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The Nintendo Switch isn’t only incredibly successful, the little hybrid console from Nintendo also happens to be one of the best and most versatile gaming platforms you can buy today.

As a standalone device it’s already worth every penny, but you can get more from your Switch by paying for a Nintendo Switch Online service subscription.

Table of Contents

Online Gameplay

The main value proposition of the Nintendo Switch Online service subscription is of course the ability to play games online. Without the subscription you’ll be limited to only playing the single-player mode and for games that are only online in nature, you won’t be able to play at all!

Cloud Game Saves

The Switch is a portable system, which makes it much more likely that you could lose or break it while out and about. Digital games can always be downloaded again and your Switch cartridges are unlikely to break, but your game progress is irreplaceable. 

Voice Chat Features

If you pay the subscription fee, Nintendo does have a workaround for voice chat. It requires the Nintendo app and a smartphone, that lets you chat to other players. Honestly, this is a pretty clunky way to get voice chat in games. You might as well use an alternative like Discord instead, which you can use for free.

Access To Classic Games

The Nintendo Switch sadly lacks any form of virtual console, as has been the case with past Nintendo machines. On older Nintendo consoles, you could purchase classic NES, SNES, N64 and other classic games to play them on newer hardware. 

The only way to play classic Nintendo games, other than through a re-release, is to subscribe to the online service, as this gives you access to the Switch Online NES and SNES applications. 

Within these apps, you’ll find curated collections of classic games from the first two Nintendo home consoles. You don’t get to choose which titles are included, but Nintendo periodically adds more games at no further cost to you. Moreover, the titles that are included include some properly beloved titles. 

On the NES side of things, you’ll find Mario Bros 1-3, The Legend of Zelda and other heavy hitters from the Nintendo catalogue. For the SNES selection there are titles such as Zelda: A Link to the Past, Mario Kart and Star Fox 2. A title which is only available on the SNES Classic, having never been released on the original hardware.

Given what Nintendo has charged for these titles in the past and the fact that you had to re-buy them with each new console, the subscription-based libraries of games represent incredibly good value for money. The deal will also only get better with time, as new titles and (perhaps) new systems are added.

Exclusive Controllers

Being a Nintendo Online subscriber gives you access to special official retro controllers, which can only be ordered by those who belong to the club. These controllers are meant to give you a more authentic experience when playing the classic games. 

To be honest, the standard Switch Joy Cons and Pro controllers work just fine for these classic games. Also, you can buy some very nice third-party classic controllers from companies like 8BitDo which are 100% Switch compatible, cost less and work great. Not really a selling point for the service, unless you are a particularly hardcore Nintendo fan.

Game Vouchers

While being a Nintendo Switch Online service member doesn’t give you access to special discounts in the same way that, say, Playstation Plus does, it can save you money. Nintendo has introduced digital vouchers for a select list of games.

You buy the voucher for a set price and then you can have any two games from the list. You can also claim one game now and then use the other voucher when another supported game is released. As long as it’s within one year of purchase.

How much money this saves you varies, since not all of these games have the same retail price. However, you’ll generally save about $20 for each pair of games you buy. Just pay attention to the normal price so you don’t waste vouchers on cheaper games.

What Does it Cost?

Like most online services, the longer the period you pre-pay for, the less it all ultimately works out as. If you want to pay month to month, you’ll have to stump up $3.99 at the time of writing. Three months will cost you $7.99 and a whole year will cost about $19.99. Going for the annual plan will save you almost twenty-eight bucks. So clearly that’s the best one to go for. 

Don’t forget, there’s a 7-day free trial you can sign up for before committing yourself and four bucks is not too much for another four weeks if you just can’t decide if this is for you or not.

If you have more than one Switch in the house with multiple players, the Family Plan is an absolutely fantastic deal. For $34.99 a month, you can cover eight Nintendo Accounts for a year. You can figure out how to make the best of that yourself, but that works out to a miniscule $4.30 per account for a whole year.

What You DON’T Need Switch Online For

Not every game requires a Switch Online service subscription to use online multiplayer services. Free-to-play hits like Fortnite and Paladins can be downloaded and played on any Switch with an internet connection, with no need at all to pay anything to Nintendo. Games that don’t require a Nintendo Online subscription will usually clearly say so in the eShop description or on their own official home page.

Obviously, you also don’t need the subscription to log into the Nintendo eShop and buy games digitally. It’s only the multiplayer aspect of the majority of games that need this subscription.

You do NOT need a Nintendo Online subscription for games that support local multiplayer. For example, a game like Torchlight II or Mario Party will let you play with friends who bring their own Switches along without a Nintendo Online subscription or, indeed, an internet connection.

So there you have everything you currently get as part of the Nintendo Online Subscription. Of course, whether these features are worth the money depends entirely on how much you value them. We do expect that Nintendo will sweeten the deal over time, but since this is Nintendo we’re talking about there’s no telling when or how. 

Is Nintendo Switch Online Service Worth It?

OK, so let’s sum up the value proposition here and figure out if this service is for you. If you want to play games online that require the subscription, this is a no-brainer. You should go for the service and have a blast with your friends who are too far away for local multiplayer.

