We are several months into the paradigm shift towards SIM-only mobile plans.
12-month or 24-month contracts to lock you down are now a thing of the past. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) have also begun offering mobile network contracts for a great bang for the buck.
In this article, I want to talk about Starhub’s Giga – why I love it, and why I think it’s worth porting into their network.
What I look for in a SIM-only plan
SIM-only plans are mostly postpaid plans with no contracts, meaning you can switch telcos whenever you like.
Everyone has different needs and depending on your usage, you might prefer a different plan. I am someone who uses the Internet on my mobile rather aggressively – about 15GB per month – on web searches, social media, occasional Youtube streaming, Spotify and games.
Most of my data consumption comes from social media and web searches, which I use to read online articles, news, consume content and indulge in a little social activity.
Pretty typical activities I believe.
I don’t use a lot of SMS and talk time, because I use messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram if I really need to communicate with others. There are also channels like Facebook Messenger and Instagram DMs for texts.
If I ever need to make a call, I can always use Internet calls to avoid consuming talk time. There are occasional cases of making a phone call to a customer service hotline, and that’s unavoidable.
In view of the above, I gauge that I need around 50 minutes of talk time per month for the emergency ‘get on the phone’ occasions; and less than 100 SMSes.
The other thing I look for in my cellular plan is the connectivity – both the strength and the reliability of the signal are important.
In many cases, especially on the orange network, there is a very strong signal but extremely poor reliability of the signal – pages would still fail to load.
In terms of add-ons, I think one thing I value most is the ability to roam overseas at affordable rates, without the demanding restrictions on cellular use. I think what some telcos have are very pathetic roaming add-ons – and definitely more can be improved in this aspect.
On top of the above, I also look for something that’s value-for-money, especially when cellular connectivity is more or less commoditised. What’s value-for-money is probably different for everyone, but I think $25 to $30 is a sweet spot.
So to summarise what I look for in the SIM-only plan:
- 15-20GB data pack
- Minimum 50 minutes talk time
- Minimum 100 SMSes
- Good roaming add ons for the occasional travel
- Affordable plan ($25-$30 max)
I’ve switched plans about 4 times in the past several months
I have switched between M1, Circles Life, Singtel’s Gomo and Starhub’s Giga since SIM-only plans came into the market.
Honestly not all SIM-only plans are equal, and there are some caveats when you take advantage of their sign up offers.
Let’s take a look at M1’s $25/month SIM-only plan:
OK, I mean it’s a pretty generous plan with 1000 SMSes and 1000 minutes of talk time, free incoming calls and unlimited Spotify streaming, at just $25.
At first glance, I thought wow, this plan is amazing – it has everything that I want at the price point that I was willing to pay!
Until you read the finer print – caller ID is chargeable after 3 months (6 months if you switch to M1).
Not a deal-breaker, but after using it for a month, I think their cellular network needs some big improvement – I’d often experience pages and images failing to load, the loading icon keeps spinning and it’s just hours of my life gone to waste.
I had varying levels of success with the other telcos.
For example, Circles is also utilizing the M1 network, and also suffers from the same issue. They have occasional nice promotions running, but they are often timebound (e.g. only valid for 6 or 12 months) so you don’t enjoy the benefits forever.
Singtel’s GOMO is not bad, in my experience. They have a reliable network and relatively straightforward plan (20GB, 200 minutes outgoing talk time, 200 SMS for $20). Unfortunately, I found a better plan…
Starhub Giga and why I love it
This will sound like it’s a sponsored post but I can assure you it’s not.
Giga’s plans feel like a cross between M1 and Singtel. Their 25GB for $25 plan has a lot of M1’s generosity (1000 minutes, 1000 SMSes) with a tad lower data allowance (25GB vs 30GB).
On the other hand, you get free rollover data, which allows you to rollover your unutilized data for two months; and free incoming calls and free caller ID!
Their network quality feels in-between M1’s and Singtel’s. In terms of signal strength, there are occasional cases of dead spots and weak signal strength. But the reliability of their signal strength deserves a thumbs up.
You have to see which provider has the best coverage for your area (home and work). During my daily commute on the MRT, I had no issues with streaming and surfing social media on the East-West line.
If you don’t need so much data and want to get an even cheaper plan, Giga sometimes runs pop-up plan promotions that bring the overall cost down even further.
The pop-up plan is $18 for 20GB of data, with 200 SMS and 200 talk time, with free caller ID, free rollover data, and no contract. This the plan I got for myself.
What’s different from other telcos is that the benefits in the plan have no timebound validity. You don’t have to worry about your 20GB expiring in 12 months down the road.
If you follow their social media page, they also have Happy Hour Fridays, where they will launch free gift aways to their customers.
For those concerned about their app, it is quite modern but a little buggy in their interface. I prefer Circles Life’s app for its usability, but I think Giga’s app serves its purpose if all you need to do is check usage and apply for add-ons like data booster packs.
There are roaming capabilities on Giga and you can also apply for their gigaRoam packs – which gives you 1GB roaming data allowance for a number of days, so you don’t have to buy a SIM card overseas and switch physical SIMs. This is comparable to M1’s Data Passport, but it’s a more inferior version because of the more limited data allowance.
Nonetheless, M1’s data passport’s price has steadily increased over the years, so if you’re not someone who consumes a lot of data overseas, Giga’s offering is just another option at your fingertips.
The rest of the features on their app include checking your historical transactions, changing the payment plan, and finding FAQs on Giga’s features, contacting customer support etc.
Alright, there’s only so much one can talk about a cellular plan. I think at the end of the day, you need to see which telco offers reliable connectivity at the best price point for your needs.
For me, I think Starhub’s Giga has lived up to expectations and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.
If you’re looking to sign up with them, then use the referral code 6LmtcD at the signup page to enjoy the 25GB plan at only $20 (U.P. $25) for the first month!
- Value for money
- Comprehensive set of features
- Network coverage isn't 100% islandwide