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StarHub Turns Up The Heat In The SIM-Only Space. Here’s How Its New 12-Month SIM-Only Plan Measures Up.

Circles.Life, your move next.

Update: Since this article was published, there are new plans and companies in the SIM-Only market. Please refer to this article for the most up-to-date comparison.

In our last comparison of SIM-Only mobile plans, we noted that StarHub and Circles.Life did not offer any 12-month contract plans, unlike Singtel and M1, who rewarded customers for making that 1-year commitment.

A short while after we published that comparison, StarHub made their move by offering perks to customers who sign a 12-month contract with them. They reached out and asked if we would consider doing an updated comparison.

As Singaporeans, we use our mobile phones and the connectivity it provides on a daily basis to do important things like stay in touch with friends and family, be abreast of work communication, and allow our commuting and bathroom time productive.

Thus, we present the current state of the four-way SIM-only battle among Singtel, M1, StarHub, and Circles.Life. Who will emerge victorious?

Rules Of The Fight Comparison

One of the biggest difficulties for comparing plans is that telcos do not offer the same exact plans.

To help us make a fair comparison among SIM-only offerings, we will base our comparison on two common profiles of Singapore mobile phone users: 1) Someone who just needs the basics. 2) A power user. We will compare how each plan satisfies the four basic needs of talktime, free-incoming, data and caller ID.

For our comparison, we will be excluding any promotions and discounts that pop-up periodically. Prices are inclusive of GST.

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Bundle 1 – The Basics: 100 Mins Talktime, 2G to 3GB Data, Free Incoming & Caller ID

You are not addicted to your mobile phone. You only use it during your daily commute, and the times when you are stuck in an MRT breakdown. Your telecommunications needs are minimal.

* 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.

Our Observations

From a cost standpoint, M1 is the cheapest at $27.12 per month. However, it offers only 2GB of data compared to Singtel and StarHub (3GB) and Circles.Life (6GB).

Despite being the 2nd cheapest plan, Circles.Life is able to offer much more data at 6GB compared to Singtel and StarHub (3GB).


Cheapest Deal: M1 ($27.12)

Value-For-Money: Circles.Life ($30)

Bundle 2 – The Heavy Data User: 100 Mins Talktime, 8GB to 10GB Data, Free Incoming & Caller ID

You need data and the handset subsidy plans are too expensive given your heavy usage. You choose a SIM only plan so that you can use more data without spending too much money each month.

Our analysis:

From a cost standpoint, Circles.Life is the cheapest at $42 per month for 8GB.

M1 provides the most data at 10GB for $48.52. This is cheaper compared to both StarHub and Singtel, which charges more for less data (8GB). Circles Life charges $6 less, but gives 8GB instead of 10GB.

Though the most expensive plan among all, StarHub provides unlimited talktime and unlimited weekend data. So this is a plus point for those who look at either of these perks.


Cheapest Deal: Circles.Life ($42)

Value-For-Money: Circles.Life ($42) or M1 ($48.52)

What Happens If You Opt For 12-Month Contract?

Unless you’re an exchange student, here for work on short-term, or are signing up for an additional line for short-term use, you are most likely going to have a mobile plan a year from now, and possibly for as long as you live.

Singtel, M1 and StarHub now offer bonuses to reward loyal customers who are willing to commit to them for a 12-month period. Let’s see if this changes the value proposition and whether Circles.Life is still a compelling option for customers who do not get rewarded for sticking with them, even if they wanted to.

Our analysis:

From a cost perspective, Singtel and M1 are identical with Singtel edging forward with more talktime (150 mins vs 100 mins).

StarHub has the most expensive SIM-only plam, though not by much – $1.40 more than Circles.Life and $4.28 more than Singtel and M1. In return, they are giving their 12-month SIM-only customers 6GB of data, free unlimited data on the weekends, and the most talktime among all the telcos (200 mins).

Both Singtel and M1 are now cheaper ($27.12) compared to Circles.Life ($30). They provide 5GB of data compared to Circles.Life 6GB.


Cheapest Deal: Singtel & M1 ($27.12), with Singtel offering an additional 50 minutes of outgoing calls for the same price.

Value-For-Money: StarHub ($31.40) offers alot of talktime, data and unlimited weekend data.

Our Conclusion

Circles.Life offers a solid, value-for-money SIM-only plan that is very attractive compared to the other three telcos for no-strings-attached. However, their value proposition is less attractive if you intend to stick with one particular telco for 12 months.

If you are sticking to a telco for 12 months, then both Singtel and M1 are able to offer slightly lower price for an equally reasonable bundle of data (5GB), compared to Circles.Life (6GB).

StarHub’s plan is slightly more expensive than the other telcos but you get alot for the money you pay. If offers 6GB of data (same as Circles.Life, and 1 GB more than Singtel and M1) and the most outgoing minutes (200 mins, compared to Singtel’s 150 mins, and 100 mins by M1 and Circles.Life). In addition, StarHub is the only telco to offer unlimited weekend data, which could translate to 40% more data each month if your weekend and weekday usage are the same.

Ultimately, with all other factors being equal (like network coverage/customer service), we believe that none of the telcos can actually claim to offer the “best” SIM only plan in Singapore.

To get the best possible deal, users need to first understand their own data usage requirements, before finding out which telco actually serve their needs best.

Do you agree with our assessment? Which of these telcos give you the best deal based on your own needs? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

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