You may think, “I’m interested in cheap smartphones, but I don’t know which one to choose because there are so many types.” First of all, why not choose a company or model that suits you by comparing the features of cheap smartphones?
In addition, there is a reason why it is said that “cheap smartphones have slow communication speeds”. This time, we will compare the speeds and services of cheap smartphone companies and explain why they feel cheap and slow.
What is MNO / MVNO?
When I was researching smartphone model changes, I often saw the terms MNO and MVNO.
MNO is a telecommunications carrier that has its own telecommunications equipment. Specifically, there are four companies: DoCoMo, au, Softbank, and Rakuten Mobile. On the other hand, a telecommunications carrier that rents communication equipment from MNO and provides services is called an MVNO (Virtual Mobile Network Operator).
In other words, major carriers = MNOs, and telecommunications companies that offer cheap plans other than MNOs = MVNOs.
Compare 6 cheap smartphone companies. What are the speed and service?
New companies and services are appearing one after another on cheap smartphones (cheap SIM providers, MVNOs). This time, we will compare the speeds and services of six companies that represent cheap smartphones.
|Line type||communication speed||feature|
|Rakuten Mobile||Own line (inside Rakuten line area) / au line (outside Rakuten line area)||Stable speed due to own line (within Rakuten line area)||・ Unlimited data usage fee in Rakuten line area
・ Preferential treatment when used in combination with Rakuten Group services
|Y! Mobile||Own line + Softbank line||Almost the same speed as Softbank||・ Softbank sub-brand
・ Cheap with the same usability as MNO
|UQ mobile||au line||Almost the same speed as au||・ Au sub-brand
・ Recommended for transferring from au
|mineo||3 lines of docomo, au and Softbank||Slightly slower when the line is busy||・ Has unique services such as user community and data sharing between users
・ Abundant options and services
|BIGLOBE mobile||2 lines of docomo and au||Focus on maintaining speed by strengthening lines||・ If you subscribe to the option “Entertainment Free”, you can use YouTube, Spotify, etc. with unlimited data capacity.|
|IIJmio||2 lines of docomo and au||Not as fast as UQ mobile or Y! Mobile, but can be used at a stable speed even during busy times||・ Cheap SIM long-established store
・ Simple rate plan
・ There are campaigns such as monthly charge discounts and free data increase.
・ [Rakuten Mobile] Link with various Rakuten services
Rakuten Mobile was originally a company that started as an MVNO that uses au lines, but in April 2020, it started providing its own lines and became an MNO. Even after that, it is attractive that it offers a drastic campaign such as a simple and cheap rate plan equivalent to the MVNO and “free for one year from application”.
Although there is a weakness that the coverage area of the Rakuten line is smaller than that of other companies (*), it is possible to use it at a very stable speed because it is an in-house line within the coverage area. For high-speed data communication, you can use up to 5G by connecting to an au line with unlimited capacity inside the Rakuten line area and outside the area.
If you use Rakuten Card to purchase your smartphone or make monthly payments, you will receive preferential treatment if you use it in combination with other services provided by Rakuten Group, such as doubling the Rakuten Super Points awarded. If you use many Rakuten services, Rakuten Mobile is a cheap smartphone that you should definitely consider.
* As of March 2021
・ [Y! Mobile] Service equivalent to SoftBank
Y! Mobile is a cheap SIM service provided by SoftBank as a sub-brand. For those who want to reduce the price as much as possible while maintaining the same usability as major carriers, we recommend that you include Y! Mobile as a candidate for comparison.
Y! Mobile is compatible with SoftBank lines and Mobile lines, and its fundamental mechanism is slightly different from other cheap smartphones. In other words, we have achieved a communication speed that is almost the same as SoftBank.
From July 2020, with the “Smartphone Basic Plan MR”, the communication speed limit has been increased to a maximum of 1 Mbps even if the monthly data communication volume is exceeded. Therefore, there are few cases where the speed is slow and troublesome, and it can be said that it is unlikely that the speed will decrease in the future.
・ [UQ Mobile] au sub-brand
UQ Mobile, which is often seen in commercials, is a cheap SIM service developed by au as a sub-brand. It is well known and highly evaluated for its ease of use, so it is also recommended for beginners of cheap smartphones.
Also, since it is compatible with au lines, you do not need to unlock the SIM when switching from au to UQ Mobile.
Just as the communication quality of Y! Mobile, which is a sub-brand of Softbank, is equivalent to that of Softbank, the communication quality of UQ mobile, which is a sub-brand of au, is almost the same as that of au. In addition, it is characterized by stable communication speed even in busy hours and places. Even if you compare Y! Mobile and UQ mobile, the difference in communication speed does not widen.
We also recommend using UQ WiMAX, a mobile Wi-Fi, in combination with UQ Mobile.
・ [Mineo] Relatively stable with line reinforcement
mineo is a “triple carrier compatible cheap SIM” that supports the lines of Docomo, au, Softbank, and three major carriers. K-Opticom Corporation of the Kansai Electric Power Group provides mine services. Among MVNOs, it is a company that is highly evaluated for its high customer satisfaction and abundant options and services.
