With Zoom calls and binge-watching dramas on MeWatch, previously Toggle tv, being the new normal, senior citizens run the risk of being left behind.
Not only are some seniors not digitally savvy enough to make use of these new technologies, many also lack good smartphones and affordable data plans.
In addition, the 4 Singapore telcos have also released cheap mobile plans as part of the government’s new Seniors Go Digital programme. Now is a good time to get a mobile plan and phone for your elderly parents so you can contact them easily.
Seniors Go Digital vs IMDA’s Mobile Access for Seniors scheme
What’s the difference between Mobile Access for Seniors and Seniors Go Digital, you ask?
Mobile Access for Seniors is a government scheme by IMDA, and it comes with various eligibility criteria. Seniors Go Digital, on the other hand, is open to those in Singapore aged 60 and above.
|Mobile Access for Seniors||Seniors Go Digital|
|Age||60 years old and above||60 years old and above|
|Citizenship||Singapore Citizen||Singapore Citizen and PRs|
|Pre-requisites||Must be under MSF ComCare or HDB Public Rental Scheme. Also must not be an existing IMDA Home Access beneficiary who has received a smartphone||No requirements|
If you qualify for IMDA’s scheme, you’ll need to attend a Seniors Go Digital learning programme and enquire at the SG Digital community hub. More details here. Once successful, you’ll get an eligibility letter from IMDA, which you can use to claim the deal from your choice of telco:
|Telco||Subsidised $5 plan||Available phones|
|Singtel||5 GB / 150 min / 50 SMS||OPPO A12 ($20), Realme C3 ($40), Samsung Galaxy A11 ($58)|
|M1||6GB / 100 min / 20 SMS||OPPO A12 ($20), Huawei Y6s ($31), Samsung Galaxy A11 ($46)|
|Starhub||8GB / 350 min / 200 SMS||Vivo Y1S ($20), Huawei Y6s ($38), Samsung Galaxy A11 ($58)|
|TPG Mobile||20GB / 300 min / 30 SMS||Lenovo A7 ($20), Vivo Y1S ($40), Samsung Galaxy A11 ($60)|
Now, if you do not qualify for this scheme, you can opt for one of the 4 telcos’ Seniors Go Digital mobile plans instead. These are open to all Singapore citizens and PRs aged 60 and above and you do not have to fulfil other requirements.
Price comparison of Seniors Go Digital mobile plans (2020)
|Telco||Monthly fee||Contract||Data / outgoing talktime / SMS|
|TPG (SIM-only)||$5||None||20GB / 300 min / 30 SMS|
|Starhub (SIM-only)||$8||None||5GB / 350 min / no SMS|
|M1 (SIM-only)||$18.75||None||30GB / 1,000 min / 1,000 SMS|
|Starhub (SIM-only)||$20||12 months||30GB / unlimited / no SMS|
|Singtel (SIM-only)||$20||12 months||20GB / 150 min / 500 SMS|
|M1 (with phone)||$30||24 months||12GB / 100 min / 100 SMS|
|Singtel (with phone)||$34.32||24 months||2GB / 200 min / 1,000 SMS|
|Starhub (with phone)||$40||24 months||15GB / unlimited / no SMS|
- Cheapest mobile plan for seniors: TPG at $5/month (until 31 July 2021)
- Most data for watching videos: M1 SIM-only or Starhub SIM-only with 30GB data
- Mobile plan with most talktime: M1 SIM-only (1,000 min) or Starhub SIM-only (unlimited)
- Cheapest mobile plan with free phone: M1 at $30/month
Read on for more details on the Singtel, Starhub, M1 and TPG Mobile plans, including their mobile phone options.
Singtel mobile plans for seniors (from $20/month)
For the Seniors Go Digital initiative, Singtel has released 3 mobile plans: SIM Only, Combo 2, and Combo 3. Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of the plans:
|Singtel mobile plan||SIM Only||Combo 2||Combo 3|
|Contract||12 months||24 months||24 months|
|Talktime||150 min||200 min||Unlimited|
|SMS||500 SMS||1,000 SMS||Unlimited|
|Free phone options||None||Samsung Galaxy M21, OPPO A31, Huawei Mediapad M5 Lite (tablet)||iPhone SE, Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, Huawei Nova 7SE, OPPO Reno 3, Vivo V19, Realme 6 Pro|
Singtel Seniors Go Digital SIM Only
Of the 3 mobile plans offered to seniors, it’s safe to ignore Singtel’s $20 SIM-only plan.
