While it comes away with fewer awards this year, Sky Mobile is still a mobile network to be reckoned with
- Strong customer service and satisfaction
- Piggyback rollover feature
- Good 5G performance with scope for improvement
- Allowance-free streaming through Sky apps
- Not the fastest connection speeds
- No unlimited or massive data deals
Sky has had two years of success in the Expert Reviews Mobile Network Awards, picking up wins in every category in the 2021 awards, then going on to take two Highly Commendeds and the Best Customer Service Award in 2022. This year hasn’t been so successful, but it still wins a Highly Commended for its Customer Service and comes close to winning another in the Best 5G category.
The lack of prizes doesn’t reflect any serious decline in Sky Mobile’s services or standards – it’s still one of the highest-scoring networks across all categories in this year’s survey, with over 76% of its customers stating that they would be likely to recommend it to a friend. Admittedly, that’s lower than the 85% it scored last year, but it’s still higher than many of the other major UK networks, including O2, EE, Three and Vodafone.
Sky Mobile review: What do you get?
While most mobile networks seem obsessed with giving you a convoluted range of plans, Sky keeps things nice and simple. Its £5/100MB data plan is one of the cheapest out there, even if it’s hard to imagine anyone not needing more. From there, plans go from a basic £8/4GB package to a £26/75GB plan. What’s more, all these plans currently offer double data, so you’re actually getting 150GB for that £26. That keeps Sky Mobile competitive with most of the big networks, if not the ultra-cheap no-frills guys. Just be aware that Sky doesn’t offer Unlimited deals, or even any deals that go above 150GB per month.
On top of this, Sky Mobile has some useful extra features. All plans include a ‘Piggybank’ rollover feature, where any unused data from your monthly allowance can be banked for use up to three years later. Meanwhile, Sky TV subscribers can stream video from the Sky Go, Sky Store and Sky News apps without eating into their monthly allowance.
If you’re in the market for a new phone, Sky has an interesting approach: you can buy on a 24-month or 36-month contract, but swap to a new phone and contract after 12 or 24 months, with no extra early upgrade charge. You have a contract for the phone and pay for a data plan on top, with this coming in at the same price as the SIM-only deals, or even with an extra discount.
This sometimes makes Sky a good choice for new phones, but you have to watch the term length. For example, buy an iPhone 15 and you’ll pay £26 per month for the first two years, then £23.25 per month for an additional year, representing a total interest-free payment of £903 over the full term. On top of this, you’ll need to pay for your SIM, costing between £8 and £26 a month. Even with the current double data deal, you’re looking at £46 per month for 100GB of data over the first two years, and you’ll still owe £279 during the third year, or whatever new payment you agree to sign up to for a new phone. That will still work out cheaper than the equivalent deals from O2, Vodafone or EE, but going with iD Mobile or Three might cost you less.
Regardless, Sky Mobile’s customers have few quibbles when it comes to value for money, with over 82% satisfied or very satisfied on this score. That’s not quite high enough to put it in contention for our Best Value award with Smarty and Voxi, but it does put Sky Mobile at the head of the chasing pack.
Sky Mobile review: Customer service
Tesco Mobile takes home this year’s award for Customer Service, but Sky Mobile isn’t far behind. Nearly 69% of the Sky customers we surveyed told us they were satisfied or very satisfied with the level of customer support, with 36% of users very satisfied.
The most recent customer service and satisfaction research from Ofcom is also complimentary: Sky has above average scores for overall customer satisfaction and satisfaction with how complaints are handled, while it has lower than average numbers for call waiting times and complaints per 100,000 subscribers. It’s worth noting, though, that Sky has had more customers with a reason to complain than last year, with a higher-than-average 14%. Here, at least, Tesco Mobile, EE and Giffgaff look slightly better.
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Sky Mobile review: Coverage, reliability and speed
Sky Mobile operates as a virtual network running on top of O2. For this reason, it’s not going to be the fastest option in many areas. RootMetrics’ most recent research places O2 fourth of the big four mobile networks, with a UK-wide median download speed of 15.5Mbits/sec. To put that in perspective, third-placed Vodafone has a median download speed of 29.4Mbits/sec, while the top-ranked EE can boast median download speeds of over 65Mbits/sec.
All the same, O2 is improving, with improved 5G speeds in 10 of the 16 cities where RootMetrics runs intensive 5G rests, and improved coverage in 12. As more 5G services roll out, we should see speeds lift across the UK.
Crucially, the majority of Sky Mobile customers don’t seem to feel they’re being held back by poor reliability or low speeds: 71.6% of users told our survey that they were satisfied with their signal strength. A very credible 54% said they always had or often had a fast enough connection for streaming audio, while 42% said the same of streaming video.
Only when it came to basic web browsing did Sky Mobile start to fall behind. Where the likes of Giffgaff, Talkmobile and ID Mobile had 80% of respondents saying their connection was consistently fast enough, only 68% said the same of Sky. However, Sky bounces back on 5G performance, with 68% of the network’s 5G users satisfied with what they’re getting – the third highest percentage after Smarty and Giffgaff.
Sky Mobile review: Roaming
Sky Mobile no longer offers free EU roaming. Instead, you’re expected to spend £2 every 24 hours on its Roaming Passport Plus. On the plus side, this also extends to the USA, Australia and a range of other popular destinations, and it might work out cheaper than paying the roaming charges on some other networks. However, where the Roaming Passport Plus isn’t supported, roaming can get pretty costly, at between 72p per minute, 14p per text and 36p per MB all the way up to £2.16 per minute, 50p per text and £2.16 per MB.
Sky Mobile review: Other features, services and spending caps
Being able to stream programmes and movies through Sky’s apps without using your allowance is a real bonus for Sky TV subscribers, though you need to have 50MB of data left in your allowance. You can also sign up multiple family members under one account, and then share the contents of your Piggybank around. To help manage costs, Sky also offers spending caps, with the option to have a different cap for each Sky Mobile SIM.
READ NEXT: iD Mobile review
Sky Mobile review: Verdict
Sky Mobile hasn’t managed to equal its 2021 Mobile Network Awards triumph, but it’s still one of the best of the more traditional networks, particularly if you’re looking for a network with family features or you’re an existing Sky TV subscriber. There are signs that it needs to do a little work to maintain its excellent customer service, while performance and coverage should improve as O2’s 5G network rolls out further. But, given that Sky is already getting good feedback on its 5G speeds, the best may still be yet to come.