The Hong Kong Mobile Plan Comparison for 2019

The Hong Kong Mobile Plan Comparison for 2019

Choosing a mobile service provider can be tricky, so we want to compare them and see which might be the right fit for you. To make these comparisons as close as possible, we will be looking at similar plans across each provider.

We have chosen a few basic benchmarks that we believe are pretty common these days. 4G (speed) is a must, 10-12 GB of Data, and around 2-3,000 voice minutes. If you have these three, you really won’t be missing much. We also want to compare price across similar packages, contract commitment, and any other services offered. We will also be focusing on sim-only packages as phones are super cheap these days and it doesn’t make sense (at least to us) to go with a phone + sim plan.

Please note* The plans we are looking at here are monthly plans, but some of them don’t require a commitment.

Birdie

Using Birdie (uses the SmarTone network) to start is a good benchmark, and we wrote about them just a few months ago. Let’s take their highest tier as a benchmark.

Birdie’s offers at time of publishing (July 2019)

Birdie’s offers at time of publishing (July 2019)

Price Per Month - HK$ 140 for 12GB with no commitment.
Mobile Data Speed
- 4G-21 Mbps
Local Voice Call Minutes - Unlimited
Other Services - Birdie offers a pretty bare bones setup, but this works fine for most people. (It’s a personal favourite of Jamie’s) You get the usual suspects like Intra -SMS (do people use these anymore?), voicemail, call forwarding, call number display, call waiting and conference calls. For a more in-depth look at Birdie, check out our article here. Their add on services such as their travel passes allow you to use your local data in other countries and they also have cool features like peer-to-peer sharing of data so if you’re running low, you can contact a friend (who’s also using Birdie) and ask them to share some of their data with you.

Verdict: This plan offers great flexibility. Data sharing, travel passes and the fact that you don’t have to commit to a contract can be seen as a big plus, especially if you end up leaving Hong Kong. Its one less thing to worry about! We think this plan will be ideal for most simply because of it’s flexibility.

CSL

CSL is a Hong Kong Telecom company. Hong Kong Telecom also owns PCCW Mobile. There is a little bit of an “illusion of choice” mechanic at play in the mobile network provider space. CSL is well-liked here and offer excellent service. Most people have good things to say about CSL. The plan we are referencing here is called the CSL Ultra Speed Service Plan. This falls in our 10-12 GB range, offers unlimited voice calls and uses 4G.

If you are interested in their other offerings, here’s a link

CSL’s offers at time of publishing (July 2019)

CSL’s offers at time of publishing (July 2019)

Price Per Month - HK$ 298 for 12GB with a 24-month commitment.
Mobile Data Speed
- 4G-21 Mbps
Local Voice Call Minutes - Unlimited
Other Services - 500 SMS (intra-network), China roaming data usage (2GB) and “86 Easy” value-added service, CSL WIFI, 200 MMS and ten international SMS. They also offer you access to “The Club” which gives you, in my opinion, a bunch of services nobody cares about. Tap & Go, a three-month WeChat data package and HKTCare , which doesn’t mention if it’s an add on service or not. I imagine it is.

Verdict: Per month, this plan is expensive, and in our opinion, the other services they offer are useless. If you go to China often then the roaming might be useful, but if you need roaming, Birdie offers Travel Data Day Passes that are cheap and don’t require you to change your sim card. This also really mitigates the need for using the “86 Easy” service, too. If you want a “China” number, we are sure there will be shops in China that can give you one for peanuts. You can buy a Tap & Go card from 7-Eleven (7-Eleven Stores are everywhere, take a look!) and use that with a separate app so CSL isn’t really offering you anything you can’t get elsewhere with Tap & Go. Frankly, all these add on’s are fluff. The only one we think is remotely useful is CSL’s WIFI hotspots. However, if you want to use one, Birdie also allows you to use your phone as a WIFI hotspot.

Sun Mobile

Sun Mobile is also a Hong Kong Telecom’s company. If CSL is their run of the mill offering, think of this as their budget offering. The plan that fits our perimeters the best is the 4G Anytime + 10GB. Let’s have a look at what they offer.

Here’s a link to their other offerings.

Sun Mobile’s offer at time of publishing (July 2019)

Sun Mobile’s offer at time of publishing (July 2019)

Price Per Month - HK$ 140 for 10GB with a 12-month commitment + extra HK$ 18 per month for MTR tunnel fees.
Mobile Data Speed
- 4G-21 Mbps
Local Voice Call Minutes - 3,000 minutes
Other Services - 500 SMS (intra-network) and access to CSL WIFI

Verdict: This is a pretty bare-bones plan, but we think it covers most of the essentials you’ll need, although you’ll need to commit to Sun Mobile for 12 months for the privilege. In our opinion, Birdie offers a better deal. You get 2 more GB’s a month for the same price, and you’re not tied down to a 12-month contract.