It can be said that the company has a relatively stable communication speed compared to other MVNOs because it regularly reinforces the line.
The biggest feature of mine is that there is a user community called “King Maine”. Questions and answers and information sharing are possible among mineo users, and in many cases, even if you have a problem, you can solve the problem with “King Maine”.
Regarding the communication speed, it can be used without problems except when the line is congested. However, the speed may slow down a little during the time when the number of users using smartphones increases, such as around 12:00 during lunch break and around 18:00 when leaving work.
・ [BIGLOBE Mobile] Focus on maintaining speed
BIGLOBE Mobile is a cheap SIM provided by the major provider BIGLOBE. It can be said that it is characterized by “multi-carrier support” that supports the lines of two major carriers of Docomo and au.
BIGLOBE Mobile is very focused on maintaining communication speed, and aggressive line enhancement has been well received, so you can use it with confidence in terms of communication speed. In many cases, they are ranked high in the ranking comparing the line speeds of MVNOs.
If you often use video distribution services and music distribution services on your smartphones, such as YouTube and Spotify, we recommend that you check out BIGLOBE Mobile’s optional service “Entertainment Free Option”. If you subscribe, you can use YouTube and Spotify as much as you want with a flat rate and unlimited data capacity. It is recommended for those who want to enjoy videos and music while traveling to work or school, as it can save a lot of data capacity.
[IIJmio] A long-established store with a sense of stability
IIJmio provided by IIJ Inc. is one of the longest-established MVNOs and one of the largest. We have a track record of providing services even before they became known to the general public. The reason for the high evaluation is that it is easy to switch from a major carrier because it supports two lines, Docomo and au, and the price plan is simple and easy to understand. In addition, there are also free data increase campaigns and monthly fee discount campaigns.
Another advantage of IIJmio is that it is quick to check the operation of newly released terminals and upgraded OS, and the services for corporations are also substantial.
The communication speed is also stable among MVNO companies. Although it is inferior to UQ mobile and Y! Mobile, it can be used at a constant communication speed even when the line is busy.
What is the reason for the cheapness of cheap smartphones?
There are three main reasons why cheap smartphones can keep that price. Each is explained below.
・ No maintenance cost for communication equipment
Cheap smartphones (cheap SIM providers) rent some communication equipment such as lines from major carriers such as DoCoMo, au, and Softbank and provide them as their own services. In other words, since we do not own the network equipment in-house, there is no need for equipment maintenance costs such as development costs, equipment costs such as base stations, land costs, and maintenance costs. As the operating cost is reduced, it is possible to offer a cheaper rate plan.
・ No cost for physical stores
Many cheap smartphones (cheap SIM providers) do not have physical stores, and only accept online and provide support. Therefore, unlike MNOs, there are no land costs, rents, or labor costs for actual stores.
・ Because we are competing for cheapness
There are more than 20 cheap smartphones (cheap SIM providers), that is, MVNOs, that provide services by renting communication equipment and lines of major carriers. Price competition is intensifying in the entire telecommunications industry, including MVNOs and MNOs, and if one company issues a discount plan and becomes a hot topic, competitors tend to offer even cheaper plans. As a result, we are in a situation where we are offering a lot of low-priced prices and great deals that other companies do not have.
Why do you feel that the speed of cheap smartphones is slow?
One of the disadvantages of cheap smartphones is that they are sometimes said to have slow communication speeds, but that has something to do with why they can be used cheaply. The two main reasons are explained below.
・ Because the line is rented from the carrier
Cheap smartphones (cheap SIM / MVNO) rent communication lines from major carriers (NTT DoCoMo, au, Softbank, etc.) and provide them as their own services. However, there is a limit to the number of lines that major carriers can rent to MVNOs, and of course, the lines used for their own services are prioritized.
In addition, the amount of lines rented from each major carrier depends on the cheap smartphone. In general, the more lines you rent from major carriers, the faster the communication speed of cheap smartphones.
・ Because the speed changes depending on the number of users
Cheap smartphones (cheap SIM / MVNO) are designed so that users who are using a certain amount of lines borrowed from major carriers at the same time and place can share and use them. As an example, imagine a busy road and the speed at which a car can drive. If you think of a line as a “road with multiple lanes” and communication data as a “car running on the road,” it’s easy to understand the relationship between line congestion and communication speed.
In other words, it can be said that the communication speed is affected by whether or not the number of users increases or decreases at the same time and place, and whether or not equipment is frequently expanded according to usage conditions.
Click here for cheap smartphone models
New companies and new services are appearing one after another on cheap smartphones (cheap SIM / MVNO). If you are considering using a cheap smartphone, we recommend that you refer to this article and look at each company’s homepage while considering whether there is a cheap smartphone that suits you.
+ Style sells SIM fleece smartphones that can be used immediately with cheap smartphone SIM cards. We also carry popular models such as “TCL10 5G”, “HUAWEI P40 Pro”, “Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S” and “OPPO Reno 3A”, so please check them out.
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