The 3 big telcos – Singtel, Starhub and M1 – have long been a source of angst for Singaporeans, who complain about slow internet and exorbitant excess data usage charges.
Then Circles.Life and MyRepublic came along, and now it seems like we have a way out of overpriced mobile data plans!
You’d no longer have to commit for 2 years and be obligated to wait for re-contract discounts on your new handset – you can just take the money you save on your SIM-only plan, and get yourself a new phone on Lazada.
New virtual telcos have also joined the fray since, such as TPG Singapore, Zero 1 and Zero Mobile (yes, they’re different). And most recently and significantly, the Big 3 in Singapore have released really, really competitive SIM-only plans recently.
So how do these different SIM Only Plans compare with each other? Here are the 7 cheapest and how they stack up.
7 cheapest SIM Only plans from Singapore telcos (2019)
|SIM only plan||Monthly fee||Data / outgoing talktime / SMS|
|Circles Life Flexi Plan||$0 (but $50 registration fee)||1GB / 30 min (includes incoming) / 10 SMS|
|TPG Singapore||$0||Unlimited data / voice calls & SMS don’t work|
|Zero1 1GB||$9.90||Unlimited (actually 1GB) / 200 min / 200 SMS|
|Circles Life Base Plan||$18 (port over)||20GB / 100 min (includes incoming) / 25 SMS|
|Singtel GOMO||$20||20GB / 200 min / 200 SMS|
|StarHub Giga||$25||25GB / 1,000 min / 1,000 SMS|
|M1||$25||30GB / 1,000 min / 1,000 SMS|
Circles Life Flexi Plan ($0, but can top up for usage)
I’m an early subscriber to Circles Life’s Flexi Plan and I really like that there’s absolutely no commitment and you never have to pay for anything you don’t use.
It literally costs nothing and offers 1GB of data, 30 minutes of talktime, free caller ID and 10 SMS. You can build on the plan by adding on $8 for 1GB $12 for 2GB and 200 minutes of talktime for $10. Great for mindfulness gurus that want to go on a data detox yet stay somewhat contactable, hey?
Note that incoming calls are counted as part of the talktime. In other words, it’s really easy to burst the 30 minute limit. (Which is fine by me, since I’m willing to fake my own death to avoid phone calls, but maybe not for everyone.)
I recommend this SIM card for seniors who don’t use much data and just want a cheap, low-maintenance card. Even if you top up for talktime, that brings your bill up to $10/month for 1GB data and 230 min of talktime, which is very reasonable. But you’ll need to manage your plan quite actively using the Circles Life app, so it’s definitely not for techno-phobes.
Now, the biggest problem with this “free” SIM-only plan is that… it’s no longer really free. I got it back when registration was free, but now it seems they charge an exorbitant one-time signup fee of $50. Ouch.
TPG Singapore ($0 unlimited data, but limited phone usage)
For some background, TPG is an Australian telco trying to launch their services in Singapore. Since it’s still in beta, it’s now offering free SIM cards as part of its trial.
If you think that paying nothing for unlimited data is too good to be true, well, you’re right. This isn’t really a phone plan so much as a backup SIM card for extra data or perhaps a spare device.
The data is unlimited, although your usage is capped at 2GB per day – which is still crazy, TBH. The one major drawback is that the TPG signal doesn’t work underground, so your phone is dead whenever you’re on the train (and even in certain parts of buildings).
Right now you also can receive SMS OTPs, but that’s about it. It’s not at all reliable for regular functions like calls and messages, even though TPG claims that you get unlimited talktime and 20 SMSes…
If you have a dual-SIM mobile phone, the TPG SIM card + Circles Life Flexi Plan make the perfect el cheapo SIM-only combo as you’ll never have to top up your Circles Life SIM card for data.
Zero 1 SIM only plan – 1GB to Unlimited ($9.90)
Zero 1 is the third virtual telco following Circles Life and Zero Mobile. They launched “unlimited” plans in March 2018. Apparently, you get 4G speeds on the first GBs that you pay for, and
managed SLOW network speeds thereafter…
How bad are these “managed network speeds” though? Well, if you just need to play Spotify, read Reddit, or watch Youtube at 240p, the “managed network speeds” suffice. But using Facebook or Instagram won’t be a smooth experience.
From $9.90/month (ongoing promotion at $9.90/month), Zero 1’s 1GB plan is seriously dirt cheap. (They also have a 3GB one for $29,99 and 9GB one for $39.90, but those are really bo hua so we won’t cover them.)
We wouldn’t recommend the Zero 1 1GB plan for heavy usage, but it should be OK if you’re not terribly reliant on your phone as life support. if your usage exceeds the Circles Life Flexi Plan but just a bit, or if you want decent talktime and SMSes without having to go through the hassle of monthly top ups, then this is the next best alternative.
Downsides are that there is no app to check your data usage unlike Circles Life and the big 3 telcos, and the customer service is apparently not that great as well.
Circles Life SIM Only Base Plan ($18 if you port in from another telco)
Circles Life’s Flexi Plan is definitely not for everyone. The more popular Circles plan is the Base Plan, which has recently been revised to offer 20GB of data, 100 minutes talktime, and 25 SMSes.
20GB of data is plenty, and for just $18 a month, it’s really quite a steal. This is even better than the Singtel GOMO plan ($20 for 20GB) that’s got everyone excited lately.
