O2 is one of the UK's biggest mobile network operators, with more than 24 million customers and around 99% network coverage. Here's all you need to know...
You probably don't need an introduction to O2 - it's the one of the UK's biggest mobile phone providers, with more than 24 million customers across the country.
Huh. I guess we gave it an introduction anyway.
As you'd expect from one of the nation's big operators, it offers a wide range of different pay monthly and pay as you go mobile plans, sim-only deals and a number of perks and bonuses for customers, such as early access to concert and event tickets.
Here are the key things we think you need to know about choosing an O2 plan. And remember - if you want to compare all the different O2 deals available, you can do so right here.
Diversity - that's one of the things that defines O2. It has a huge range of smartphones and data plans, which run the gamut from budget options that come with 100 minutes inclusive calls and 100MB mobile internet data, to high-end devices with unlimited minutes and 8GB of data.
Regardless of which of the many options you pick, unlimited text messages are included. As is ever the case, the more minutes and data you want, the more you'll have to pay each month.
O2 has recently labelled all its pay monthly plans as 'O2 Refresh'. That's because it's changed how its tariffs work.
What is O2 Refresh?
When you choose a handset with a pay monthly plan, you typically pay less for it upfront, then work off the cost of that device over the life of your contract. In most cases, you just pay a set amount each month, which includes the cost of using the network, and pays off part of the handset.
What O2 Refresh does instead - and this is fairly unique among networks - is make it crystal clear how much you pay each month for the phone, and what you spend for the use of the network.
Here are the key facts you need to know about O2 Refresh:
- Your monthly bill is split into two - the cost of the network, and the cost of your handset.
- At the end of your 24-month contract, when you have paid off your handset, you'll stop being charged for it and pay for air time only.
- If you want to upgrade to a new phone at any point, before your contract is done, you can simply pay off the remaining value of your old handset, and put the new one on your plan.
- If you upgrade your phone, you don't have to start a new contract if you don't want to - the cost will be spread out over the remaining months on your contract.
Essentially, O2 Refresh is designed to your bills as clear as possible, and makes it easier to upgrade if you want or need a new phone before your contract is up.
If you don't want to be tied into a long-term contract, you can choose to pay as you go with O2. This means you'll only pay for what you use, and you can top up your account as needed.
O2 isn't the cheapest network out there, but one good thing about its Pay & Go is that you get perks, like potential money off your top ups at regular intervals, and priority tickets to music and sports events.
If you get one of O2's tongue-twisty Pay & Go Go Go tariffs, you can get additional benefits too. This option gives you a set amount of calls, texts and internet data for a set fee. These tariffs change over time, so the longer you use them, the more minutes and data you get.
O2's mobile phone network covers 99% of the population, although, as with all mobile providers, it's better in some areas than in others. Its 3G network, which allows you to get online with mobile broadband, is less extensive, but still has decent coverage of more than 85% of the country.
4G - mobile internet that's much faster than 3G - is still relatively new to O2, but coverage is expanding. You're more likely to get it around cities and towns, so use O2's coverage checker to see if it's reached your area yet.
If it has, then O2 has some compelling reasons to make the switch beyond the substantial speed boost:
- Free O2 Tracks trial - Download any of the top 40 tracks in the UK. O2 gives you a four-week trial with its 4G packages, so you'll need to grab your songs while you can.
- Free Sun+ Goals app - Watch every goal from the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and Scottish Premiership with this app.
- O2 Games - Like to compete? O2 offers some of the top multiplayer Android games around for free with 4G, including Asphalt 8, Modern Combat 4 and Zombiewood. And you can play them without using your data allowance too.
And you get all the standard O2 extras too - see the next section for more about them.
O2 offers plenty of extras to give you that little push towards signing up. Highlights include:
- Priority Tickets - Ever wanted to go that all-important gig or festival, but left it too long to get tickets? It's less of a problem if you're on O2, as you can buy tickets to some of the UK's top concerts 48 hours before they go on general sale.
- O2 Perks - If you go to an event at The O2, one of the UK's O2 Academy venues or Twickenham Stadium, you get additional perks as an O2 customer, including fast-track entry, free drinks and more.
- Priority Moments - If you're on O2 you can also take advantage of exclusive offers from various companies around the UK, like WH Smith, Halfords, Caffé Nero, Odeon and ASOS, to name but a few.
- Priority Sports - Get exclusive sporting videos, as well as deals on tickets to matches, team meet and greets and more.
- O2 Recycle - Why leave old phone lying around, cluttering up the house? With O2 Recycle, you can send it away to be properly recycled, and get some cash back to boot.
As one of the biggest networks in the country, O2's got something for pretty much everyone. It's not necessarily the cheapest option out there, but it does provide choice and - thanks to O2 Refresh - clarity of billing.
Here are the some of the reasons we think you might want to pick O2:
- Interesting perks, including priority tickets to music and sports events for both pay monthly and Pay & Go customers
- Huge choice of handsets, from big names like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S range to budget smartphones for those with less to spend
- O2 Refresh makes it clear what you're paying for each month, and stops charging for your handset after the minimum contract term is up
- Also makes it easy to upgrade handsets early without extending your contract - although you should be prepared to pay off the cost of your old phone if you haven't already
- Rolling Pay & Go plans that add inclusive minutes and data the longer you use them
Having said all that, it's always worth comparing all your options before committing to a mobile operator, as you might be able to find a better deal - or more suitable data plans.
Interested in a different network? Read our guides: