Using Mobile Phones in the UK

Find out how to get yourself a mobile phone or cellphone in the United Kingdom...

There is a huge choice of mobile phone or cellphone suppliers in the UK and it is necessary to research the different packages and options before signing a contract. The main suppliers are:

Mobile phone stores which sell handsets with contracts from different suppliers, are also commonly found in UK shopping centres and malls. All suppliers offer a wide range of handsets and packages, so customers should be clear about which product they require before signing up online or going into any street branch of the supplier. Most suppliers offer Android and Apple smartphones, along with simpler mobile phones.

In most cases, a contract is signed which can be up to 24 months long. Alternatively, there are "pay-as-you-go" packages, where top up cards can be bought as and when they are needed.

Relatively new companies such as GiffGaff offer predominantly SIM only deals at lower prices than the standard suppliers. They use the O2 network to provide services to customers.


4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone technology. It is widely available in the UK and allows customers to access much faster mobile internet speeds. Contract prices will generally be higher for contracts that have access to the 4G network.

Documents Needed

The following documents will be required when buying a mobile phone on a contract, and a credit check will often be made (for a pre-paid phone, no documentation is required and a handset can be bought at a supermarket):

  • Document to prove signature, for example passport or credit card
  • Proof of identity, (passport or ID card)
  • Proof of address (electricity or gas bill)

Lost Mobile Phones

In the event of mobile phone loss or theft, contact the phone provider and ask them to block the number and deactivate the SIM card.

Then contact the police and provide them with details of the phone make, model, number and the IMEI. The IMEI number protects the owner if a phone is lost or stolen. The number can be obtained by typing *#06# into the mobile phone. Note the number and keep it separate from the mobile. The police will provide a crime reference number which can be used to claim on insurance.

Following the theft, register with Immobilise, who will add the telephone to the Police National Stolen Phone Database. If the phone is recovered, it may be possible to retrieve it.

Recycling Mobile Phones

It may be possible to recycle old mobile handsets for money.