The best phone network in the UK in 2022

Which network of phones is the most reliable within the UK? BT, EE, Giffgaff, HMD Mobile, O2, Plusnet, Sky, SMARTY, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin, and Vodafone are compared

Although most people think about the type of phone or contract that would be ideal for them, the service that both the mobile and phone plan are part of is often not so high on the list of priorities This is a bit surprising given that it is the foundation to your mobile experience both day and night.

The speed and quality of your mobile network are crucial to your ability to perform and play while on the go Which one is the most suitable? Like smartphones, there’s no universal answer, however, there are several options worth considering with a range of benefits that cater to the different requirements.

The connectivity can differ from location to location, and from throughout the day. Check out the websites of all leading players. They will assure you they have excellent coverage everywhere. However, the truth is much more nuanced.

It is interesting to note that According StatCounter, a website called October 2016 was the first month that more people used the internet using tablets or phones than on PCs on laptops or desktops.

It was recorded 51.2 percent mobile versus 48.7 percent for desktops, and the mobile advantage has been steadily increasing since then, making it even more crucial to select the right mobile network that meets your needs.

If you’ve already got a contract and are considering buying a new phone or switching to a different network, here’s how to find out how much time is remaining on your contract and then the best way do you upgrade before it expires.

You might also be happy to know that text-to-switch makes it much easier to switch to a brand new service within the UK.

It is crucial to ensure that you are aware of when your contract is due to expire to ensure you’re not overcharged. Based on In 2017 over six million people were paying for mobile phones that they’ve already paid for.

How to access 5G

The most talked about subject in the mobile industry currently is 5G which is being launched throughout the UK. It is worth keeping this in mind while deciding which service to choose.

Along with a carrier that can support 5G (we will discuss which ones do, don’t, and won’t be in the coming paragraphs) you must also make sure you have an iPhone that supports 5G in order to benefit from the faster speeds for data.

Which is the most reliable phone service for the UK?

Before we begin, let’s take an overview of the choices. There are just 4 major networks for mobile phones operating in the UK There are many other alternatives that use brand-name services that are based on the infrastructure provided by the major four. They are classified under the umbrella term Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs and do not possess their own network space.

The four big ones are:

EE has the highest number of piggybackers. These include ASDA Mobile, BT Mobile, Plusnet, Virgin Mobile (for the moment) as well as HMD Mobile.

The O2 piggybackers are , Tesco Mobile, and Sky Mobile.

Three’s services include the iD mobile along with Vodafone’s offer includes and Voxi.

It’s important to keep this in mind when deciding the provider you’d like choose, since coverage for the provider you choose to use could vary in accordance with where you’re located in the UK. You can make use of .

The problem with only having 4 networks means that should one of them is affected by any type of service disruption it is likely that all of its piggybackers will suffer as well. In December 2018, customers of O2 and customers of all their O2 piggybackers were without 4G for the entire day and caused chaos throughout the UK.

Below, we will take a look at each of the operators and the services they provide currently.

Based on RootMetrics, EE is the most reliable coverage for mobile phones throughout the UK. Vodafone is the second most reliable option and Three is the third choice on the list in Wales in Wales and England and is followed by O2 in England and Wales, and vice versa in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Then there’s the matter to be aware of Virgin Media and O2’s merger which was made public on June 1, 2021. Since the two brands have begun to revamp their operations to become an entity (simply named Virgin Media O2), existing customers who have already signed up in both the Virgin Media broadband for homes or one of O2’s mobile plans are already beginning to notice a change in the benefits that are provided to customers.

The first truly joint-created Virgin Media O2 product – Volt comes with double data for O2 mobile plans and upgrades Virgin Media home broadband speeds. Users who are already using services only from one brand will get discounts and deals that are available with the other.

In the end, if you have (or are planning to buy) an iPhone then read that provides specific guidelines.

BT Mobile

  • EE piggybacker
  • Great news for BT Broadband customers
  • Offers 5G
  • Learn more about it at

BT is among the newest players on the market, offering its own services under the EE UK network. It’s a great alternative if you already own BT Broadband as you can take advantage of a PS5 per month discount for your smartphone plan.

Additionally, BT Halo customers (BT’s most recent and modern home broadband service) get double data when they decide to sign up for the BT Mobile plan in addition to a 20 percent (minimum) discounted rate on all other Family SIMs.

BT also provides SIM-only packages at fairly reasonable rates. Because it’s on the EE network (which is in itself a mix of the older T-Mobile along with the Orange UK networks) you’re likely to have great coverage and fast download speeds.


  • One of the “big four’
  • Excellent coverage throughout the majority of the UK
  • Data caps
  • Rewards to EE Home Broadband customers
  • The UK’s top 5G network according to RootMetrics
  • Find out more on

EE is a giant in the UK mobile market. It was acquired by BT in 2016, but this won’t have any effect on the choice of network you choose.

