Mobile Phones

For a long time, I wasn’t that interested in mobile telephony but a switch of job in 2010 meant that having access to the web from a mobile became desirable so I started doing that with a long relinquished BlackBerry Curve 8520; now it is HTC and Motorola hardware that I mainly use for the same kind of thing. The increased interest in mobile telephony has borne fruit in the list that you find here. The world of 3G and the devices that use it have produced a learning curve for me and the availability of 4G is growing now too.

One thing that you’ll see from many a high street in the U.K. is the profusion of shops operated by mobile phone network operators and it is the same in √Čire (the indigenous operator Meteor has impressed me over there). These networks sell you their wares online too and that is why they are listed in their own section at the bottom. Before their listing, I have collected whatever retailers there are that are not attached to any network and there didn’t seem to be that many of them when I set up the list but it’s grown a good bit since then due to my perusing the occasional mobile phone magazine. If I find any more of these, I’ll add them on here.

Independent Retailers

Carphone Warehouse

These are the people with whom I have had the most dealings since I got my first ever mobile phone from them, a Motorola that I kept using until it battery kept losing its charge quickly on me. More recently, I picked up a Nokia 1661 from them that needed a look at the manual to get its call volume set properly.

buymobiles.net

If these didn’t sponsor the Buyer’s Guide in Smartphone Essentials magazine, I never would have heard of them; Derby County FC supporters should have seen their logo on the player’s shirts but I cannot say that I am a football fan. A look at the website confirms the presence of a comprehensive selection of phones for sale, contracted or otherwise.

Expansys

These people sell phones alongside their other technology wares such as laptop computers and digital cameras but there’s a full range of options available. These include contracted, pay-as-you-go and SIM-free so there’s plenty to browse.

Clove Technology

Compared to the others, this outlet is unusual in offering only phones without contracts or pay-as-you-go arrangements. In other words, it is a place for someone running the gauntlet of the cost of going for a SIM-free phone. Saying that, they have their place and many tariffs are puffed up to pay for the more expensive device that is provided to you as part of the contract; that’s why you are tied in for a certain length of time too, so as ensure that the cost of the phone is recovered.

TotalPDA

When the smartphone label was but a twinkle in someone’s eye, the term PDA was extant, meaning Personal Digital Assistant. These days, we talk about such things because the newer kid on the block has taken their place or the older device type has gone and evolved with Palm struggling to find its place in the brave new world. So this website will sell hand-held devices coming under both umbrellas and they seem to offer them SIM-free too, something that brings a cost penalty for the privilege.

AffordableMobiles.co.uk

The name may be new to me but its Derbyshire based parent company has been involved in mobile phone reselling for more than a decade. The range that the website supplies includes not controlled contracted and pay as you go phones but also SIM cards and phones without SIM cards. That makes it worth a look along with others like it.

Networks

3

Haven’t had much to do with these people apart from poking around their website looking at what SIM-only deals that they have. However, hearing the experiences of others with their network takes the shine off their offer.

EE

From the point of view of network coverage, this operator looks like your best option and would be who I would choose if I had my chance again; there have been parts of Wales and Scotland where I otherwise not have had mobile signal with my O2 account and Vodafone users were left bereft in the case of the Welsh location of Port Eynon. It was a T-Mobile PAYG BlackBerry Curve 8520 that brought me their way in 2010 and the merger with Orange soon showed its advantages when it came to network improvements. A PAYG mobile WiFi modem followed in 2011 and that uses the SIM card from a defunct Huawei mobile broadband dongle. The BlackBerry was traded for cash once a phone upgrade made available an older HTC to replace the thing, which was hideously slow and that may have had more to do with the phone that its 2G data connection.

O2

As it happens, I have been with this bunch since they were part of BT and known as Cellnet. The transformation to O2 and subsequent incorporation into the Telefonica group has not meant any disruption. Their BT origins and being part of the first wave of operators has meant that network coverage is reasonable too, though voice services do come out better than data ones so that needs to be kept in mind.

Vodafone

For a global operator, their British and Irish networks leave something to be desired and the British one got slated in an industry appraisal. That fits with the pay-as-you-go mobile broadband dongle experience in the U.K. as well as hit and miss attempts calling Vodafone network users in Ireland. Let’s hope that those network problems get sorted because good phones need equally good connections.