Mobile Data Users: Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck
The mobile phone became a necessity rather than a luxury some years ago, and when the iPhone arrived, it kick-started a whole new luxury niche in the mobile sector. Smartphones have all the necessary features for a grown up toy, offering a combination of genuinely useful apps and frivolous fun that rapidly created a whole new market.
These days, the smartphone and its larger cousin the tablet are produced by several manufacturers battling it out for supremacy, but a common trait uniting all of these competing products is that they are data hungry. Providing sufficient mobile bandwidth to meet ever increasing demand has become one of the primary challenges for the networks, and in December 2011 the BBC reported that the increasing use of smartphones to stream live content (and in particular, iPlayer) risked putting the 3G network under strain.
There are two ways for the mobile network providers to deal with this challenge. The first is technological, and involves increasing the capacity of the mobile network across the country. However, the widespread roll out of the higher capacity 4G network in the UK has been something of a fraught and delayed process, so while we have to make do with 3G for the time being, the networks rely on a far simpler and less expensive way of limiting the amount of mobile data access that we use – through making it expensive.
In this climate, finding the cheapest sim only deals has become more important than ever for those regular smartphone and tablet users with a normal income, who don’t want to have to spend a fortune just to use their gadgets.
Indeed, the cost of these devices is significant enough already, particularly when it comes to tablets, which still tend to be bought at full price from computer hardware outlets. In comparison, most people still secure the latest smartphone through a subsidised network contract, rather than pay full whack direct from the manufacturer, but accessing mobile data in this way can cost a packet, and this is not solely about buffering the 3G network.
Standard network contracts are designed to claw back the money used to subsidise the smartphone. Exceeding the limited data allowance provided can be quite easy, and can end up being very expensive.
The solution can be as simple as finding the cheapest sim only deals, which tend to be provided by specialists in the market like giffgaff.com. Sim only providers are able to focus on simply offering the most competitive prices possible, without the need to subsidise a handset.
Dedicated data plans are primarily designed for tablets and wireless network dongles, but can also be used by smartphones still ‘locked’ to the original network that provided a subsidy. Unlocking the smartphone with a code allows the device to be used with multiple sim cards, meaning that it is possible to use cheap data bundles from an alternative provider while still under contract to the original network. For more information about unlocking phones visit Unlockapedia.