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M1 Review: The Underdog SIM Card in Singapore

Singapore is a remarkable travel destination. It is one of the few city-states out there, which gives it a unique flare.

The city-state is known for its moderness. Fantastic attractions, tropical climate, and a favorable location in Southeast Asia.

In fact, even the international airport, Changi International Airport, can be considered an attraction itself.

Singapore also has a liberal visa-free polily, meaning that the majority of the world can visit Singapore without a visa for 30 or 90 days. Some countries require an E-Visa, while others, especially in Northern Africa and the Middle East, require a traditional visa.

While in Singapore, you certainly want to share you experiences with your friends and family on social media or private chats. Singapore has a free and open WIFI hotspot throughout the city center, and many malls have free with hotspots as well.

Unfortunately, these can be slow and unsecure. Another option would be to roam with your provider in Singapore, but roaming can be expensive in many cases. Therefore, buying a local SIM card, a Singaporean one, is the most affordable option to stay connected while in Singapore.

When I was in Singapore, I decided to test the 3 leading operators – SingTel, StarHub, and M1. Let's see whether M1 is any good.

M1 Tourist SIM Card

Telecom Providers in Singapore         

Before I tell you more about M1, you need to know about the operator situation in Singapore. If you have read my Buying a SIM Card in Singapore Guide, then you know that Singapore has 3 telecom operators: SingTel, Starhub, and M1.

There is also a 4th operator called TPG Singapore that launched in 2020. They do not seem to offer prepaid services yet, which is why I did not cover them in the Singapore Guide.

There are also many Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), such as giga!, MyRepublic, Zero Mobile, Circles.life, and more. However, they are only available to those with a National Registration Identity Card (NRIC), which travelers do not get.

Do note that 2G shut down on the 1st of April, 2017, meaning that you need a 3G or 4G/LTE capable device when visiting Singapore.

Now that you know all of this, it is time to introduce you to M1.

M1 Logo

M1 is the smallest Singaporean operator that offers prepaid services, with slightly more than 2 million customers. Although they are the smallest, it does not necessarily mean they are the worst. They are just not as popular as SingTel (more than 4 million customers) and StarHub (a bit more subscribers than M1).

With Singapore being such a relatively small city-state, coverage is not an issue with the Singaporean operators.

Does M1 have attractive plans? Do they have decent speeds, and are they affordable? These are all questions that need to be answered.

In this review, I will go over everything you need to know about M1 and my experience with them. After reading this review, you will know whether you should give M1 a chance when you visit Singapore or not.

What Frequencies does M1 use?

M1 uses Asian/European frequencies, which are:

  • 3G: 900 Mhz & 2100 Mhz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz (Band 3) & 2600 MHz (Band 7)

Because Singapore does not have a 2G network anymore, it is crucial that your device at least supports the 3G frequencies if the 4G/LTE ones are not supported. If it does not, you may be able to buy a travel phone while in Singapore. To see if your device is compatible with the M1 network, check out this site.

How do I Buy an M1 Prepaid SIM Card?

You can buy an M1 SIM card at official M1 stores, M1 Exclusive Distributors, M1 Prepaid Preferred Partners, Appointed Authorized Retailers, FairPrice Xpress, select SingPost branches, and at Changi International Airport. M1 has 4 different starter packs in the following variants:

  • 5 SGD: 500 MB for 20 days and 5 SGD in credit. *
  • 8 SGD: 1.5 GB for 30 days and 10 SGD in credit for 90 days
  • 14 SGD: 4 GB for 120 days and 14 SGD in credit for 180 days
  • 15 SGD: 4 GB for 120 days and 15 SGD in credit. *
  • 25 SGD: 1 GB per day, 5000 minutes, unlimited incoming calls, and 5000 SMS, all valid for 30 days
  • 60 SGD: 1 GB per day, 5000 minutes every 30 days, unlimited incoming calls, and 5000 SMS every 30 days, all valid for 90 days

* 5 SGD card expires in 90 days and the 15 SGD card expires in 180 days

The following Main Balance rates apply:

  • Local calls (off-peak): 0.20 SGD for the 1st minute, then 0.08 SGD/min (applies from 8 PM until 8 AM on weekdays and all day on weekends). Applies to accepting calls too.
  • Local calls (peak): 0.20 SGD for the 1st minute, then 0.16 SGD/min (applies from 8 AM until 8 PM on weekdays). Applies to accepting calls too
  • SMS: 0.05 SGD/SMS. Applies to receiving SMS too. The First 10 received SMS, and the first 5 sent SMS are free.
  • International calls: variable.
  • International SMS: 0.05 SGD/SMS to XL Axiata (Indonesia), and 0.15 SGD/SMS to other destinations

You can also buy an M1 Tourist SIM, sold for 12 SGD, 30 SGD, and 50 SDG, which come with the following perks:

PriceDataRoaming DataLocal CallsInternational CallsSMSValidity
12 SGD100 GBNone500 minutes20 minutes100 SMS7 days
30 SGD100 GB3 GB3000 minutes50 minutes5000 SMS12 days
50 SGD100 GB5 GB3000 minutes50 minutes5000 SMS14 days

The 12 SGD version is also available as an eSIM.

