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Tesco Mobile Review 2022: Low-cost network with O2 Coverage and Free Data!

Tesco may be the UK’s largest supermarket but they also have over 5 million mobile customers. Half Cooked gives you the full breakdown below.

Latest Offer: 100GB £17.50 p/m!

Tesco Mobile is offering a great deal with 100GB of data for just £17.50 a month w/ Clubcard perks. The O2 powered network offers unlimited minutes & texts, access to 5G and EU roaming at this great price!

What is Tesco mobile?

Tesco Mobile is a low-cost mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with over 5 million customers. The mobile network provider is a joint venture between Tesco and Telefónica O2 that launched way back in 2003.

The carrier offers pay monthly 5G and 4G SIM contracts coupled with unlimited UK minutes and texts; and other extras such as Tesco Clubcard points. You can also get your hands on the latest smartphones with the network’s pay monthly phone deals.

If you want a contract-free deal, Tesco Mobile provides a choice of PAYG bundles dubbed as Rocket Packs as well as a traditional pay as you go service.

Their price plans are competitive and offer great value. However, unlike most other UK carriers, Tesco Mobile doesn’t have call quality and coverage improving perks such as WiFi Calling & 4G Calling.

Pro's

  • High value deals with Tesco Mobile Clubcard
  • Competitive prices, great value SIM Only deals
  • 5G at no extra cost
  • A wide range of PAYG options
  • Decent Family Perks
  • Frozen prices throughout the contract

Con's

  • No 4G Calling or WiFi Calling
  • No data rollover
  • Slowest average 4G speeds

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at Tesco Mobile’s SIM-only plans, network coverage & data speeds. We’ll also cover the differences between O2 and Tesco Mobile, plus what extras you can get your hands on as a Tesco Mobile customer.

Network Coverage & Data Speeds

Tesco Mobile 4G Coverage

Tesco Mobile is powered by the O2 Network, this means both networks’ customers get identical network coverage and data speeds; there are no secret speed caps or restrictions. O2 provides over 99% UK coverage, but landmass coverage is more important since every single mobile network in the UK offers 99% population coverage. While O2 outperforms Three in this area, EE & Vodafone have better geographical coverage than O2.

Tesco Mobile’s SIM only contracts last for either 12-months or 24-months, this means you must make sure you’re okay with being tied to the carrier. Cancelling your contract can be a painful task and you may end up having to pay a fee for cancelling early.

You can test the waters first by opting for a Tesco Mobile PAYG SIM only plan. Tesco Mobile’s PAYG service requires no credit checks, so you can just quit the network if you’re unhappy with their service or switch to pay monthly if you’re happy. Switching to Tesco Mobile while keeping your phone number is quite easy. Just get your PAC number from your current provider and pass it on to Tesco Mobile, they’ll handle the rest.

Tesco Mobile 4G Speeds

Tesco Mobile’s provider O2 has the slowest average 4G download and upload speeds, per Opensignal and OOKLA. The latest test results show O2 and its MVNOs as the worst option in terms of 4G speeds.

In Opensignal’s September 2021 report O2’s average 4G download speed is measured at 17.1Mbps and upload speed is at 5.4Mbps. Of course, the data speeds depend on many factors and your experience may differ greatly, for better or worse.

As for online mobile gaming, the network is a decent choice if you have access to Tesco Mobile 5G. Tesco Mobile 4G isn’t reliable enough for online gaming, especially for competitive/ranked matches.

Tesco 5G Coverage

Tesco Mobile has the second most 5G UK coverage with 164 cities and towns covered in the UK. The competition for 5G coverage is fierce between EE, Three and O2 (Tesco’s provider). If your area has Tesco 5G we strongly recommend giving the carrier a chance. Once you experience 5G data speeds, 4G will feel sluggish and you won’t want to return. Plus, all Tesco Mobile SIM only contracts include 5G at no extra cost.

As always, we strongly recommend you use the network’s coverage map before you sign a contract with them. In order to enjoy super-fast 5G download speeds from Tesco Mobile, you’ll also need a 5G handset. Tesco’s PAYG deals don’t have 5G yet.

Tesco 5G Data Speeds

Tesco Mobile 5G is significantly faster than 4G, and it’s currently available in nearly 200 cities and towns across the UK. Per Open Signal, Tesco Mobile has the second fastest 5G service.

Per Opensignal, O2’s average 5G download speeds are around 111Mbps, and its 5G upload speeds average around 9.3Mbps. These speeds can support multiple heavy data activities simultaneously without any hiccups.

WiFi Calling and 4G Calling

Unfortunately, Tesco Mobile customers don’t get to enjoy these two core features that improve voice calls and network coverage drastically. Having said that, we expect Tesco Mobile to offer these key perks eventually.

