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Sky Mobile review: Scooping up all the awards

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
6
Starting at

Dominating our Mobile Network Awards, Sky Mobile is the network to beat

Pros 
Great low-data SIM-only deals
The best data rollover features
Strong integration with Sky apps and TV
Excellent customer service, satisfaction and support
Cons 
Connection speeds could be faster
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We’ve long regarded Sky Mobile as one of the better UK mobile networks, particularly if you already subscribe to its TV, phone and broadband packages. Yet we were still surprised by Sky’s performance in our 2021 Mobile Network Awards, not to mention bowled over by how strongly its customers have recommended it.

Sky leads the way in every awards category, including value for money and customer service, and 96% of its customers would advise someone else to sign up. Throw in the best figures of any network for reliability and performance, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Sky is delivering exactly what its users want, making it the winner of our Best Overall Mobile Network award. 

READ NEXT: BT Mobile review

Sky Mobile review: What do you get?

Sky gives existing subscribers some pretty good reasons to sign up for Sky Mobile but, these days, it’s also a good option if you don’t, as non-Sky subscribers are no longer charged for calls and texts. Sky has some great deals on 12-month SIM-only plans, whether you’re a big data user or your needs are a little more modest. You can have 2GB of monthly data for just £6, or 8GB for £10, putting Sky right up against Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and iD Mobile when it comes to cracking low-cost plans.

And while the high data plans aren’t always so competitive, with 30GB for £20 a month or 60GB for £30, Sky often slashes the prices of these so keep an eye out. Sky is rolling out 5G services, at no extra cost above the 4G plans. We’ve listed Sky’s current SIM-only packages below:

Monthly fee (12 months)

Data

Texts

Minutes

2GB

£6

2GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

8GB

£10

8GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

12GB

£12

12GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

20GB

£12

20GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

30GB

£20

30GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

60GB

£30

60GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

Browse Sky Mobile phone contracts


If you’re after a new handset, Sky has its own way of doing things that might work in your favour. You can buy your phone on a 24-month or 36-month contract, and you can 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 often less. It’s pretty clear what you’re paying for the phone and what you’re paying for the service, and you can get some very attractive deals.

For instance, you can have an iPhone 12 with 30GB of data for £42 a month over two years plus £99 up front, making for a total cost of £1,107. That’s one of the best deals on this handset. However, it always pays to shop around. A Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G with the same allowance costs £46 a month with nothing up front, or under £1,104 all in. That’s not bad, although Three and Virgin Mobile are even cheaper.

Sky Mobile also has a handful of extra features that might sway your decision. For example, it has a “Piggybank” feature, where any spare data left at the end of the month is banked, where it stays for up to three years. You can cash in your unused data for money off a new phone or just hold it back for when you need it. You can also sign up other family members under the same account, then share any unused allowance around; a great benefit if you’re kitting out the whole household with contracts.

Finally, Sky has a bonus for anyone who subscribes to Sky TV and Broadband. As long as you use Sky’s apps to stream TV, sports or movies, you can do so through the Sky Mobile network with the data not counting against your monthly allowance. If you like to stream while travelling (UK only, alas, as of 1 January 2021) or when you’re just out of the house, you can watch what you like without busting through your data cap.

All this helps to explain why Sky’s customers are nearly all delighted with the value of their service: 79% are very satisfied and a further 17% satisfied, and there wasn’t a single dissatisfied user on this front. No other network even got close to this result, handing Sky Mobile our Best Value award. 

READ NEXT: EE review

Sky Mobile review: Customer service

Sky pulls off a similar achievement in the Best Customer Service category, with 65% of its customers very satisfied with the level of support and 34% satisfied, putting it head and shoulders above runners-up Tesco Mobile and Giffgaff, let alone EE, Vodafone and Three.

And while Ofcom’s latest figures don’t give us a full set of results for Sky, we do know that only 5% of customers had any reason to complain, and that only three complaints about Sky emerged for every 100,000 subscribers – both below average (in a good way) results.