M1 Tourist SIM Card

Tourism SIM cards are not renewable, meaning that you would have to buy a new one once it expires.

Roaming data can be used in the following destinations with the preferred partners:

You can buy an M1 Tourist SIM at the following places:

  • M1 shops (12 SGD & 30 SGD)
  • M1 Exclusive Distributors (12 SGD & 30 SGD)
  • Changi Meet & Greet (30 SGD & 50 SDG)
  • Changi Recommends (Terminals 1, 2 & 4 – all variants)
  • Select 7-11 and Cheers (12 SGD & 30 SGD)

Do note that if you want the 12 SGD version and plan on buying it at the airport, you specifically have to say that you want the tourist SIM card lasting for 7 days, as the salespeople will push the 30 SGD variant instead.

Be also aware that if you want to buy your SIM card in the city, you need to bring your passport with you. In Singapore, you have to show your passport and register it with the provider. Other forms of identification are also accepted, such as a Work Holiday Pass or a (Singaporean) Student’s Pass.

How do I Activate my M1 SIM Card?

Your M1 SIM card will be activated upon purchase. Just make sure to bring your passport or another acceptable form of identification for visitors, like the Dependent’s Pass, Long Term Pass, or Student’s Pass.

M1 Tourist SIM Card activation steps
Activation steps as shown in the M1 manual

How and Where can I Top Up my M1 SIM Card?

You can top up your M1 SIM card on the M1 Prepaid App, M1 Prepaid Portal, or at a self-service terminal at AXS, DSB/POSB, Liquid Pay App, NETS Terminals, or SingPost. You can also visit retail stores to top up your SIM card.

M1 top-ups come in 4 variants: all inclusive (M1 all-in-1 top-up), data and voice, IDD (international calls) and voice, and main balance.

The following 4 M1 all-in-1 top-ups are available:

All-in-one Top-upDaily Data AllowanceMax. DataMinutesUnlimited Incoming CallsSMSValidity
11 SGD1 GB/day7 GB100 minutesYes100 SMS7 days
16 SGD1 GB/day14 GB500 minutesYes500 SMS14 days
24 SGD1 GB/day30 GB5000 minutesYes5000 SMS30 days
58 SGD1 GB/day90 GB5000 minutesYes5000 SMS90 days

Before I go any further, you may be wondering why I specifically mention unlimited incoming calls, as that seems to be a given. Singapore is one of the few countries that charge you for accepting incoming calls. In the following top-ups, you will see that you will get free incoming calls for some days or not at all.

The following 2 Data and Voice top-ups are available:

Data & Voice Top-upDataMinutesUnlimited Incoming CallsSMSValidity
19 SGD2.5 GB1000 minutesYes500 SMS30 days
30 SGD5 GB1000 minutesYes1000 SMS30 days

Only interested in calling (abroad)? Then you can get one of the following IDD & Voice top-ups:

IDD & Voice Top-upLocal Minutes & SMSInternational Calls & SMSUnlimited Incoming CallsValidity
55 SGD40 SGD15 SGD credit10 days50 days
130 SGD1oo SGD30 SGD creditNo50 days

Finally, you have the credit top-ups:

Top-UpDataMain BalanceFree Incoming CallsSMSValidity
10 SGDNone10 SGDNone30 SMS120 days
18 SGD1 GB (7 days)18 SGD20 daysNone180 days

What Data Packages does M1 Offer, and How do I Activate Them?

If all those regular top-up bonuses are not enough for you, then you can purchase a data pack. One cool feature of M1’s data packs is that you can use your data allowance in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, and Taiwan at no additional cost.

M1 will select the preferred partner automatically. However, these are the preferred partners in case you have to choose a network manually:

The data packs are valid for 3 days, 7 days, and 30 days. Below are all the M1 data packs you can choose from:

PriceDataValidityBonus
1 SGD10 MB7 daysNone
2 SGD100 MB3 daysNone
5 SGD1 GB3 daysNone
5 SGD300 MB30 daysNone
7 SGD1 GB7 daysNone
10 SGD1 GB7 daysNone
10 SGD2 GB30 days7 days of free incoming calls
14 SGD4.5 GB30 days30 days of free incoming calls
21 SGD15 GB30 days30 days of free incoming calls
28 SGD50 GB30 days30 days of free incoming calls

You can activate any of M1’s data plans on the M1 Prepaid App, online, or by dialing #100*3#.

Are you a big fan of Facebook or IMO? Then the following social media packs are available:

  • Facebook: 7 SGD for 30 GB for 30 days
  • IMO: 12 SGD for 30 GB for 30 days 

The Facebook data pack allowance does not apply to Facebook Messenger, and the IMO data pack allowance does not apply to in-app web browsing.

You can activate the social packages on the M1 Prepaid App, online, or by dialing #100*3#.

Can I Roam with M1 for Free?