If you’re a retro-game lover and there are titles you want to play in the NES and SNES collection, then $20 a year for a portable classic game collection is a steal. So that alone is definitely a reason to pay the fee.

If you’re going to buy two or more games from the voucher list in a given year, then the money you’ll save already pays for a year of individual membership, effectively making it free. So that’s also a good scenario and most of us are going to buy two AAA Nintendo games per year from that list. It’s free money in this case.

Cloud saves are the other killer feature, but it’s not quite enough by itself to make the service worth it, but if you value your save games at more than $20 a year, then by all means pull the trigger.

Overall, the Nintendo Switch Online service subscription is worth the money for the vast majority of users and you should at least give the week-long trial a go before dismissing it entirely.

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Everything You Need To Know About Quibi

Quibi is yet another video-streaming service founded by a titan of the entertainment industry. Jeffrey Katzenberg has some serious Hollywood clout as chairman of Disney during its animation renaissance and co-founder of DreamWorks Animation. While Katzenberg certainly has the credentials, how does Quibi hope to differentiate itself in an already over-crowded field? Read on to find out what Quibi is all about and whether or not you should subscribe.

What Does Quibi Even Mean?

Quibi stands for “quick bites” and doubles as the ethos of the entire platform. Quibi is hoping to pioneer a new way of consuming television. All of the content on Quibi will take the form of short, episodic TV and movies divided into “chapters.” This means that viewers can watch an episode from start to finish in five to ten minutes.

The idea stems from the fact that most people have periodic downtime in their day. Whether that’s on their daily commute to work or while they’re putting together something for dinner, Quibi hopes to fill these gaps in our day with content. Because Quibi is designed to be watched in moments of spontaneity, Quibi is only available on mobile devices.

What Kind of Content Will Quibi Have?

Quibi isn’t going to simply chop up existing TV shows into more manageable run times. Instead, Quibi is investing heavily into original content made specifically for this new format. With approximately $1.75 billion to play with, Quibi is courting big name stars and creative talent to develop their shows. With that sort of cash, Quibi is aiming to cover all of the bases.

Are cooking shows your thing? How about immersive prestige dramas? Are you a reality junkie? Do you love to laugh? What about being scared senseless? Quibi is aiming to scratch virtually every entertainment itch you can imagine.

Furthermore, Quibi will also feature non-scripted content such as documentaries and shows dedicated to news and popular culture. At launch, Quibi will be home to approximately 50 different shows, but expect that number to increase as time goes on.

One of the most interesting facets of Quibi is its unique approach to the way we hold our devices. Quibi employs “Turnstyle,” a sort of pan-and-scan technique that seamlessly makes the best use of your screen real estate, whether you’re holding it in landscape or portrait.

Criticisms of Quibi

Despite being only a few days old, Quibi already has its critics. The biggest complaint about the new streaming service seems to be the fact that Quibi is available exclusively for mobile devices. Because of this, Quibi is not available on TVs in any way, shape or form. There is no Quibi app available for Android TV or other smart TV platforms. Additionally, there are no apps for the Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Roku, game consoles or other streaming boxes. Furthermore, Quibi does not support Chromecast or AirPlay, so you can forget about casting your Quibi shows to your TV.

Quibi Pricing Structure

Unlike other short-form video platforms like YouTube and TikTok, Quibi is a premium service. This means that there is no free option, so if you want to watch, you’re going to have to pony up those credit card details. That being said, Quibi is a bit cheaper than the competition. Quibi subscribers have a choice of two pricing tiers.

The base option is $4.99 per month; however, you’re going to have to sit through the occasional ad. Alternatively, you can opt for the premium tier which will run you $7.99 per month. These prices aren’t exactly cheap, and the folks at Quibi seem to recognize that. Because of this, Quibi is offering a 90-day free trial in the hopes of getting you hooked. But be quick – the 90-day free trial expires at the end of April.

How Do I Get Quibi?

As we mentioned earlier, Quibi has been designed exclusively for mobile devices, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. For better or worse, this means that everything Quibi has to offer is going to be delivered to you solely through the screen of your phone.

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Xiaomi Mi3 Everything You Need To Know!

At today’s launch here in Beijing Xiaomi Co-founder and CEO Lei Jun took to the stage and announced the Xiaomi Mi3 Android smartphone and the 47-inch Xiaomi TV, sorry guys there was no Xiaomi Tablet, Xiaomi laptop, Xiaomi games console or Red Rice WCDMA announced.

So what can we tell you about the Xiaomi Mi3 flagship phone?

Xiaomi Mi3 Design

The tipsters, insiders and sketchers got it right! The Xiaomi Mi3 does have a kind of Nokia Lumia look to it. It’s a design I secretly hoped for and I have not been disappointed when the final design flashed up on screen or I finally got the phone in hand!

The body of the Mi3 is alloy and measure in at 144 x 73.6 x 8.1mm. A large 3050mAh battery is sealed in to the stylish body (it is not user removable) and the SIM card fits inside a tray in the top of the device.

Multiple colours will be available and there is also an iPad style Smart Cover available for the phone to which protects the front and rear and also acts as a stand while watching movies.

