Talkmobile Review: The Low Cost 3G-Only Network From Vodafone

November 26th, 2015

Talkmobile is a low-cost network that’s fully owned by Vodafone (it was previously a part of the Carphone Warehouse until 2015). It offers a 3G-only service from £5/month.

TalkMobileTalkmobile is a low-cost sub-brand of Vodafone offering a 3G-only service from £5/month. Previously a part of the Carphone Warehouse, Talkmobile was adopted by Vodafone in 2015 (the Carphone Warehouse now sells their own-brand contracts through iD Mobile).

Today, Talkmobile is mainly focused on Pay Monthly SIM cards. However, they also offer Pay Monthly smartphones and Pay As You Go SIM cards. New customers are able to join Talkmobile on any of these tariffs. Existing customers can also upgrade to one of the new plans.

In this article, we review the Talkmobile service. We’ll look at the price plans available on Talkmobile and how they compare to rival offerings from other networks. We’ll also look at the coverage on Talkmobile and how you can keep your existing phone number when moving to the network.

Pricing & Tariffs

Talkmobile currently offers three types of tariff:

  • Pay Monthly SIM Cards: You’ll be given a new low-cost SIM card that will slot inside your existing unlocked smartphone. This will be on either a 12-month or a 30-day contract.
  • Pay Monthly Handsets: Here, you’ll be given a new smartphone on a 24-month contract.
  • Pay As You Go SIM Card: You’ll get a Pay As You Go SIM card for your existing unlocked smartphone. On the Talkmobile Happy Hour tariff, you’ll pay a flat rate of 10p for phone calls up to one hour. You’ll also pay 4p/text and 2p/MB when accessing the internet.

Pay Monthly SIM Cards

The most competitive offering from Talkmobile is currently their Pay Monthly SIM cards for your existing unlocked smartphone. At present, they have a choice of four SIM cards on a 12-month contract and another four SIM cards on a 30-day contract. The four tiers of SIM card are named Small, Medium, Large and X-Large:

12 month contracts 30 day contracts
NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile1005,000100MB£5.00
Talkmobile1,0005,0002GB£7.50
Talkmobile3,0005,0002GB£10.00
Talkmobile5,0005,00015GB£15.00
NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile505,000100MB£5.00
Talkmobile5005,0001GB£7.50
Talkmobile1,5005,0004GB£10.00
Talkmobile2,5005,0004GB£15.00

In general, we’d recommend the 12-month contracts as they offer much better value than the 30-day equivalents (you’ll get a larger monthly allowance for a much lower price).

When ordering your SIM card from the Talkmobile website, you’ll need to choose the size of SIM card you require (see our guide if you aren’t sure which one you need for your phone). Some of the 30-day contracts are hidden away towards the bottom of the page so you’ll need to scroll down in order to find them.

Pay Monthly Handsets

Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5

Talkmobile is still selling fairly old handsets like the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s (both were originally released in 2013).

When it was still a part of the Carphone Warehouse, Talkmobile had a strong emphasis on selling Pay Monthly handsets. Nowadays, as a fully-owned subsidiary of Vodafone, Talkmobile has greatly de-emphasised the handset offering. While you’re still able to buy a smartphone from Talkmobile, the selection is limited and most of the phones are fairly old.

At the time of writing, 19 handsets are available on Talkmobile. Some of the top devices include the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5s (both of which are already more than two years old).

Pay Monthly handsets come on a choice of three different price plans:

  • Small: 250 mins, 5000 texts, 500MB internet
  • Medium: 500 mins, 5000 texts, 1GB internet
  • Large: 1000 mins, 5000 texts, 2GB internet

The exact price will depend on which handset you choose (e.g. the Medium plan is £10/month with a Moto E 4G and £25/month with an iPhone 5s). There’s no upfront cost on all of the Pay Monthly handsets but you’ll need to sign up for a 24-month agreement.

Pay As You Go

Top Up LogoTalkmobile also has a Pay As You Go offering known as ‘Happy Hour’. With this, you pay a flat rate of just 10p per phone call lasting up to one hour (it’s 8p/minute if you go over one hour). Text messages will cost 4p each and accessing the mobile internet will cost you 2p/MB.

You can order a Pay As You Go SIM card on the Talkmobile website.

Calling Rates:
Voice Calls 10p connection charge
+ no further charges for up to 60 minutes
+ 8p/minute after the first 60 minutes
Calls to Voicemail 8p/minute
Calls to Special Rate Numbers 15p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
Messaging Rates:
Text Message (SMS) 4p
Picture Message (MMS) 30p
Video Message 50p
Internet Rates:
Mobile Internet 2p/MB

The prices in this table are stated for UK-to-UK only. If you’re roaming, making international calls or calling a special number (e.g. 08 & 09 numbers), higher charges will normally apply. Source for pricing information: Talkmobile.co.uk.

