The best and worst mobile networks in the UK - which ones? (2023)

With people using their mobile phones more than ever, it has never been more important to have a good mobile network with a reliable signal, fast speeds and great customer service.

Where? We regularly conduct customer surveys on the UK's largest mobile phone network. Our in-depth analysis of every aspect of mobile network services, including customer service and cost-effectiveness, can help you make an informed choice for your next provider.

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The best and worst mobile networks in the UK - which ones? (1)

which? Take legal action against Qualcomm. If you purchased an Apple or Samsung phone after October 1, 2015, you may be affected.learn more.

Which mobile network is the best?

For our recent satisfaction survey, we interviewed 3,400 customers from 18 of the world's largest providers of SIM-only pay-as-you-go (PAYG) contracts, includingEE evaluation of mobile phones,O2 Mobile review,Vodafone phone reviewsIReview of three phones.

Five suppliers did a great job, which of them did we make? Recommended provider, for the first time we recognize the great value of three networks. Our research shows:

  • Which mobile networks are being assessed Which? recommended supplier
  • Quotes from real customers about their experience
  • Covers every UK network
  • Offers and incentives for each supplier.

Mobile operator satisfaction survey

which? Members have full access to the information in the table below. Which to become a member? Unlock all details.

asda mobile phone
bt mobile
Electronic engineering
Kao Yoshio
iD phone
The Barra Mobiel
lycra mobile
(Video) EE vs Vodafone vs 3 - Battle of the UK Mobile providers!

Table Note: Results based on an online survey of 3,400 members of the public conducted January 2023. Customer ratings are based on satisfaction and likelihood to recommend. Customers also rate aspects of the service; these are shown in the form of stars. *Which? Referral Provider (WRP) must achieve a customer score of 75% or higher, offer a typical user a price lower than or equal to the market average, and transfer bundled customers to equivalent airtime/SIM only when the contract expires Card transactions to ensure that customers do not pay too much. Suppliers are also not allowed to use inflation-based interim price increases, which customers cannot walk away without penalty if prices rise.

What makes which? Recommend a supplier?

who to be As a Referral Provider (WRP), mobile networks need to provide customers with more than great service.

We perform price analysis as part of the WRP calculation. Sellers whose prices are higher than the market average cannot become a WRP, even if they have high customer ratings.

Eligible service providers are also not allowed to apply inflation-based interim contract price increases, and customers cannot opt ​​out without penalty when prices increase.

What is the largest mobile network in the UK?

There are four major mobile operators in the UK, all of which are well known when it comes to mobile networks.

  • Brain cells"Emerged from the merger of T-Mobile and Orange and now owned by BT, the telecom giant is the largest telecom giant with around 32 million customers.
  • oxygen mobile phone– EE is followed by O2, owned by the Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica. It has about 24 million customers.
  • Vodafone MobileWhile Vodafone dominates the telecommunications market elsewhere, it ranks third in the UK with around 17.5 million customers.
  • three movesOwned by a Hong Kong conglomerate, Three is the last of the four major chains and has around 9.9 million customers in the UK.

Often referred to as the 'Big Four', these four networks are the only ones with mobile spectrum segments in the UK (i.e. the physical signal received by mobile phones), so other providers must partner with and use one of the four mobile networks . empowers their Sims, a practice known as "piggybacking."

Do you like bargains? we round upThe best mobile phone dealsSome great discounts are featured each month.

Who supports mobile networks such as Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile?

Since the four major cellular networks monopolize the cellular spectrum, other networks must partner with one of these networks to power their Sims. Such providers are called MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), examples of MVNOs are Asda Mobile and Plusnet Mobile. Our list below shows which major mobile networks power some of the largest MVNOs.

  • van:BT Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, Tool Magazine
  • oxygen:Giffgaff、Sky Mobile、Tesco Mobile、Lycamobile、Virgin Mobile
  • Vodafone:Asda Mobile、Lebara、Talkmobile、Voxi
  • three:Mobile ID, Smarty

Asda mobile phone review

Asda Mobile is the only PAYG provider with a variety of packages. This means you can't get Sims-only contracts or deals and you have to pay up front to use their services. However, it is one of the cheaper providers and many customers appreciate the cheap deals that Asda Mobile offers.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our service Asda mobile phone reviewof leavesAsda Mobile Sim Only Plans.

