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I think over the years I've probably been on every network that exists so hopefully I've got a pretty good opinion on which is good & which isn't not mentioning any names (T Mobile).
So we might as well start with one of the really big mobile networks & that's Vodafone. The last contract I had was with Vodafone & the only reason I changed was because it ran out & I found a marginally cheaper deal but if I hadn't have found that I would have been more than happy to stay with Vodafone.
The signal strength seems to be great everywhere I go, you've always got at least 3 bars out of 6 at all times, there's no weak areas unless maybe you're going up on the moors or through a tunnel!
The price plans are great, they seem to have something to benefit everyone. They start at £15 a month for an 18 month contract. This includes 0 minutes & unlimited texts, not exactly a balanced contract, they could have easily given you 500 of each but if you only call in emergencies then for £15 you can afford to go over your contract by a few pounds.
The most expensive plan they do is £80 a month which is also an 18 month contract. This includes a staggering 3000 minutes (who uses 3000 minutes a month?) & of course the standard unlimited texts. This is obviously great if you're a mortgage advisor making 50k a year but sadly not all of us make that!
The pay as you go price plans are pretty cheap as they go, only costing 10p a text & 20p a minute for calls. This is great if you're maybe an elderly person that will just be using the phone for emergencies. I hear a lot of people say that pay as you go is a lot cheaper than a contract phone, well that obviously depends how much you use your phone. I was on pay as you go a couple of years ago & for the amount of texts I sent & phone calls I made I was spending nearly £100 a month which is pretty outrageous.
So moving on to Orange. I've had a bad experience with Orange which has kind of put me off going back to them but to be fair it was a couple of years ago & chances are is that everything has changed since then but a few years ago I bought a £350 phone from Orange along with the insurance for £49.99 a month for 12 months & about 3 months into it I had my phone stolen so first thing I did after blocking my sim was go into orange for a replacement but apparently I couldn't get a replacement as it doesn't cover stolen phones It only covers lost phones… what's the difference? If you've had your phone stolen you've lost it! So then when tried to cancel my insurance I couldn't as it was a 12 month contract so I ended up paying £49.99 a month for another 9 months to insure a phone that I didn't have. I then had to buy myself another phone which of course I couldn't insure as I couldn't afford it.
Anyway moving on! Orange have 3 different types of contracts that they strangely call Dolphin, Racoon, Canary & Panther. Well the cheapest deal across all these plans is £19 a month which consists of 50 minutes & 25 texts which less face is it pretty awful by any standards. The most expensive across all the ranges is £55 which gets you 900 minutes, 450 extra minutes (why they couldn't simply combine the two & say 1350 minutes is beyond me) & 100 texts. Which again isn't a lot. Generally if you're using 1350 minutes a month you're likely to text quite a bit as well so 100 texts is no where near sufficient.
The pay as you go deals are 20p a minute for calls however on the Racoon tariff they are 15p a minute. Texts are 10p apart from on the Camel tariff where they're 15p. This is pretty much the same as all pay as you go tariffs.
I have looked up price plans on the internet & I wont bore you with them all as they are all pretty similar but I will lastly go to my personal favourite network which is 02. I have been on 02 quite a few times over the years & I honestly don't know why I changed in the first place. The price plans are great, the customer service is great, the rewards are great. Basically what I'm trying to say if you haven't caught on yet is that 02 is great.
The price plans start at £20 a month which although is £5 more expensive than Vodafone's basic plan it does include 75 minutes & 250 texts as opposed to Vodafone's modest 0 minutes & unlimited texts. The most expensive one like Vodafone is £80 a month this includes 3000 minutes & 1000 texts. Vodafone actually beats 02 on this one with of course the same 3000 minutes but instead of 1000 texts they give you unlimited.
The bonus with 02 however is they have a range of contract lengths. These rage from 12-24 months with the usual 18 month in the middle. Something I picked up on when on the Orange & Vodafone website is that they only seem to do one length of contract which isn't great considering the money people pay, the least the networks can do is let us pick how long our contract will last!
The pay as you go charges for 02 are as follows; 10p a text & 15p a minute. This overall is cheaper than both Orange & 02. You also get rewards like if you top up £10 in any given month you will receive 300 free texts, £15 in a month will get you 500 & £30 is unlimited which is great if you prefer to steer clear of contracts.
The contract I'm currently on is an 18 month one for £35 a month which gives me 600 minutes & unlimited texts. I love the unlimited texts feature & never buy a phone without it as I tend to send about 2500 a month. I do go over my 600 minutes sometimes but it's only 20p a minute to go over & it's easy to manage your minutes & texts by sending a blank text to 21202. This sends you a text message telling you how many minutes & texts you've got left along with how much your current months contract is up to which should be the figure you're always charged unless of course you go over.
Overall I think 02 is by far the best network, not only for the varying contracts but also for the rewards they give you like free minutes every month or tickets for the 02. The customer service I have discovered is also great, the people are always friendly, happy to help & always sort the problem as quickly as they possibly can. I would also say that contracts are much better value for money however if you don't use your phone very much or don't want to get tied down then go for pay as you go on 02 as it's cheaper & you get great rewards simply for topping up.
Surely you should have given it 5 stars then? I used to be with O2 but I switched to T mobile about 7 months ago- I have a fantastic contract- for £30 a month I get 9,999,999 (unlimited..) texts and 700 minutes xx