5-inch 1080 display

The screen size and resolution didn’t come as a surprise either, and measures in at 5-inch with a FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a pixel density of 441ppi.

No mention of if Xiaomi have decided to use Gorilla Glass or similar, however the OGS panel will still function accurately with wet hands or while wearing gloves. This isn’t to say the phone is waterproof, but if you happen to have wet hands or it is raining you can use the phone.

After having some hands on time with the Mi3 I can tell you the screen is a bright and crisp as any other 1080 phone, but no more so.


We had heard that Xiaomi would use either a Tegra 4 processor or Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, what we didn’t expect though was for 2 versions of the Mi3 with choices of both!

International Xiaomi Fans will only be interested in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 unit which works with China Unicom here, and will support most international bands. The Tegra 4 version of the phone will only be of use to Chinese customers who use China Mobile’s own brand of 3G.

Interestingly Lei Jun mentioned that the Mi3 uses the most powerful version of the Snapdragon 800 CPU (8974AB), and even mentioned that the processor Xiaomi has chosen is faster the the S800 Samsung will have announced they will use.

Gizchina News of the week

To show us how powerful Antutu scores of both Mi3 models were shown showing that the Tegra 4 model is the most powerful with a score of 36,582 while the S800 model get’s 36,026.

The Qualcomm version will run a 2.3Ghz processor with Adreno 330 graphics.

Both phones have 2GB DDR3 RAM and use faster 120mps memory for storage.


The rear camera on the Mi3 is a 13 mega-pixel sensor from the Sony stable with an Aperture of F2.2, 28mm wide angle lens. Images taken with the rear camera are really bright and crisp with tons of detail.

The front camera isn’t as great as we had hoped and is just a 2 mega-pixel sensor , but it has a larger 30mm wide lens, F2.2 aperture and the camera app features a more tuned version of the current ‘Beauty function’ to enhance facial features.

Speaking of the camera app, it has been updated with more adjustments than before allowing you to tweak every setting to get the perfect shot.

Other features

Other great features include the 3050mAh battery, Cirrus Logic and Dirac HD stereo sound, and a new immersion feature which changes the intensity of the phone vibration depending on what is shown on the screen (a great feature for games).

Like the Xiaomi Mi2A the Wifi has been updated to the faster 5Ghz frequency as well as 2.4G.

There is also built-in NFC, and enhanced GPS which will use the built in gyroscopic sensor to direct you if you loose GPS while heading in a tunnel.

USB OTG, Bluetooth 4.0, WIFI Direct, Mirracast and more are also included in the feature packed new phone.

Pricing and availability

The base model of the Xiaomi Mi3 with 16GB of memory will go on sale for 1999 Yuan ($320) while the top of the range model with 64GB is 2499 Yuan ($408). Both versions will be on sale in China for those of us with F codes from mid October.

There was no mention of an International release, but when Hugo Barra took to the stage he did say he planned spreading the word of MIUI and Xiaomi around the world, so it is likely still on the cards!

Wwdc 2023 Roundup: Everything You Need To Know

Here’s a look back at the WWDC 2023. Included here are first looks at iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12, and macOS Mojave. What was your favorite new feature to come out of the event?

iOS 12 Performance Enhancements

As expected, iOS 12 focuses heavily on performance and speed enhancements, rather than new features, although there were plenty of those too. The biggest news here perhaps is that iOS 12 will support iOS devices going back to 2013, as was the case with iOS 11.

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ARKit 2

ARKit 2 brings a lot of new tools to the platform, including native Adobe Creative Suite integration. The company also introduced an all-new Measure app so that you can measure real-life items just by using your iPhone.

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App updates

With iOS 12, you’ll also see search refinements in the Photos app and a new section called For You where you’ll find sharing suggestions.

Siri is also getting smarter in iOS 12 thanks to the introduction of a Workflow-like app.

Apps updated in iOS 12 include News, Stocks, and Voice Memos. The iBooks app is now called Apple Books. It comes with lots of new features and sections.

CarPlay also gains support for third-party navigation apps.

Digital wellness tools and Memojis

Two of the most significant new features in iOS 12 is the introduction of parental and wellness controls and all-new Memojis.

Do Not Disturb, Notifications, and Screen Time features are useful for parents and kids alike. The tools allow us to track our daily device usage and also quiet devices when needed.

The Do Not Disturb feature has been improved for bedtime and includes an automatic ending tool. You can turn Notification off during periods of the day or have them bypass the iOS Lock Screen.

Screen Time offers a weekly activity summary, which includes information on how long you use your device, right down to how often you pick the device up. You can also setup app allowances for yourself or your kids.

With Memojis, you can now create your own personal Animoji. The iOS 12 update also includes new Animoji faces and features too.

Group FaceTime

Group FaceTime is also arriving with iOS 12. With the new tool, you can have FaceTime chats with up to 32 people at the same time.

Precise text selection without 3D Touch

There’s now a keyboard trackpad mode on non-3D Touch devices. This includes older iPhones and the iPod touch.