BitTorrent mobile review

BT Mobile has still found its place in the mobile market after returning to the mobile market in 2015 following the acquisition of EE. BT Mobile is offering its customers subscriptions and SIM-only deals, with BT Broadband customers getting an extra £5 per month.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceBitTorrent mobile reviewof leavesPlany BT Mobile Sim-only.

EE evaluation of mobile phones

Telecommunications giant EE, formed from the merger of T-Mobile and Orange and now owned by BT, is now the UK's largest mobile phone operator. It offers a range of plans, SIM-only and pay-as-you-go.

EE customers can also use the BT Sport app for free for the first three months and earn a 'Smart Benefit' bonus on monthly payment purchases, whether SIM or subscription.

(Video) EE vs O2 - Which Mobile Network is best for Price and Coverage?

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceEE evaluation of mobile phonesof leavesEE Sims program only.

Giffgaff mobile review

Giffgaff has been around for almost 10 years and has established itself in the mobile network market as a low-cost, no-frills network.

Giffgaff mainly offers 30-day SIM-only plans called "goodybags" and some of the lowest pay-as-you-go rates available.

One of the reasons costs are kept so low is that there is no call center and all non-account related issues must be reported to the Giffgaff community where other customers can help answer your questions (there is also an agent chat for specific account-related issues).

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our servicegif gaff reviewof leavesThe GiffGaff program is only available for Sims.

iD Mobile review

Currys' iD Mobile, powered by the Three network, is another low-cost mobile carrier that offers some of the cheapest deals available today.

iD Mobile customers can also get subscription phones with the latest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy.

See what iD Mobile customers are saying about our servicesiD Mobile reviewof leavesOnly Plany ID mobile SIM card.

Lebara mobile web review

Founded in 2001 as an international provider of prepaid calling cards and later as a mobile network company focused on international calling, Lebara has transitioned its SIM-only service to low-cost SIM-only provider in recent years.

The SIM cards provided by Lebara only handle a mix of calls to the UK and international calls to over 40 countries including the US, Canada, India and Australia, as well as UK data and SMS. Customers also get free roaming in India and standard EU countries.

All plans come with a 30 day continuous subscription and Lebara runs on the Vodafone network.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceLebara Mobile Reviewof leavesLebara Mobile Sim Only Plans.

Lycamobile reviews

Lycamobile offers cheap data and often has very cheap sales, such as £1 a month for 6GB or £10 a month for 100GB. It also offers a wide variety of plans, including telephone.

Data benefits are available for different contract periods, such as 30 days, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceLycamobile reviews.

O2 Mobile review

Another Big Four company, O2 offers a wide range of products and can provide customers with the latest smartphones in the market.

Renewal deals amortize the cost of your smartphone and airtime, meaning you'll never overpay when your contract ends. O2 Refresh also allows you to manage every aspect of your contract, including length, data limit and initial costs.

(Video) best broadband only provider uk - what's the best mobile network? uk mobile broadband tested

The Priority app also offers O2 customers exclusive access to special offers, freebies and concert tickets.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceO2 Mobile reviewof leavesSims Only O2-abonnement.

Plusnet mobile review

What makes Plusnet's competitive price and good service stand out? Recommended suppliers. However, it recently announced that it would no longer offer Sim-only deals and bring new customers to its EE home network, even though its plans are often significantly more expensive.

Existing customers will not see any changes to their current plans and should still be able to add additional data, minutes and texts

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our servicePlusnet mobile review.

review of skymobile

Telecommunications giant Sky launched its mobile offering in 2017, using the O2 network to power its services.

Sky TV customers get the best prices here, and if you have a Sky TV bundle you get unlimited streaming, although all customers get up to three years of data portability.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our servicereview of skymobileof leavesSky Mobile SIM plans only.


As Three's affordable virtual network, Smarty's mission is to offer super-cheap Sim-only plans with few extras.

That said, Smarty offers three data discount plans, with unused data charges reimbursed at 1p per MB, up to £3 if you use 1GB or less. Smarty's customer support and account management is 100% online, primarily through a combination of forums and live chat.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceSmarty-smartphonerecensieof leavesSmarty Mobile SIM plans only.


Talkmobile is another affordable virtual network that offers rare but lucrative Sims deals.

