Thursday, 5 May 2016

Up to 7GB + 100 minutes + FREE Whatsapp data + caller ID + roaming for $28/month on Circles.Life!



Singapore's newest telco, Circles.Life, seemed to have just fallen from the sky out of nowhere, and I got the chance to attend their event yesterday. Among their attractive offerings, here's the best part:

They're offering UNLIMITED DATA on Whatsapp, for free!
This includes all messages, photos, videos, voice-recordings sent and voice calls made through Whatsapp. No kidding.

I had to verify the offer myself with the folks behind Circles.Life because I could hardly believe it myself.

If you ask me, this feature is truly a game-changer. Not only has Circles.Life built innovative data-centric plans that gives you the power of flexibility in what you pay for each month, they've come up with an actual solution to one of the most common problems Singaporeans face - Whatsapp eats up a LOT of our data every month.

I mean, just take a look at my Whatsapp data consumption for the last 4 months alone:



With Circles.Life plans, any data consumed by Whatsapp will NOT be charged as part of your monthly data quotient. You can reserve it all for your other Internet-browsing activities, other apps, or social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. 

So how does Circles.Life work?

Simply put, they are a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that rides on M1's existing infrastructure in Singapore to offer consumers a new 4G mobile experience targeted at us data-savvy consumers. In other words, that describes a large proportion of Millennials, Gen Y and a smaller fraction of tech-savvy Gen X users.

When I met founder Rameez Ansar at the event, he talked about how their motivation came from personal experience and observing how consumers were mostly locked down by too-long mobile contracts, free SMSes that no one gives a hoot for, data that is barely enough, extra fees for essentials like caller-ID, and even long waiting times with customer service officers.



Not the cheapest plan in the market, but possibly the cheapest for a heavy-data user.

Their base plan starts at $28 per month, which comes with 3 GB of data and 100 minutes of talktime. What I love about their plans is how transparent they are - something I don't quite appreciate with our current telcos. If I sign up for a $42.90 plan with Singtel, I expect to pay that amount when the monthly bill comes, but that NEVER happens. Instead, I get billed for exceeding my data / talktime and $5.35 for caller-ID (which I view as essential to stop all the annoying telemarketing calls and what-not). Sometimes exorbitant roaming fees in certain months as well when I travel.

Not enough data? You can add-on via their app as you use through the month, in bundles of 100MB, 250MB, 500MB or 1GB. No more worrying about having to pay excess data charges whether you exceed by a few MB or more.

I've previously done a price comparison here among the existing mobile plans in March when they announced add-on data optionsHowever, since Circles.Life doesn't come with a contract, it might be more accurate to compare it against line-only plans below:


Source: The Straits Times
If you need more data / talktime, you can easily customize your plan anytime to add that on. Pay just $4 and get an extra 100 minutes for calls, or boost your data in 100MB, 250MB, 500MB or 1GB add-ons. Useful for folks like me who use an average of 4+ GB a month on my pathetic 2GB plan.

The longer you stay on their service, the more data you get as a loyalty bonus. You can also accumulate more bonus data by referring a friend to the network, up to a maximum of 4GB of bonus data. As an early-bird promo, Circles.Life is offering a 2GB bonus data every month if you sign up in May.

So if you maximize that bonus data offering, you'll essentially be getting 7 GB + 100 minutes talktime for just $28 / month, still on their base plan.

I could upgrade this to 200 minutes and pay only $32 a month, still significantly cheaper than what I've been paying on my current plan for the last few months. Here's my bills:



Insane? Yepppp. The main culprit? Excess data, of course. I use WiFi in office and at home, but even so, it is almost impossible for me to stay within 2GB a month when my apps consume so much data.

How do I change my plan?

When I first switched my telco a few years back, the last straw was due to their horrendous customer service. There was once where they took FIVE HOURS to get back to me, when I needed my coverage problem to be solved within the 4 hours of layover I had in Singapore before flying off again.