Talkmobile also has an alternative price plan called Pay As You Go Rewards. With this, you’ll pay a higher rate for your calls and texts (25p/minute and 12p/text, discounted to 10p/minute and 6p/text to other Talkmobile customers). Mobile internet will cost you 25p/day for up to 25MB of data (then 10p/MB if you go over this limit).

The benefit of ‘Pay As You Go Rewards’ is you’ll get a free allowance whenever you top up (e.g. 60 free minutes or 1400 free texts when you top up with £10 of credit). Your free top-up allowances will last for between 7 and 30 days. You can change tariff after getting your SIM card by calling Talkmobile Customer Services on 5888 (by default, you’ll be placed on the Happy Hour tariff where you aren’t able to earn rewards).

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

Comparison to Alternatives

Small SIM Only Plan

5 Pound Note

On Talkmobile, you can get a SIM-only deal from just £5/month.

For £5/month, Talkmobile currently offers 100 minutes, 5000 texts and 100MB of 3G internet on their ‘Small’ price plan.

For the same monthly price, customers living in a BT Broadband household can get 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of 4G internet on BT Mobile (the full price is £10/month if you’re in a household without BT Broadband).

For non-BT Broadband households, giffgaff has a £5/month deal with 100 minutes, 300 texts and 100MB of 4G internet. A key benefit of the deal from giffgaff is there’s only a 30-day commitment (this compares to the 12-month contract on Talkmobile and BT Mobile).

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
BT Mobile200Unlimited500MB£5.00
inc. £5 discount
giffgaff125500100MB£5.00
Talkmobile1005,000100MB£5.00
Three200Unlimited500MB£7.00
Tesco Mobile2505,0001GB£7.50
Vodafone250Unlimited250MB£9.50
EE250Unlimited250MB£9.99
O2250Unlimited250MB£10.00

For BT Mobile, the £5/month discount only applies to BT Broadband households. If you aren’t living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full price without the £5/month discount.

Medium SIM Only Plan

For £7.50/month, Talkmobile currently offers 1000 minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB of 3G internet (this is on the Medium plan with a 12-month commitment). In general, this compares fairly well to the rest of the market (elsewhere, you’d be looking to pay at least £10/month for 1GB of data):

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile1,0005,0002GB£7.50
Tesco Mobile2505,0001GB£7.50
Three600Unlimited1GB£9.00
BT Mobile500Unlimited4GB£10.00
inc. £5 discount
giffgaff500Unlimited1GB£10.00
EE1,000Unlimited1GB£14.99
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
O21,000Unlimited1GB£15.00

For BT Mobile, the £5/month discount only applies to BT Broadband households. If you aren’t living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full price without the £5/month discount.

Large SIM Only Plan

10 Pound Note

The Talkmobile ‘Large’ tariff costs £10/month on a 12-month contract.

For £10/month, you’ll get 3000 minutes, 5000 texts and 2GB of 3G internet on the Talkmobile Large plan (on a 12-month contract).

Customers in a BT Broadband household can get 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G data for £10/month (£15/month if you’re in a household without BT Broadband).

For £11/month, Three offers 2GB of 4G data but you’ll only get 200 minutes to use every month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile1,0005,0002GB£7.50
BT Mobile500Unlimited4GB£10.00
inc. £5 discount
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£10.00
Three200Unlimited2GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£12.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£17.99
O2UnlimitedUnlimited2GB£18.00

For BT Mobile, the £5/month discount only applies to BT Broadband households. If you aren’t living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full price without the £5/month discount.

X-Large SIM Only Plan

15 Pound Notes

giffgaff has 4GB of 4G internet at the same monthly price if you don’t need as many minutes.

At £15/month, Talkmobile currently offers the X-Large SIM card with 5000 minutes, 5000 texts and 4GB of 3G internet. For the same monthly price, giffgaff will give you 4GB of 4G internet but with only 1000 minutes to use every month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile1,5005,0004GB£10.00
BT Mobile500Unlimited4GB£10.00
inc. £5 discount
Tesco Mobile2505,0004GB£11.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
giffgaff1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
Three600Unlimited4GB£15.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£19.99
O2UnlimitedUnlimited20GB£20.00

For BT Mobile, the £5/month discount only applies to BT Broadband households. If you aren’t living in a BT Broadband household, you’ll pay the full price without the £5/month discount.

For more information, please see our full comparison of the UK’s best value SIM-only deals.

Pay As You Go Pricing

On Pay As You Go, Talkmobile currently charges 10p per phone call (lasting up to 60 minutes). They also charge 4p/text and 2p/MB for accessing the mobile internet. In general, this compares fairly well against the mainstream mobile networks. However, cheaper deals are available elsewhere (e.g. on the 321 tariff from Three):

Network Calls (per minute) Texts (per SMS) Data (per MB)
Three 3p/minute 2p/text 1p/MB
Talkmobile 10p/call (up to 60 mins) 4p/text 2p/MB
ASDA Mobile 8p/minute 4p/text 5p/MB
giffgaff 10p/minute 6p/text 20p/day for 20MB
Tesco Mobile 25p/minute 25p/text 10p/MB
EE 30p/minute 12p/text
O2 30p/minute 14p/text £1/day for 50MB
Vodafone 30p/minute 14p/text £2/day for 50MB

Network & Coverage

2G & 3G Coverage from Vodafone

Vodafone Coverage

Talkmobile offers 99% population coverage using Vodafone’s 2G and 3G networks.

