Dominating our Mobile Network Awards, Sky Mobile is the network to beat
- Great SIM-only deals
- The best data rollover features
- Allowance-free streaming for Sky apps
- Excellent customer satisfaction and support
- Not the fastest connection speeds
- No unlimited or high data allowance plans
Sky Mobile dominated last year’s Mobile Network Awards, picking up wins in every awards category, including the Best Overall Mobile Network award. This year it hasn’t been so lucky, with cost-conscious, no-frills virtual networks taking home most of the prizes, but in the wake of this year’s Mobile Network Awards survey Sky still achieved the Best Customer Service award, and comes Highly Commended overall, with a second Highly Commended for its 5G services.
This puts Sky Mobile on top of the list of more established networks, so it’s still very much a force to be reckoned with.
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Sky Mobile review: What do you get?
While some mobile networks give you a crazy variety of options, Sky Mobile likes to keep things simple. At the moment, it offers SIM-only plans ranging from unlimited calls, unlimited texts and 2GB of data for £6/mth, to £30/mth for 50GB of data. It’s a little disappointing that there are no 100GB plus or unlimited data options at this price level, but that doesn’t mean Sky is short of high-value plans. At the time of writing, you can have 25GB of data with an extra 25GB free for just £15/mth.
What’s more, Sky Mobile has some tempting extra features, particularly if you’re a Sky TV subscriber. All plans include a “Piggybank” rollover feature, where any unused monthly data allowance is saved away for use up to three years later. You can switch from one plan to another month to month through the MySky app, and you can stream video from the Sky Go, Sky Store and Sky News apps without eating into your allowance.
|Package||Monthly fee (12 months)||Texts||Minutes|
|25GB (plus 25GB free)||£15||Unlimited||Unlimited|
If you’re looking for a new handset, Sky has its own way of doing things. You can buy on a 24-month or 36-month contract, then swap to a new phone and contract after 12 or 24 months respectively with no extra early upgrade charge. This plan covers only the phone, and you buy a data plan on top, with these coming in at the same price as the equivalent SIM-only deal or less.
Sky can also be good value if you’re buying a new phone, but you have to get your head around how the payments break down. Buy an iPhone 14 on the 36-month contract and you’ll pay £28/mth for the first 24 months, then £24/mth for the remaining 12. On top of that, you need to pay from £6/mth for the most basic 2GB plan. That takes the total cost over three years to a reasonable £1,176, but with a 50GB plan that would rise to over £2,000. That’s more than you’d pay for the same phone with 100GB plus an extra year of 100GB on, say, iD Mobile, so it pays to check and shop around.
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Sky Mobile review: Customer service
Sky didn’t hold on to most of its Best Mobile Network awards this year, but it did retain the award for customer service. Here, 45% of the users we surveyed said they were very satisfied with the service they received, while a further 43% said they were fairly satisfied. Only 4% were not very satisfied or not at all satisfied. While Tesco Mobile had slightly more very satisfied users, Sky was still the standout winner overall. An impressive 85% of Sky customers would recommend the network to a friend.
Ofcom’s latest research also has some good things to say about Sky. While it gives no overall customer satisfaction score, Ofcom notes that Sky has fewer customers with a reason to complain than average, and that Sky gets fewer complaints per 100,000 users than any other major network bar EE and Tesco Mobile.
Sky Mobile review: Coverage, reliability and speed
Sky doesn’t operate its own network. Instead, like Tesco Mobile and Giffgaff, it operates as a virtual network running on Virgin Media O2. Virgin Media O2’s 4G network covers around 99% of the UK population, and it’s only in some more remote coastal and rural areas that you’ll struggle to get a signal.
O2 has been playing catch-up on connection speeds for the last few years, and RootMetrics’ latest round of speed tests still puts it firmly in the fourth and final place of the UK’s major networks. Where the third-placed network, Vodafone, has a median UK download speed of 23.8Mbits/sec, Virgin Media O2’s is 16.4Mbits/sec. However, O2 fares better in Northern Ireland, particularly on calls and text performance, and its 5G reach and speeds have improved significantly since last year, with availability in 15 of the 16 cities where RootMetrics tests and speeds of over 100Mbits/sec in most of them.
That’s reflected in both our survey and our Mobile Network Awards: Sky had more satisfied or very satisfied 5G customers than any other network (57%) with the exception of EE (64%), so it comes away with a Highly Commended award in the 5G category.
All in all, you’re probably not going to get the fastest available connection from Sky Mobile, but there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with its reliability. 91% of users said their Sky connection was mostly or always fast enough for web browsing, while 67% said the same about audio streaming. Elsewhere, 49% of users told us it was mostly fast enough for video streaming and a further 12% said it was always fast enough. Only Smarty and Voxi had a stronger reliability report.
Sky Mobile review: Roaming
Sky Mobile no longer includes EU roaming free of charge. Instead, you need the £2 Roaming Passport Plus add-on, which allows you to use your existing calls, data and text allowance within the EU, along with some other popular destinations, including Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Otherwise, you’re usually looking at a charge of 96p to £2.16 per minute for calls, 42p per text and data at £2.16 per MB, though some destinations will be more expensive. International roaming with Sky Mobile isn’t cheap.
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Sky Mobile review: Other services and spending caps
With Sky Mobile, you can stream content from the Sky Go, Sky News, Sky+, Sky Kids, Sky Store, Sky Sports and Sky Sports Box Office apps without using your allowance, providing you have 50MB of data remaining in it. If you’re short, you can raid your Piggybank. You can also sign up multiple family members under one account, then share unused data from your Piggybank around. To help you manage costs, Sky also supports spending caps, and you can set a different cap for each Sky SIM.
Sky Mobile review: Verdict
Sky Mobile might not have repeated last year’s incredible awards success, but it’s still a winner of a network, with some great SIM-only deals and useful features, and excellent feedback on its customer services, reliability and performance in our survey. Take a look elsewhere for maximum speeds or the best deals on a new phone, but Sky is always worth putting on your shortlist, and that goes double if you’re already a TV subscriber.