What is a locked phone?

Since handsets are heavily subsidised, as industry standard they are locked to the network they were bought from. Some phones can be unlocked and used with other networks, however if you are in a contract this can be considered a breach of contract.

We recommend against doing this as the phone may not work as well without the original network settings, and you may find yourself liable for penalties according to the terms of your contract.

Can I use my phone abroad?

There are usually two restrictions on using your phone abroad - one phone specific and one network specific. If your phone is Quad band that means you can use it anywhere in the world (almost!), if your phone is Tri-band then you can use it within Europe. We list whether each phone is quad-band or tri-band in its individual specifications list.

As the allowances with your contract are typically only applicable within the UK, O2 will usually charge roaming rates when you call to or from abroad. It is also important to let O2 know if you plan to use your phone abroad, as a setting on your account may need to be changed in advance.

Can I read and send emails on my phone?

Modern smartphones are great for reading and sending email. Many new mobile phones now come with a push email facility - this means emails are sent to your phone automatically. All you need to do is enter your email account settings (usually IMAP or POP3 settings, or your webmail account details) and then you can read and send emails as if you were on a PC. Check with your email provider for more details.

Most webmail services such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail are compatible (often with dedicated apps), and those which aren't are usually accessible through your web browser. Note that sending and receiving email often uses data, so you will need a plan which includes a data allowance.

How good is the Internet on mobile phones?

Long gone are the days when Internet browsing on phones was a slow and painful experience. The latest technology means that browsing is much slicker and faster than ever before.

Network infrastructure and handset technology has also improved greatly over the last few years making mobile browsing a pleasurable experience, plus the amount of websites with a dedicated mobile design for viewing on a smaller screen is growing by the day.

Internet speeds will be affected by your location; factors that can affect your speed include: whether you're inside or outside, local geography, weather conditions, and amount of traffic on the network.

What is 3G?

3G is the third generation of mobile phone standards and technology. 3G allows a network provider to offer network services geared for data transfer, including support for video calls and high-speed web browsing. It also allows networks to supply a greater number of customers more efficiently than the old 2G networks.

More recently the introduction of 3.5G networks (also known as HSDPA) means that O2 can offer data speeds even faster than standard 3G, and up to the speeds of mobile broadband.

How do contract minutes and texts work?

Typically contacts with O2 come with a specified allowance of any-network anytime minutes, and a number of texts; these are free as part of the contract. If you exceed your allowance, there is typically an overage charge which will be applied to your monthly bill.

Allowances reset at the beginning of each month, so minutes and texts cannot usually be carried over from month to month. However, if you go over your limit in one month, it won't be deducted from the next month, so you don't need to worry about restricting yourself if you need to use a bit more.

Some contracts also come with a data allowance. This works like the minutes and texts allowances, and is usually a figure given in MB (megabytes, a unit of data size) or GB (gigabytes; 1000MB). Data use can vary with activity; browsing a few web pages or checking your email account won't use up much, but streaming video or audio to your phone can use up a lot more.

Occasionally tariffs also come with bonuses like free landline calls, unlimited texts, or additional data roaming. These are worth looking out for if they have what you want, because they add a lot of value to the contract.

Should I get pay-as-you-go (PAYG) or a contract?

What's best for you really depends on how much you use your mobile phone. In the past, infrequent users were recommended to get PAYG. However with new extremely cheap tariffs on the market, that is no longer the case.

Pay Monthly contracts are now available at much cheaper prices, allowing you to take out a contract with plenty of minutes and texts plus a free mobile phone - which on PAYG you would have to purchase separately - and keep great value for money even if you're a light user.

PAYG is still the right option for if you only use the phone in extreme circumstances (e.g. for emergencies), or if you don't want to or can't enter into a contract (e.g. if you're only in the country for a short time), but for other circumstances you'll get better value from a contract.

Do I need insurance?

Although mobile phones are often provided for free with a contract, if you have to replace your phone due to loss or damage it can cost between £150 and £500 depending on model. If you believe you are likely to lose or damage your phone, and you cannot afford to replace it yourself, you may wish to consider insurance.

Can I keep my phone number if I change network?

Yes. Ofcom regulations require all providers to provide number portability to subscribers who request it.

If you are changing mobile phone network then you will need two things: a "PAC" (Porting Authorisation Code) from your old network - which you can usually get by calling their customer service team - and your new phone or SIM card.

All you need to do when you have both your new phone and your PAC is call O2's customer services team within 30 days of issue. They will take your details and sort out the transfer process for you. The whole process shouldn't take more than a couple of days (in the meantime you can use the temporary number assigned to your new SIM) and you'll be ready to go in no time!

Note that if you are on a fixed term contract and you transfer network or cancel your contract before it ends, then you may be liable for further costs as laid out in your existing agreement. Make sure you check so you can avoid any unexpected costs!

How can mobile phones be free?

Mobile phones can be expensive, with some premium smartphones worth up to £500 each if you were to buy them on their own. However, on many O2 plans you can get the handset completely free!

The reason that phones can be given to you for free is because O2 subsidises them, allowing you to get a good phone for very little or even nothing when you take out your contract. On other contracts, the subsidy may not cover the entire cost of the phone, which is why some contracts also have an up-front cost.

When buying a contract, it's often worth deciding whether you want to choose a plan with an upfront cost, as these plans usually have a lower monthly cost - meaning that you often pay less overall.

What is a smartphone?

Smartphones are phones that have a lot of computing power - they're often compared to small, pocket-sized computers. Like PCs, they run on an advanced operating system and contain sophisticated processors and other hardware.

Compared to older "feature phones", they are good at browsing the internet and sending emails, they can run applications (or "apps") which are pieces of software designed to perform small tasks, and even give you the ability to take photos, listen to music or act as a GPS. Rather than buttons, they're often controlled using a touchscreen or trackpad.

Need Help? Contact the O2 Gurus!

O2 want to make everything as simple as possible when you are choosing your new mobile product. With that in mind, if you have any questions about the product you're interested in, simply book an appointment at your local O2 store to get the latest information and top quality advice.

For all other queries, see our FAQ to get you started with your online order from O2.