iD Mobile review: More data, no frills, less cash

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
Starting at

Mediocre speeds but excellent value for money

Low prices on pay monthly and SIM-only deals
Improved 5G availability and performance
Cheap unlimited plans
Choice of annual or flexible contracts
Host network lags on performance
Above-average complaints per 100,000 users

iD Mobile made its name as a no-frills network, offering cheap, rolling monthly SIM-only contracts in the style of Giffgaff, along with some hard-to-resist, low-cost contacts on a wide range of phones. During 2020 and 2021, however, it has changed the way it works. You can still get a great deal on a no-commitment contract but sign up for 12 months and iD will throw in extra data to make it worth your while.

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iD Mobile review: What do you get?

iD Mobile might be behaving more like other networks these days but it’s still one of the best when it comes to getting a new handset at a bargain price. Better still, that doesn’t only apply to flagship models; iD is just as competitive on budget phones and the latest mid-range marvels.

Looking for a new iPhone 12? At the time of writing, you can have one on iD Mobile with 50GB of data for £36 a month over 24 months plus £49.99 upfront. That works out at a smidge over £900, where a similar deal on Three, O2, EE or Vodafone would cost you somewhere north of £1,200.

Buy a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G on a similar deal and you’re looking at £26 per month plus £20 upfront, or under £600 over two years. That could save you over £200 on the same phone with the same data elsewhere. Great budget and mid-range phones like the Google Pixel 4a, Oppo Find X3 Lite or Samsung Galaxy A52s can be had for around £20 to £23 a month. The only problem is that the best deals can quickly, if temporarily, go out of stock.

iD Mobile is just as good for SIM-only deals. The basic packages on one-month rolling contracts are decent value with 2GB for £6 per month at the low-end and 50GB for £17 per month at the high end. However, sign up for longer and your £6 buys you 3GB per month on a 12-month contract or 4GB on a 24-month plan.

Meanwhile, £15 per month will buy you 100GB on a 12-month contract, and you can have the same for £13 per month on a two-year deal. Even the Unlimited packages are cheap, costing between £16 and £20 and, what’s more, 5G is a free upgrade where available and when your phone supports it. You can see the current options below, although iD Mobile often runs deals that makes these plans even better value for money:

Monthly fee (1 month)Monthly fee (12 months)Monthly fee (24 months)DataTextsMinutes

We didn’t get a large enough sample of iD Mobile users to generate accurate results for our Expert Reviews Mobile Network Awards 2021 survey but the data we did get pointed towards good feedback on both customer satisfaction and value for money.

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iD Mobile review: Customer service

For similar reasons, we don’t have a full set of figures for customer service, and the same goes for Ofcom’s latest annual customer survey. What we do know is that iD has fewer customers with a reason to complain than most other networks, at just 5%, although the number of Ofcom complaints per 100,000 subscribers – 16 – is a little higher than the average. Still, iD fares better than Three, Virgin and Vodafone on both counts, and average call waiting times are lower, too.

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iD Mobile review: Coverage and connection speeds

If iD Mobile has a weakness, it’s performance. It operates as a virtual network using Three as a host, and the latest research from RootMetrics puts Three behind Vodafone and EE for UK-wide median download speeds, with 19.1Mbits/sec against Vodafone’s 25.2Mbits/sec and EE’s epic 58.8Mbits/sec.

However, there are signs that Three is improving. Where median download speeds of under 20Mbits/sec were found in 13 areas in the previous set of tests, they were found in only four during the newest tests, while three areas hit median download speeds of 30Mbits/sec or more – a big improvement given no area managed this in previous tests. Using iD Mobile doesn’t necessarily mean a slow connection.

What’s more, Three has real potential when it comes to 5G connectivity. Both availability and median everyday 5G download speeds are improved on Three’s results last year, with speeds of over 100Mbits/sec in six out of the UK’s largest cities, and Newcastle and London only miss out by a whisker. As more of us move over to 5G, iD Mobile should be well-equipped to give us better speeds, particularly as Three has invested in more of the available 5G spectrum than other operators.

As with our other results, we didn’t get enough survey data from iD Mobile customers to say anything definitive about reliability and performance but what feedback we did get was overwhelmingly positive. Even streaming audio and video, users seem to get a good experience.

Browse iD Mobile phone contracts

iD Mobile review: Roaming

All iD Mobile plans come with free inclusive roaming across the EU and the network hasn’t yet announced any plans to change that. Outside the EU, prices aren’t horrific in most regions. For instance, you’ll be charged £1.68 per minute to make calls and £1.50 to take them in Australia or the USA, while texts will cost 42p.

However, data is just 30p per megabyte, when some other networks will charge you £5 for the same amount. Three gives you free roaming across a wider range of destinations than iD Mobile, however, while EE, Vodafone and O2 can work out cheaper internationally if you buy a £5 or £6 daily add-on. iD isn’t the best option for frequent travellers.

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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, as you’d expect from a low-cost, no-frills option.

Browse iD Mobile phone contracts

iD Mobile review: Verdict

Connection speeds make a massive difference to some users and, if that’s you, you might want to think about budgeting for a pricier EE or Vodafone plan instead of signing up with iD. If you want value for money, however, then iD Mobile is a great choice, giving you plenty of data at attractively low rates, whether or not you buy a handset.

It’s up against stiff competition from Giffgaff, whose survey scores for value for money and customer service give it a slight edge but take a good look at the deals from both, as you’ll get excellent value either way.

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