Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 17.11
November 2011





Download ATPM 17.11

Choose a format:


by Mark Tennent,

Life Can Be So Cruel

iPhone Friday saw me at O2 checking out the new phones, and very nice they are, too. But where to get the best deals?

There are many comparison sites on the Net, including an excellent one at Yahoo Finance listing most of the deals. Their total cost of ownership is over 800 pounds for 24 months, but you are tied to one operator. One of my niggles is that I can’t use data when on holiday abroad. With an unlocked phone I can slip in a cheap foreign sim to take advantage of the local rates.

In the past six months I’ve used 60 minutes of talk time, 10MB of data, and 20 texts. As a broadband customer, Virgin has a deal for me at a penny under eleven pounds, offering a rolling monthly contract with 200 minutes, a gigabyte of data, and 5,000 text messages. How the hell you can use so many texts is beyond me. That’s writing a message every 8 seconds not including talking for 200 minutes and using the 3,000 minutes calling other Virgin Mobil customers. I suspect my daughter could use it all as she is polishing her finger nails.

The up-front cost of the Virgin deal is to buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple and getting Virgin’s standard sized SIM cut-down to a micro-SIM. That’s a pound in the local shop or buy a SIM-cutter online for less than a fiver. Then, in two years’ time when the iPhone 5S is released, I’ll sell my iPhone 4S for over a hundred pounds and get the next one.

Scattered around our studio we have various cell phones dating back to the 1990s. Most still work if we can find a charger, but apart from a tiny Samsung circa 2000, a personal favourite, they are all virtually worthless. I’ve already got a buyer for my iPhone 3GS.

Then I found Giffgaff, who looks very cheap, as in low cost, but there is still the feeling of “cheapness”. They are an O2 virtual provider, buying time wholesale and reselling it. Coverage will be good here and abroad, but they only have 16 paid staff and rely on their own customers to provide support.

In theory this sounds a good way to keep costs down, but in practice it means asking questions on an Internet forum and then sifting through the oh-so-helpful responses. Personally I prefer to ring “Sandy” in Mumbai and get an immediate answer. It’s also a hassle to keep buying PAYG top-ups and data bundles, or Goodie Bags as they call it. Currently there isn’t an automatic way to buy them. I’d be happy to pay a pound or so extra to have Giffgaff on a contract-style basis. Perhaps it’s too cheap for me?

Tesco mobile seems the lowest cost if I want to pay for another expensive monthly deal (no thanks), but for 24 months the TCO is still over 800 pounds. Unfortunately, their SIM-only deal is one of the more expensive even though, like Giffgaff, they are an O2 virtual supplier.

My next phone will be an iPhone, unless hell freezes over and I have switched to Linux or (shudder) Windows. I feel dirty just thinking about that last one. Anyway, it’s ordered now and due to arrive while I’m lying in a hospital bed for a couple of weeks, having my every whim pandered to by nubile nurses. Meanwhile, my new phone will sit unopened and unloved. Life can be so cruel.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (0)

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article