The price of data is dropping, which has led to plenty of great deals to snatch up when it comes to data-only SIMs. Although data-only SIMs are traditionally used for mobile broadband in 4G hotspots or to use your SIM-enabled tablet online, you might be wondering what else you can do with a data SIM, and can you use them in your regular smartphone? The answer is yes – and there are a few things that you can do with a data-only SIM and your smartphone.

Why Get a Data Only SIM?

You can get a data only SIM for your smartphone for a couple of different uses. Maybe you no longer use your smartphone for calling and texting traditionally. If you usually call and text your family and friends using internet-based services like FaceTime, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, it might make more sense for you to get a SIM that only offers data since you are unlikely to use any traditional minutes and texts.

Another reason to consider getting a data only SIM is that you can use it to turn a device into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. This is when a device acts as a modem to allow other devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles online. Portable hotspots will use the mobile network to connect to the internet, allowing you to get online anywhere, even if there is no Wi-Fi available. This can be handy if you’re taking your work to a local café that you love but doesn’t have a public Wi-Fi network, for example, or if you move house and it’s going to be a while before you can get the internet set up.


Both regular phone SIMs and data-only SIMs look exactly the same. The only difference between the two is that the data-only SIM will only come with a data allowance, so you won’t be able to use it to call or text. Some data-only SIMs do allow you to receive phone calls, but you may be charged extra to do so.

How Much Does a Data Only SIM Cost?

How much you can expect to pay for your data only SIM from Lebara will mainly depend on how much data you want. if you only need a couple of GBs of data, then this is likely to be much cheaper in comparison with a data SIM that provides you with unlimited data, for example. It’s worth comparing different options that meet your needs before choosing the right one for you. Along with this, be sure that you know how much data you need – if you have home Wi-Fi and mainly plan to use the data SIM at home, for example, then you probably won’t need a lot compared to somebody who is going to use the data SIM as a personal hotspot when working outdoors or in their car.

These days, most people could easily get away with using a data-only SIM for their smartphone thanks to the wide availability of internet-based apps for texting and talking that most of us use today. If you only use apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, iMessage, Skype, Telegram, and Viber to get in touch with your family and friends, these all use the internet to connect and do not require you to have any minutes and texts in your allowance. If you are happy to use these apps for texting and calling, then you could save money by choosing a data only SIM for your phone.

However, whether or not you are going to save a lot of money will depend on how much data you need. It’s also worth bearing in mind that not all data-only SIMs are going to allow you to receive call and text messages, which might be a problem if there’s a company trying to get hold of you in the traditional manner or you are waiting for a call back about a job interview, for example. Some will allow you to make phone calls and send text messages using your data SIM as and when you need, however, you will usually need to pay per minute or per message, so this is worth considering if you plan to use this feature. If you anticipate that you might end up making lots of calls or sending lots of texts, then opting for a regular phone SIM plan with minutes and texts included is likely to be the most cost-effective option for you.

Get a Data Only SIM For Your Car

A data-only SIM can be really handy for the car. You can use it as a personal hotspot for your car so that your passengers can get Wi-Fi on the road. This can be handy for families if you have kids with their own tablets who want to get on YouTube to entertain themselves while you’re driving, or if you want to save your own mobile data if you’re using your smartphone for navigation. You can easily do this with either a mobile hotspot device designed for cars or even an old smartphone that you have and no longer use.

Using your smartphone as a portable hotspot is quite simple. Once you have set up the SIM in the phone, the next steps will depend on whether you are using an iPhone or an Android phone. If you’re using an iPhone, set up the device as a personal hotspot by following these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap Personal Hotspot
  3. Switch Allow Others to Join to On
  4. You will be provided with a password that other devices will need to enter to join your personal hotspot. You can change this easily if you like.

Once you have set up the hotspot, other devices should be able to see your phone as a network option when they go into the Wi-Fi network menu. It will usually have the same name as your iPhone device.

If you are using an Android smartphone, the process for setting up the device as a personal hotspot might vary depending on the phone manufacturer and the operating system version that you are currently using. The steps for setting up an Android phone as a personal hotspot generally involve:

  1. Open the Settings App
  2. Go to Network and Internet
  3. Go to Hotspot and Tethering
  4. You should be able to set up the phone as a personal hotspot from here

If you’re using an Android phone and can’t find these options in the settings app, you may be able to find them by typing in ‘hotspot’ in the search bar at the top of the settings app. Whether you are using an iPhone or an Android phone as a personal hotspot with a data SIM, bear in mind that using a phone as a hotspot will use up a lot of battery power, so you may want to keep it plugged in. This is especially true if you are using an older phone as a hotspot since the older the phone, the weaker the battery is likely to be.

Get a Data Only SIM For Your Tablet

If you have bought or are planning to buy an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, or another popular type of tablet and want to be able to use it when you are out and about without the need to connect to public Wi-Fi, then you might want to consider getting a data only SIM plan for your tablet. Just like with your smartphone, this SIM will connect to the internet using 4G mobile broadband to allow you to browse the internet and use internet-based apps on your tablet even when you are not connected to Wi-Fi. Bear in mind that not all tablets are SIM-enabled, so if you want to be able to use mobile data when you’re out with your tablet, be sure to get one that has a SIM slot. Usually, any tablets that do not have this feature will be listed as ‘Wi-Fi only’.

Choosing the Right Size Data SIM

Whether you’re going to use a data-only SIM for your regular smartphone plan, want to use it in your tablet, or are planning to use an old phone as a personal hotspot, getting the right SIM card size is important. SIM cards come in three sizes – standard, micro, and nano, so it’s important to figure out which one your device needs, otherwise, it’s not going to fit. The good news is that you will get a combination SIM when you order a data-only SIM. These are a standard SIM card that you can break down into smaller sizes to fit into your device if you need, making it easy to ensure that you get the right one. If you’re getting a SIM card for an iPad, most models take a Nano SIM. Samsung tablets vary; older models like the Galaxy Tab take a standard SIM, while the newer Galaxy Tab S2 takes a Nano SIM.

With more and more apps to keep you connected using the internet, a data-only SIM isn’t just useful for personal hotspots and tablets but could also be used as your main phone SIM card.