O2 is one of the big four networks that make up the UK’s mobile network infrastructure, but what does it provide for its users? Want to know more about My O2, O2 priority or how being an O2 customer could help you get tickets to your favourite band in the O2 arena? We discuss perks, plans, sim only deals, customer reviews, contact deals and so much more about the O2 network. to plans, sim only details to plans.
The Best Mobile Network in the UK: 2021
Which provider is the best mobile network in the UK? Well, the term best mobile network is a fairly subjective one, and the best mobile network for you will really depend on your individual needs. Thankfully Selectra brings you loads of comprehensive mobile phone provider guides to help you make an informed decision. Read on for more about finding the 'perfect fit' for your mobile phone needs.
Everyone is different, as are their mobile needs. And there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right mobile phone plan or Pay As You Go SIM. When landing on the best mobile network for you, it's worth considering pricing, network coverage, data, calls, texts, benefits, rewards and customer service quality, among other things.
Here at Selectra, we wholeheartedly believe that it’s always worth shopping around for the right deal. That being said, there are a high volume of UK mobile networks on the scene, which can make choosing the right mobile deal overwhelming to say the least. But don't fret, we'll walk you through how to navigate the selection process.
The best mobile network for you will be one which, not only saves you money, but also saves you time. Not only should the best mobile network bring convenience to the table, but they should also provide you with enough calls and data for your budget, fanastic perks and reasonable international roaming fees.
Take a look at our useful table below on things to keep in mind when hunting for the best mobile network provider:
|Are you better off with Pay As You Go SIM than a Pay Monthly contract?||If you don’t need a new mobile device then it’s an option worth considering. Some of the best mobile networks offer cheap bundles on PAYG sim cards.|
|Are you better off with a smaller provider?||We’ve included information on smaller providers as well as the big Telecom giants below to keep you fully informed on what’s out there. The best mobile network for you might actually be a smaller one.|
|Did you know that you can now switch providers over text?||You can now switch providers over text, so no long waiting times over the phone or awkward breakup conversations with your provider. The best mobile networks are only one text message away!|
Looking for a UK SIM card?There are a few things to consider when taking out a UK phone contract or getting your UK SIM, so we’ve put together a step by step guide to getting a UK SIM or phone that will help ease you through the process. Do yourself a favour and check it out.
The Best Mobile Network: Rankings
Although the best mobile network for you will be, in many ways, a subjective choice, there is an existing framework within most major providers are assessed by reviwers and regulators like Ofcom.
Some mobile networks achieve the best ratings for overall service, some for network coverage and some for pricing. Take a look at some of the factors Selectra takes into account when assessing the overall quality of a mobile phone provider:
- Customer satisfaction
- Complaints handling
- Customer service call waiting times
- Network coverage quality
- The range of mobile handsets on offer
- International roaming charges
The Cheapest Mobile Networks
When discussing the best mobile network, it’s hard to go past pricing. So which is the cheapest mobile network in the UK? Well, there isn’t one mobile phone provider that has the cheapest deals across PAYG and Pay Monthly plans.
Take a look at the cheapest SIM only deals on the market at the time of writing below:
|Provider||Price (per top up)||What's included?|
|EE Mobile||£5||500MB, 250 call minutes, unlimited texts|
|ID Mobile||£6||1GB, unlimited calls and texts|
|Vodafone||£10||15GB data, unlimited calls and texts|
|O2||£10||6GB, unlimited calls and texts|
|Giffgaff||£6||500 MB of data, unlimited calls and texts|
Pay monthly plans will usually fluctuate in price based on the mobile handset involved in the plan. The more recent the mobile phone included in the plan, the more expensive it’s going to be. The best way to compare providers is to decide on the handset you’re after and then compare prices among the best mobile networks.
Take a look at some of the cheapest Pay Monthly phone plans on the market in 2020, for the iphone 7 (with 32gb of storage) below, for an example of how to compare the cheapest prices when handsets are included:
|Provider||Price (per month)||What's included?|
|EE Mobile||£21||1 GB of data, unlimited calls and texts|
|Vodafone||£30||6 GB of data, unlimited calls and texts|
|Three||£24||4 GB of data, unlimited calls and texts|
|O2||£21.45||1 GB of data, unlimited calls and texts|
|ID Mobile||£26.99||21GB of data, unlimited calls and texts|
Phone plan pricing checklist
There are some amazing mobile phone deals on the market, but not all deals are created equally. Before you sign on to a phone plan, make sure you ask yourself the following questions to ensure you are really getting the best mobile network plan possible.