But as with most things Circles Life, the focus is squarely on data while traditional mobile phone plan features like talktime and SMSes take a backseat.
As with the Flexi Plan, the 100 minutes of talktime include incoming calls, which you have virtually NO control over. (A bit kelong right, this Circles Life?) But I guess that’s what the free caller ID (and Reject Call button) is for. Also, since you get so much data, it’s kind of a no-brainer to use Whatsapp calls or FaceTime for everything.
Note that the unbeatable rate of $18 is only applicable to people who port in from another telco. They’re actively looking to acquire users. If you’re not porting in, you’ll have to pay the full price of $28 a month. Also, a $38 registration fee may apply, but you can get this waived at roadshows where they’re a bit more desperate to close the deal.
Circles Life’s USP is that it is a fully virtual telco, which means that their customer service is 100% online only. Porting your number from any other telco can be done without ever meeting a customer service officer in person. They’re also known for great customer service.
Singtel GOMO – cheapest Singtel SIM only plan ($20 for 20GB)
For the longest time, Singtel’s SIM only plans used to be quite overpriced – $20 for 5GB and $36.05 for 10GB, for example. What’s more, most of them even required at least 12 months’ commitment. Pfft.
But they must have lost a significant chunk of business to players likes Circles Life, because they’ve recently launched a new brand, Singtel GOMO, to win back the hearts and minds of disloyal Singaporean millennials. Fortunately for Singtel shareholders, it’s pretty awesome.
Now, although the marketing for GOMO is a bit try-hard, that shouldn’t distract you from the fact that the new price of $20 a month is sooo cheap for a phone plan that covers ALL the bases: 20GB data, 200 minutes talktime, 200 SMSes.
You can read more about Singtel GOMO in our in-depth review here.
Starhub Giga – cheapest Starhub SIM only plan ($25 for 25GB)
Much like its compatriot Singtel, Starhub used to offer rather pricey SIM only plans, starting from $25 for 3GB. Pretty lame, and they knew it, too, which is why they did a big revamp earlier this year to boost it to 13GB instead, with unlimited weekend data. Hooray!
But guess what? It only gets better. Shortly after Singtel launched GOMO, Starhub has followed suit with its own “Giga” plan, which costs $25 a month (so, $5 more than GOMO) but gives you 25GB of data, and an insane 1,000 minutes of talktime and 1,000 SMSes.
That’s a crapload of talktime, and honestly, I can’t think of anyone who’d need that much, except maybe for overenthusiastic sales execs.
Starhub also has this gimmick where you can roll over unused data from that 25GB to the next month, which is cute, although perhaps it might prompt you to realise you’re paying for way too much data.
For the full review of Starhub’s Giga plan, go here.
M1 SIM only plan ($25 for 30GB, unlimited streaming on Spotify)
Shortly after Singtel GOMO and Starhub Giga, M1 joined in the fray with its own super-good value SIM only plan. Of course.
Props to M1, though, for not bothering to create a new microsite peppered with cringey “YAAAS”es and ~IG story~ references. Instead, they’ve gone straight for the jugular by simply decluttering their old, not-very-good mobile plans, and updating their one SIM only offering:
It’s now $25 a month for 30GB of data, 1,000 minutes talktime, and 1,000 SMSes. By these specs alone, M1 already beats Starhub’s Giga, which is the same price for less data.
But M1 has gone one step further and also included a couple of great value-adds to spoil us with: Free data on weekends, and unlimited Spotify music streaming. Now, that’s how you get millennials’ attention.
See how M1’s new SIM only plan stacks up against Singtel’s and Starhub’s here.
So, which is the best SIM only plan in Singapore?
So how do you know which plan to sign up for? Here’s a quick guide:
If you want it totally free: Circles Life Flexi Plan + TPG SIM card (free)
If you’re a complete cheapskate and have a dual-SIM mobile phone, this $0 combination is pretty damn powerful considering it’ll cost you next-to-nothing (now, if only someone would convince Circles Life to waive their stupid registration fee for the Flexi Plan…). That said, it’s only if you don’t need the talktime or SMSes, and you won’t have a meltdown if your YouTube video stops playing while your train is underground.
If you don’t need much talktime: Circles Life Base Plan ($18)
Circles Life obviously understands the phone-phobic millennial generation. If that describes you to a T, then the lack of talktime and free incoming calls shouldn’t bother you. There’s free caller ID so you can always know who’s trying to bug you before deliberately missing the call. You should only sign up if you’re currently with another telco, though, to take full advantage of their $18 rate for port overs.
If you want an all-rounded plan without spending much: Singtel GOMO ($20)
Singtel’s new GOMO plan is your best bet for an all-rounded plan that won’t make you feel like you’re sacrificing any part of your life just to save a few bucks. At $20 a month, it’s terrific value.
If you need a helluva lot of talktime or data: Starhub Giga ($25) or M1 ($25)
Both plans offer 25GB of data and 1,000 minutes of talktime, which is A LOT. If you’re quite sure you’ll put those extra minutes or GBs to use, then go for it – otherwise, you’ll just be paying an extra $5 (over Singtel’s GOMO) for nothing.
What data plan are you using right now and are you satisfied with it? Tell us in the comments!
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