Talkmobile is a virtual network operator that uses Vodafone as their coverage provider. Customers using Talkmobile will get 2G and 3G coverage on the Vodafone network. At present, this gives about 99% population coverage across the UK.

Before ordering your new phone or SIM card from Talkmobile, we strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on the Talkmobile coverage checker:

Check Talkmobile Coverage »

The coverage for Talkmobile customers is identical to the coverage received by 3G customers on Vodafone. It’s also identical to the coverage on Lebara Mobile and TalkTalk Mobile.

4G Coverage

Unfortunately, 4G coverage isn’t available on the Talkmobile network. It’s not known whether 4G will ever launch on Talkmobile given its position as a low-cost sub-brand of the Vodafone network (the 4G connectivity is a key differentiator of Vodafone’s main service).

At present, virtual network operators using the Vodafone network are all restricted to having only 2G and 3G coverage.

Tethering

Tethering

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).

With Talkmobile, you can tether on any of their plans. This means your inclusive data allowance can be shared with other devices. For more information, go to the Talkmobile help pages and search for ‘tethering’:

Tethering (using your mobile as an internet hotspot for other devices) is included in all Talkmobile plans. You can tether if you have a data plan and have enabled Wi-Fi hotspot functionality on your phone.

Many other low-cost networks prohibit the use of tethering on their service (this makes the support for tethering a key USP for the Talkmobile service).

Keeping Your Phone Number

If you’re switching your network provider to Talkmobile, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.

To move your phone number to Talkmobile, you should contact your old network and ask them for a PAC Code. A PAC Code is nine-digits long and will authorise Talkmobile to take control of your phone number (it’s free to obtain a PAC Code and it must be provided within two hours of your request).

Talkmobile Transfer Phone Number

Once you have the PAC Code from your old network, order your new phone or SIM card from the Talkmobile website. When it arrives, you should use the phone to call Talkmobile customer services (5888 from your Talkmobile handset or 0333 304 8064 if you’re calling from any other network). Once you’ve given your PAC Code to Talkmobile, they’ll schedule the transfer of your phone number, normally for the next working day.

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

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Talkmobile

Your current network provider:

  More Options

More Information

For more information, please see the official Talkmobile 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 7 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. John Beattie said:

    Talk mobile will Destroy your Credit Score even over a One Pound a Month Sim Only Deal after the cut you off. Look out its the customers fault with Talk mobile.

  2. Chris Christie said:

    I ported my number from a contract with another operator to Talkmobile (PAYG), and whilst there were some technical issues with the port (my old SIM remained active, but tied to the new account), the customer services were excellent. They were quick to reply, and, crucially, the web chat staff actually seem empowered to act rather than to simply tell you to phone the main line. It’s a shame the phone call isn’t free for PAYG (25p flat rate, or a local access number), but for me the web chat was fine instead.

  3. Pete Forman said:

    The PAYG plan changed today (1 Dec 2015) for new and existing customers. “Happy Hour” is now 10p flat charge per call for up to 60 min, 4p / text and 2p / MB.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Pete,
      Thanks for the heads up! This looks like a super good deal (particularly being able to make a one hour phone call for only 10p). The 2p/MB charge for mobile internet is going to be good for some and bad for others (it really depends on how much data you use). I’ll update the article above ASAP.
      Ken

  4. Amir said:

    Ken talkmobile has changed its pay as you go offering its a 10p connection charge for up to 60 mins of calls and data is only 2p a megabyte

    Can you update your article thanks to reflect this. I suppose this would suite slightly heaver users but who don’t want a contract or bundles to add on

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Amir,
      Thanks for the heads up about this. This is a super interesting change from the guys at Talkmobile – especially the 10p charge for up to 60 minutes of calling (it sounds like this is now by far the cheapest mobile network for making a phone call). I’ll update the article shortly on the changes.
      Ken

  5. Amir said:

    Great two reviews Ken they are both very good value for money specially if you need voda, ee or o2 or your handset is locked or only one of them has strong signal in your area but you don’t want to pay top network prices.

    I will probably use talk mobile as voda signal is good where i live and as i have an old nokia it is proving hard to unlock unless i goto voda and pay £20 and thats after i use their sim for 30 days!

    Also Talkmobile are not too bad for receving calls on roaming only 60p max while most are over a pound to receive a call (not european union)

    Would like to use LIFE as well but not worth the unlocking fee for the price

    Amir

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