While 24-month phone contract deals remain popular, over the years, many people have realised it is more cost-efficient to buy a phone upfront and then get a SIM-only deal.
You can normally get the best deals by committing to a 12-month contract. However, in recent years rolling monthly PAYG style contracts have become increasingly popular. This is especially true for younger people, at one point, Voxi was literally only for young people, being launched for under 25s only.
I have been a big fan of these PAYG mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) companies ever since GiffGaff launched, and since then, I have switched between Voxi and Smart frequently. I often use one when I am reviewing phones, and during quieter months, when I don’t review or travel much, I don’t bother renewing the deal.
So what are the best options available today?
Like most things in life, it is not quite black and white; each company has a tailored solution that differentiates itself from its competitors.
Black Friday Deals 2022 Deals vs 2021
As I am updating this post, I thought I would leave the deals from last year, so you can see how good or bad the deal is.
Voxi has three great offers for Black Friday, which seem to be better than 2021.
- 45GB + Endless Social media for just £10/month
- 60GB + Endless Social media for just £12/month
- 90GB + Endless Social media & video for just £15/month
- 300GB + Endless Social media & video for just £20/month
- Endless Data – Unlimited data for everything for just £30
- 50GB + Endless Social media for just £15/month
- 100GB + Endless Social media for just £20/month
- Endless Data – Unlimited data for everything for just £30
All plans include unlimited calls, texts & picture messages. They also include 20GB use in Europe
Smart has good deals for the cheaper contracts, but this year’s unlimited deal is not as good. Last year, Smarty was still only 4G, but this year, they are 5G.
- 16GB for £7 (switches to 8GB after 15 months)
- 30GB for £10
- 120GB for £12
- 200GB for £17
- Unlimited for £20
- Double data 100GB instead of 50GB for £15
- Unlimited data for £17
Unlimited calls & texts. Roam like home in the EU, but they have a fair use policy of 12GB each month.
I am not sure if GiffGaff has Black Friday deals on the SIM only plans. It looks like the current prices are just the normal rates, and these match the price from last year. GiffGaff have promised to fix the prices until the end of 2023.
- £10 with 15GB
- £15 with 30GB
- £20 with 100GB
- £35 with Unlimited
- £10 was 10GB now 15GB
- £15 was 25GB now 30GB
The first big difference is which carrier is providing the service to the MVNO. Depending on where you live, different networks offer better reception. Three used to be poor where I live, and Vodafone excellent. Nowadays, they are about even.
- Voxi uses Vodafone
- Smarty uses Three
- GiffGaff uses O2
- Lebara uses Vodafone
5G vs 4G
More recently, with the launch of 5G, we have seen another variable added to each network. If you were to buy a monthly contract from Vodafone or Three, you get 5G as standard, but this is not the same for companies using their network as the backbone.,
- Voxi has 5G on 20GB and up plans
- Smarty has no 5G options
- GiffGaff has 5G on all options
- Lebara has no 5G
Unique perks from each company
Then, some companies differentiate themselves by offering unique perks
Lebara is the only company to offer international call minutes, which has long made them a popular choice for people with family and friends overseas.
Voxi has endless social media as standard, so no data is counted when using Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook Messenger. Some plan options include endless video which works the same way but for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, My5, TVPlayer, and UKTV Play.
The main selling point of GiffGaff is an affordable way to get a PAYG monthly 5G contract.
Smarty is just cheap.
Voxi vs Smarty vs GiffGaff vs Lebra Comparison of Plans
Based on the above, doing a like for like comparison is hard, but I have broken the option down based on data into roughly the 6 main options.
|5GB or under||N/A||£6||N/A||£5|
|10GB or under||N/A||£7||£10||£10|
|15GB or under||£10||£8||N/A||£15|
|30GB or under||£15||£10||£15||N/A|
|100GB or under||£20||£15||£20||N/A|
My personal preference already leaned towards Voxi and Smarty. I am currently on Smart just because it is the cheapest overall for data, and I have a Vodafone monthly SIM, so I didn’t want to double up on Vodafone.
Lebara isn’t competitive at all for data, but the £15pcm option provides unlimited international calls for 41 countries. If you have family/friends you speak to abroad frequently, then the other options just don’t compete.
Even though GiffGaff has 5G on all the plans, I don’t feel like they are cost efficient on the lower plans. I think most people on a £10pcm budget would be better off with more data not faster data. However, at £20pcm I’d say their deal is better than Voxi.
The Smarty pricing speaks for itself, it is 4G only, but if you just want a basic option with lots of data for your money (and you don’t mind Three), they are the best budget option.
[Original Post: 18 May 2021]
[Updated: 19 November 2021] Added Black Friday Deals
I am James, a UK-based tech enthusiast and the creative mind behind Mighty Gadget, which I’ve proudly run since 2007. Passionate about all things technology, my expertise spans from computers and networking, to mobile, wearables, and smart home devices.
As a fitness fanatic who loves running and cycling, I also have a keen interest in fitness-related technology, and I take every opportunity to cover this niche on my blog. My diverse interests allow me to bring a unique perspective to tech blogging, merging lifestyle, fitness, and the latest tech trends.
In my academic pursuits, I earned a BSc in Information Systems Design from UCLAN, before advancing my learning with a Master’s Degree in Computing. This advanced study also included Cisco CCNA accreditation, further demonstrating my commitment to understanding and staying ahead of the technology curve.
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