New 3D Touch shortcuts

Apple’s added a pair of new QR code and document scanner options to iOS 12 that can be accessed quickly by pressing the Notes or Camera icon on the Home screen with 3D Touch.

Live Listen on AirPods

In iOS 12, AirPods are gaining the Live Listen feature found in hearing aids certified through Apple’s Made for iPhone hearing aid program. The feature, which is enabled in iPhone settings, turns an iOS device into a remote microphone, allowing you to hear a conversation in a noisy room.

Automatic updates

Introduced in iOS 12, a new Automatic Updates option permits your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to automatically install the latest iOS software on its own as soon as new version is available.

Siri in low-power mode

iOS 12 adds support for Hey Siri even when your iPhone’s battery is running low.

Previously disabled automatically as part of Low Power Mode, the untethered Hey Siri function has been upgraded in iOS 12 to work even when the battery is running low.

Changes to Lock screen during restart

iOS 12 prevents taking screenshots and accessing the Camera shortcut from the Lock screen when your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch has just been restarted or turned on.

Easier process to close apps on iPhone X

On iOS 12, iPhone X users can now swipe up to instantly close apps without holding them. This change was brought out to ensure iOS 12’s task switcher behaves consistently across iPhone and iPad.

Face ID improvements

You can now add an “alternative appearance” under Face ID. In other words, you can now add another person who can open your iPhone X using their face.

Plus, unlocking an iPhone X after an unsuccessful Face ID attempt is easier in iOS 12, thanks to a useful new gesture available from your Lock screen.

On iPad, some iPhone X gestures

From Apple’s website:

“iOS 12 for iPad includes updated gestures that make it easier to navigate. You can now go to the Home screen by swiping anywhere on the Dock. Get to Control Center more conveniently with a swipe from the top-right corner.”

watchOS 5

The latest software for Apple Watch doesn’t include third-party faces as some had rumored. But it does add some new fitness-based tools and communication features.

New challenges

The update includes the ability to challenge friends through weekly competitions. You’ll also find new workouts for yoga and hiking, and for runners. Finally, watchOS contains automatic workout detection too.


One of the best watchOS 5 features may turn out to be Walkie-Talkie, which is available through Cellular and Wi-Fi.

Updates to Siri face

Apple Watch is also adding new content to the Siri face, which first arrived last year. There’s also support here for predictive shortcuts and third-party apps. You can even talk to Siri without saying “hi Siri.”

Podcasts, WebKit

Podcasts have also arrived on Apple Watch, as has a WebKit on watchOS. The latter will allow you to few web content in mail or messages.

Rearranging Control Center

You can now rearrange Control Center toggles on your Apple Watch. This is the first time Apple Watch wearers have been able to customize the layout of their Control Center, directly from their wrist.

Connect to nearby Wi-Fi networks

WatchOS 5 brings a handy option in the Settings menu that permits customers to manually connect their Apple Watch to nearby Wi-Fi networks.

Bye-Bye original Apple Watch

The original Apple Watch won’t receive the watchOS 5 update when it arrives this fall. Indeed, it’s the end of the line for those first Apple Watch Edition models cost five figures.

Bring up Control Center from anywhere

watchOS 5 brings a subtle yet hugely satisfying usability improvement: now you can launch Control Center or access your Notification Center from virtually any Apple Watch screen—and more importantly—from inside apps, including Apple’s stock apps as well as third-party ones.

tvOS 12 Dolby ATMOS support

The most critical feature in tvOS 12 is the introduction of Dolby ATMOS support. You’ll find this support added to iTunes content already purchased.

Easier sign-in

Apple also announced a zero sign-on feature that logs you into an app by merely being on your Wi-Fi network.

Do you love the wallpapers that come with Apple TV? You can now use your Siri Remote to tap and learn more about the aerial location, which will now include wallpapers from the International Space Station.

macOS 10.14 Dark mode and updated Mac App Store Time-shifting wallpapers

MacOS Mojave brings a new Dynamic Desktop feature that automatically changes the new desktop wallpaper to match the time of day.

The operating system includes just one Dynamic Desktop example in form of a desert-themed photograph that changes seamlessly from day to night as time goes on.

Desktop Stack feature

With Desktop Stacks, you can arrange your files by kind, dates, or tags. New Finder features include a gallery view, sidebar view with metadata, and quick actions. Quick Look now provides Markup support. MacOS Mojave is also adding a lot more screenshot tools including easy markup.

Continuity Camera

With the all-new Continuity Camera feature, you can shoot a photo on your iPhoto and see it on your Mac automatically. New Mac apps include News, Stocks, and Voice Memos. The Home app also arrives on Mac.

More Privacy

Safari also gained new privacy features, and you’ll see a new fingerprinting tool too. A lot of the Mac developer tools aren’t arriving until 2023.

AirDrop saved website and app passwords

iOS 12 and macOS 10.14 bring improvements to AirDrop, Apple’s proprietary peer-to-peer file transfer feature, which can now be used to wirelessly send any saved passwords or usernames from one iPhone, iPad or Mac to another.

No more social integration

Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites no longer have third-party integration in macOS Mojave. The shift follows a similar move that was enacted with iOS 11 in 2023. With the change, accessing and sharing information with those services on your Mac will require a few more steps.