For those of us who do not have the luxury of time to go down to a retail store and wait in line,, it's equally frustrating to have to wait on the line for ages before you finally reach a customer service officer whom you can speak to about making a change to your plan.

On Circles.Life, you can customize and change your plan anytime you want on their CirclesCare app. This covers tracking your usage statistics and costs, adding data or talktime, or even talking directly to the support team over live chat or Whatsapp for other issues.



It has been a long time since a new telco has launched in Singapore, to the extent where consumers are beginning to question whether the incumbents are becoming complacent, even over-charging consumers for our mobile plans.

You might recall the glorious days when we still had 12 GB of data every month, which was eventually replaced with 2 GB standard plans. Back then, the telcos reasoned that "Singapore operators may have to review current pricing plans and consider introducing usage-based data pricing, to ensure that network quality for customers remains optimal".

So when MyRepublic announced that they were bidding for the rights to become Singapore's fourth telco (look at that URL!) and promising unlimited data for consumers, everyone naturally got excited. 



But as of yesterday, Circles.Life just beat MyRepublic to that claim, announcing that there's a new telco in town. Don't mix them up though - unlike MyRepublic who are building their own infrastructure, Circles.Life doesn't have any of their own; they lease the network from M1 instead. 
Here's a look into what you can expect to pay on Circles.Life. I quite like the flexibility, since there are indeed some months where my data and talktime usage are higher than others.


Still hesitant whether to sign up? If you're still waiting for MyRepublic to launch before deciding, you can still try Circles.Life out first, since no contract means you're free to jump ship whenever you like. (The only catch is that you lose all your loyalty and bonus data once you stop your monthly plans, and will have to start from ground zero again if you return later.)

You can sign up at http://circles.life - there's a waiting list though!

But for the rest of us, rest assured that an upcoming telco price war is imminent. Let the battle of the telcos begin.

With love,
Budget Babe

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23 comments:

  1. I'm still in my 12gb 3g student plan, never going to give that up lol

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    Replies
    1. SMART!! I had to give mine up a few years ago with SingTel because I needed to recontract and get a new phone, SIGH. I heard from Starhub users that Starhub is starting to force them to give up their 12gb plans now, and the speed is becoming muchhhhhhh slower than usual - any idea if that's true?

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    2. There are rumors that singtel will be forcing 12gb users to recontract in june.

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  2. Awesome man..Haha finally something to look forward to when I'm back..Haha gonna have to take up a new plan when I'm back. Time to ditch M1 unless they are able to come up with something solid to compete lol

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  3. Awesome man..Haha finally something to look forward to when I'm back..Haha gonna have to take up a new plan when I'm back. Time to ditch M1 unless they are able to come up with something solid to compete lol

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    1. I'm still stuck on my old contract! So annoying, URGH. If I could I would change to Circles.Life - it would save me 50% off my current bills with their new plan.

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  4. There is no unlimited data plans nor can I find a cap in the charges per month for data. Secondly, they CHARGE for INCOMING CALLS. Its not so obvious but it is stated in their T&Cs.

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    Replies
    1. you can pay additional 2$, to make incoming calls for free...

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  5. There is no unlimited data plans nor can I find a cap in the charges per month for data. Secondly, they CHARGE for INCOMING CALLS. Its not so obvious but it is stated in their T&Cs.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hey, thanks for letting us know about the T&Cs! Where can we read this? Not having free incoming calls is going to be a huge dampener! I didn't know they weren't offering this.

      I frankly think not having a cap for data charges is fine - my current telco doesn't have that either, and my bills every month are insane! Who pays close to $150 for a monthly mobile bill these days?!

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    2. You can set data cap on your phone and it will alert you when you reach the data mark you set. No incoming calls suck. I've never heard of that until I came to Singapore.

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  6. Replies
    1. My current plan doesn't have it for free but Circles.Life is offering it at no rate charge in their standard plan.

