Tesco Mobile Review 2019: Free data, money off or Clubcard points for families!

Tesco may be the UK’s largest supermarket but they also have over 5 million mobile customers. Winning awards such as uSwitch 2018 best mobile customer service award and running on the reliable O2 network, Half Cooked looks at all aspects of their network and gives you the breakdown.

May 19th, 2019

Pro’s

  • Reliable coverage with the O2 network
  • uSwitch network for best customer service
  • Family plan perks such as money off, free data and Tesco Club Card points

 

Con’s

  • No data rollover of any unused data
  • Poor PAYG deals
  • 4G speeds behind some of their competitors

 

Half Cooked’s overall rating for Tesco Mobile: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Summary

Tesco Mobile Logo

 

Tesco Mobile gets a lot of the basics right. Tesco Mobile runs on the O2 network providing their customers with 99% population coverage and they keep their customers happy, with the fewest complaints out of the networks.

They also offer great perks such as free data & money off your bill for any families sharing an account. Half Cooked gives Tesco 4 stars as they are still lacking behind some of the competitors in terms of the data speeds they offer. Tesco Mobile also doesn’t have a data rollover scheme which is becoming commonplace across the networks.

Click here to go direct to Tesco Mobile’s website and see their latest SIM offers.

Skip to the Half Cooked breakdown to find out how Tesco Mobile performed in each of our main categories by clicking here

Otherwise read on for our full review or skip to a specific section by choosing from the table of contents below.

Table of Contents

1. Network Coverage & Speeds

2. Voice Call Quality

3. Tethering

4. International Roaming

5. Wi-Fi Calling & Wi-Fi Hotspots

6. Data Rollover

7. Multi Buy Discounts/ Family Plans

8. Spending Caps

9. Other Perks

10. Sim Deals & Phone Contracts

11. Half Cooked Overall Breakdown

Network Basics

Network Coverage & Data Speeds 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Tesco Mobile Network Coverage

Tesco Mobile runs on the O2 network, this means as a Tesco Mobile customer you will be getting identical coverage to an O2 customer. However, prior to purchasing we recommend checking out the Tesco Mobile coverage checker on their website.

O2 has around 99% population coverage for its combined 4G & 3G network – meaning you will be covered almost anywhere in the UK. Their great coverage is supported by the fact they won the uSwitch 2018 mobile award for best network coverage. O2’s recent investment in expanding their network has paid off with coverage improving in 2018.

Data speeds however are not as impressive. Looking at Open Signal results for H2 2018, O2 is tracking behind EE & Three in terms of data speeds with an average download speed on 4G of 15 MB/s vs EE who leads the way with 28MB/s.

Voice Call Quality 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

To consider the call quality on Tesco Mobile, we need to look at O2’s performance. You won’t have any issues making a call with a Tesco Mobile SIM, however certain elements of the call quality on the O2 network means that it is tracking behind its competitors.

In recent call quality tests run by P3 communications, O2 came last out of the major operators with a score of ‘satisfactory’. The main reason for O2’s poor performance in these tests were issues around connection times and audio clarity. But we don’t believe this should make or break any decision when purchasing a Tesco Mobile SIM.

Tethering 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Tesco Mobile Tethering

Tethering is turning your mobile device into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot which in turn allows your data to be used by other Wi-Fi devices to access the internet.

Occasionally you find networks will limit tethering as it can tend to use up network capacity. If customers are heavily using their data, this then slows down the network for other users.

Tesco Mobile however provide no limit on tethering to its customers. Regardless of what plan you are on you can use your total data allowance when tethering.  However, with you likely to burn through your data more quickly, we recommend checking Tesco Mobiles out of plan data charges.

International Roaming 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Tesco Mobile International Roaming

Tesco Mobile has the basics covered with roaming in 48 EU destinations free of charge to customers. This is however part of the EU roaming regulation changes that came into effect in the summer of 2017 and is now offered by all pay monthly UK network providers that have roaming.

Beyond this, you won’t be getting any additional countries included as part of your plan and you will have to pay per minute, text or MB of data used abroad in other destinations. We still rate Three’s Go Roam proposition as the best in the market with over 70 destinations with inclusive roaming.

Wi-Fi Calling & Wi-Fi Hotspots 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

Wi-Fi calling allows customers to place calls and send texts using wireless networks instead of using their 3G/4G network. This gives customers the opportunity to make calls even when they have no network access.

This is not currently offered to Tesco Mobile customers despite being available on the O2 network.

There are also no Wi-Fi hotspots exclusively available to Tesco Mobile customers. We don’t consider this a big issue with many public locations such as restaurants, bars & shopping centres now offering Wi-Fi hotspots free of charge.

Data Rollover 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

Tesco Mobile Data Rollover

Data rollover means you can roll your unused data from one month to the next. For e.g. if you have a 3GB plan and only use 2GB the following month you will have 4GB as the extra 1GB would be rolled over and added to your allowance.