Favicons return

Mojave brings back the long-awaited favicons to help visually distinguish between multiple open tabs. What’s more, favicons are available for the first time on iPhone and iPad thanks to iOS 12.

iOS apps come to Mac

In macOS Mojave, Apple is bringing apps from iOS to the Mac for the first time, including News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home. The News app for Mac offers all the content you’ve come to expect from the curation app in a design that looks familiar.

WWDC 2023

We’ll have much more to say about all of these software updates and the rest of WWDC 2023 over the coming days and months. In the meantime, what software features announced at WWDC did you like the most? Let us know below.

Uk Mvno Guide: Everything You Need To Know

In our five-part UK network review series , we take a look at the UK’s major networks and major virtual network operators (MVNO), including the plans and services they offer and whether they’re about to be snapped up or buying a rival in the biggest shake-up of the UK market in a decade. In today’s final segment, we look at the major MVNOs in the UK and exactly what they offer.

While there are only four major networks in the UK, there a dozen more virtual networks, that offer mobile services running on one of the networks’ infrastructure. While some of the MVNOs are for specific customers and not readily available for all to buy, other MVNOs aim to challenge the existing status quo with unique plans and aggressive competition.

In today’s series, we’re looking at five of the major MVNOs; BT Mobile, iD, Tesco Mobile, GiffGaff and Virgin Mobile.

BT Mobile

Formed: March 2014

MVNO Network runs on: EE

Offers 4G: Yes

Offers Pay Monthly: SIM only, no handsets

Offers Pay As You Go: very small range of PAYG handsets (six to choose from)

Owns spectrum: Yes (acquired through spectrum auction for £187 million):

2 x 15MHz of 2600MHz

1 x 20 MHz of 2600MHz (unpaired)

Quad Play services: Yes: BT Mobile, BT Vision, BT Broadband and BT phones.


BT had a long history in the UK telecoms industry under its Cellnet and (then) O2 guises until the latter was sold to Telefonica in 2005. Since its exit from the telecoms industry, BT has continued to offer mobile services to some of its business customers and in March 2014, BT Mobile became an MVNO in the UK running on EE’s network.

Price Plans:

To remain as competitive as possible, BT Mobile launched by offering the UK’s cheapest 4G contracts for just £5 per month (for existing BT Broadband customers). In total, there are only three SIM Only plans available to choose from:

£5.00/m: 200 minutes, Unlimited Texts, 500MB 4G data

£12.00/m: 500 minutes, Unlimited Texts, 2GB 4G data

£20.00/m: Unlimited, Unlimited Texts, 20GB 4G data

If you live in a house with BT Broadband, you’ll get the prices listed above, otherwise if you don’t have BT Broadband, you’ll have to pay an additional £5 per month surcharge.

What is quite interesting is that while EE offers a maximum of 10GB data on SIM Only for £28.99 per month, BT offers double the data for almost half the price. Sounds odd right? Well, there’s a catch. From our personal experience, we can reveal that BT Mobile plans are capped at around 30Mbps on 4G (meaning there’s no access to the superfast LTE-Advanced double-speed 4G network). That being said, BT Mobile is certainly interesting for all customers who don’t need the fastest speeds.

All BT Mobile customers also get the following perks:

BT Wi-Fi: Free and unlimited access to more than 5 million hotspots

Spend Caps: Monthly spend caps on all bills, including roaming caps and usage alerts via SMS

Unlimited 0800 calls and voicemail: unlimited calls to 0800 numbers and voicemail free of charge

BT Sport Lite: all BT Mobile customers can watch live Barclay’s Premier League football, Aviva Premiership Rugby and Scottish Premier League games for free.


Overall, BT definitely has one of the most compelling MVNO offerings on the market and its packages could even compete against the established major networks. Its acquisition of EE will see the network become a major player that is capable of beating not only the existing MVNOs but all the major networks as well.

Three’s buyout of O2 could prove to be the biggest challenge that BT Mobile faces in the very near future and Vodafone should certainly not be ruled out as rumours persist that they are interested in buying chief TV rival, Sky. Whatever does happen in the UK telecoms and terrestrial services markets, BT is set to be at the heart of it and BT Mobile will definitely have a part to play.

Formed: May 2023

MVNO Network runs on: Three

Offers 4G: Yes

Offers Pay Monthly: Handsets and SIM Only

Offers Pay As You Go: Handsets and SIM Only

Owns spectrum: No

Quad Play services: None


Related: Three Network Review (2023): Everything you need to know

Price Plans:

iD Mobile’s plans are split across three tiers for handsets and three tiers for SIM Only plans. Its Handset packages are:

ShockProof Plan: Similar to the GoTo plan, the ShockProof plan offers calls, texts and data for between £7.50 per month and £12.50 per month on a 24-month contract only. This plan includes a £5 buffer each month and is designed for people who have a limited budget and allows you to cap your monthly spend (to the price plan plus the buffer).

