A mobile phone or cell phone is an essential of modern day life in Taiwan and in the UK. How did we live without them? There are a number of things to consider when going into the mobile phone market. The decisions you make can be quite important, long term and expensive choices so it’s good to take your time before you decide.

You are really buying two things here;

  1. the phone
  2. usage of minutes/text SMS/internet data

You can buy these things seperately or together. Step 1, finding a mobile phone you like is quite straightforward, you might already know what you want. Step 2 has lots of choices.

Taiwan Duck iPhone

Taiwan Duck iPhone

The first choice is between a monthly contract and a “PAYG” or pay-as-you-go payment scheme for your minutes and data usage. What you get for 10 pounds on a PAYG SIM card is very different depending on what phone company you choose. And which one you choose will depend a lot on if you like to text a lot or like to talk a lot. In my opinion the best phone company for texting a lot is “3 mobile”, for 10pounds I can get 600 texts, lasting the next 3 months, also you get 150mb internet usage for the same period. This doesn’t use up the 10 pounds credit, so you can use that for calls. Also calling other “3 mobile” friends is free for 3000 minutes! If you are more of a talker and you don’t have friends on 3 mobile the best deals are from the big supermarkets who sell their own SIM cards. ASDA will give you calls at 8p a minute to all mobiles and landlines in the UK, also 4p for texts. ASDA internet is 20p per Mb, which isn’t terribly expensive. TESCO are also good for talkers, they charge 25p per minute and 10p for texts but for the 10 pounds top up payment you get 3o pounds credit in the first month, after that month you go back to your 10 pounds if you have any credit left. Complicated but works out OK. Internet is a crazy 4 pounds per Mb, so TESCO is no good for internet! For your information ASDA use Vodafone’s network and TESCO use the O2 network.

So if you are new to the UK and want a SIM card / phone to use soon, to talk and text mainly I would go to the ASDA supermarket and pick up a nice cheap one! Right now you can get a usable Nokia with SIM card for 20 pounds. Sometimes in store they have cheaper offers like 10 or 15 pounds for a phone and SIM.

The other way of buying your phone/SIM card is by contract. This means you commit to pay a monthly fee a number of months and you will get an agreed amount of minutes/texts/internet every month. These start with 1 month contracts which you can end after any month, usually you will get a lot more minutes/texts/internet than paying as above for a PAYG. But you are financially committed for as long as your contract whether you use the phone or not.

Contracts of 12, 18 and 24 months always have a FREE phone, depending on your monthly fee you can get the latest and most expensive phones for free. There are lots of phone companies in the UK, so the market is quite competitive and you can get some really good deals. Right now you can get a choice of 4 big name android smartphones (by Samsung, Sony & LG) from T-Mobile for 10 pounds per month, every month you will get 100 minutes to any mobile/house phone, unlimited texts and also unlimited internet browsing. If you need more minutes, texts or internet or a more expensive more modern, biggeer screen phone there are countless options with the phone companies. Shopping around on the internet can take days of your life! I recommend a good comparison site or Hot UK Deals where you might find a great current deal!

Good luck! Mark