Orange – SIM Only – Review

Orange Logo

A Full Review Of Orange’s SIM Only Contracts

Orange were the third mobile network to launch in the UK and originally built their success on being smaller and more quirky (or cool) than Vodafone or BT Cellnet. Their catchphrase ‘The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange’ summed up their philosophy at the time and after a big money acquisition from France Telecom, Orange grew to be the largest of the mobile networks in the early parts of this century. Following a strong fightback from Vodafone and O2 however who focussed hard on customer service and differentiated propositions, Orange started to stumble and eventually found themselves in a distant third place.

This led directly to a merger with T-Mobile which, whilst allowing the two networks to keep their individual brands, catapulted the combined entity into a strong first place position and has brought about several benefits for customers including a shared network (giving them undoubtedly the best coverage of all the networks) and cost savings which can be passed on to customers in the form of lower prices or better value. In reality, however, Orange is still presented as very much the premium brand of the two and it is T-Mobile that appear to be reaping the benefits of being able to offer lower prices whilst Orange maintain their position.

Orange Animals

In 2006 Orange relaunched all of their tariffs and price plans under a new banner of different animals for different types of customers. It sounds a little confusing but in reality it is a simple way of quickly and easily identifying the SIM only price plan that works for you. Dolphins are social animals and the dolphin packages contain lots of texts and data for access to social networks. Canaries love to chat and the canary plans contain lots of minutes, magic numbers (see below) and unlimited texts. Racoon plans are simple, no frills packages for low cost calls and texts. Panther plans meanwhile give you the opportunity to get it all and contain unlimited, texts, email, internet and more. Camels tend to travel long distances so camel packages contain free international calls to more than 50 countries.

Magic Numbers

Magic Numbers is a strong Orange promotion that rewards customers for their loyalty. A Magic Number allows you to nominate any other Orange number and make unlimited calls to it as often as you like. Pay monthly customers are able to add a new Magic number every six months so the longer you stay with Orange, the more value there is in the promotion.

Orange Wednesdays

Undoubtedly Orange’s most successful promotion, and one which has been running for many years is Orange Wednesdays. The premise is simple, if you are an Orange customer you get two for one tickets on a Wednesday for any film in just about any cinema in the UK. The promotion has also been expanded to include two for one meals at restaurants such as Pizza Express. It’s a simple promotion but an enormously popular one, so much so that Wednesday has become one of the busiest nights at cinemas across the UK and for regular cinema goers the simplicity and value of this offer alone are enough to make them loyal Orange customers.

Other Benefits

In their attempts to position themselves as a premium network, not merely one that competes on price alone, Orange have consistently added more benefits for their customers. Magic Numbers and Orange Wednesdays are clearly the two biggest but there are other smaller advantages too. Film to go Thursdays is an attempt to build on the success of Orange Wednesdays and offers a new film to download free from iTunes every Thursday for all customers. Best Plan is a commitment from Orange to monitor your usage every six months and recommend the best price plan for you. Contacts Backup is a service which synchronises your address book with your Orange account so that if you ever lose your phone you can simply synchronise them to your new one. Orange also offer discounts on their broadband packages (including mobile broadband) for mobile customers so you can save money on internet access too.

Top Quality Coverage

Undoubtedly the biggest advantage for customers of the Orange and T-Mobile merger is the ability for customers to share the networks. This means that if you are out of coverage from the Orange network but there is a T-Mobile signal you can use that network automatically and for free. It is a huge advantage for places with more patchy coverage and as the 3G signal can also be shared it can have a big positive impact on mobile internet availability and speed too.

Value For Money

So there are plenty of good reasons to join Orange and they have done a great job of adding extra benefits to attract customers without having to cut prices. But one of the big advantages of opting for a SIM contract is the extra value for money you get compared to a traditional, with phone contract. On the purest measure of how many minutes, texts and data you get for your money, Orange are not the strongest here and true bargain hunters will tend to do better with T-Mobile, or especially Three. However there is a lot of value in offers like Magic Numbers if your friends and / or family are also Orange customers and many customers really value promotions like Orange Wednesdays and Film to Go Thursdays so you need to weigh up how much these to you compared to just saving money on your price plan. If you do decide to go with Orange you will be joining a top quality network but the extra value in some of the others means we just edge towards recommending them more.