012 Mobile | A Complete Review for 2022
012 Mobile Review
If you’re looking for a mobile plan or an internet deal in Israel and start researching your options, you’ll probably come across the names 012 Mobile and 012 Smile. Both are recognized telecom brands in Israel but are less well known than their rivals like Bezeq, HOT, and Partner (in fact, Partner acquired 012 Smile in 2010 and isn’t a rival).
We’ll take a closer look at 012 Mobile and 012 Smile and see exactly where they fit into the cutthroat world of Israeli telecommunications. We’ll also see how 012 Smile and mobile plans and prices compare to their main competitors. Finally, we’ll check whether 012 mobile in Israel has English customer service - and how their customer service standards compare to Anglo (American, Canadian, British, Australian, and New Zealand) norms.
Internet and Mobile Providers in Israel
There are nine major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Israel. Bezeq, Hot, and Partner are the biggest players continually jostling for market dominance. They market their latest internet deals aggressively, but all operate within a loose general framework regarding monthly internet plan prices and bandwidth offers. The other companies are less well known but, with typical Israeli assertiveness, like to view themselves as serious contenders.
- 012 Smile
- 013 Barak
- Triple Cloud
- Xphone 018
- Internet Rimon
Israel is a small country where everybody knows everybody else. The world of Israeli telecom providers is not surprisingly a small and tight-knit market. Companies regularly work together and lease infrastructure or other services to their rivals, particularly with new 5G networks. It’s important not to assume that a brand name is an independent company in its own right. For example, Partner owns 012 Smile telecom, and Golan Telecom merged with Cellcom in 2020.
- Partner and HOT Mobile collaborate to provide 5G
- Cellcom, XPhone, and Golan also work together to provide 5G
If you sign up for a monthly internet deal with 012 Smile telecom, you’re subscribing to a corporate brand name. The profits on your monthly plan will flow up to Partner - for the ultimate benefit of PTNR owners and shareholders. That’s how modern economies function and is entirely above board and legal. However, it’s important not to be drawn into the illusion that you’re siding with the little guy if you opt for the 012 Smile internet plan or buy 012 SIM cards while in Israel …
012 Mobile and 012 SIM Cards in Israel
Israel has a thriving high-tech center and is one of the world’s most sophisticated countries regarding mobile phones and mobile phone networks. 9 major mobile providers are competing for customers across Israel.
- HOT Mobile
- 013 NetVision
- 012 Mobile
- Golan Telecom
- Rami Levi Telecom
012 Mobile is ostensibly one of many mobile providers in Israel, but (like 012 Smile), it is owned by Partner. 012 Mobile claims to be one of the country’s most affordable services but operate within the unofficial Israeli telecom pricing and service framework. All the major companies monitor each other’s mobile packages and only undercut their rivals with temporary discounts e.g. a low price for the first three months.
Nobody in the Israeli telecom industry is ready to slash prices radically. The only real differences between telecom providers are in the quality of customer service - which can make a huge difference to your user experience!
012 Smile Mobile currently offers two flagship mobile deals:
- 4G - 200GB - NIS 29.99 per month
- 5G - 500GB - NIS 49.99 per month
There is also a range of overseas packages that are expensive. The cheapest, with just 6GB browsing, costs almost NIS 300, or NIS 209 via the 012 Smile Mobile website. There are better ways to stay connected when you fly abroad on business or for a holiday.
How to Buy 012 SIM Cards in Israel
You can buy a 012 SIM card in most major towns in Israel for NIS 38.60 simply by calling in at a branch of the Yellow Stores chain. They are also available in the Best Mobile chain and 012 Smile Telecom’s stores. Most telecom companies charge for SIM cards but will at least post them directly to customers or send them to a local drop-off point by courier. It’s not difficult to buy 012 SIM cards in Israel, but there might be an element of hassle involved, especially if you dislike visiting malls.
012 Smile Mobile Key Points
- 012 Smile Mobile is owned by Partner and is not an independent company.
- 012 mobile deals (pricing and data) are within typical Israeli telecom norms.
- 012 SIM cards are available across Israel in local 012 Mobile branches, Yellow Stores, and Best Mobile stores.
