Don’t expect many frills or features, but Talkmobile will give you whopping amounts of data for a low monthly cost
- Great deals on 30GB or more
- Good scores for service and satisfaction
- Excellent reliability
- Free EU roaming
- Restrictive ‘fair usage’ policy on roaming
- Average 5G speeds
The success of Voxi in this year’s Mobile Network Awards will be a cause for celebration for its owner, Vodafone, but it isn’t the only virtual network to be found in the brand’s portfolio. It also owns Talkmobile, another budget, no-frills network, one that was originally launched by Carphone Warehouse back in 2007 and sold to Vodafone in 2011. Based on Vodafone’s network but operated independently, it offers a range of 30-day and 12-month SIM-only deals that make up for their lack of features and extras through their extremely competitive prices. In fact, Talkmobile often undercuts Voxi and its rivals on other networks, such as Giffgaff or Smarty, with packages that give you 30GB of data or more at a surprisingly low monthly cost.
Talkmobile makes its debut in this year’s awards and, while it doesn’t take home any of the main prizes, there’s some consolation in the high scores it received across the board, as well as a Highly Commended for Reliability. Over 81% of users told our survey that they were likely or very likely to recommend Talkmobile to a friend and, while that doesn’t put it up there with the no-frills favourites, Smarty, Voxi and Giffgaff – all scoring over 90% – it’s still a good indication that the network is doing something right.
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Talkmobile review: What do you get?
Talkmobile keeps things simple with a choice of 30-day and 12-month SIM-only contracts, with the 12-month contracts giving you more data for your money, along with some higher-data plans. Talkmobile rivals Giffgaff as a network for generous low-cost deals. Even on its cheapest 12-month deal, £6.95/mth gives you 6GB to work with, but step up to the £9.95 plan and you’re looking at 60GB, or for just £2 more than that you’ll get 120GB. The £15/200GB package is also brilliant value, giving you more data than either Smarty or iD Mobile at the same price.
There are no extras or rollover features, but if you’re simply looking to get the most data you can at a specific price point, you should definitely check out what Talkmobile has to offer.
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The network doesn’t really go in for phones on pay-monthly contracts, with only a small selection of handsets available to existing users on 12-month contracts. If you’re looking for a cheap phone deal, rather than SIM-only, you’ll be better served by iD Mobile or Tesco Mobile.
The crucial thing is that Talkmobile’s customers rate it highly when it comes to value. Over 87% are satisfied with their plan’s value for money, and only 2% are dissatisfied. Only Voxi, Smarty, Giffgaff and Lebara have better results.
Talkmobile review: Customer service
Talkmobile’s customer service is above average, according to our survey. Over 63% of users told us they were satisfied or very satisfied with their service and support, with just 2% dissatisfied. While that doesn’t put the network in contention with Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile for our Customer Service award, it doesn’t leave it far behind either.
As with most of the other no-frills networks – such as Voxi and Smarty – Ofcom doesn’t currently publish any figures for Talkmobile in its annual customer service and satisfaction report.
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Talkmobile review: Coverage, reliability and speed
Talkmobile runs its virtual network on top of Vodafone’s infrastructure, giving you roughly the same coverage and performance that you would find on Vodafone or Voxi. The most recent figures from RootMetrics place Vodafone third out of the four major UK networks when it comes to connection speeds, with a UK-wide median download speed of 29.4Mbits/sec, behind Three at 34.7Mbits/sec and EE at 65.1Mbits.sec. 4G coverage is within reach of over 99% of the UK population.
Meanwhile, its 5G coverage is improving. Services extend to over 160 UK towns and cities, and RootMetrics found Vodafone reached median 5G download speeds of over 100MBits/sec in 15 out of the 16 UK cities where the research firm tests. EE and Three are faster, but there’s potential for Vodafone’s prospective merger with Three to benefit Talkmobile, too.
Users don’t have any issues with Talkmobile’s speeds or reliability: 81.6% told our survey they were satisfied with the strength of their signal, while nearly three-quarters of users (73.5%) said they frequently or often had a fast enough signal for web browsing, and 60% said the same about audio streaming. Over half of the users we surveyed said they frequently or often had fast enough speeds for video streaming. While Voxi scored slightly better results overall, Talkmobile’s scores put it in contention with Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile for the Highly Commended in our Reliability award, where its high scores for audio and video streaming helped it seize the honours.
Talkmobile review: Roaming
Unlike Vodafone and Voxi, Talkmobile includes free EU roaming with all its plans. However, it comes with a tight ‘fair usage’ policy that limits your allowance to just 5GB/mth while you’re abroad. As another plus, roaming costs outside the EU aren’t too expensive; most calls in popular destinations are charged at £1.01 per minute to make and 41p to receive, and texts are 35p to send while free to receive. Even data isn’t hideously expensive, at just 10p per MB.
However, outside these travel hotspots, costs can rise significantly, reaching £2 per minute, 35p per text and £7.50 per MB in the most expensive zones.
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Talkmobile review: Other features, services and spending caps
Talkmobile doesn’t offer much in the way of extra features, though it does support Wi-Fi calling on its plans. You can set a spending cap – dubbed a Spend Limit – using the website or the network’s online chat.
Talkmobile review: Verdict
Talkmobile is the very essence of a basic no-frills service, but it’s hard to argue with the value of its packages. You can score a lot of data for a low monthly price, and even more if you’re prepared to commit for 12 months. Its customer support seems solid, while speeds and reliability are exactly where they need to be. Signing up to Voxi will get you extra perks and features, but Talkmobile is a great alternative if you prefer to keep things cheap and simple.