Browse Sky Mobile phone contracts


Sky Mobile review: Coverage, reliability and speed

Sky doesn’t operate its own network. Instead, like Tesco Mobile and Giffgaff, it runs a virtual network over O2’s infrastructure, which means it has the exact same strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance as O2.

This isn’t a bad thing when it comes to coverage. O2 now delivers a 4G signal to over 99% of the UK population and only really struggles in remote coastal areas and some Scottish Islands and Highlands areas. That’s according to the latest data from RootMetrics, which also scores O2 highly for the reliability of its data connections.

O2 struggles more when it comes to connection speeds; its UK-wide median download speed – 15.6Mbits/sec – is still the slowest of the four major networks. That said, performance has improved since RootMetrics’ last round of testing, with two more UK cities showing median download speeds of over 30Mbits/sec, and four fewer registering median download speeds of below 20Mbits/sec, so Sky Mobile won’t necessarily feel slow in use.

In fact, our results say the opposite. 98% of Sky Mobile users said they had adequate speeds for web browsing and social media and 94% said the same for audio streaming. An impressive 87% could stream video without any problems, putting Sky on a par with Giffgaff and ahead of O2, Vodafone, Three and even EE. In RootMetrics’ more scientific testing, EE is streets ahead of O2, but the comparative lack of performance doesn’t seem to be a problem for Sky Mobile users.

There’s also good news if you’re thinking of switching to a 5G phone. O2 registered three of the five fastest “Everyday 5G” median download speeds in RootMetrics’ latest tests, with speeds of 163.3Mbits/sec to 179.3Mbits/sec in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leicester. Availability is also improving across and outside the UK’s 16 biggest cities, although it still lags behind EE, Three and Vodafone in eight of the 16 metro areas where RootMetrics runs its tests.

Go for EE or Vodafone if speed is your be-all and end-all, but Sky Mobile has the potential to deliver a good 5G experience as it rolls out across the UK.

Browse Sky Mobile phone contracts


Sky Mobile review: Roaming

EU roaming is a real plus for Sky Mobile, and Sky recently confirmed that it doesn’t plan to charge extra now the UK has left the EU. You can use your data, calls and text allowances within 30 EU and EEA destinations at no extra cost, although, disappointingly, streaming is now blocked due to Brexit.

What’s more, Sky covers a further ten destinations through its Roaming Passport Plus programme. This gives you your inclusive data, calls and texts in those destinations, which include Australia, Canada, Turkey, Thailand and the USA.

Outside those areas, charges vary. Calls cost anywhere between 96p per minute and £2.16, while data costs can rise as high as £2.16 per megabyte. Sky Mobile isn’t the cheapest network for international roaming, so frequent travellers might want to look elsewhere.

READ NEXT: Vodafone review

Sky Mobile review: Other services and spending caps

Sky’s integration of TV and mobile services extends to having Sky Go Extra bundled in. You can register up to six devices and swap in a new device at any time, then stream to up to four devices simultaneously without any impact on your data allowance.

There is one caveat: ads shown before or during video-on-demand content will use up your precious data. All the same, this shouldn’t amount to a lot of data unless you’re streaming all day long.

Sky also supports spending caps, and you can have a different cap for every SIM attached to your account. The network will send notifications as you near your cap, and you can shift it up or down at any time online.

Browse Sky Mobile phone contracts


Sky Mobile review: Verdict

Sky Mobile has always been an attractive option for Sky Broadband and TV subscribers, but if the results of our Mobile Network Awards survey tell us anything, it’s that you should take a good look at Sky even if it’s the only Sky service you’ll be using.

True, other networks are a little cheaper on high data SIM-only deals and the latest smartphones, but Sky’s features can still tip the balance in its favour, and it’s hard to beat for value. Go elsewhere for the best performance and 5G coverage or if you’re trying to minimise your costs, but if it’s all about the all-round bundle, put Sky Mobile at the top of your list.

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