The network of EE is comprised of T-Mobile’s old as well as Orange frequencies, which means there’s plenty of coverage across the country, and some black spots.

The cost of a phone contract may be a bit expensive however, for absolute certainty in coverage (and an established brand name to add) it’s an excellent option.

In August of 2019, the company announced several completely unlimited 4G (and in recent times 5G) data plans that let you use up to 120GB per month across any EE mobile service that is linked with your account.

You’ll receive EU roaming (using the standard allowance) for PS2 per day. There are data caps to choose from in addition to EE Home Broadband you can enjoy a boost in mobile data up to 20GB per calendar month.

EE has also been awarded the title of uSwitch’s Fastest Mobile Network for three consecutive years, from 2019. It also provides the most and fastest coverage for all 5G services in the RootMetrics H1 2021 research.


  • O2 piggybacker
  • Simple SIM-only Goodybags with which you can cancel or change at anytime
  • 5G offers
  • Find out more on

It is owned by O2, Giffgaff is a small operator, but it offers attractive SIM-only offers. Utilizing its own network, it provides good value Goodybags, including its .

The company has also increased its PS20 Goodybag allowance for data from 20GB to a maximum of 80GB, while PS25 gives you unlimited data (that will be speed-capped once you’ve utilized 80GB worth).

It’s an excellent option for those who already have the handset. All you need is a SIM and you’re ready to go. But, it also offers phones on contract in case you’re in need of both.

If you’ve are able to set up auto-renewing payments You can select one of the Golden Goodybags from Giffgaff that offer more price-for-value, and greater amounts of information.

HMD Mobile

  • EE piggybacker
  • Exclusively for Nokia phone owners
  • 5G is coming very soon
  • EU roaming at no extra cost
  • Learn more about the company at

It will be launched alongside its competitors, the Nokia X20 and G10 in the month of May 2021. HMD Global also pulled the curtain off its new MVNO HMD Mobile, also known as HMD Mobile – which turns the purchase procedure on its head a bit.

Instead of purchasing a phone and a plan through the carrier, customers picking an unlocked phone on Nokia’s site can also connect it to the HMD mobile SIM.

HMD Mobile aims to offer temporary plans that have the benefits of a long-term contract With four tariffs available that offer unlimited text and calls as well as 2GB, 10GB, 25, as well as 50GB in data on PS8.99 for a rolling 30-day contract.

Presently, HMD Mobile is a 4G-only network, however, HMD Global has confirmed that its SIMs are 5G-ready and that 5G is in the works.

The fact that EE’s network is a piggybacking point provides great coverage throughout the nation too, and even though EE has introduced a new form of roaming fees, HMD Mobile hasn’t – within the EU at the very least.


  • One of the “big four’
  • The winner of the uSwitch’s Best Network coverage award 19 20 21′
  • Exclusive benefits only available to Virgin Media & O2 customers
  • Only the ‘big four’ members to continue to enjoy EU roaming without extra cost, following Brexit
  • 5G is available.
  • Learn more about it at

O2 is a name that has been operating for a long time in UK and is considered to be among the top and most popular operators in the world. O2 boasts a wide coverage, and provides users with a wide range of options, like the ability to connect tariffs and phones of different lengths (up at 36-months) and also independently.

The recent O2 merger, which was made with Virgin Media (to make Virgin Media O2) however, hasn’t directly affected O2 users in any significant way, aside from gaining access to new benefits as well as perks already in place including O2 Priority which gives customers exclusive advantages, such as gig tickets.

As Virgin Media O2, the company also won Rootmetrics’ UK Network Accessibility Award in the first half of 2021 too, not to mention it’s the only member of the ‘big four’ that hasn’t reinstated roaming costs in roaming charges within the EU and the EU, which is why it’s a good choice for those who travel.


  • EE piggybacker
  • Data caps
  • There are no tethering costs
  • There are no phone contracts to sign There are no phone contracts, only SIM-only options
  • 5G isn’t yet available
  • Learn more about it at

Plusnet, which was previously LIFE Mobile, uses EE exactly the same way BT Mobile does, meaning you can count on reliable coverage. It’s not yet made the leap to 5G however, meaning it’s using (part or all of) the 4G infrastructure of the carrier at present (which is still known for its reliability Don’t be worried).

The benefits include no extra costs for tethering as well as the ability to set up a monthly cost limit to avoid any unpleasant unexpected charges showing up in your bills. It’s a great SIM-only choice that is priced at a reasonable price.

It was named uSwitch’s “Best Network to Provide Customer Service as well as the ‘Best value pay Monthly Network’ awards in 2020.

