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Which Provider Is The Best Mobile Network In The UK?

Best mobile network

Everyone is different, as are their mobile needs. And there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right mobile plan or Pay As You Go SIM. 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. There are loads of UK mobile networks on the scene and choosing the right mobile deal can be overwhelming to say the least. We want to make this process easy for you, so we’ve put together the essential UK mobile providers guide. You can see information on each mobile carrier including their general pricing so that you can decide on the best mobile network for you.

  • Things to consider when switching providers
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You can now switch providers over text, so no long waiting times over the phone or awkward breakup conversations with your provider.

Giffgaff

Company logo, Giffgaff

Giffgaff are a smaller provider, especially compared to the likes of Vodafone, O2 or EE for example, but don’t let that deter you, giffgaff were the frontrunner for overall levels of customer satisfaction in Ofcom’s 2018 report. Not only did the provider score the highest for overall satisfaction but also with satisfaction for complaints handling too. Win!

Part of the Telefonica network, giffgaff offer SIM-only deals, which they call giffgaff goodybags. And if you're thinking about taking your phone abroad, they have some tremendous roaming plans on offer as well. Giffgaff also have another great upside - all members get free texts and calls to other giffgaff members, which is a sound option for families looking to sign up with multiple sim cards.

Some of the main benefits or selling points giffgaff mobile include payback points that can be exchanged for cash for referring friends or family. If you don’t want to be locked into a contract then the good news is that with giffgaff you don’t have to be. Singing up to giffgaff is pretty convenient too, with free SIM cards that can be sent anywhere in the world.

You can learn more about the giffgaff network on our giffgaff page.

Plusnet

Company logo, Plusnet

Plusnet is a smaller mobile phone provider that piggybacks off the EE network for coverage. All customers receive Plusnet webmail with their own Plusnet login included.

Plusnet mobile has some great prices on offer, with their SIM-only plans, not to mention perks like data rewards for customers who have existing Plusnet broadband plans. If you see yourself as a potential Plusnet broadband customer then it’s worth looking into combining your mobile and broadband. If you’re not after broadband however, you may find you get more perks elsewhere.

When it comes to international roaming Plusnet allows you to continue using your mobile phone as if you were at home. As with all providers, this roaming option covers countries in the European Union.

Sky Mobile

Company logo, Sky Mobile

Sky launched their mobile service in 2017 and began by offering a better deal to their existing TV customers than the general public. Since then the provider has evolved, and has now joined the ranks of fellow providers offering free talk and text to all users.

Like all providers, Sky mobile have their own set of major selling points, like data rollover and free wifi hotspots across the country. Existing Sky TV customers do still get an advantage, with free streaming of Sky services on their phones so it’s worth considering if you’re a pre existing Sky subscriber.

For more on everything Sky mobile take a look at our article here.

Vodafone

Company logo, Vodafone

It probably goes without saying that Vodafone are a large worldwide telecommunications giant and the fact that they hold around 21% of the UK market share with 19.5 million customers, it’s safe to say that the UK is one of their major locations. But how do they perform in the eyes of their UK customer-base? Well, they come in with the second highest rates of overall satisfaction according to Ofcom in 2018, as well as scoring pretty standard star ratings from customers on popular customer review sites.

Like many major providers Vodafone brings its customers free wifi in locations across the United Kingdom. Vodafone also have a glimmering rewards program on their side, allowing you to earn points to use on your favourite brands like Asos, Costa Coffee and Greggs, with tickets to shows and events on offer as well.

We guide you through this provider in our dedicated Vodafone article - take a look if you're interested in learning more about the provider.

ID mobile

Company logo, ID Mobile

ID Mobile is powered by the Three network and their benefits for customers include relatively low prices and lots of extras. With ID Mobile you can choose from pay monthly, Pay As You Go or SIM-only plans.

A huge upside to opting for ID mobile is that your data will also be rolled over each month if you have any left over. However it’s worth noting that they don't offer huge amounts of data in the first place. So if you’re a data addict, ID Mobile probably isn't the best choice for you.

Save on data usageAre you wanting to save money on your monthly phone bill? Mobile data is becoming more and more of a monthly staple and although text and call allowances are now often unlimited the same is usually not the case for data. We’ve put together some handy tips and tricks for managing your data, give it a read.

BT mobile

Company logo, BT Mobile

BT may be better known for their TV-broadband deals but those seeking a mobile deal shouldn’t overlook what they have on offer.

