Cracking smartphone and SIM-only deals, but speeds and service aren’t quite top-notch
- Great prices on the latest phones
- Good-value SIM-only deals
- Free EU roaming
- 5G speeds are getting better
- Disappointing scores for service
- Reliability scores could be improved
iD Mobile plays things slightly differently to your average no-frills virtual network, going beyond the usual 30-day rolling SIM-only bundles to give you more for your money on a long-term contract, or even a bundle with a wide range of smartphones. This makes it something of a halfway house between the likes of Smarty and Giffgaff and the more traditional networks. What’s more, whether you’re buying a SIM or the latest phone from Samsung, Apple or Xiaomi, you’re almost guaranteed to get a cracking deal.
iD Mobile review: What do you get?
As the virtual network arm of Currys and Carphone Warehouse, it’s no surprise that iD Mobile has one of the widest ranges of phones around. You can find the latest handsets not just from Samsung, Apple and Google, but Motorola, Oppo, Xiaomi and Honor, often at a very competitive price. If you can’t stretch to an iPhone 14, from £38/mth on a 24-month contract with £99 upfront, then you might have the money for an Oppo Find X5, at £35 plus £49 upfront. And if the Samsung Galaxy S22 is too much for your wallet from £30/mth plus £29 upfront, then you might be happy with the mid-range Honor 70 – yours for £25/mth with no upfront cost.
Prices compare favourably with the bigger networks, even when you go beyond the lowest data allowances. With 100GB of data, the iPhone 14 comes in at £43/mth plus £49 upfront over 24 months. On Three or EE, the equivalent deal would cost you north of £60/mth.
If you’d rather go SIM-only, the packages start at a reasonable £6/mth for 4GB of data and go up to an unlimited data plan for a bargain-tastic £16/mth. You have a choice of one-month, 12-month and 24-month contracts, and signing up for the longer terms will usually see you get more data for your money or get the same amount of data for less. What’s more, iD Mobile has a rollover feature, where you push any unused data to the following month.
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Unsurprisingly, customers like the low prices. Nearly 58% of those we surveyed for the 2022 Mobile Network Awards said they were very satisfied with value for money, and a further 36% were fairly satisfied. That’s not quite as stellar a result as Lebara’s 100% satisfaction rate, or even Smarty’s 97%, but it’s still an excellent score.
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iD Mobile review: Customer service
Sadly, the news isn’t quite so good when it comes to customer service. Here, only 29% of customers describe themselves as very satisfied, with 41% fairly satisfied and nearly 9% not very satisfied. That doesn’t sound bad, but it’s one of the two worst scores for customer service in our survey.
Ofcom doesn’t publish a full set of figures for iD Mobile in this year’s Comparing customer service report, but while the network has fewer than average customers with a reason to complain, it gets more complaints to Ofcom per 100,000 users, though Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone all fare worse.
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iD Mobile review: Coverage and connection speeds
iD Mobile is a virtual network operator, running over Three’s 4G and 5G host network. Three has shown big improvements over the last year. RootMetrics’ latest results give Three a UK-wide median download speed of 29.9Mbits/sec, putting it well behind EE at 66.2Mbits/sec, but ahead of Vodafone, at 23.8Mbits/sec. In the 16 metropolitan areas where RootMetrics runs specific tests, Three’s median download speed was faster than 20Mbits/sec in all of them, and faster than 40Mbits/sec in eight.
RootMetrics no longer provides coverage maps, but Three’s 4G coverage reaches around 99.8% of the UK population, while its 5G services are available to approximately 56%, which means Three is running neck and neck with EE when it comes to 5G rollout. That’s good news, as according to RootMetrics, Three is also pulling ahead of EE on 5G median download speeds, reaching nearly 200Mbits/sec.
We didn’t have enough responses from iD Mobile’s 5G customers to find out how satisfied they were with their 5G service, but we do have the data for its host network, Three. It had the third-best results for 5G satisfaction, coming just behind EE and Sky Mobile, with a whisker over half of Three’s 5G customers (51.5%) satisfied or very satisfied. That still leaves nearly half of Three’s 5G users dissatisfied, with the major issues being patchy 5G coverage (for nearly 65%) and a lack of noticeable speed improvements (for 44%).
As far as reliability goes, 89% of iD users in our survey said that their connection was always or mostly fast enough for web browsing, and 64% said the same about audio streaming. Less than 55% felt it was always or mostly fast enough for video streaming. This leaves iD Mobile somewhere in the middle of the pack, with better overall results than Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile and O2, but worse than Voxi, Smarty or Sky Mobile.
iD Mobile review: Roaming
Unlike Three, iD Mobile doesn’t charge its customers for EU roaming. Instead, your inclusive minutes, texts and data are available while in Europe but subject to a fair usage policy that’s based on the cost of your monthly plan. Outside the EU, charges can vary. You’ll spend £1.68 per minute, 42p per text and 30p per MB in the USA or Australia, but this can rise to £3.60 per minute, 60p per text and £3.60 per MB in Kenya, and may go even higher in some other destinations.
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iD Mobile review: Other services and spending caps
iD Mobile allows you to put a spending cap on your account, starting at £5 over your regular plan cost. Otherwise, it isn’t a big service for additional features; it’s more about handling the basics well.
iD Mobile review: Verdict
iD Mobile is a great network for value, and one of the best (and cheapest) when it comes to buying a new phone. However, it’s now matched by Three’s own no-frills band, Smarty, when it comes to SIM-only deals, and Smarty seems to be doing better on customer service and satisfaction. With more competition for budget no-frills contracts, iD Mobile doesn’t quite do enough to earn a Recommended badge.