M1 allows prepaid customers who buy a data pack to roam for free in 5 countries (Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, and Taiwan). The same applies to the M1 Tourist SIM if you get the 30 SGD or 50 SGD version.

You can also get one of the two relatively affordable M1 prepaid roaming packs.

The 15 SGD roaming pack comes with 2 GB roaming data and 10 minutes for 10 days for the following 12 countries:

The 28 SGD roaming pack also comes with 2 GB of roaming data and 10 minutes for 10 days. You can use this pack in any of the 15 SGD countries, but also a few other ones highlighted with an *:

What are M1's Preferred Roaming Networks

M1 has agreements with several operators that allow you to use your roaming pack on those networks. These are the preferred networks:

CountryPreferred Network(s)
AustraliaTelstra, Optus & Vodafone
BangladeshRobi Axiata
CambodiaSmart Axiata
Hong KongSmarTone
IndonesiaIndosat & XL Axiata
JapanSoftBank
MacauSmarTone
MalaysiaCelcom
New ZealandTwo Degrees & Vodafone NZ
PhilippinesGlobe
Saudi ArabiaMobily
Sri LankaDialog Axiata
South KoreaSK Telecom
TaiwanChunghwa Telecom
ThailandAIS
UKVodafone UK
USAAT&T

In the future, I will be making a more detailed article about roaming with M1.

What Speeds will I get with M1 in Singapore?

Now it is time to see whether M1 has decent speeds or not.

Normally, I do 3 speed tests with the operator I test. Sometimes, I do fewer tests because the speed test app will consume more data if the speeds are high or because my data allowance is low.

Because I bought the M1 Tourist SIM that comes with 100 GB data, I decided to do 5 speed test throughout Singapore (which I did with SingTel and Starhub too). One was at my Airbnb in Little India, another in a McDonald’s in Lucky place. Another one inside Orchard mall, one in Santosa, and the last one at the airport.

M1 Speed test in Little India
Speed test in Little India
M1 Speed test in a McDonald's in Lucky Plaza
Speed test inside Lucky Plaza
M1 speed test in the Orchard Mall
Speed test inside Orchard Mall
M1 Speed test in Santosa
Speed test in Santosa
M1 speed test at Changi International Airport
Speed test ar Changi International Airport

Those are good speeds! Sure, they are not extremely fasts, going over 100 Mbps. However, these speeds are good enough for normal web browsing, including video streaming.

I was quite surprised by the speeds inside Orchard mall. If I recall correctly, I did the speed test on the lowest floor (this mall has 14 levels) and was not expecting any reception while being so deep. Well, I did – and got the fastest speeds I had experienced in Singapore.

Based on that, I expected fast speeds at the airport too. Unfortunately, that expectation was not met.

Although the speed results with M1 are satisfactory, I did have some reception issues with M1 in some places in Singapore. In contrast, I had no issues with SingTel and Starhub. There are many reasons why this could have happened, but it is still something I wanted to mention.

Even then, coverage with all the Singaporean operators, including M1, is excellent (not hard when the country is not large), so you should not have to worry about coverage.

You can expect good speeds with M1 throughout Singapore.

Do I Recommend M1 to Travelers Visiting Singapore?

I recommend M1 to those visiting Singapore. I am a massive fan of their tourist SIM card (which is why I mainly talk about them in my Buying a SIM Card in Singapore guide) because they offer so much value for the money spent.

The con is that the SIM card expires within 14 days, so they are not attractive for those spending a long time in Singapore or want to keep an active Singaporean number.

Regular M1 prepaid SIM cards come with a lot of perks too, and generous data allowances. Not as generous as the tourist SIM card, but still generous. I love the fact that you can use your data plan in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, and Taiwan at no additional cost.

The only type of top-up I would go for is the All-in-One top-ups because they give you the most bang for your buck. The standard Pay As You Go rates are alright – not too expensive and not overly cheap, but the more you use data, calls, or text, the more attractive the All-in-One top-ups become.

Getting an M1 SIM card is simple and straightforward. The coverage with M1 is excellent, and the speeds are good too.

Overall, M1 is a good option for those who visit Singapore and like to travel to other East and Southeast destinations. Therefore, M1 deserves their 5-star rating.

How does M1 Compare with Singtel and StarHub?

Now that you know everything you need to know about M1, you may be wondering whether M1 is the best for you or not. I made a Singaporean SIM Card comparison article where I go through M1, Singtel, and StarHub more in-depth, comparing their packages, speeds, and coverage.

It is a good read where I take certain scenarios into account that may apply to you (such as spending a certain amount on data packages like 10 SGD, 30 SGD, and 50 SGD, wanting to call and text abroad, speeds, and who has the best tourist SIM card).

Be sure sure to check out the Best Singaporean SIM Card comparison post.

The video above is a long video that goes over everything covered in the Best Singaporean SIM Card comparison post. If you do not have that much time right now, add the video in your Watch Later playlist. For now, watch this video below that briefly introduces you to Singtel, StarHub, and M1 tourist SIM cards, and I do a speed test with them at the end.

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