Does 012 Mobile in Israel have English Customer Support?
012 Smile telecom (and owner company Partner) is an Israeli company that focuses on providing Israeli mobile and internet services. The Israeli 012 mobile website is in Hebrew, not English. There is currently no tab for other languages. The website design is reasonably compatible with in-browser translating tools if you only read English.
012 Smile Telecom does not have a dedicated English-speaking customer support or service team. If you need to contact their call center, you will probably find a rep who speaks English, but it may only be at the high school level. Anglo callers will have to take a potluck on 112 employees' English skills and employee availability, attitude, and basic competence.
Lousy customer service is a feature of most Israeli businesses. It partly stems from basic Israeli inefficiency and balagan but also comes from the tougher business mentality that grew out of older cultures where tough bargaining was the norm. Israel is not the polite MidWest, considerate Canada or a genteel English market town. It’s an eclectic mass of cultures jumbled together in a stressed-out country where the Eastern Mediterranean meets the Middle East.
The old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon concept that the customer is always right never took root in Israel. The underlying concept is that the customer is a fryer who exists to be exploited. Any money in the customer’s possession must be there by mistake and is rightfully the business owner’s money. A business deal is just the means to correct that imbalance. If you think that assessment is exaggerated or unduly harsh, check out our blog post on HOT.
What do Israelis Think of 012 Mobile and 012 Smile?
Most Israelis don’t care about 012 Mobile or 012 Smile one way or the other. Brand loyalty in Israel is usually just a matter of convenience. If someone signed up for a 012 service, they’d probably stick with it for a few years. The average Israeli knows they’re unlikely to get a significantly better deal with another company. Unless a customer has a burning desire to subscribe to FiberTV or a similar telecom package (or is severely annoyed by 012 customer service), they’re unlikely to switch service providers.
Some systematically switch utility and service providers to sign up for special deals and introductory offers. You can save money for a year, but you’ll have to do a lot of personal admin and organization to achieve those savings. Israelis routinely complain about the cost of living but, like most people in the West, usually lack the time, energy, and motivation to make serious changes. When you’re holding down a demanding job and raising a family, convenience wins 99 times out of 100!
What do Anglos in Israel Think of 012 Mobile and 012 Smile?
Anglos in Israel aren’t big fans of 012 - Mobile or Smile. There isn’t much brand awareness in the Anglo community regarding the smaller internet service providers and mobile providers in Israel. Most Anglos know the big players (Bezeq, Pelephone, HOT, Partner, etc.) and usually sign up with one of the major service providers. Anglos, particularly new Olim, are more likely to be swayed by word-of-mouth recommendations than aggressive advertising campaigns.
Anglos in Israel who sign up for 012 mobile or Smile internet are usually unenthusiastic about the level of service that they receive. The service isn’t terrible nor a ripoff - it’s just not particularly impressive. One of the main issues is the lack of dedicated customer service in English, poor customer support practices in general, and confusing terms and conditions and billing. 012 isn’t any worse than most Israeli companies in this respect and is better than some.
Anglos in Israel are Opting for TCS Mobile and Internet Deals
Over the last few years, Anglos in Israel have switched to TCS Telecom. They’re attracted by the idea of an Israeli telecom company founded by fellow Olim and operates entirely in English. They also love the flexibility that’s built into TCS services. You can opt for a single stand-alone service like a cheap mobile deal or internet package or consolidate all your telecom requirements (including cable and satellite TV packages and landlines) in a tailored bundle.
All customer service, contracts, and billing at TCS are in English, and the customer service reps are native English-speaking Olim. If you call TCS during office hours, you can usually expect to be dealt with in under five minutes by a native English speaker. The staff is trained, helpful, and has plenty of initiative. There’s a friendly ‘can-do’ vibe completely lacking in Hebrew-speaking Israeli call centers.
If you’re already an 012 customer (or signed up with any other Israeli service provider), you can immediately switch to TCS and get the professional service standards you expect. TCS will contact your current provider and handle your account transfer. Their team will get you connected ASAP, without needing you to deal with Hebrew-speaking customer services.