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Mobile by Sainsbury’s PAYG & SIM-only bundles: 5 superior alternatives

Sainsbury’s launched “Mobile By Sainsbury’s”, its mobile virtual network backed by Vodafone, yesterday, one that, promises to double the number of Nectar loyalty points when customers top-up their smartphones, essentially giving them 1p for every pound of credit.

The supermarket becomes the third one after Tesco and Asda to become a MVNO. Tesco Mobile is arguably by far the biggest player and one of the biggest MVNO in the country.

On the whole though, it will be incredibly hard for Sainsbury’s to compete even if it counts on its 250 stores nationwide to deliver the goods. Carphone Warehouse, in comparison, has more than three times the number of outlets and is a much better known mobile brand.

Then there’s the fact that the deals themselves are not competitive. Three’s 3-2-1 PAYG plan offers much cheaper tariffs. 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB downloaded. If you don’t mind watching ads, then you can get 150 minutes, 250 texts and 500MB data for a one-off fee of £15 from Ovivo Mobile.

Even when it comes to SIM only plans, the likes of T-Mobile (500 minutes, unlimited texts, 1GB for £10 (opens in new tab)), TalkMobile (250 minutes, 5000 texts and 500MB data for £6.30 (opens in new tab)) or Virgin Mobile offer much better deals. The latter offer unlimited texts, minutes and data for only £15 per month on a one-month rolling contact.

Sainsbury’s will also offer a range of entry level handsets ranging from a £12 Nokia 100 to a £112 Samsung Galaxy Fame. It is not known whether the phones are lock to the MVNO, whether Vodafone (or TalkMobile) users will be able to shove their SIM cards into one or if the SIM-only contracts are for one month or for a year.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.