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  1. #1
    3 Star Lounger gsterry's Avatar
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    Recommend SIM card for visitors to London?

    One of the best things about the Lounge is collective experience since none of us is as smart as all of us.

    With that in mind, I need to know the best SIM card for visitors to London. I will be there for about ten days and, obviously, don't need a plan. Also, the SIM card will be for that lenovo ideaPad with those Google maps. I'm more interested in Data than Minutes, if that makes sense.

    I appreciate your help in advance and look forward to coming back to hit that 'thank you' button.

  2. #2
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    Until last year there were basically five big mobile networks in England - Vodafone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and 3. There were also a couple of smaller mobile network providers like EE - Everything Everywhere. Orange and T-Mobile merged last year and now run on the EE network so the 'big five' became the 'big four' (EE, 3, O2 and Vodafone).

    There are also loads of 'virtual operators' (Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Asda Mobile, Talkmobile, giffgaff, etc.) that piggy-back on the services of the 'big four'.

    The 'big four' and the 'virtual operators' all offer PAYG (Pay-As-You-Go) SIM-only deals (as well as contracts). I've used all of the 'big four' over the last 7 years for PAYG - both for voice and for data-only. Until recently I hadn't used any of the 'virtual operators', not even Virgin (although I'm a Virgin customer for broadband, TV and landline).

    In London there shouldn't be any difference in coverage (i.e. best reception) between EE, 3, O2 and Vodafone. The most recent review I could find puts EE first but Vodafone last in mobile phone tests. The results showed, in order, EE (1st), 3 (2nd), O2 (3rd) and, lastly, Vodafone. In particular, Vodafone were criticized last November for their 3G coverage (although this shouldn't be an issue in London). Conversely, there are concerns that EE's concentration on 4G has affected connectivity for 3G users (see issues with network coverage.)

    As a result, I suggest you look at PAYG SIM-only offers using the 3 and O2 networks as these will both provide excellent network coverage in London. Next, you need a provider that offers SIM-only. This narrows the field as most PAYG providers expect you to purchase a mobile phone as well yet you will only need the SIM. Lastly, you want data only, not voice.

    In conclusion, I would narrow down my suggestion to have a look at one of the giffgaff PAYG data-only 'goodybags'. You get a free PAYG SIM (choose between a convertible standard SIM/Micro SIM or a NanoSIM). You can also compare the cost of competing networks and see that giffgaff is considerably cheaper than other providers. (giffgaff is a 'virtual operator' service that runs on the O2 network.)

    The 'tablet PC/dongle' goodybags (i.e. data-only) come in 3 sizes - 500Mb (£5/$8.32), 1Gb (£7.50/$12.48) and 3Gb (£12.50/$20.80) per month (at today's exchange rates). You only need it for a very short period so DON'T set up recurring payment and make sure you activate the SIM over the internet before you need to use it. The instructions for setting up each device are clear and comprehensive. There is also a very helpful giffgaff community with a thriving forum and Knowledgebase to answer questions. For example, have a look at I'm overseas - Can I get a SIM? (to which I would add that the SIM could be sent to an address in England - for example, to a friend or to a hotel that you are staying at).

    Perhaps of most importance, a recent Which report shows giffgaff customers expressing an 81% customer satisfaction rating, easily beating other PAYG services from, for example, 3 (65%). (Note that the Which report is about satisfaction with mobile phone networks in general rather than data-only service.)

    Sorry it's so long but hope it helps... and have a good trip!

    (Disclaimer - I have no connection with any mobile provider and currently have a Vodafone PAYG SIM in a Mifi (for use with my iPad and Nexus 7 tablets) for data-only and a giffgaff PAYG SIM in my iPhone 4S for both voice and data.)
    Last edited by Rick Corbett; 2014-03-27 at 12:09. Reason: Removed duplicated info.