Normally, 4G doesn’t support voice calling, it is a data transfer system and in order to make calls, your handset must switch to a 2G or 3G cell to make a call. 4G Calling allows phone calls to be carried over 4G, meaning your phone won’t drop down to 3G or 2G to make calls. You must make sure your smartphone supports 4G Calling and also enable it.
WiFi Calling lets you make and receive voice and video calls over a Wi-Fi connection. It means your device won’t be using a cellular connection, but an available WiFi connection. If your device is connected to reliable and fast WiFi, your voice call quality will improve drastically.

Personal Hotspot

Tesco Mobile allows customers to share their mobile data. All you need to do is to turn on your phone’s hotspot feature and connect compatible devices to it. Keep in mind though, tethering to other devices will result in burning through data at a much faster rate, even if you’re not actively using it. There are a few unlimited data plans available on Tesco Mobile, and the network claims they’re truly unlimited as long as it’s for personal use.

If you’re planning to tether regularly make sure to check how much data you use after each tethering session.

International Roaming

Tesco Mobile SIMs are already set up to work whilst abroad. Tesco Mobile’s EU roaming scheme is dubbed as Home From Home. When you’re roaming in one of the 48 destinations the network supports, you can use your phone just like you do at home at no extra cost. Tesco Mobile says they’ll continue supporting their free-roaming feature despite Brexit.

Features

Tesco Clubcard Plus

This feature is great for regular Tesco customers. Tesco lets you collect 1 Clubcard point for every £1 you spend on your Tesco Mobile bill. You also get double the value of your Clubcard vouchers, if you spend them at Tesco Mobile. Just convert your Clubcard vouchers into Tesco Mobile partner vouchers in the Clubcard app or on the Clubcard website.

You’ll also get double data on all SIM only contracts and you can save up to £40 in-store at Tesco.

Tesco Family Perks

Getting the family onto Tesco Mobile can help you save a little more each month and you can also enjoy other benefits while saving. To be eligible for Tesco Mobile’s Family Perks, you’ll need more than one plan on your account. Each family member can choose their own free monthly perk that suits them.

The amount you get in each perk depends on your monthly tariff price. Your Family Perk is free every month & you can also switch to a new perk after your old one expires.

Tesco Anytime Upgrade

If you’re planning to purchase a new phone from Tesco Mobile, you can have your mobile phone contract tailored specifically for you. The network will allow you to change your tariff any time (up or down, up to you), by splitting your phone bill and airtime bill.

Recommend a Friend

Bring friends and family to Tesco Mobile and you’ll both get up to £20 off your bill. The best part is, this includes their family mobile plan too. The extra lines you have on the same account can get you a discount.

Frozen Prices

The other mobile networks in the UK hike up their customers’ bills mid-contract, but Tesco Mobile won’t do that. You don’t need to worry about price changes mid-contract with Tesco Mobile. Tesco Mobile’s prices are frozen throughout your contract. This of course doesn’t apply to their PAYG SIM deals and bundles.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

Tesco Mobile is a decent network, but they have a few shortcomings. Our main concern is despite having weaker 4G than most of their competitors, their plans don’t provide 4G Calling or WiFi Calling. Also, some of their SIM-only deals are on the expensive side compared to most other MVNOs.

However, if you’re a regular Tesco customer, picking up a Tesco Mobile SIM can save you a considerable amount of money. Plus, all the extras, perks, and benefits add great value to your SIM only plans.

We give Tesco Mobile 4 stars out of 5 and strongly recommend it, provided your area is decently covered and you have a Tesco Club Card that you use actively.

FAQ

Does Tesco Mobile have 5G?

Yes, Tesco Mobile offers 5G SIM only and phone plans. The network uses O2’s 5G network.

Does Tesco Mobile offer 4G Calling/VoLTE?

No, Tesco Mobile customers don’t get 4G Calling (a.k.a. VoLTE).

Does Tesco Mobile offer Wi-Fi Calling?

Sadly, no. Tesco Mobile doesn’t offer Wİ-Fi Calling to their customer, at least not at the moment.

Is O2 faster than Tesco?

No, O2 and Tesco Mobile have identical download and upload speeds. The same applies to their network coverage for both 5G and 4G.

Do I have to pass a credit check to join O2?

Only if you’re applying for a mobile phone contract or a pay monthly contract. Tesco Mobile’s pay as you go plans are commitment-free.

Does Tesco have a family mobile plan?

Yes, you can add extra lines to your account and manage all of them in one place. You get free perks every month and you can save a significant amount of money, if you’re using their family/friends deals.

Does Tesco Mobile have data rollover?

No, Tesco Mobile customers don’t get a second chance to use their leftover data.

Do I need a Tesco Club Card to get a Tesco Mobile SIM only plan?

No, anyone can purchase a Tesco Mobile SIM tariff, but having a Tesco Club Card gets you more data and extra perks that add great value to your plan. You can also save up to £40 when shopping at Tesco.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Half Cooked’s overall rating for Tesco Mobile