Singtel’s is the most expensive SIM-only plan among the 4 telcos, and it’s also the only one with a 12-month contract! Meanwhile, direct competitor Starhub has a more attractive $8 SIM-only plan with no contract.
Singtel Seniors Go Digital Combo 2
If you don’t mind the 24-month contract, Singtel’s Combo 2 for seniors is a decent deal at $34.32/month.
With just 2GB of data, it’s adequate for seniors who mainly use the phone for calls, but not if they consume tons of video content. Its main benefit, however, is the free device. Choose from the below:
After the 24-month period, you end up spending $823.68. The Samsung and OPPO phones are worth about $300 if you buy them separately, while the Huawei tablet is about $350.
Singtel Seniors Go Digital Combo 3
The most expensive is Combo 3, which comes in at $49.80/month for 24 months — a fairly hefty recurring expense.
It comes with 6GB of data a month, and unlimited(!) talktime and SMSes. But, just like Combo 2, we think the main draw here is the free phones, which are of a more premium range and include the new iPhone SE:
Is $49.80/month worth it for an iPhone?
For comparison’s sake, an iPhone SE 128GB costs $719 from the Apple store, and you have the option of getting it with a 0% interest 24-month instalment plan at about $30/month.
That works out an extra $20 you’re paying every month for the phone service.
How to sign up
For now, the 3 Seniors Go Digital plans are available in physical Singtel Shops only, where there is an express queue for seniors. Those who sign up also get a free digital skills workshop at 8 Singtel stores.
Unfortunately, online sign-ups and training are not available at the moment, so if you’re concerned about the pandemic, you’ll have to wait.
M1 mobile plans for seniors (from $18.75/month)
For its Seniors Go Digital range, M1 simply applies a 25% discount to its usual mobile plans.
There are basically 2 types of M1 mobile plans, either SIM-only or one that comes with a phone. Here’s a comparison of the two mobile plan types with pricing for seniors:
|M1 mobile plan||SIM Only Plan||Plan with Device|
|Talktime||1,000 min||100 min|
|SMS||1,000 SMS||100 SMS|
|Free phone options||None||Oppo A31, Lenovo Tab 7 Essential, Huawei Y9s|
M1 Seniors Go Digital SIM Only
After Singtel, M1 has the second most expensive SIM-only plan for seniors at $18.75/month (25% discount off the usual $25).
However, it’s also got the most data (30GB) and a whopping 1,000 minutes of talktime. There’s also no contract. So if you’re getting a phone plan for an elderly family member who loves watching videos and talking on the phone, this is probably the best all-rounded plan.
M1 Seniors Go Digital Plan with Device
Apart from the SIM-only plan, M1 also has a basic mobile plan that bundles in a phone or some other smart device. This starts from $30/month for seniors (U.P. $40 for everyone else).
The plan comes with plentiful data (12GB) but falls short on the talktime and SMS. However, M1 does offer unlimited talktime to 3 M1 numbers, so best friends can sign up as a group if they like.
At just $30/month, it’s also the cheapest mobile plan with a free phone. However, the only phone that you can really get for free is the Samsung Galaxy A31.
To give you an idea of the plan’s value, at the end of 24 months you would have paid $720. The Samsung Galaxy A31 costs about $348 if you buy separately.
(Note: M1 has a lot of other phones to choose from, but you’ll either have to pay part of it upfront OR upgrade to a more expensive plan. Most phones are completely free only if you upgrade to the $58.50/month plan.)
How to sign up
You can sign up for an M1 Seniors Go Digital mobile plan at any M1 Shop or Exclusive Distributor. Like Singtel, M1 does not offer online sign-up at the moment.