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  4. #3
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    Whichever SIM you decide to go with you can pick one up at most convenience stores / supermarkets for a nominal £1, no identification required.

    cheers, Paul

    p.s. make sure your device is unlocked - not limited to a particular carrier.

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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    Whichever SIM you decide to go with you can pick one up at most convenience stores / supermarkets for a nominal £1, no identification required.
    Hi Paul - I was looking at these in December whilst researching which PAYG SIM-only plans to get (one voice/data for my phone and the other data-only for my tablets). I checked online and also visited all the shops of the 'big four' providers (plus phones4u and Asda) comparing PAYG plans. At that time I couldn't find one PAYG SIM-only deal that only offered data and there were data limits on all the voice/data SIMS I looked at. Worse, the prices per Mb if you exceeded your data limit were astronomical.

    I must admit I haven't been looking recently since choosing giffgaff for my phone last December and will also be choosing giffgaff for my data when my present Vodafone data-only plan runs out (I only use the MiFi in emergencies) or the SIM fails (which happened twice in the last 2 years when I was with T-Mobile... they disable the SIM if you don't keep topping it up then have to give you a new SIM when you need to use it).

    Hope this helps...

  7. #5
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Hey Y'all,

    This is interesting as my better half and I will be heading for the UK (London & Scotland) in May. Does anyone know of a SIM that will work in a Locked AT&T Samsung Galaxy S2?
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredGeek View Post
    Hey Y'all,

    This is interesting as my better half and I will be heading for the UK (London & Scotland) in May. Does anyone know of a SIM that will work in a Locked AT&T Samsung Galaxy S2?
    As a UK resident, I've never heard of AT&T except within a US context... so you'll either run into very expensive voice/data roaming charges (using AT&T) when in the UK or you will need to have your Samsung device unlocked beforehand in order to use a local (i.e. UK) mobile voice/data provider service. (Some of my friends have an additional unlocked mobile phone that they only use with locally-purchased SIMs when abroad.)

    Once the device is unlocked you are free to use whatever voice/data plan is available locally in the UK (or anywhere else ).

    As Paul T has previously mentioned, PAYG SIMs are readily available in the UK (which has 4 'big' mobile network providers and a lot of 'virtual operator' services) in local outlets. It all depends on what your needs are and (in the case of roaming charges) how deep your pockets are.

    Hope this helps...
    Last edited by Rick Corbett; 2014-03-27 at 17:45.

  9. #7
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    I would buy a cheap phone and SIM when you arrive. The cheapest PAYG phone and SIM at one of the big supermarkets is £10.

    cheers, Paul

    [Edit] You can use wifi for all your other needs as it's available free in lots of establishments.

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  11. #8
    3 Star Lounger gsterry's Avatar
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    Thanks, Rick. I appreciate the insights!

  12. #9
    3 Star Lounger gsterry's Avatar
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    Thanks for the idea, Paul.

  13. #10
    3 Star Lounger gsterry's Avatar
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    Thanks again, Paul.

  14. #11
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    I have found Vodaphone pretty good and they have an outlet in Heathrow in the departure checkin area so you can be fitted out as soon as you arrive OR some will mail you a sim beforehand and I seem to remember a sim made available in the flight magazine aboard the aircraft. Hope this helps.

  15. #12
    3 Star Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    RG

    would not ATT S2 radio compatibility be an issue in europe??

  16. #13
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Wavy,

    Shouldn't be a problem since it is a GSM phone.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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  17. #14
    3 Star Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    This is for the SIII but there is some differences between a EU SIII and an AT&T. I do not know if they are SIGNIFICANT differences.


    http://goo.gl/C8mpc

    from http://forum.xda-developers.com/gala...sting-t1756338

    PS anyone know why FF spellchecking should work on an XP machine but not a Linux ??

    PPS enjoy your trip, I always wanted to go.
    Last edited by wavy; 2014-04-07 at 22:53. Reason: source of image added

  18. #15
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    wavy, you should travel, and you should do it often.

    cheers, Paul

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