone include Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Currys, John Lewis and Tesco Direct. If you’re not sure on which smartphone to buy, our recommended smartphone at present is the Moto G4 (it starts from £149 unlocked with some competitive specifications).

Network & Coverage

2G, 3G & 4G Coverage from EE

Plusnet Mobile Coverage Map

Plusnet has 99% population coverage from EE.

Customers on Plusnet Mobile will have access to 2G, 3G and 4G coverage from EE. This represents 99% population coverage, with 97% coverage on 4G.

Before signing up for the Plusnet Mobile service, we strongly recommend you check the coverage in your area. You can do this through the Plusnet Mobile website: just enter your postcode on their online coverage map.

Check Plusnet Mobile Coverage »

Plusnet is a fully-owned subsidiary of BT, who also own and operate the EE mobile network. The launch of Plusnet Mobile is a part of BT’s multi-brand mobile strategy (BT also offers a mobile phone service through the EE and BT Mobile brands).

LIFE Mobile Customers

If you originally signed up to the LIFE Mobile service before the 29th November 2016, you’ll only have access to 2G and 3G coverage from EE. To access the higher download speeds available on 4G, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the 4G-enabled Plusnet Mobile plans.

Tethering

Tethering or personal hotspotPersonal Hotspot on iPhone refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with a laptop or tablet). This is a useful feature when you need to access the internet on-the-go from other devices (e.g. if you’re working on your laptop and if free wi-fi isn’t available).

On Plusnet Mobile, tethering is permitted on all of their tariffs. Any use of tethering or portable hotspot simply comes out of your inclusive data allowance.

Many other low-cost mobile networks don’t allow tethering on their network. For more information, please see our in-depth guide to tethering on UK mobile networks.

Keeping Your Phone Number

It’s a straightforward process to transfer your mobile phone number to Plusnet Mobile.

If you’re switching from another mobile network to Plusnet Mobile, it’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number.

You should start by ordering your new SIM card on the Plusnet Mobile website. Once you’ve done that, you can contact your old mobile network and ask them for a PAC Code.

When your new SIM card arrives from Plusnet Mobile, you should contact Plusnet Mobile Customer Services to give them your PAC Code. You can do this by calling 0800 0791133 or 500 on your Plusnet Mobile handset. Once you’ve given your PAC Code to Plusnet, they’ll arrange the transfer of your phone number (this normally happens on the next working day).

For a step-by-step guide on moving your number to Plusnet Mobile, please select your current mobile network from the drop down menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Plusnet Mobile

Your current network provider:

  More Options

If you’re also joining Plusnet Home Broadband, a different process applies for transferring your landline phone number.

LIFE Mobile Customers

LIFE MobileIf you were previously a LIFE Mobile customer, you’ll have been transitioned automatically to the Plusnet Mobile brand on the 29th November 2016. From this date onwards, you’ll see “Plusnet” being displayed as the network name on your handset. You’ll also receive your bills from Plusnet rather than LIFE Mobile.

There is no need to replace your SIM card or to manually transfer your phone number: everything should have been handled automatically by Plusnet.

By default, there will be no automatic changes to your price plan and you’ll stay on your existing LIFE Mobile 3G-only price plan. If you’d like to upgrade to get faster 4G download speeds, you’ll need to change to one of the new Plusnet Mobile 4G price plans.

More Information

For more information, please see the official Plusnet Mobile website.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

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.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 48 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Richard said:

    I’ve just joined Plusnet Mobile (I’m not a Plusnet broadband/landline customer) from Asda Mobile and it was a relatively easy process.

    In June last year I nearly joined TalkMobile but they wanted far too much information, bank statement and letter proving I’m resident at my address and I simply didn’t wish to provide it as I felt it was none of their business. I wanted their £7.50 a month Sim Only plan. So I joined Asda Mobile (from 02 due to increasing cost and poor network) and they are a good provider but when it comes to data it can be on the expensive side. I mostly purchased their £5 Talk and Text bundle as I wasn’t both a regular and heavy internet user on my mobile phone.

    Anyway, I’ve purchased the £7.50 monthly plan (1,000 mins, unlimited texts and 1GB Data) from Plusnet Mobile and the sim arrived on Saturday and I’ve been using it since Monday (3 days) for all the services provided to me. The process of porting my number was easy and quick too – I was expecting the transfer to take ages but it took less than 24 hours. Also, I didn’t encounter nay of the nonsense that I did with TalkMobile regarding sending bank statements etc………Just did it over the phone and they accepted me straight away.

    I’d recommend Plusnet Mobile even though I’ve only been a customer of theirs for a short time!

  2. MJalim said:

    I joined life mobile in August 2015, transferring my previous number to the new network. Since then I haven’t been able to receive all texts and calls from a variety of people. has been 5 MONTHS and the company hasn’t been able to find a solution. I have to try out a number of replacement sim cards and have had to give examples of the network issue on over 5 occasions. I have been promised to be called back and updated on the issue but instead have had to chase them up and continuously put in new requests for the SAME ongoing issue.

    Most recently, my phone installed new updates and upon restarting my phone, it has asked for a SIM Pin code. I called plusnet/lifemobile and they haven’t been able to provide me with the accurate PUK code to access my sim and use my phone.

    Lifemobile/Plustnot gives you little to zero leverage if you miss payment. They have cancelled my entire account after missing payment by a day and until full payment is made, where my phone only got reactivated a week later.

    The only thing I regret is not leaving this network. sooner.

  3. Lin said:

    Dear Ken,

    Thank you for the very helpful article and an informative site. I got a question to ask you if you don’t mind. In an other article of yours, you’ve recommended the £10 per month asda mobile plan to be the best value sim only pay&go deal. It has 600mins, unlimited text and 1.5Gb data. But the plusnet £10 plan exceeds it in every aspect while also having EE as their network provider. Not to mention the flexible bolt ons. I want to know if there is any disadvantage of plusnet in this rivalry? I am looking for a budget pay&go/30days plan that has at least 1Gb data with good coverage (EE or O2 I think). Would you suggest me plusnet or asda and why? I am sorry for troubling you and Thank you very much again. Happy New Year.

    1. Ken replied:

      Hi Lin,
      Thanks for your comment! Both ASDA Mobile and Plusnet Mobile are fine options. The key distinction, however, is that ASDA Mobile is a Pay As You Go network whereas Plusnet Mobile is a Pay Monthly (contract) mobile network.
      With ASDA Mobile, there’s no credit check or recurring Direct Debit payments, therefore giving you full control over how much you spend. You can also decide at any time either to change to another bundle, or to leave a gap before buying your next bundle (e.g. for instance, if you travelling somewhere else and didn’t need your bundle for a month).
      With Plusnet Mobile, it’s different as you will need to undergo a credit check process and you’ll be on a 30-day rolling Pay Monthly contract. You’ll need to set-up an automatic Direct Debit (and keep an eye out for additional charges as these can reach £10/month). Finally, as there’s a 30-day contract, you’ll need to call them in advance if you’d like to change or cancel your tariff.
      So I’d go for ASDA Mobile if you want the flexibility & control of Pay As You Go, and Plusnet Mobile if you want the value of a Pay Monthly contract.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

      1. Lin replied:

        Dear Ken,
        Thank you very much for your comprehensive and swift reply. Sincerely appreciated. The explanation was perfect. Guess I’d sacrifice that 500mb for the flexible asda paygo deal. Thanks a lot again. Keep the good work and I will definitely recommand this site to my friends. 🙂

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