Don't expect call center customer service or extensive incentives, but if you're looking for a cheap, simple data, minutes, and SMS package, the Talkmobile might be for you.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceTalkmobileReviewof leavesTalkmobile Sim subscriptions only.

Tesco Mobile review

Although Tesco is best known as the UK's largest supermarket chain, Tesco Mobile has grown to a customer base of over 5 million and has become a real contender in the mobile network market by offering customers discounts.

Tesco Mobile plans offer many subscription calls, SIM plans and PAYG plans at very affordable prices, now including 5G plans.

Tesco Mobile customers can also collect Clubcard points with their packages and use them in-store or exchange them for vouchers for special prices.

(Video) Which operators have the best mobile coverage in the UK?

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceTesco Mobile reviewof leavesTesco Mobile SIM plans only.

Three (3) mobile assessments

Three is the smallest of the four major mobile networks and is known for offering large amounts of data at low prices.

Most plans include Go Roam Around the World, which lets you call and text within the UK and use up to 12GB in over 70 countries, including Australia and the US, depending on the plan you choose.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceReview of three phonesof leavesThree Mobile Sim-only subscriptions.

Tool magazine overview

Bundle provider Utility Warehouse is a bit different from other networks in that it also offers broadband, energy, insurance and cash back cards. Different services can be combined with each other.

Utility Warehouse offers only two types of mobile deals: valuable data bundles (5 GB) or unlimited data.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceUtility Warehouse mobile review.

virgin mobile review

As the world's first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Virgin Mobile has been providing mobile services for nearly 20 years, using the Vodafone network to power its mobile services.

Now under the Virgin Media umbrella, Virgin Mobile is trying to compete with the big players with the latest contract smartphones and SIM-only deals. Virgin Mobile customers in the UK can also use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter without using any of their benefits, with the exception of voice and video calls via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our servicevirgin mobile reviewof leavesOnly available on Virgin Mobile Sim plans.

Vodafone phone reviews

Another of the four mobile giants, Vodafone has been providing services in the UK for over 30 years and has its own network.

Vodafone also has over 75 free travel destinations, including Australia, Canada and the US, more than any other UK network. Although this only applies to more expensive rates.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceVodafone phone reviewsof leavesVodafone sim only abonnement.

Voxi Reviews

Launched to appeal to the younger generation, Voxi offers a wide range of phone and SIM only deals and deals.

The main appeal of Voxi is the endless social media and video streaming rewards, using apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Netflix won't eat up your data allowance.

Find out how a customer evaluates their service in our serviceVoxi Reviewsof leavesSim-only Voxi-programma.

Reliable recommendation

which? is independent. We work for you, the consumer, so you can rest assured that our recommendations are based only on the results of our testing and research. We are not influenced by third parties and do not accept giveaways from product manufacturers or retailers.

(Video) EE vs Vodafone - Which UK Mobile Network Is Best?


The best and worst mobile networks in the UK - which ones? ›

The results saw the "big four" providers - O2

O₂ UK (legally incorporated as Telefonica UK Limited, stylised as O₂) is a British telecommunications services provider, headquartered in Slough, England which operates under the O2 brand. It is owned by VMED O2 UK Limited, a 50:50 joint venture between Telefónica and Liberty Global. › wiki › O2_(UK)
, EE
EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) is a British national mobile network operator and internet service provider, which is a brand within the BT Group. EE is the second-largest mobile network operator in the United Kingdom, with 26.1 million subscribers as of September 2021. › wiki › EE_Limited
and Three - beaten out by "virtual networks" like GiffGaff, iD Mobile and Smarty.

What is the best and worst mobile network in the UK? ›

Based on Ofcom's latest customer service survey, the best mobile network in the UK is currently Tesco Mobile, with an overall customer satisfaction score of 96%. This was closely followed by giffgaff on 95%, while joint third was taken by O2, Vodafone, and EE, with 92% each.

Which mobile network is No 1 in UK? ›

EE: The best mobile network for performance

While Three offers faster 5G performance in some locations, EE remains the UK's fastest mobile network overall.

