Devices Operators

I’m going to buy an iPhone 4S: What network should I buy with?

Right then, following on from my rather lukewarm experience at the Three store this morning, I am looking to buy an iPhone 4S — on contract. Half of me thinks, ‘wait and buy it outright in November,’ — the other half says do it, do it, do it today.

Normally Three is my default provider for smartphone style services. I wanted an iPad from them but they were diabolically slow with me and didn’t take any flipping hints at all — so I bought one from Vodafone in stead. I do really like Three’s price plans and their unlimited data offering for their smartphones. However I don’t quite feel like doing business with them at the moment.

Therefore I’d welcome your suggestions.

Who should I get my new iPhone 4S from?

My primary provider is Vodafone. That’s what my BlackBerry 9900 runs on. My wife has an iPhone 4 on Vodafone. I’ve got about 4 other accounts with Vodafone. If they offered me a two-for-one (unlikely, but, you know) for myself and my wife, I’d probably buy 2x iPhone 4S devices from them.

Or perhaps I should be looking at Orange? Or o2? In fact I’ve got a free o2 line that’s due an upgrade. Or maybe I should — finally — revisit T-Mobile and give them the business?

What do you think?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

10 replies on “I’m going to buy an iPhone 4S: What network should I buy with?”

I shopped around for yonks for the iPhone 4s. I went with 3 I have to say. Its the data that swings it. Like you I thought of buying the phone outright and going with 3, but their unlimited data sim-only plan is £25, so I thought it made sense to just get the phone on the contract. 35 notes all in. Must say I’m please and the network seems excellent, in London at least.

I have been running my Nexus on Giff Gaff for a few months now. I am really noticing the performance and power saving benefits of O2 properly running the fast dormancy protocol in the South East. As far as I know it’s the only currently deployment of this running in the UK. Would be very happy to be proven wrong in this.
It is adding about 40% to the battery life of my phone, and significantly reducing latency in the browser… 

Though in London it still falls off 3G to edge far too much for my liking.

Still love my 3 SIM for data speeds though…

Although their data bolt-ons are pretty average, O2 will give you a free 4S in their £30ish line rentals, even the 18 month ones which is pretty good I think, just for being an existing user.

Firstly I would be strongly governed by coverage in the places I wanted to use the phone.

Beyond that I’d mostly chose between – Vodafone : good for roaming, broad coverage, ok net speeds (but not best), suresignal etc
 – Three : best for data, price (and I’ve found good for CS), innovationI’m not sure why I’d choose O2. Giffgaff PAYG perhaps for community engagement. Orange maybe for UMA (no idea if they support iphone)

If you go with T-Mobile you will get the same 3G coverage as Three (plus Orange), however they do seem to cap throughput and force image compression.

Orange, they have just started to roll out the 3G sharing with T-Mobile, so you could say you get the same 3G coverage as Three again. However your home network is with Orange which the phone will prefer – and the Orange network is pretty much crippled in terms of data.

Vodafone and o2 are in the same boat really – shockingly poor 3g coverage, not good for a smartphone. However o2 has started to roll out 900Mhz 3g in cities, so possibly better building penetration?

It’s a pity you have gone off Three, they are the only one that will pretty much give you freedom to use your data however you want at the moment – and that’s what you want from a phone like the iPhone, isn’t it?

I’ve not necessarily gone off them Adrian, I’ve just.. well I’ve been a wee bit disappointed at not having experienced much in the way of customer love, I reckon. I don’t really see why I should bother giving them the cash.
I might give o2 a shot actually..

I would say 3 or vodafone. my experience of O2 is very low. Orange is crap and have started to drag T-Mobile down. I was with T for 6&half years. But I need quality over everything, so I’m a vodafone boy!

Having tested Three on my iPad, the service indoors is terrible and the customer service is appalling.
Vodafone don’t know how to treat customers and their service is way too patchy in London, I’ve never had so many dropped calls.
Orange have data issues.
O2 are the nicest. Good voice calls and low drop rate and decent data speeds, plus their new international favourites is great value!

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