TakeAway plan: this is by far, iD’s best plan and arguably one of the most compelling packages on the market. Costing between £25.50 per month and £45.50 per month on a 24-month contract only, the plan includes calls, texts and data with the added benefit of being able to use your inclusive minutes, texts and data free of charge in 22 countries around the world.

The network’s handset plans are certainly compelling and its 30-day rolling SIM Only plans are somewhat similar apart from one key difference:

GoTo Plan: just like the handset plan, this offers calls, texts and data for between £7.50 per month and £20 per month on a rolling contract. The plan ranges from offering 500MB 4G data for £7.50 per month to unlimited data on the £20 SIM only plan, although the latter is currently only a launch offer and is only likely to be offered for a limited period of time.

ShockProof plan: Just like the handset package, this lets you fix your monthly spend and offers calls, texts and data. The plan comes with a £5 buffer on top of your allowances (which can be increased via its website) and like the GoTo Plan, offers between 500MB data (£7.50 per month) and Unlimited data (£20.00 per month) although the latter is a special launch offer.

DataOnly plan: this is perfect for anyone who only needs mobile data and offers 4G data for between £5 per month and £20 per month. The £5 per month plan offers 500MB data while the top plan offers 20GB data for £20 per month and is perfect if you find yourself needing data on the go (as it can be used in a mobile WiFi hotspot).

If there’s one thing that’s disappointing about iD Mobile’s plans, it is that you have to be tied into a long 24-month handset contract in order to use your allowances abroad as the TakeAway plan isn’t available on SIM Only. However, the network does say that it is constantly evaluating its offering so this may change at some point in the future.

Rather than offer the traditional perks that other networks offer, iD Mobile aims to market itself as a network built around you. The company claims to offer the ability to choose the perfect package and plan to suit you, the ability to add extras whenever you want and the only network to offer you the maximum control and flexibility over your package.


Tesco Mobile

Key Details:

Formed: May 2003

MVNO Network runs on: O2

Offers 4G: Yes

Offers Pay Monthly: Handsets and SIM Only

Offers Pay As You Go: Handsets and SIM Only

Owns spectrum: No

Quad Play services: None


One of the oldest MVNOs on the market, Tesco Mobile initially launched as a small MVNO but has risen to become one of the biggest in the UK. Sold directly through Tesco Phone Shops (in larger Tesco supermarkets) as well as via the Tesco Phone Shop website, Tesco Mobile has gained customers through an attractive offering and clever marketing to existing Tesco customers.

Tesco Mobile operates in the UK, Ireland, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic and 90% of the company is owned by Tesco (or a subsidiary), with O2 owning the other 10%. Until January 2023, the supermarket offered Tesco Broadband, Homephone and Blinkbox (video-on-demand) but these were sold to TalkTalk as part of a debt reduction scheme and it’s rumoured that Tesco Mobile could also be sold to serve a debt bill that currently sits at £22 billion.

Price Plans:

Tesco Mobile’s price plans are very similar to O2 in that the company splits the cost of your monthly package into payments for your phone and airtime. Like O2 Refresh – which Tesco’s Anytime Upgrade package is built on – you pick a handset to buy at 0% interest and a plan and then make two direct debit payments each month; one for your phone and one for your plan.


Overall, it’s unsurprising to see Tesco Mobile offer a Refresh-style Anytime Upgrade pay monthly package like one of its parents O2 but the plans themselves are actually quite competitive. Many people have questioned whether O2 Refresh is actually worth the split payments and personally, I’ve found that its incredibly useful, especially when I want to upgrade early or need to pay off a contract as a phone is broken. Like O2, Tesco Mobile doesn’t offer handsets without the split payment contract so you may need to look elsewhere if you’re not happy with the Anytime Upgrade offering.

Formed: November 2009

MVNO Network runs on: O2

Offers 4G: Yes

Offers Pay Monthly: No.

Offers Pay As You Go: Offers SIM Only. Handsets available either outright or on finance

Owns spectrum: No

Quad Play services: None


GiffGaff is the only MVNO that’s technically run by a network themselves as it runs on the O2 network and is owned by O2’s owners, Telefónica. The network is definitely the most unique in the UK as it doesn’t employ call centres and instead, is run by an online community who answer questions and solve queries within 24 hours.

Along with its unique structure, GiffGaff is also unique in its package offering as the network offers handsets on finance but doesn’t offer pay monthly contracts. All GiffGaff phones are unlocked as well, meaning complete flexibility in the way you use your phone.

Price Plans:

GiffGaff only offers Pay As You Go deals but if you don’t have the money available to buy a new phone outright, the company can also finance the deal for you (through a partnership with RateSetter).

The way it works is simple: choose your phone, then choose how long you want to pay it back over (6, 12, 18 or 24 months) and choose how much you want to pay up front (£25, £50, £100, £200). Then you choose a goodybag (aka a Pay as You Go bundle) to go with your phone and together, they form the basis for your monthly cost. The unique thing about GiffGaff Phones is that – at least according to the GiffGaff website – you can change your goodybag at any time and there’s only a soft credit check to valid your identity, which doesn’t leave a mark on your credit score.