Which mobile provider is best in UK? ›

According to RootMetrics, EE is the provider of the best mobile coverage across the UK. Vodafone is the second-best option, while Three is third in Wales and England followed by O2, and vice versa for Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The big four are:
  • EE.
  • O2.
  • Three.
  • Vodafone.
Apr 3, 2023

What are the 4 mobile networks in UK? ›

Known collectively as the 'big four', they are Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three. There are numerous other mobile phone providers that are called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

Which UK network is best for international roaming? ›

Out of the 'big four' networks in the UK, O2 is the only one to not reintroduce roaming charges. That means O2 customers can still use their UK allowances in its 48 'Europe Zone' locations – all for no extra cost.

Which SIM is best in UK? ›

As EE Mobile also has the best 4G/5G network in the UK in 2023 and this great prepaid sim card plan Traveltomtom rates EE as the best prepaid sim card in the UK in 2023. UK sim card deals are actually pretty good for traveling in Europe, but always ask if free EU roaming is included when buying a UK sim card.

Is Vodafone or EE better? ›

EE vs Vodafone: Coverage and 5G coverage

EE has 99% UK coverage for 4G, as does Vodafone. However, when it comes to 5G, EE wins out with 160 locations compared with 124. That number is changing all the time, however, so it's best to check what you can get where you live.

Why is EE the UK's best network? ›

The main reasons to use EE are its excellent coverage and performance. 4G coverage extends to over 99% of the UK population, and its 5G services are now in reach for over 50%. It has also upgraded 5G services in 14 locations to use the 5G 2,100MHz spectrum to improve performance and add capacity in areas of high usage.

Is EE the best network in the UK? ›

EE's network is widely accepted as being the best in the UK. It covers 99% of the population, with 85% of the geographical area of the country within reach of its masts. What's more, its 5G network is the fastest growing too, with dozens of major cities and towns enjoying access to the next-gen tech.

Is Vodafone or O2 better in UK? ›

✔ Both networks are close for 4G and call signal

Vodafone and O2 are basically neck and neck when it comes to call signal (2G/3G). Both networks cover about 91% of the UK's landmass for calls and texts. That means great signal coverage outdoors and better coverage indoors too.

Who has the best 4G in the UK? ›

EE mobile phone coverage

By some margin, EE offers the UK's widest and fastest 4G coverage. At the time of writing, its standard 4G network covered 99% of the UK population. In select locations, EE offers a faster 4G services but these are largely limited to cities and larger towns.

Is Vodafone the best in the UK? ›

Vodafone are one of the main UK networks, meaning they provide call (2G/3G) and data (4G/5G) signal using their own network. They have the joint-best coverage for calls of all networks and are just behind EE for 4G.

Does AT&T work in UK? ›

The UK is the headquarters for AT&T EMEA. AT&T serves over 57% of UK FTSE 100 companies. AT&T offers a comprehensive service portfolio to clients – helping them put their business in motion across a nationwide infrastructure.

Who are the big three mobile providers UK? ›

There are four networks in the UK: Vodafone, O2, EE and Three. Other providers piggyback onto one of these networks.

Is there T-Mobile in UK? ›

Looking to upgrade? As an existing T-Mobile customer, you're in the right place to get the best deals on the UK's fastest, most reliable network. Log in to My T-Mobile to check your upgrade date. Or, if you're not registered for Your Account, text UP to 150 to see if you can upgrade.

Which UK mobile providers do not charge for roaming? ›

Roaming charges in Europe
Asda MobileNo extra charges on up to 5GB of data
BT MobileNo extra charges on up to 15GB of data
EE£2.29/day (or £15/month) for contracts – no extra charges for pay-as-you-go
GiffgaffNo extra charges on up to 5GB of data
11 more rows
Apr 25, 2023

How can I avoid roaming charges in UK? ›

You can avoid roaming charges by turning roaming off on your phone. This means your phone won't use data from a foreign network. If you're in the UK and without Wi-Fi, your phone won't use the internet. Of course, you can still use the internet on your phone, you just have to find a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Can I use O2 in America? ›

Roaming in the USA

Our O2 network will continue to support all types of mobile devices in the UK. But if you're planning to travel to the USA, some phones won't be compatible with USA networks. This is because American mobile phone carriers are upgrading their networks and shutting down their 2G and 3G services.

Which UK SIM works in America? ›

You can roam on a UK-based SIM card.

This is the easiest and most convenient way to use your mobile phone in the USA. You'll have a UK-based phone number (+44) and you'll pay your UK mobile network for your usage.