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  7. Not enticing enough to get me away from my contract free M1 corporate rate... $27 for free incoming, 200 min outgoing, free roaming, free caller ID, 3GB data... The only advantage I see is $6 per additional GB of data vs my present $10...

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    Replies
    1. Not everyone has access to corporate plans though. I don't have such a luxury, but I do agree that some corporate plans still offer better value.

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  8. Btw I see that your additional data only cost $30, vs your $140 bill. Minus your $40 plan, you are paying $70 more for calls? Looks like the plan doesn't benefit you either. Additional $30 of data is probably 3GB of data. Your savings from this plan is likely to be $4 x3 = $12 while you will be paying alot more for calls because you seems to be a heavy caller.

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    Replies
    1. There are a few other elements of my mobile plan that I prefer not to disclose publicly. Part of the extra costs come from having caller-ID and other stuffs, which is why I greatly appreciate the free caller-ID that Circles.Life provides. Have recently changed my plan to a lower-cost as well, so hopefully these bills of $140 are going to be a thing of the past.

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  9. 1) your Whatsapp stats claim that you are receiving too much media. You do know that you can disable media dl on data right? I have jokers in my chat groups that send lame shit vid/pic, I usually ignore them or dl only when I have wifi
    2) you hinted that your plan is $40 yet your bill comes up to $140+ per month. Either you are playing too much games app, using media heavy apps or too much out going calls
    3) you refuse to disclose what you are doing which caused your bills to come up so high
    4) ever since I did a clean break of a game, I have managed to keep my data below 2gb. Previously, I can easily clock 5-7gb per mth, exceeding my plan of 4gb. Who knows what you are doing

    That being said, the new tech plan seems very good. In fact, too good to be true. I will rather wait for users feedback before jumping into the wagon

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    1. Haha I'm amused at how you guys are trying to analyze my mobile bills so in-depth to try and help me find out how else to save...thanks for all your efforts and kind intentions, but I've already fixed my mobile bill recently so these $100+++ bills should be a thing of a past now! I rather not disclose all the elements of my bill as you know how I prefer to maintain my privacy. The bills were shared here just to support my point that if we don't actively manage our bills (such as looking for cheaper alternatives), they can easily skyrocket up to the roof!

      For your points, let me respond to some of your questions:

      1) thanks for sharing this tip. Since last year, I've already had my Whatsapp DL set to disabled while outside unless I manually download myself. I have a lot of dance videos that are sent over Whatsapp which I download at home / office when I have WiFi.

      2) My plan is not $40. The base plan is slightly above $40, but miscellaneous fees alone such as caller-ID and other essentials all already add up to a lot more before anything else like extra data or talktime kicks in.

      4) I don't play ANY games on my phone, nor do I watch Youtube on 3G/4G. Social media, Chrome and my blog contributes significantly to my data consumption as it is.

      I only wish I hadn't recontracted before Circles.Life launched, otherwise I would have gone with their plan for sure. Since I'm still stuck on my current plan (bummer!), I'll wait for a bit and continue to monitor user feedback before switching. After all, My Republic might be launching soon too, so we'll soon have more choices as consumers :)

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  10. M1 has the Data Passport for overseas data (data roam overseas using local data bundle). Does Circles.Life have something similar? $10/mo for most countries (eg. US, Australia, Malaysia, etc).

    I think it is not about the price of the base plan, but what VAS the telco can provide. And for me, the Data Passport is the veto for me as I travel to US often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doubt Circles.Life has that, didn't see it in their plan offers.

      Ultimately it is about getting the most value based on your lifestyle. Your data passport fits you best and gives you best value due to your lifestyle habit of travelling to the US often, but for others this may not be something of value. Take me for instance, I hardly travel (on average 2 weeks out of 52 weeks is spent out of Singapore?) so that is not as important to me as the other features I highlighted here.

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    2. But thanks for letting us know about the Data Passport! I wasn't aware of that previously.

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    ReplyDelete