Data rollover is not offered to Tesco Mobile customers – any data not used by the end of the month is lost.

Some of the better offers in the market include Sky Mobile who offer data rollover for up to 3 years and SMARTY Mobile who offer money off your next bill for any unused data.

Multi Buy Discounts/ Family Plans 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Tesco Mobile Multi Buy Discounts

Some networks are now offering customers discounts on any additional SIM or phone contract purchases they make to incentivise people to sign up their family & friends.

Tesco Mobile do a decent job when it comes to their family plans with their ‘Family Perks’ scheme. Multiple plans can be added to a single account and as a result any of these plans then get a choice of an additional perk which can be extra data, minutes, money off your bill or club card points.

The more you are paying, the greater the discount you get. You can check out the Tesco Mobile site to see all these perks.

Spending Caps 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Tesco Mobile Spending Caps

Networks have begun to introduce spending caps to help customers avoid nasty bill shocks. Tesco Mobile were the first network to offer spending caps to all their SIM only and phone customers – called capped contracts.

Tesco Mobiles spending cap can be set anywhere from £2.50 to £40 a month. If you hit your spending limit, services that have an additional cost are then blocked, however anything free is still allowed.

Other Perks 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

Tesco Mobile Other Perks

With the mobile market becoming saturated with a number of new networks, some of these operators are trying to differentiate themselves by offering non-traditional perks.

Inclusive entertainment subscriptions are one such perk that is now being offered to customers. EE for example, provide access to the BT sport app and Apple Music, saving customers cash on two premium subscription services. Unfortunately, there is nothing currently offered to Tesco Mobile customers.

Free data streaming is another perk offered by networks such as Three with their Go Binge proposition. This offers unlimited streaming on popular apps such as Netflix. Again, this is something not offered by Tesco Mobile.

These perks aren’t common among the cheaper virtual networks, this is so they can offer competitive pricing on their SIM and phone deals.

Sky Mobile offers customers access to unlimited free streaming of multiple Sky TV channels right from their device, to learn more check out our Sky Mobile Review

Sim Deals & Phone Contracts

Tesco Mobile has 9 different SIM only deals available to customers. The majority of these are 12 month contracts with only 3 different 1 month contracts available. Data allowances start at 250 MB for the entry price point of £7.50 and rise to 50GB for the top end SIM only plan which comes at a cost of £35. The minutes and texts also vary on each of these plans which can be seen on Tesco Mobiles website.

In terms of handsets Tesco Mobile stocks a large range, from budget handsets, all the way to your flagships models from the likes of Apple & Samsung.

The majority of Tesco Mobiles contracts are on ‘Anytime Upgrade’ with only a few budget handsets available on a traditional 24 month contract. The ‘Anytime Upgrade’ contracts work by splitting the handset and airtime of your SIM (minutes, texts & data) into two separate monthly payments. This perk provides flexibility to customers to be able to pay off their handsets, however the phone contract is effectively a loan which makes it more difficult to get accepted.

There are two options for Tesco Mobile PAYG customers. The first are ‘Rocket Pack’s which are bundles with a monthly set  of data, minutes and texts. For a £10 Rocket Pack you get 3GB of data, 500 minutes and 5000 texts. The other option is triple credit, when you top up £10 for example you get £20 of free credit. Calls start from 25p a minute and data at 10p per MB which is on the pricey end.

Click below to follow through to Tesco Mobile’s SIM only and Phone Contracts.

Half Cooked Overall Breakdown

Half Cooked’s overall rating for Tesco Mobile:

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Tesco Mobile Review

 

  • Network Coverage and Speeds 3 out of 5 stars – Running on the O2 network with 99% 4G coverage you will always be covered, but data speeds drop off behind the likes of EE & Three.
  • Voice Call Quality 3 out of 5 stars – P3 Comms rated voice call quality as ‘Satisfactory’ tracking behind all the other major operators.
  • Tethering 4 out of 5 stars – No limit to tethering on any of Tesco Mobile’s plans.
  • International Roaming 3 out of 5 stars – Get the standard 48 EU destinations included but nothing offered beyond this.
  • Wi-Fi Calling & Wi-Fi Hotspots 1 out of 5 stars– No Wi-Fi calling or hotspots exclusively available to Tesco Mobile customers.
  • Data Rollover 1 out of 5 stars – No data rollover available, use all your data by the end of the month or lose it.
  • Multi Buy Discounts/ Family Plans 4 out of 5 stars– Tesco’s ‘Family Perks’ schemes gives customers a free perk such as additional data, money off your bill or club card points for each plan on an account.
  • Spending Caps 4 out of 5 stars – Set your spending limit from anywhere between £2.50 to £40 and avoid any nasty bill shocks.
  • Other Perks 1 out of 5 stars – Like many of the other virtual networks, there are no additional perks that are available on the larger networks.

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Tesco Mobile
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