Sky Mobile review: The best mobile network for an all-in package?

Sky is one of only a few UK providers to be able to deliver broadband, TV, home phone and mobile services in one single account, so it was hardly surprising that Sky Mobile used to work best if you also subscribed to Sky TV and Sky broadband. Now things have changed, however. As Sky no longer charges non-Sky TV or broadband subscribers for calls and texts, it has more to offer everyone. Its plans are often affordable and great for families, even if you have to watch out for the odd “gotcha” if you’re buying a smartphone on a monthly plan.

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Sky Mobile review: what do you get?

What do we mean by “gotcha”? Well, Sky sells its phones on a choice of Swap 12 and Swap 24 contracts. On the swap 12 contracts, you can trade-in your phone for a new handset after a year while on the swap 24 contracts you have to wait two years. This might lead you to believe that the contracts were 12 and 24 months long, but in fact you signed up for two years and three years respectively. This has a big knock-on effect when you’re calculating the overall cost of the phone.

For instance, you could have a new iPhone 11 for £32/mth on Sky’s basic 2GB data plan, which sounds like a bargain. However, that’s over 36 months. Switch down to the swap 12 contract and the price rises to £47/mth plus £49 upfront – not a terrible deal, but not so attractive.

With a 30 GB data plan over 24 months your iPhone is going to cost you £1,393, which is more than it would cost you on BT Mobile, EE or Vodafone with a similar amount of data, let alone Three, where you could have it on an unlimited contract for over £100 less. A Samsung Galaxy A51 on the same terms comes in at £960, which is significantly more expensive than it would be on BT Mobile, Virgin Mobile or Vodafone over the same period. If you’re buying a handset from Sky, make sure you are doing apples for apples price comparisons.

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Luckily, there’s better news on the SIM-only plans. These range from £6 for a basic 2GB plan to £25 for 30GB, and while Sky hasn’t got much to satisfy really data-hungry users, its 10GB and 25GB plans are good value at £12 and £15. Only Virgin Mobile offers a rival deal for the latter – and it’s 25GB tariff is £5 more expensive. Your nearest alternatives come from Three at £18 for 30GB or iDMobile at £14 for 20GB.

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Sky Mobile SIM-only plans – 4G/5G

Data planMonthly fee (12 months)Calls/texts
2GB£6Unlimited
3GB£8Unlimited
10GB£12Unlimited
25GB£15Unlimited
30GB£25Unlimited

What’s good about these mid-range plans is that you still get some decent features bundled in. Any spare data left at the end of the month rolls over into your Sky Piggybank, where it will stay for up to three years. You can cash in data for rewards and discounts or simply use it when you need it – or you can transfer it to another phone on the same account. Your partner or your kids can use your unused allowance, which can be great if some of you are more or less frugal with their gigabytes than others. While Sky doesn’t have any family plan as such, it’s a strong reason to sign up the whole family to the one account. 

Sky’s other big pluses affect Sky TV and broadband users. Firstly, If you use Sky’s Apps to stream TV, sports or movies, you can do so through Sky’s mobile network without the data being counted against your monthly allowance. If you’re paying for Sky Sports or Sky Movies, you can enjoy them while you’re out and about without worrying about busting any data caps.

Secondly, members of Sky’s Sky VIP loyalty programme with Sky broadband and/or Sky TV can access Sky’s 5G services without having to pay for a £5 monthly add-on. Coverage is now available in 20 UK cities including London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff and Leeds, though only in selected areas.

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Sky Mobile review: Coverage and connection speeds

Sky doesn’t operate its own network but, like Tesco Mobile, iD Mobile and others, runs a virtual network over O2’s infrastructure. We’ve seen some big improvements with O2 over the last few years, with investments in the 4G network ensuring that it now covers 99% of the UK population. You might find some localised spots or remote regions where you’re limited to 3G or – worse – no signal but, across most of the UK, you’ll be fine. The latest data from RootMetrics shows that most of O2’s 4G users can get speeds of between 10Mbits/sec and 30Mbits/sec, and that it’s one of the best networks out there for reliably sending and receiving texts.

Sadly, it also shows that O2 comes last out of the big four UK networks for aggregate UK median download speeds. With 13.3 Mbits/sec, it’s still faster than Three in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but slow in England and Wales and a long way behind EE and Vodafone across all areas of the UK. And while O2 registered some high 5G speeds in Edinburgh (287.2 Mbits/sec) it hasn’t yet matched the best speeds of EE, Vodafone and Three. What’s more, RootMetrics could only run its 5G tests in only one 16 cities: Belfast. While it is still early days for O2 and 5G, this puts Sky Mobile at a slight disadvantage.

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Sky Mobile review: Roaming

You can use your data, calls and texts allowance within 30 EU and EEA destinations at no extra cost; you can even use your Sky apps on the go without digging into your data, just as you can at home. And Sky also has provisions in place for ten further destinations, including Australia and the US, through its Roaming Passport Plus programme. Here you pay £6 a day to use your data, calls and text allowance. Outside those areas, charges vary, with call charges rising to £2.16 or even £3.60 per minute in many countries, with data charged at £2.16 to 4.32 per MB (and higher in the most remote regions). If you spend a lot of time travelling to countries outside the EU and the Passport Plus programme, either buy a SIM locally or opt for a network with cheaper or more extensive roaming provisions, like Giffgaff or Three.

Sky Mobile review: Other services and spending caps

Sky’s other big selling point is its integration of TV and mobile services. For existing Sky TV subscribers, Sky Go Extra comes bundled in, giving you the ability to stream Sky TV and movies through the Sky Go app on up to four devices. What’s more, any data used in watching Sky Apps (live streams via Sky Go, for instance) isn’t counted against your monthly allowance. Users of Sky’s TV services can also sync recordings to their Sky Mobile phone or stream shows while away from home over 4G or Wi-Fi or download them while at home to watch later.

Like the other major mobile networks Sky now supports spending caps. You can have a different cap for each SIM attached to your account which sets the maximum you can spend on out-of-allowance charges. Sky will send notifications as you near your cap and you can change the cap at any time online.

Sky Mobile review: Customer satisfaction

Ofcom hasn’t accrued enough data on Sky Mobile to give detailed figures for customer service and customer satisfaction, but the latest research reveals that Sky is just below average on customer complaints per 100,000 subscribers but above the average for call waiting times. Here, Tesco Mobile, EE, and O2 are doing noticeably better.

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Sky Mobile review: Verdict

while Sky Mobile still makes the most sense for Sky broadband and TV subscribers, combination of its well-priced SIM-only contracts and data rollover features make it a contender for anyone’s cash. You need to be careful about the contract duration when buying a smartphone through Sky, but even here there are some good deals to be had. Look elsewhere if you want the best performance or a more flexible, no-frills approach, but Sky Mobile has a lot to offer even if it’s the only thing you take from Sky.

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