This article was first published on 3 August 2018 and has been updated to reflect the latest prices and plans.
Many of us spend several hundred dollars or more each year on our mobile phone plans but rarely consider whether there are better mobile subscriptions in the market when our contracts run down. The main reason – we are often lured by seemingly lucrative deals on the latest handphone models rather than trying to source for the best mobile subscription that actually fits our usage requirement.
Often, we end up opting for more expensive plans just to enjoy an initial handset subsidy. To lower the cost of buying the new phone, we also typically trade-in our perfectly working mobile phones which may have nabbed us a better deal if we sold it on Carousell, eBay or even mobile stores on our own.
If we just avoid our compulsion to buy the latest mobile phones, we would enjoy a substantial saving on both handset upgrades AND mobile contracts – by getting a SIM-only plan.
What Is A SIM-Only Plan?
A SIM-only plan provides users with only a SIM card, allowing us to focus on getting the most suitable mobile plan for our needs with the right amount of talktime, mobile data and SMS texts. Unlike traditional mobile plans, SIM-only plans typically don’t offer a handset subsidy or bundle discounts.
SIM-only mobile plans are also generally cheaper than traditional mobile plans as we only pay for what we need and we won’t be forking out an additional amount for a new phone. We also get to enjoy the flexibility of not having a contract if we choose. This is especially relevant if we want to move to a SIM-only plan because our phones are in perfect working condition or because we may have to move abroad in the near-term.
While SIM-only plans started out as contract-free, some telco providers are now offering 12-month and 24-month contracts deals with additional features and perks. These plans also differ from prepaid SIM plans as they are post-paid.
Many Options For Consumers In Singapore
The increasing popularity of SIM-only contracts is clearly evident. The three local telcos – SingTel, StarHub and M1 – all have their own SIM-only plans, as does TPG Mobile, which won the fourth telco license in Singapore.
A slew of mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) have also entered the market offering their own SIM-only plans – GOMO Mobile (launched by SingTel), giga (launched by StarHub), Circles.Life, Zero1, MyRepublic, redONE, ViviFi, Grid Mobile (joint venture by SingTel and ST Telemedia), as well as VivoBee, a MVNO that caters to Singapore’s migrant worker population.
This has led to further intensification of competition in an already crowded telecommunications marketplace. The main benefactors are the consumers in Singapore (for now), as prices have tapered, and service standards are under pressure to improve, and products more innovative.
What Has Changed In The SIM-Only Space?
Ever since the first edition of this article was published in 2018, we’ve continued to follow the ever-growing SIM-Only space and make updates to the article to keep it relevant.
Here are some key developments since our last update in late 2019.
Singtel announced the discontinuation of its Singtel Wifi service by 1 April 2020, which gives mobile subscribers free access to some 2,000 access points islandwide at speeds that are faster than Wireless@SG with no login required.
Circles.Life quietly retired its widely-trumpeted $0 Flexi plan, replacing it with a $5 Plan, though you’ll need to know about it to sign-up, since this new plan isn’t found on their Home or Plans page. On the plus side, Circles.Life has dropped the price of their base plan from $28 to $18, while giving the same amount of data and features.
In March 2020, Zero Mobile’s license was suspended and its directors blacklisted by IMDA for their failure to resolve billing disputes with its customers. That same month, TPG announced the launched of their first paid plan.
Probably because of intense competition, other telcos have adjusted prices and offerings slightly, generally for the better. With more options and cheaper prices than ever before, 2020 is the best time if you’re in the market for a new SIM-Only plan.
Comparing SIM-Only Plans In Singapore
We’ll look at the SIM-only plans offered by the different telco and MVNO operators in Singapore to find out which offers the best deal. All promotions and discounts will be disregarded to take away variances that an individual may encounter depending on the time they subscribe.
We also use two model users – with basic data needs (2 GB to 3 GB) and extreme data needs (at least 23 GB) – to determine the best SIM-only plans for each type of user.
Best SIM-Only Plans For Basic Data Needs (2 GB to 3 GB)
User A needs a minimum of:
- 100 mins talktime
- 2 GB to 3 GB data
- Caller ID
- Free incoming calls
Observations For Users With Basic Data Needs
For those who want to spend the absolute minimum on their SIM-Only Plans, redONE’s Amazing8 and VIVIFI’s Lite would be the two top contenders, at $8 and $8.80, respectively. For that price, you get 3GB of data, free caller ID, and a decent amount of talktime.
However, with the intense competition in the telco space, for just $2 or so more, TPG’s 50GB SIM Only Plan is undoubtedly the champion of value. At just $10, you get a whooping 50 GB of data a month, with 300 minutes of talktime, as well as free incoming calls and free caller ID. This offering beats out other, pricier plans.
Best SIM-Only Plans For Extreme Data Needs (at least 23 GB)
User B needs a minimum of:
- 100 mins talktime
- At least 23 GB data (at high speeds)
- Caller ID
- Free incoming calls
Observations For Users With Extreme Data Needs
While many plans may offer unlimited data, they are usually throttled after a certain amount. For those with extreme data needs, being able to surf at high speed matters.
SingTel does not offer a viable SIM-only plan without contract for its customers.
Once again, TPG’s 50GB SIM Only Plan completely wipes the entire field with its low price and big amount of unthrottled data. Besides giving the most amount of data at 50 GB, TPG’s plan is also the cheapest by far. And for that price, you also get 300 minutes of talktime, free incoming calls and free caller ID.