The cost of the credit isn’t too much either, with the average interest set to between 9 and 10 percent. As an example, the Galaxy S6 costs £489 outright (which is cheaper than the RRP) and a 24-month finance agreement with £25 upfront works out to be £535 in total (again cheaper than the RRP). Increase the upfront cost and the overall monthly cost goes down, as it does if you choose to pay it over a shorter period of time.

Related: Vodafone Network Review (2023): Everything you need to know

GiffGaff have a choice of Goodybags available as well, offering both 3G and 4G services for those who need them. All goodybags come with free calls and texts to other Giffgaff users and cost between £5/m and £20/m for a 3G goody bag and £12/m and £18/m for a 4G goodybag. Here’s the different goodybags available:

Overall, GiffGaff is certainly a unique network and it definitely has a unique proposition. By offering contracts (and PAYG handsets) at cheaper than its rivals with less stringent rules, the network can appeal to all users who are disillusioned with their existing network.

The unique finance offering will definitely appeal to customers who have difficulties getting accepted for traditional pay monthly contracts and in some cases at least, the finance option can still work out cheaper than buying the handset outright from the manufacturer.

Despite being a non-traditional MVNO thanks to its community-run structure, GiffGaff continues to grow and has a loyal band of users that shows no signs of abating. As other networks introduce even more complex plans and contracts that can be difficult to understand (and may work out rather expensive), GiffGaff’s unique plans could see an increase in its subscriber base.

Given that O2 is currently in the process of being bought out by Three UK, it’s unclear what the future holds for GiffGaff or whether Telefónica will exclude GiffGaff from the deal. Whatever does happen, at least for now, GiffGaff has a bright future ahead of it.

Virgin Mobile

Key Details:

Formed: 1999 (2007 as part of Virgin Media)

Also known as: Virgin Media Mobile

MVNO Network runs on: EE

Offers 4G: No

Offers Pay Monthly: Handsets and SIM Only

Offers Pay As You Go: Handsets and SIM Only

Owns spectrum: No

Quad Play services: Yes (Virgin Media): Broadband, Mobile, TV, Landline


The world’s first MVNO, Virgin Mobile was formed in 1999 as a joint venture between Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and One2One. Virgin Mobile enjoyed several years of growth and awards – that were coupled with behind-the-scenes power struggles and courtroom battles between the two parent companies – before merging with NTL:Telewest in April 2006.

Less than a year later, NTL:Telewest rebranded to Virgin Media in February 2007 and became the first quad-play company offering broadband, television, landline and mobile phone to customers. Virgin Mobile remains an important MVNO in the UK, especially as its fixed-line internet arm – Virgin Broadband – is the second largest UK broadband provider with 20% of market share (according to Ofcom data at the end of 2013).

Price Plans:

Virgin Mobile offers the latest handsets and a range of packages in the same format as O2 Refresh and Tesco Mobile (see above). The network’s Freestyle lets you split the cost of your handset from your airtime but what makes it unique is that Virgin Mobile doesn’t run on O2; Freestyle is the first UK tariff that is doesn’t use the O2 network to explore the split tariff concept.

Freestyle is also unique as – unlike other providers – it offers every handset with every one of its packages. This means that you can buy the latest phone with a basic plan and offers the most flexibility on any UK tariff. As an example, the Galaxy S6 is available for £31 per month (£26 per month for the handset, £5 per month for the airtime) which, although it does have low allowances – 250 minutes, Unlimited texts and 250MB data – is one of the cheapest deals on the market.

The key thing that it’s worth remembering is that Virgin Mobile only offers 4G to business customers so its cheap tariff comes with the caveat of vastly slower speeds, especially as EE has arguably the UK’s fastest 4G network. Other perks available to Virgin Mobile customers is Wi-Fi on the London Underground at no extra cost, “exclusive perks” that include V Festival and cinema tickets and unlimited free voicemail that doesn’t come out of your inclusive allowances.


UK MVNOs: Final Thoughts

Everything You Need To Know About Uterus Transplants

Most women have probably cursed their pain-inflicting uteruses at least once in their menstrual histories. But an increasing number of women who don’t have them—either because they were born without or had them previously removed—are going to great lengths to obtain new ones. In mid-January, the Associated Press reported that nine Swedish women received transplanted uteruses in a series of procedures conducted by a team from the University of Gothenburg. This was the third group of researchers to attempt a uterus transplant with the end result of a successful and full-term pregnancy, and many teams around the world are racing to be the first to succeed, despite skepticism and ethical concerns.

To be candidates for the procedure, women had to be of childbearing age (mostly in their 30s) and not have a uterus. This transplant is designed to be only temporary, though; the idea is that the women will become pregnant, have one or two children, and then have the uterus removed. This is because, after the operation, the women have to take anti-rejection drugs, which suppress the immune system and make them more vulnerable to diseases and infections, according to Mats Brännström, the Swedish team leader. These drugs do cross the placenta in “negligible” quantities and could affect the developing fetus, said Doris Ramirez Nessetti, a gynecologist at the AllCare Medical Center in Venice, Florida. Cyclosporine, one of the most common immunosuppressant drugs, has been shown to negatively impact fetuses in animal trials but no controlled studies have been conducted to see if it works the same in humans, she said.

