For a while it seemed like the best SIM only deals were a thing of the past, with top smartphones only affordable via a contract that tied you to one provider for a year or two. But SIM only deals (aka SIMO) are still very much around, and the best ones can offer huge savings on your monthly phone costs.
When it comes to the handset with SIMO deals, you have two options: keep the one you have from a previous contract or pay for one outright (see our best budget camera phones round up for some top options). Once the hardware is sorted, all you have to do is look for the best SIM only deal to suit.
Not sure if this option is the way to go? Jump to the should you get a SIM only deal section for more advice. If after reading you think a more traditional contract option would better suit, there are some incredible iPhone 11 deals on right now that are certainly worth considering.
Below you'll find a selection of the best SIM only deals currently available. Feel free to use our clever price comparison tool to filter by cost, network provider and data to find the deal you're looking for. Plus, don't miss this amazing deal from EE just in...
24 months | 100GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | £20
This knockout deal from EE includes some seriously impressive freebies. Sign up to get six months free subscription to BritBox, Apple Music and MTV Play, plus three months of BT Sports for no extra cost!
SIM only deals: Should you get one?
There are two main advantages of going for a SIM only deal; firstly, it's generally cheaper, with no additional costs to cover the price of the handset. And secondly, you're not tied into a lengthy contract, with a lot of providers offering a monthly, pay-as-you-go option.
That said, it's worth figuring out exactly what you want from a phone deal before you commit. And there are some key things to consider when deciding.
01. Handset compatibility
It's standard practice these days for networks to let you use whatever SIM you want after the initial contract term is up. Except iPhones, of course. Apple's smartphone is generally sold locked to the original network, so if you want to use a different provider's SIM, you're going to have to pay to get it unlocked.
02. Sim size
While were on the subject of handsets, make sure the SIM you're buying fits your device. In case you didn't know, there are three SIM card sizes: standard, micro and nano. Most networks have switched to Combi SIM cards (which fit all three sizes), but it's worth checking. The majority of new smartphones now use Nano cards.
03. Network coverage
Research the coverage available in your area before choosing a SIM only deal. Coverage maps are readily available, and it's also a good idea to ask around and see what others' network experiences are.
04. Data, calls and texts
It might sound obvious to check what your plan includes, but SIM only deals often come up short when it comes to data in comparison to contract tariffs. Check how much you are currently using, and be sure to pick a SIM only deal that allows for at least that and more.
05. Data roaming
Here's another area SIM only deals can end up being costly if not checked beforehand. Roaming (using your phone abroad) can add up quickly, so be aware of the costs before you switch this function on.
06. Keeping your phone number
Remember the days when getting a PAC code (Porting Authorisation Code) took days to organise and implement? No more. Simply get the PAC code from your old provider and pass on to the new one and voila!