Note* CSL also has a luxury brand they offer services through called 1010. The closest offer we could find that match our perimeters is one of their offerings called The 1010 Digital Life Plan. We haven’t given 1010 their own section because we feel their plans are simply extortionate.

China Mobile

When looking through China Mobile’s website, we couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the options that they have…look at them all! Abundance aside, we found a plan that fits our criteria reasonably well. It’s called the 4.5G Full Speed Local Service Plan.

China Mobile’s offer at time of publishing (July 2019)

China Mobile’s offer at time of publishing (July 2019)

Price Per Month - HK$ 158 for 12GB (+1GB Roaming Data) with a 24-month commitment.
*HK$ 218 for 12GB with a 12-month commitment.
Mobile Data Speed
- 4.5 G
Local Voice Call Minutes - Unlimited
Other Services - 20,000 free MyLink points, Free DATA+ VAS within contract period (DATA+). This terminology is confusing and looking through the terms on the website doesn’t provide much clarity. It appears to mean that if you go over your limit, don’t worry; you will still have unlimited access to super slow data speeds. They also offer VoLTE & VoWi-Fi HD Voice Calling Service. (This is basically voice calling over wifi and LTE) Video calls are charged at HK$ 1.5 - 2.5 a minute, SMS charged at HK$ 0.6, MMs charged at HK$ 1.5 and other services like call forward package, calling number display, basic voice mailbox, call waiting & call hold, conference call, incoming/outgoing call barring and bar incoming call (when overseas).

Verdict: As you would expect, China mobile leans heavy on a feature set geared towards being in China, or at the very least, it’s geared towards people who travel in China bay area. We think VoLTE is a marketing gimmick. You could easily use an app (you’d have to find one that isn’t banned in China) to take calls in China rather than using their VoLTE service. MyLink seems similar to The Club, and you can judge for yourself if getting little gifts is something you value or not. If you are staying in Hong Kong, this package doesn’t really make too much sense, and the contract is only cheaper if you commit for 24 months instead of 12.

Three HK

Three HK (Hutchinson Telecommunications) are another big player in the Hong Kong market. While they offer a 4.5G service, their customer service isn’t up to par. We know people who have had contracts with them in the past and their dealings have been rather shady. It isn’t uncommon to hear people talk of contract extension problems such as having their contract extended except the data portion of it, so they end up paying by the Mb and receiving a bill in the thousands.

The service that best matches our criteria is the one below, titled the 4.5 G Sim Only Plan.

Three HK’s offer at time time publishing (July 2019)

Three HK’s offer at time time publishing (July 2019)

We really do like that Three makes their plans easy to understand. This one is pretty straight forward.

Price Per Month - HK$ 198 for 10GB with a 24-month commitment
Mobile Data Speed
- 4.5G
Local Voice Call Minutes - 3,700 minutes
Other Services - 1GB data for China-HK-Macau (known as the bay area), cash coupon (HK$200 for DBS card holders) and Three also offer WIFI hotspot access around Hong Kong.

Verdict: There isn’t too much to say about this plan. It’s very similar to Sun Mobile with a longer commitment period. We would say to be wary of Three simply because of their customer service. People have far nicer things to say about CSL, and we’d recommend you use one of their plans instead of this one. Having 1GB of data might be nice if you take the odd trip to China or Macau, but if you rarely go, it’s probably not necessary.

SmarTone

Last but not least, SmarTone enters the fold. Again, this plan is very similar to some of the others. You end up paying more money for tiny gains.

SmorTone’s offer at time of publishing (July 2019)

SmorTone’s offer at time of publishing (July 2019)

Price Per Month - HK$ 298 for 12GB with a 24-month commitment
Mobile Data Speed
- 4.5G
Local Voice Call Minutes - Unlimited
Other Services - Intra SMS, voicemail, call forwarding, call number display, call waiting, conference call. They offer a Norton security pack and Call Guard (or security + if you prefer), and that’s about it.

Verdict: Again, this offer is simple to understand and might make sense for you if you’re used to SmarTone’s service if they are a provider in your country, but we think it’s a weak offering. Again, the Extra’s they offer you don’t really make sense in 2019. Norton Anti-Virus is that annoying programme that you can’t wait to get rid of on your computer, so heaven forbid it lands on your phone. The chances of getting a virus on your phone are slim these days. We think the other offerings above offer better value.

Which Plan is the Best Fit for You?

The Penny Pincher - Go with Birdie. It’s hard to beat Birdie’s price and what they offer really covers the basics. They don’t offer you any extra fluff, and for a lot of people, that’s absolutely fine. They also don’t have any contract commitments either.

The China Traveller - Go with China Mobile. It’s cheaper than CSL and will probably give you the best network service in China.

The Big Spender - Go with CSL or 1010. Nobody should be going with the latter but if money isn’t a problem, then why not? CSL will give you good service but it’s quite overpriced for what they offer.

Let us Know What You Think!

We’d love to hear what you have to say about our article! Are we missing information that you think we should add? Let us know in the comments below or email us: jamie@navigatehk.com

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