Where should I buy a SIM card in UK? ›

Mobile phone shops - companies such as Vodafone, O2, Three and EE have physical stores in towns and cities all over the country. Other providers such as Lebara also have a network of shops throughout the UK. Supermarkets and convenience stores - you can often buy prepaid sim cards in UK supermarkets and shops.

Should I get SIM only or phone SIM deals in the UK? ›

A SIM only deal is a great choice if you're happy with your phone, or want to buy a new one, without signing up to a long-term mobile phone contract. Most SIM only deals work on a monthly rolling basis, so you're free to change or cancel your plan whenever you like.

Why is O2 better than EE? ›

EE vs O2: Speeds

EE wins hands down when it comes to 4G speeds, clocking in at up to 35.9Mbps, compared with O2 at just 18Mbps in independent testing. EE is the clear winner, by some distance. While 5G data is harder to come by, recent tests in London show EE offers 142.86Mbps with O2 snappier at 181.19Mbps.

Is Vodafone good or bad? ›

Vodafone is a well-rounded network, with high data limits, speedy 5G roaming abroad in many locations, and strong 4G coverage and speeds at home, along with growing domestic 5G coverage. Plus, if you spend enough, you can get extras thrown in, like entertainment packages.

Whose mobile network is best? ›

Summary : Best Network SIM Card Provider in India 2023. Airtel SIM: #1 Mobile Network Provider in India.

Does EE UK work in America? ›

If your plan started before 7 July 2021 the Roam Further Pass allows you to use your standard minutes, text and data plan allowances in USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand just as you would at home.

What is the UK equivalent of Verizon? ›

There is no Verizon in the UK, but you can use your Verizon phone in the UK. Either set your phone to airplane mode and rely on Wi-Fi, activate international usage before leaving the USA, or perhaps cancel your Verizon service and use Google Voice instead (recommend for long-term UK stays only).

What network is better than EE? ›

Winner: O2

Most major mobile operators have reintroduced roaming charges, with some scheduled to start in 2022. EE will charge customers a £2 per day roaming fee from 3 March 2022, but only those who took out new contracts or renewed contracts after 6 July 2021 are affected.

Which network is better EE or 3? ›

Three tend to offer faster 5G speeds than EE

Three have reserved more of their higher signal frequencies into 5G, which means faster speeds at the cost of shorter range. We'd say that so long as you're somewhere with strong 5G signal, you should get much faster speeds on Three than on EE.

Which is better EE or BT? ›

When it comes to choice, BT offers a greater range of packages than EE. But if you want to go for standard broadband or fast fibre, there's nothing to choose between them in price, unless you are one of the lucky few who can get BT's Ultrafast 900Mbps service.

Which is better EE or O2 or Vodafone? ›

If you want fast speeds and almost-perfect coverage, then EE is the standout winner. Its network is simply faster than the rest, and has the best coverage. Speed freaks will find it's a step ahead of the competition. Vodafone isn't far behind though, and both providers are generally faster than Three and O2.

Who is better O2 or 3? ›

"Three win both in terms of 4G and 5G speeds. O2 can tend to be noticeably slower than other networks, so Three are the better choice if speeds are a must."

Is T Mobile part of EE? ›

T-Mobile - brought to you by EE

As an existing T-Mobile customer, you're in the right place to get the best deals on the UK's fastest, most reliable network. Log in to My T-Mobile to check your upgrade date.

Is O2 the best network? ›

Leading independent network benchmarking organization, Global Wireless Solutions (GWS), have awarded O2, London's Most Reliable Network. GWS conducted widespread testing in December 2021 which showed our network to be more reliable than EE, Vodafone, and Three.

What is 3 coverage like in UK? ›

Three's coverage covers 99.8% of the UK population with 2G, 3G and 4G. Three is slowly rolling out its 5G network and claims that it will be the fastest in the UK. All Three's SIMs are 5G-ready and pretty much any new phone you fancy will also now be 5G-ready.

Does Three have better coverage than Vodafone? ›

✔ Vodafone offer wider 4G/3G/2G coverage

In terms of call signal (2G/3G) Vodafone cover more of the UK's landmass than Three, including more areas where people actually live. So you're more likely to stay connected on Vodafone than on Three. The same goes for Vodafone's 4G data signal.


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