Sky Mobile

  • O2 piggybacker
  • Unlimited streaming with Sky apps
  • Piggybank Rewards
  • Flexible plans
  • uSwitch Network of the Year 2020
  • 5G offers
  • Learn more about

One of the most recent developments in the UK mobile market is that Sky is now a “quad-play service provider, including mobile in its broadband, TV, and landline services.

Pay only for as much data you need for an account that connects to Virgin Media’s O2’s networks. It also appears to have eliminated the hurdle of exclusive benefits only available to current Sky customers. That means benefits like unlimited texts and calls are now included on all plans for all.

Additionally, there’s a fun option that’s called Piggybank Rewards, where customers can use their data allowances that are not used up for savings on tablets, phones, and other devices. It’s part of the “Roll” plans, which lets customers use their data from prior months anytime up to three years.

There are also Swap contracts that permit users to update their phones every year, as well as Mix, which allows customers to upgrade their monthly allowance of data.

Sky has been awarded Best Pay Monthly Network in addition to Best Value Pay Monthly Network in the uSwitch 2021 awards, in addition to “Network of the Year” and “Best Network for Data and the Best Pay Monthly Network’ last year.


  • Three piggybackers
  • SIM-only network
  • Simple and cost-effective
  • Offers 5G
  • Learn more about the company at

SMARTY is a fairly unknown SIM-only network that is powered by Three.

It was designed with ease and clarity in mind. The company offers three discount plans on data that offer money-back on unused data. It also offers five competing data plans that offer unlimited data from 4GB to 50GB as well as an unlimited plan. You are able to change or cancel plans at any point.

This relative newbie was awarded the uSwitch ‘Best Value SIM-only Network’ award in the years 2019 and 2020 as well as ‘Best PAYG Network’ in 2021 and was granted 5G with no additional cost at the beginning of 2022.

Tesco Mobile

  • O2 piggybacker
  • Cheap SIM deals
  • Offers 5G plans, as well as SIM-only
  • Find out more on

Tesco Mobile provides contracts, SIM-only, and pay-per-minute deals that are affordable. Since it’s a Virgin Media service on O2’s service, the coverage should be adequate and frequently the incentives for new phones are great too.

Prices for SIM-only phones start as low as PS7.50 per month. So when you have a phone that you like you can save cash.

Alternately, you can avail of the offer of six months for free Clubcard Plus, which doubles the data you have on your mobile contract. It with discounts of 10% off two Tesco stores per month (up to PS40 each month) and gives you 10% off certain Tesco brands at the store – like F&F Clothing and double Clubcard points. You can earn 2 points per PS1 you pay on your Tesco Mobile bill – eligible on certain pay-per-month plans for SIM-only and Anytime Upgrade plans.


  • One of the “big four’
  • All-you-can-eat data available
  • Go Binge data features
  • 5G offers
  • Learn more about it at

Three provides reasonably priced ‘all-you-can-eat data bundles. This means unlimited data. If you’re able to pay for it, you can buy the top smartphones that offer unlimited internet connectivity.

In addition, even if don’t opt for the all-you-can-eat package that includes breakfast, you’ll be able to watch shows and movies from Netflix, TVPlayer, Dave, and History Channel and along with music that comes from Deezer, Apple Music, and SoundCloud unlimitedly, and without being counted against your allowance for data usage by using the network’s “Go Binge feature.

Pay-as-you-go rates are also fairly reasonable If you don’t require the same amount of texts, minutes, or data.

Once the king of roaming plans reigned supreme (before the consequences of Brexit began to take hold) The carrier provides reasonable rates within the EU.

uSwitch also won Three the title of ‘Best Network that Roams’ as well as the most popular Mobile Network’ in 2019 2020, 2021, and.

Virgin Mobile

  • EE/Vodafone piggybacker (for right now)
  • Data rollover
  • Flexible plans
  • Free messaging with no data
  • 5G is available.
  • Learn more about the site at

Virgin Mobile was late to the game with 5G and 4G connectivity, but it has caught up and can be a good alternative if you already have your broadband and TV service from Virgin Media O2, cutting down on the number of tech providers to choose from.

It comes with rollover options for data and lets you send messages to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter without having to eat into the allowance. You can also change your plan every month as well.

As an MVNO Virgin Mobile customers are actually using EE’s and Vodafone’s networks currently, however, with the Virgin Media O2 merger, there’s a good chance that it will be switched over to the O2 network in the near future.


  • One of the “big four’
  • Big data plans available
  • 5G offers
  • Learn more about the company at

Vodafone is a major company in the UK mobile market. Its coverage is great, but it has been criticized for reports of poor customer service in the past couple of years.

But, the actual network itself offers reliable speedy 5G (and 5G) connectivity and its SIM-only plans are reasonably priced.


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