As a bonus, all senior plans come with 3 months free Viu Premium and TVBAnywhere+ subscription.
Starhub mobile plans for seniors (from $8/month)
Starhub has 4 Seniors Go Digital mobile plans to choose from: 2 are SIM-only plans and the other 2 are SIM with phone plans. Here are the 3 cheapest ones to compare:
|Starhub mobile plan||SIM Only (no contract)||SIM Only 1-year plan||$40 2-year plan|
|Contract||None||12 months||24 months|
|Free phone options||None||None||Samsung Galaxy A51, OPPO Reno 2, Huawei Nova 7 SE, Huawei Nova 5T|
Starhub Seniors Go Digital SIM-Only plans
As mentioned, Starhub has two SIM-only plans: An $8 one and a $20 one. Depending on whether you’re buying this for a “lite” or “power” user, either one is pretty good value.
With 5GB of data and 350 minutes of talktime, the $8/month is adequate for most seniors who don’t use their phones all that much. It’s one of the cheapest SIM-only plans on the market and has no contract to boot.
The other Starhub SIM-only plan is more for power users who love to stream videos, do Zoom calls and talk on the phone all day. It comes with a whopping 30GB of data and unlimited talktime.
Just note that Starhub does not offer free outgoing SMSes at all. Incoming SMSes are free but you’ll be charged per SMS if you send any.
Starhub Seniors Go Digital mobile plans with phone
There are 2 Starhub plans that come bundled with mobile phones. Both come with 2-year contracts.
The “cheaper” $40 plan comes with 15GB data and unlimited talktime, and lets you choose from the following $0 phones: Samsung Galaxy A51, OPPO A31, Huawei nova 7 SE, Huawei Nova 5T and Vivo V19.
$40/month is much more expensive than the competitors’ plans. For example, M1’s mobile plan is only $30/month and comes with a free phone.
The main difference is that Starhub’s free phones here are of a higher value. They range from about $400 to $550 if you were to buy them separately. Of course, if the user is not particular about their phone, you might as well sign up for the M1 one and save some cash.
Starhub also has an even more expensive plan at $60/month which allows you to get more expensive phones for “free”: iPhone SE, Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite, or OPPO Reno 3 Pro.
If you just want a plan for the iPhone SE, you can also consider the Singtel Combo 3 which is cheaper by about $10/month.
How to sign up
As with Singtel and M1, the only way to sign up for a Starhub mobile plan is to go to a StarHub Shop. To reduce waiting time, you are encouraged to book an appointment first.
Alternatively, you can also register your interest online and wait for someone from Starhub to contact you with the next steps.
TPG Mobile plan for seniors ($5/month)
It’s no surprise that Singapore’s fourth and newest telco, TPG Mobile, has the absolute cheapest mobile plan for seniors. After all, we’re talking about a telco that had a free SIM card for the longest time.
|TPG Mobile plan||Seniors Plan|
|Monthly fee||$5 (valid until 31 July 2021, subsequently $10)|
|Add-on phone||Samsung A11 ($200 nett)|
At just $5/month, TPG Mobile’s Seniors Plan is definitely wallet-friendly. There’s plenty of data and a reasonable amount of talktime.
However, you need a VoLTE phone to get the TPG voice calls to work. If you don’t have one, you can either research and get your own VoLTE phone or add on the Samsung A11 for an extra $200 when you complete your TPG SIM card registration.
Also, since TPG Mobile is so new, don’t expect its network coverage to be as good as Singtel or Starhub. Its network still doesn’t cover all underground MRT tunnels, for example.
How to sign up
You can sign up for a TPG Mobile SIM card online, but will need to make arrangements for physical pick-up at the TPG store (Orchard Central), Ezlink (Tampines Central) or OPPO (Hougang Central).
To reduce the risk of Covid-19 exposure, you can have an authorised proxy pick up the SIM card for you. The person needs to present a signed authorisation form, their NRIC and your NRIC.
Your monthly payments can be made with either credit card or cash (in person at the TPG store or authorised dealers).
Which of these mobile plans would you sign up for? Tell us in the comments!