In the recent transplants in Sweden, the uteruses came from live donors, often the patient’s mother or close relative, in order to reduce the risk that the woman’s immune system would attack and reject it. There’s no age cut-off for donors; they just have to have a healthy uterus. The surgeons remove the uterus, tie up the fallopian tubes and blood vessels left behind, and stitch her back up.

It’s the transplant surgery that is the hard part, and it’s particularly complicated. “It’s a new kind of procedure,” Brännström said. “Not only does the organ have to work and survive, but it’s also going to expand a lot during the pregnancy, and there are many other demands on the organ.” The uterus also comes with many small blood vessels and must be placed in a particularly difficult and “inaccessible” part of the body, he noted.

For some of the women, the transplant will bring many firsts. The women born without uteruses will have their periods for the first time. All women experience the hormonal fluctuations that regulate menstrual cycles since puberty, Brännström said, but for a woman without a uterus, there was never any period to induce. Unlike in a typical menstrual cycle, the ovaries won’t release an unfertilized egg into the uterus during those periods because the fallopian tubes are not connected. Instead, a fertilized egg must be placed into the uterus (IVF) for the woman to become pregnant.

Doctors consider most organ transplants to be successful if the organ works properly in the host’s body. But for a uterus transplant, success is defined more narrowly: not only does the uterus have to work, but the woman has to give birth to a healthy baby. That means the Swedish team won’t be able to determine success rates for two or three years. It’s because of this narrow window for success that all previous attempts to transplant uteruses have failed: a Saudi woman who had the surgery in 2000 had to have the transplanted uterus removed several years later due to circulatory complications, and a Turkish woman who got the transplant in 2011 from a deceased donor got pregnant, but then miscarried after eight weeks.

But some experts are concerned about the ethics behind the current stage of uterus transplants. To some, not enough animal tests have yielded live young to show that it’s time to try it out on humans. Florida’s Ramirez Nessetti has conducted similar transplants on sheep. “[Although] there is not a standard guideline on the amount of animal transplants to move to human,” she said, she believes that Brännström and his team jumped the gun on trying their experiment with humans. After multiple trials with sheep, she and her colleagues plan to perform transplants on apes, which have more biological similarities to humans, before moving to human subjects.

While Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at New York University, agreed that more animal studies are necessary before the surgery can be brought to the United States, he’s more concerned that the competition to see which research team can bring about the first baby may negatively impact the science behind it. “The race…is creating a moral issue since reproduction is involved and safety ought to be the primary concern,” Caplan said. Additionally, the attempts and outcomes of uterus transplants have not been well-tracked internationally or published regularly, Caplan said, so it’s hard for researchers to build on each other’s work; Brännström and his team have yet to publish a paper, although they plan to do so in the near future. “Reporting clinical innovation through the media rather than at peer-reviewed professional meetings or in peer-reviewed journals is a deeply troubling way to launch any clinical innovation, especially with a procedure as risky and as controversial as uterine transplants,” Caplan wrote in the November 2012 edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Because not enough studies have been conducted, gynecologists wouldn’t know how to deal with the huge variety of issues that can arise in pregnancies under much more normal conditions, said Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN based in San Francisco. She expressed concern about complications ranging from the effect of mild organ rejection on the fetus to what can happen to the placenta, which could put the life of both mother and baby at risk. “I do think there are many unanswered safety questions and that is a concern for me,” she said.

“The issue becomes what risks to fetus and mother are justifiable in order to carry a pregnancy,” Caplan said. “The risk/benefit ratio is a very close call.”

After all this, why not use a surrogate mother, who would carry and deliver a child for another woman? In Europe and the Middle East (and in some US states), surrogacy is illegal, which changes the stakes. “It’s not a coincidence that [the first attempts at a transplant were] conducted in Islamic countries,” Brännström said. “It’s very important for a woman to become a mother, so surrogacy and adoption would not be approved by Islamic convention.”

Even in places where surrogacy is legal, Caplan said, women just might not want to “deal with” a surrogate and all the uncertainties that come with it, such as legal issues, birth complications and the health of the fetus during gestation. “There are also some who seek a more natural reproductive experience,” he said.

Cost would also be a factor. Since uterus transplants are not yet offered to the general public (and may not be for some time), there’s no way to know if insurance will cover the procedure. However, since the operation is voluntary and insurance doesn’t currently cover the use of other fertility treatments such as IVF, insurance companies aren’t likely to pay for uterus transplants. On the other hand, surrogacy can be expensive, depending on the type of surrogacy. If the surrogate is not a family member, compensation could range from $10,000 to $30,000, not including doctors’ appointments and vitamins.

In the end, the deciding factor in whether to get a transplant may come down to the hard-to-control, deep-seated emotions attached to a specific kind of motherhood where a baby grows inside its mother, who nurtures it before bringing it into the world.

Even though Ramirez Nessetti mentions surrogacy to her patients, she said, “A lot of them want to experience all the feelings and emotions,” she said. “They’re missing that part of being a mom, feeling the pregnancy, feeling the baby kick. It’s really about the bonding.”

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