The Pros and Cons of SIM-Only Contracts- A Comprehensive Guide

As mobile phone usage continues to grow, so do the types of contracts and plans available to consumers. One increasingly popular option is the SIM-only contract. But what exactly are SIM-only contracts, and are they the right choice for you? This blog will explore the pros and cons of SIM-only contracts, provide a pricing comparison of available strategies in the UK, and offer insights to help you make an informed decision.

What Are SIM-Only Contracts?

SIM-only contracts are mobile phone plans that include only the SIM card and the associated service, without a bundled handset. This means you pay solely for the data, calls, and texts provided by the network operator, using your existing phone or a separately purchased handset.

What Are the Advantages of SIM-Only Contracts?

Cost Savings

One of the primary advantages of SIM-only contracts is the cost savings. Because these plans do not include the cost of a new phone, they are typically much cheaper than traditional contracts that bundle a handset. Consumers can find plans that suit their budget, ranging from basic packages to comprehensive ones with unlimited data and international calling options.


SIM-only contracts offer greater flexibility compared to traditional mobile contracts. Many providers offer one-month rolling contracts or 12-month contracts, allowing consumers to switch providers or plans with minimal commitment. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those who travel frequently or anticipate changes in their mobile usage needs.

Better Value for Money

SIM-only contracts often provide better value for money in terms of the amount of data, minutes, and texts offered. Since there is no phone subsidy to pay off, network operators can allocate more of your monthly payment to actual service provision. This can result in higher data allowances and more inclusive features compared to handset-inclusive plans of the same price.

Use of Existing Devices

For those who are satisfied with their current handset, SIM-only contracts are ideal. They allow consumers to avoid the waste and expense of purchasing a new phone and reduce electronic waste. Additionally, users can choose a phone model they prefer without being limited to the options provided by network carriers.

What Are the Disadvantages of SIM-Only Contracts?

Upfront Cost for a New Handset

If you do need a new phone, the upfront cost can be significant. Unlike traditional contracts where the cost of the handset is spread over the contract term, SIM-only contracts require you to buy the phone outright. This can be a substantial initial expense, especially for high-end smartphones.

No Subsidised Handsets

Traditional contracts often include subsidised handsets, meaning the cost of the phone is included in the monthly payments, making expensive phones more affordable on a monthly basis. With SIM-only contracts, there are no such subsidies, which might deter some consumers from purchasing new, high-cost devices.

Potential for Over-Estimating Needs

The flexibility and attractive pricing of SIM-only plans might lead some users to overestimate their needs, selecting plans with more data or features than necessary. This can result in paying more for services that are not fully utilised, negating some of the cost benefits.

Compatibility Issues

While most modern phones are unlocked and compatible with various networks, some older or carrier-specific models may not support all network frequencies or functionalities offered by a new provider. This can limit the effectiveness of switching to a SIM-only plan if the current handset is not fully compatible.

How Do SIM-Only Plans Compare to Traditional Plans in the UK?

Cost Comparison

When comparing SIM-only plans to traditional handset-inclusive plans, the cost difference can be significant. For example, a typical SIM-only plan might cost between £10 and £30 per month, depending on data allowance and other features. In contrast, traditional plans that include a new handset can range from £30 to £70 per month, depending on the handset model and service package.

For instance, a SIM-only plan with 20GB of data, unlimited calls, and texts might cost around £20 per month. A similar plan bundled with a new mid-range smartphone might cost £40 per month, including the handset cost spread over 24 months. Over the contract duration, this results in an additional £480 for the handset.

Flexibility Comparison

In terms of flexibility, SIM-only plans typically offer greater freedom. One-month rolling contracts are common, allowing users to switch providers or plans with minimal notice. Traditional plans often involve 24-month contracts, with early termination fees applicable if users decide to switch before the contract ends.

Value for Money

When evaluating value for money, SIM-only plans often provide more generous data allowances and additional features, as the entire monthly fee goes toward the service rather than subsidising a handset. For example, a £20 SIM-only plan might include more data and international calling options compared to a £20 portion of a traditional plan’s fee.

How Can You Choose the Right Plan?

Assess Your Needs

To choose the right plan, assess your data usage, call, and text requirements. If you frequently use mobile data for streaming, gaming, or work, a higher data allowance will be essential. Conversely, if your usage is primarily for calls and texts, a lower data plan may suffice.

Consider Your Budget

Evaluate your budget to determine how much you can afford to spend upfront and monthly. If you prefer not to pay a large amount upfront for a new phone, a traditional plan might be more suitable, even if it costs more in the long run.

Check Compatibility

Ensure that your current handset is compatible with the network you plan to switch to. This is particularly important if you are considering switching from one network type (e.g., GSM to CDMA) or using an older device.

Explore Provider Offerings

Different providers offer varying plans and promotions. Compare offerings from major UK providers like EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three, as well as smaller virtual network operators (MVNOs) like Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, and Smarty. Each has unique plans that might cater better to your specific needs.


Not satisfied with the price ranges available? Worry not. Opt for the cheapest offers with Zoiko Mobile SIM-only Deals for Businesses and Students.

Review Contract Length

Decide on the contract length that suits your lifestyle. If you prefer not to be tied down, opt for a one-month rolling contract. If you are comfortable with a longer commitment for potentially lower prices, consider a 12-month plan.


SIM-only contracts offer numerous benefits, including cost savings, flexibility, and better value for money. However, they may not be suitable for everyone, especially those who need a new handset or prefer the convenience of a bundled phone plan. By carefully assessing your needs, budget, and the available options, you can make an informed decision that best suits your lifestyle.


For those seeking a cost-effective and flexible mobile plan, consider exploring the SIM-only options available at Zoiko Mobile. With a range of affordable plans and excellent customer service, Zoiko Mobile can help you find the perfect plan to meet your needs. Visit Zoiko Mobile today to discover their offerings and make the switch to a SIM-only contract.

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