#2071 | The Low Down: Circles Life, Singapore’s Unicorn Telco

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Okay guys so I’ve had a lot of people ask me about Circles over the last year, mostly because whenever I share a screenshot and they see that Circles telco sign at the top left hand side people get a shock and think it’s amazing because I’m one of the few who got on Circles really early on.

And now with that new 20GB plan launch, everyone is going nuts over Circles and i have gotten a TON of people suddenly messaging me on twitter and IG and wherever else, and it’s just like the taobao frenzy again. So I’ve decided to just write one detailed post on my experience with Circles, and everyone can please just REFER HERE when they want to send me a message about it instead!

DISCLAIMER

This is not a sponsored post.
Yknw, just putting it on the table so you dont ask me later.

BACKGROUND

I’ve been on Circles since May last year, which makes this my 11th month with Circles. That’s nearly a year! So I think that gives me a pretty good range of experience from which to speak of, especially since I joined Circles almost immediately after they launched, meaning I’m probably one of the oldest Singapore users.

How I got to know of Circles was, my kind of not-by-blood older sister Christel introduced me years back to her girlfriend Carrie, and last year Carrie made a job switch to Circles and was looking for people to be beta testers. Beta testers are people who try out new or upcoming products (can be skincare, apps, software, etc etc) and give the company feedback about their user experience. I was not engaged to advertise for Circles. I didn’t even tell anyone I was using it except my close friends around me who asked why I was suddenly using two phones. I was also not paid for this. This was done purely out of my own interest, because I’m a geek who likes new techy things (though I’m not always good at it), and because Carrie asked me.

Because I used two phones, for my Singtel number and my Circles number, I could also compare the difference in speed between the two, which I thought informed my experience with Circles better as well. At that time, I didn’t know yet if I would continue paying to use Circles after my beta testing period was up (3 months), and so I didn’t opt to port my Singtel number over in case I didn’t like it. In theory, the plan (data-centric, app-based, cheap) made a lot of sense to me, but who’s to say that it’d be the same in practice and execution right? So I just kept the two phones separate, and used the Circles one for work, and Singtel one for personal use since thats the number all my friends have.

CIRCLES: THE PLAN

I’m on the basic plan, which is $28/month for 3GB and 100 mins talk time. This comes with free “plus” features, like caller ID, unlimited whatsapp that doesn’t eat into your data allowance, 4g service over 3g, unlimited customisation of your plan, so you can choose to buy more data this month, then change back to only 3gb on less busy months, etc etc.


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this is my app’s homepage with my data tracking info

Because I signed up early, within the first two months of Circles launching, I had an extra 2GB/month early bird promo data allowance that stays on my line forever, bringing it up to 5gb.

Then I took part in one of their IG competitions, which is this hashtag competition called #neverrunoutofdata, which gave everyone who took part 1GB/month extra too. So 6GB/month.

Then when I hit my 6 month anniversary with Circles, they gave me a 500MB/month “loyalty” data bonus. So now 6.5GB/month.

Then my sister and one of my managers switched to Circles a few months after they saw me using it so happily, giving me 200MB/month referral bonus each. This brings us to 6.9GB/month. PS. IF U SIGN UP FOR CIRCLES PLS USE CODE “JEMMA” SO I GET 200MB THANK U THANK U. U ALSO GET $20 OFF YOUR REGISTRATION FEE IF IM NOT WRONG!
Finally, for the new year, Circles gave everyone a happy new year bonus of 1GB/month through till June 2017. Meaning now I have 7.9GB/month data allowance, but when July hits, I’ll go back down to 6.9GB.

And yes, now they have a $20 for 20GB data add on option, but I dont think its necessary just yet because I feel like I do ok with my current data allowance, in addition to my singtel line which I still keep because I dont want to give up that number.

Essentially, what Circles did was to keep randomly giving me data for “good” behaviour, like staying on their network, referring friends to them, using their hashtag, etc etc. I guess this is also a safeguard on their end, because they’re a no contract network meaning you can technically terminate anytime. But once you terminate, if you sign up again, youre back to your base data plan without all the add-ons that you’ve earned.

CIRCLES: DATA SPEED

But this is the key question, really. Everyone keeps asking me: but what is Circles’s data speed and reception / network / cellular service really like?