- Are calls and texts unlimited? Most providers offer free calls and text messages on their monthly plans, and having unlimited calls and text messages can prevent extra monthly costs on top of your bill.
- Does the provider come with added benefits? Many of the best mobile networks, like Vodafone or O2 for example, offer extra perks to their customers like concert tickets or discounts. In a competitive mobile phone market, it’s ok to expect added perks along the way.
- Does the plan come with enough data? Most of us spend a great deal of time using our mobile internet for things like emailing or social media. Sometimes the cheapest plans can look more appealing, but if they come with a lower data allowance you may end up paying extra fees in data overages.
- Does the provider offer data rolling? Many providers, like Sky Mobile and Giffgaff for example, offer data rolling options - meaning that any data that you don’t use during a given month can be carried over into the following month. This is a great way to protect yourself from additional data charges.
Pay Monthly Contracts vs Pay As You Go
The best mobile network for you will depend on whether or not you’re more suited to a Pay Monthly contract or a Pay As You Go sim deal. So what’s the difference between the two options?
Pay Monthly contracts involve paying a set amount of money each month for data, calls, texts and usually involve incremental payments towards the cost of a mobile handset. These contracts are usually 12-24 months in duration and leaving a contract before its completion will usually incur some sort of an exit fee.
Pay As You Go
Pay As You Go or PAYG sim cards don’t require customers to sign on to a contract. With Pay As You Go you purchase your calls, texts and data in advance when you top up your account.
|Pay As You GO||Pay Monthly|
|Benefit 1: No overage charges||Benefit 1: Handset included|
|Benefit 2: No lock in contracts||Beneft 2: Never forget a payment as it is done automatically|
|Benefit 3: Change your monthly allowance from month to month versus a set monthly allowance.||Benefit 3: Pay monthly plans often come with unlimited calls and text messages.|
What's the best mobile network in my area?
Have you ever asked yourself the question: What's the best mobile network in my area? If so, then you're certainly not alone. The best mobile network in your area will first and foremost depend on the level of network coverage you are likely to receive. Overall mobile network coverage quality is based around several different factors and sometimes can be distrupted by damages to network infrastructure.
Despite the fact that there are actually many different mobile phone providers in the UK, only four of these providers actually provide signal. These four mobile phone networks are: EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. All other mobile phone providers piggyback off the main four networks for signal. It's worth noting that if one of these four networks experiences interruptions then so will the providers that piggyback off of them.
There are several different metrics involved in measuring the quality of a particular providers level of network coverage. The best mobile network for coverage is measured on these different metrics. The highest performer across all coverage metrics in April 2020 was . Take a look at these metrics in detail below:
|Download speed||How fast data can arrive on your device from internet.|
|Upload speed||The rate at which data can be transferred from a device to the internet.|
|Latency||The delay between information originating at the network transmission end and its arrival on a device.|
|Geographic coverage||The level of coverage across the UK landmass.|
|Population coverage||The percentage of users that have sufficient level of signal from particular mobile network.|
|2G, 3G, 4G and 5G||These are the different generations of mobile networks, 5G being the most recent generation. Some mobile networks perform better on one network or another in given areas. Sometimes if you have 4G or 5G capability on your phone it won't work in all areas, in which case you'll receive 3G signal temporarily.|
|Availability||The proportion of time customers experience a certain level of connection on a mobile operator’s network. Unlike geographic or population coverage, availability measures how often users can access a particular network, for example the 4G network.|
How to find the best mobile network in your area
A great deal of the main UK Mobile phone networks host tools with which you can check network in a given region or postcode. Often these tools come in the form of interactive maps that represent different levels of mobile phone coverage using different colour gradients. If you'd like to learn more about how to check the level of network coverage in your area then we recommend following our step-by-step guide on how to check your coverage here.
The best mobile network for international roaming
So which UK provider is the best mobile network for international roaming? Well, the first thing to consider is where you are travelling to. For the time being, if you’re travelling from the UK to anywhere within the European Union, then you are protected by laws that prevent consumers being charged for using their mobile phone abroad - meaning that you’ll be able use your call, text and data allowance as usual.
If you’re planning on using international roaming outside of the EU then it’s worth checking a provider’s policy on roaming for the country you are headed to. Most providers have countries broken down into groups, and their roaming charges are organised accordingly.