Best mobile network in Germany – what to look out for and which one to choose?

The number of cell phones released into the world market is increasing every year. Nowadays it happens more and more often that a broken phone does not land in a service centre, but a new one is bought instead. In connection with this also mobile operators are competing in offers. Given the growing popularity of mobile Internet and smartphones should compare the offers of mobile networks to choose the one that best fits your preferences.

What to consider before making the final choice of mobile network provider in Germany?

Before you make your final choice of mobile network provider in Germany, you should consider how you would like to use your phone (calling, or maybe mainly the internet?) and compare the available offers. You can use our comparison tool to find the offers that suit you best. The comparison engine contains offers for post-paid, post-paid with a phone, prepaid and prepaid with a free SIM card – just click on the appropriate tab to display the matching offers. These prices are the actual final price (Effektivpreis), which already includes all costs such as activation etc. Underneath the comparison tool, you will find lots of useful information about German mobile networks. It’s worth getting to know them!

On a subscription
On a subscription with a phone
Prepaid
Offers without limit

What do I have to consider when signing a subscription with a German cell phone network?

It’s a well-known fact that anyone who decides to sign a subscription contract is obligated to regularly pay the fees agreed in the contract. However, the following points are also worth noting:

  • What costs arise as a result of signing a subscription contract with a selected mobile operator in Germany?

Just like in many other countries, there is an “activation fee” in Germany. There is an activation fee (Aktivierungsgebühr). Some operators refund this fee by sending a text message to a specific number. You should find out if your provider offers this discount.

We also recommend checking if your provider uses a so-called “Datenautomatik”. This mechanism can increase your monthly costs. It is based on the fact that after using up the internet limit agreed in the contract, it is renewed for a fee (usually three times for every 2-3 euros – although these amounts can vary). If the operator uses such a practice, it must clearly inform about it – a mention in AGB (terms of business) or information is given in small print “under the asterisk” is not enough here!

  • What services are included in the selected tariff?

Before signing a contract it is important to find out what services are included in your chosen tariff. Can you call all networks for free or just one? Is the internet unlimited and what is its speed? Does the network allow the use of instant messaging, VoIP (Skype, Google Talk), and Peer-to-Peer (a model of communication in a computer network used for example by torrents)? It is also worth paying attention to promotional actions connected with free access to some program (e.g. antivirus software or access to a music server, etc.). These are usually only free for a certain period of time and if you do not cancel them in time, they will be charged to your subscription.

  • Which services should I pay extra for?

In addition, it is a good idea to find out what costs will arise when you use up your SMS, call, and internet limits and how much it costs to make international calls or while you are abroad. It is important to know that if a provider does not fulfill their contract by, for example, providing slow internet (with the exception of short-term disruptions), you are entitled to an extraordinary termination notice.

  • What conditions apply?

The last thing we would like to draw your attention to is the terms and conditions that apply to your contract. In this context, it is important to know what is the duration of the contract and its termination. You should also check with your provider whether there are any additional options (Zusatzoptionen or Zusatzleistungen) that have to be terminated separately.

IMPORTANT: In Germany, you can cancel a subscription contract for telecommunications services within 14 days of its conclusion without giving any reasons!

What are the terms used by cell phone providers in Germany?

Cell phone providers in Germany use terms that are not entirely clear to all users. You will often come across the following terms:

  • Datenvolumen – is the amount of data consumed when using a web browser, mobile app, or downloading files from the internet
  • Megabyte and Gigabyte – megabyte and gigabyte are units of measurement used to calculate the amount of data consumed on the Internet. The more you use it, the more internet you will need (min. 1 GB or more)
  • MBit/s – megabits per second is the speed at which data is transmitted over the internet. Many cell phone tariffs offer internet speeds of 7.2 MBit/s
  • LTE/4G is a type of internet connection that is much faster than the 7.2 MBit/s mentioned above. This connection theoretically allows you to download data from the internet at speeds of up to 300 MBit/s
  • Taktung – refers to the way in which call duration is calculated. The most commonly used are per second or per-minute billing
  • Portierung – means transferring your current phone number to a new operator

How does porting my phone number to a new provider work in Germany?

If you change your cell phone provider in Germany, you can port your phone number to a new provider (Rufnummermitnahme). Operators are legally obliged to do this! This also applies to prepaid offers. You must request the porting of your current phone number from the new provider 10-14 working days before your old subscription expires. Only then will the new provider have enough time to contact your old provider. The former operator may ask you to pay a handling fee, which varies between 25 and 30 euros. In most cases, the new operator will cover these costs by crediting the amount to your bill. If you are transferring a number from a prepaid offer you must ensure that you have sufficient credit in your account as the handling fee is charged to your card. It is also important to remember that you must request number portability within 31 days of the end of your contract at the latest.

Mobile networks in Germany – which ones exist and which one to choose?

There are four main players on the German telecommunications market: T-Mobile (D1), Vodafone (D2), O2 and E-Plus (E-Netz). All offer relatively good and stable coverage. Only in rural areas can there possibly be problems. Those who attach great importance to fast Internet and good indoor coverage should opt for T-Mobile or Vodafone, as these are usually slightly better than the competition in this respect. On the other hand, other operators are constantly working on expanding their own networks and the difference in quality of coverage is often negligible. In addition to this, there are many “intermediaries” on the market using the networks of the above operators, such as:

  • Telekom: Klarmobil, congstar, callmobile, Penny mobil, ja! mobil
  • Vodafone: Bild mobil, Fyve, Edeka mobil, allmobil,
  • O2: Lidl, fonic, Discotel, Tschibo, Simfly, Maxxim
  • E-Plus: Aldi, Blau, Simyo, Base, Solomo, Vybemobile, mp3.de

Below the current promotion in ALDI Talk (instructions for buying AldiTalk starter online):

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Besides, we encourage you to have a look at Deinhandy.de, where you can often find really attractive deals, especially if you want a new phone!

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