Circles is tied to M1’s network. So if you’re on M1 and you switch to Circles, you wont see a difference.
But, Circles is definitely slower than Singtel.
And I dunno about Starhub, cos I’m not on Starhub.

How do I know this? When I get a notification on my social media accounts, my Singtel phone gets the notification first, then after a few beats, my Circles phone. Easy.

Is it a huge difference? No. But it’s a difference lor.

But then the next two questions that follow are:

1. Can you feel the difference if you only use one phone?
I can tell mainly because I use two phones. But if I only have one, then I wouldn’t know that my phone is marginally slower, right?
and 2. Is the slight drop in speed worth it for the massive drop in price?

Probably.

Over my past year of using the network, I’ve also noticed that the network has improved significantly. Because I was a beta tester during my first three months, I was looking out for things that weren’t working well so I could feedback to them. Things like data calls being dropped at certain locations, reception being spotty at some areas, etc etc.. and I sent everything to them as and when. But over the last six months, the number of times I’ve thought “hey, I need to text Carrie about a problem” has happened only twice, both times because there was an error they were sorting out, which caused the network’s data service to be down for an hour or so.

Which makes me think that they’ll continue to improve, or at least try to. After all, past experience has shown that they did. So I’m hopeful that in six months, the number of things I’d think about sending in feedback for would run down to zero!

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PROS VS CONS

Ok, so moving on. Here are some of the things that I like about Circles:

– Fully controlled on the app. I do everything via the Circles Care app on my phone, like buy extra data when I need it, or check on my bill. No need to use website, I dont think I’ve ever logged on to their actual desktop website before actually.
– THE BILLING CYCLE IS JUST THE FIRST OF EVERY MONTH. If you sign up in the middle of the month, they just pro rate you until the start of the new month. This is so much better, seriously, cos it’s just so much more convenient to remember that in the new month you have new data!
– Bills are directly deducted from your credit card/ debit card. This is, again, great, cos i hate logging into the Singtel website to pay my bills. I always end up forgetting or putting it off, then paying late, and getting slapped with a fine.
– Cheap for lots of data.

Things I dont like about Circles:

– Can’t buy a cheaper phone when you sign up for a Circles plan. You can pay for a phone by installment, but its full price lah. It still works out cheaper in the long run than if you get a cheap phone and some expensive-ass plan, but I suppose the inertia of spending a thousand bucks for a non-contract phone is really high.
– Last time no roaming at all. But ok, this is another example of how i could see it really improved throughout my experience with it. As recently as last June, there were no roaming options for Circles at all. But now they have so many! Havent tried them yet, but i mean, it’s there.
– No non-mobile benefits. I have 30% off for all my family’s Singtel bills (including our MIO TV!) because of some family bundle. And I think Starhub does something like this too. But Circles doesn’t have it.. yet. And I dont know if they will also, because I suspect they’re (rightfully) focusing on getting mobile right before moving on to other things. But come to think of it, my plan is still cheaper than the post 30% discounted singtel bill.

But now writing it down, I think its pretty hard to find something I dont like about circles. Even the above is nitpicking already! Actually I’m quite happy with my Circles line one. Haha!

CONCLUSION

So, I feel like I’ve covered most of the things that people often ask me and that I wanted to say. Is there anything else? Well, I’m sure if there is, you’ll email me. But for now, this is just my own experience from being on the network for close to a year. Overall I’m pretty happy with it, and most of my friends who’ve signed up whether through my recommendation or not seem pretty damned pleased with it too! So I’d say, definitely think about it if youre always busting your data allowance, and if you cant even remember the last time your phone bill cost less than thirty bucks. Ahmaaaazing.

And PLEASE HOR. After that donkey ass long post, if you decide to sign up for circles, please use my promo code JEMMA to get $20 off your registration fee because then i can get 200mb data too! Don’t cb cos I already spend a lot of time writing this ok so dont just sign up and forget to use it. USE IT! JEMMA. J E M M A. My life dream is to get 20GB from referrals, so i dont have to buy then $20 20GB plan. Haha!

Ok, that’s it from me. It’s like 3am now. This took longer than expected. So I’m going to sleep, and you guys, dont forget: JEMMA. PROMO CODE JEMMA.

Night, guys x

x
Jem

Comments

  1. Hey Jemma. I’m a fan of yours so when I port over to circles life I usedyour code. Hehe šŸ˜Š

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