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[Cheatsheet] The Best SIM-Only Plans in Singapore (2019 Edition)

SIM-only plans may offer the best standalone deals.

 

This article has been updated in January 2019 to reflect the latest prices.

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 the 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 could just avoid our compulsion to buy the latest mobile phones, we would enjoy a substantial saving on both handset upgrades AND mobile contract – by getting a SIM-only plan.

More 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. No less than four other mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) – Circles.Life, Zero Mobile, Zero1, MyRepublic – have also entered the fray offering their own SIM-only plans.

In addition, a fourth telco license has also been awarded to TPG Telecom from Australia. They have announced their entry into the Singapore market with a free year-long SIM-only subscription for the first 20,000 people who register their interest.

All this have led to intense competition in an already crowded telecommunications marketplace. The main benefactors are the consumers in Singapore for now, as prices have tapered and service standards have to be better and more innovative.

In fact, Circles.Life recently launched a new $0 Flexi plan. Circle.Life isn’t a charity, and they’re very likely offering this free plan to catch our eyeballs and hopefully upsell us a paid plan.

Comparing The SIM-Only Plans

In the short-term, as the telcos continue to compete on price and service standards, consumers should compare costs and assess the best deals on offer. However, once a market equilibrium is found, consumers should expect prices to raise to a level that is profitable for the companies.

We 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 any variances that an individual may encounter depending on the time we subscribe for the plans.

We also use three model users – with basic data needs, moderate data needs and extreme data needs – to determine the best SIM-only plans for each.

User A – Basic Data Needs

This user needs a minimum of:

  • 100 mins talktime
  • 2 to 3GB data
  • Caller ID
  • Free incoming calls

* The Circles.Life Base plan offers 4GB and an additional 2GB if you port-in a number from an existing telco. You can read up more about this process on their website.

** Unlimited WhatsApp does not include video calling. Voice calling is capped at 10,000 minutes per month.

Observations For Users With Basic Data Needs

Based on what’s offered by the individual telcos, StarHub’s $25 SIM Only Planseems to be the most affordable plan at $25.00. Part of the reason is because it offers one of the lowest data (3GB) and talktime (100 mins) compared to the other plans. For a user requiring only basic data and talktime, that doesn’t exceed 3GB or 100 mins talktime, this plan may make the most sense.

At the other end, we are starting to see operators, such as Zero 1, Zero Mobile and MyRepublic, offering unlimited data, albeit at slower speeds after a certain amount of data, and up to 1,000 minutes of talktime on their basic (and, sometimes only) plans. Zero Mobile’s entry level plan is the most expensive at $59.95, but it comes with unlimited data without a monthly cap set for throttling speeds, and unlimited talktime.

User B – Heavy Data Needs

This user needs a minimum of:

  • 100 mins talktime
  • 8 to 12GB data
  • Caller ID
  • Free incoming calls

* The Circles.Life Base plan offers 4GB and an additional 2GB if you port-in a number from an existing telco. You can read up more about this process on their website.

** Unlimited WhatsApp does not include video calling. Voice calling is capped at 10,000 minutes per month.

Observations For Users With Heavy Data Needs

Based on the plans available in the market, Zero1’s plan appears to be the most affordable option. However, its plan only offers unlimited data on “managed network” speeds, after an initial 3GB on 4G network. However, this will not be very suitable for majority of “users with heavy data needs”.

For fast speeds throughout the usage requirements, of between 8GB to 12GB, Circles.Life’s plan appears to be the winner at $40.00. StarHub (30GB and 300 mins talktime) and M1 (10GB and 100 mins talktime) also offer compelling SIM-only plans with significantly more data at $50.00 and $45.35 respectively.

User C – Extreme Data Needs

This user needs a minimum of:

  • 100 mins talktime,
  • At least 23GB data
  • Caller ID
  • Free incoming calls

 

* The Circles.Life Base plan offers 4GB and an additional 2GB if you port-in a number from an existing telco. You can read up more about this process on their website.

** Unlimited WhatsApp does not include video calling. Voice calling is capped at 10,000 minutes per month.

Observations For Users With Extreme Data Needs

For those with extreme data needs, we assume speed matters as well. This rules out signing up for unlimited data plans which throttles down to slower speeds after using a certain amount of data. Here, StarHub’s $50 Sim Only Plan is the most affordable choice – offering 30GB of data at a competitive $50.00 price point.

For those who want greater flexibility with the data they need to use on a month-to-month basis, Zero Mobile’s Zero X  plan offering users unlimited 4G data, without a monthly cap set for throttling speeds, and unlimited talktime at $59.95.

Going For A 12-Month Contract Today

In the telco industry, we can also opt for a 12-month contract to boost the benefits that we get on our SIM-only contract. While this is a slight deviation from the origins of the no-contract SIM-only plans, signing on a 12-month plan may be a logical step to take as we’re bounded for a shorter timeframe (compared to 24-months usually) and offers better perks in the form of more data and/or talktime.

Singtel and M1 offer 12-month contracts to lock-in customers, while StarHub recently removed this feature. In the table below, we’re comparing with telcos that offer 12-month contracts with those that don’t to view the difference in what we stand to receive. We believe this isn’t wrong as majority of consumers have a requirement to use telco services each and every month rather than being able to say we don’t want to use it in certain months.

Here’s how the charges will look like if we went on 12-month contracts on SIM-only plans.

* The Circles.Life Base plan offers 4GB and an additional 2GB if you port-in a number from an existing telco. You can read up more about this process on their website.

** Unlimited WhatsApp does not include video calling. Voice calling is capped at 10,000 minutes per month.

Those who opt to go on 12 months contract with a telco can receive up to 5GB of data for as little as $25.35 on Singtel and M1.

An added benefit of signing up for a 12-month contract is that at certain times during the year, the telco operators will offer an even better promotions to get people to choose them. Currently, Singtel and M1 are offering up to 10GB of data for free on its 12-month SIM-only plans.

StarHub, having rejigged and launched its new SIM-only plans, is going one better by offering 10GB of data for free on any of its SIM-only plans for up to one year.

Compared to the plans with contracts, Circles.Life’s no-contract plan still doesn’t rank a million miles away, offering 6GB of data for just $30 in total.

For Users With Extremely Low Data Requirements

Another group of people who may also sign up for SIM-only plans include parents getting a phone for their younger children as well as the elderly. In certain instances, some within this group may not require a lot data – perhaps due to parents wanting to limit their children’s phone usage or the elderly who aren’t familiar with the feature.

These two plans may be suitable for them.

Circles.Life is offering a $0.00 plan to users! With unlimited incoming calls, the plan will come up to $2.00 a month.

While more expensive, Zero1’s plan is also a compelling choice – ensuring those who sign up will not get a bill shock. Speeds just slow down after the 1GB rather than stop working, which means overusing will only be frustrating (at slower speeds) rather than expensive.

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