BT mobile offers a wide array of perks to users, some of which include free wifi hotspots, big savings with multiple family SIMs on one bill, as well as access to BT sports channels for customers on a 15GB or 30GB plan. BT also lets you apply spending caps to help you keep dreaded bills from piling up.

BT could be the best UK network for your mobile needs. To learn more about BT mobile pricing, plans, perks and so much more, check out our BT mobile article.

EE mobile

Company logo, EE Mobile

It’s likely that you’ll be familiar with the EE network as they are one of the big four providers that offers network infrastructure in the UK. But what can you expect from the network? Well the carrier boasts a wide range of benefits, including; data gifting, data caps, early phone upgrades, swappable benefits like music data passes or use of the BT sports app and the best upload and download speeds of any UK mobile network. If that isn’t enough for you, the network usually performs the best for overall network coverage too.

Does that make EE the best UK network for mobile users, well, why not read our dedicated guide to EE mobile to find out more.

5G in the UK Looking for a 5G deal? Well, if you’re in a regional center you should be able to find the right deal for you, simply check out our guide to 5G in the UK to find out more.

Lebara mobile

Company logo, Lebara Mobile

Lebara mobile is a Vodafone piggybacker that primarily focuses on international communities who frequently make phone calls to friends and families in other countries. They offer SIM-only plans and nothing else.

Lebara has a very specific target market and if you’re not a regular international caller, you’re probably better off considering other options.

Three

Company logo, Three Mobile

Three is one of the top four networks in the UK, and offers customers a wide range of choices in terms of unlimited data, monthly plans and PAYG plans. Three have tailored their services toward data and streaming addicted customers. If you are a data-hungry person, Three could be the right option for you.

If you have a large appetite for movies and music, Three offer some great options for streaming that won’t eat up your data allowance. Even if you are not a big data user, Three provides some really affordable Pay As You Go packages that could be just the ticket.

Although Three has received some complaints, customers are relatively happy with the customer service they offer, and the selection of plans they are able to choose from.

Tesco Mobile

Company logo, Tesco

You’ll most likely associate the Tesco brand with their supermarket chain, but they have also been offering mobile deals since 2003. Tesco mobile has quite a lot up its sleeve when it comes to benefits, including capped contracts, flexibility and discounts on offer for those who recommend friends or family to the network.

It’s safe to say that Tesco mobile are worth checking out, especially if you’re interested in a pay as you use flexible SIM card. Everything you need to know about the network is available in our dedicated Tesco mobile article.

O2

Company logo, O2 Mobile

O2 (or Telefónica UK) now has a customer base of 34.1 million and counting, and CEO Mark Evans says that they pride themselves on their ability to attract and retain customers. So why has their network attracted so many customers? Well, event related perks like competitions and giveaways, O2 priority presale tickets to events and O2 priority sports are a hugh drawcard for customers. The O2 mobile network also boasts customizable plans for its customers, allowing them a level of freedom they might not have otherwise had with a different provider.

Want to learn more about O2 mobile? Great! We’ve got the quintessential guide to O2 mobile ready and waiting for you, give it a read to find out more.

Virgin Media Mobile

Company logo, Virgin Mobile

The well-known Virgin brand has a lot to offer its customers who can choose from a range of monthly, SIM-only and PAYG plans. Virgin also has spending caps available if you’re looking to manage your finances, as well as data rollover for any unused data you may have piled up.

If those juicy perks aren’t enough for you, Virgin also have a unique selling point to their name - data free messaging on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Think of all of the precious data you could save!

Virgin Mobile just might be the right phone provider for you. Why not check out our Virgin media mobile article to find out more.

ASDA

Company logo, ASDA Mobile

If you’re more likely to associate the word ASDA with your weekly supermarket shop than your monthly mobile bill then you’re not alone, but this smaller provider might surprise you. ASDA mobile scores among the highest for customer satisfaction when compared to other networks. They also offer free SIM cards online and contract free deals that might just give you the flexibility you’re after.

For the download on everything ASDA mobile, read our ASDA mobile guide.

Lyca Mobile

Company logo, LycaMobile

Lycamobile (powered by the O2 network) is proud to call themselves the largest international mobile network. They have a range of different mobile plans to choose from, depending on your needs, and have received generally positive feedback from their customers.

There isn't a lot of data on LycaMobile customer service, or data from Ofcom in various areas of network performance for that matter, but from the information that is available, customer service reviews are a mixed bag.

Voxi

Company logo, Voxi

Voxi (launched by Vodafone) has its own unique target market: the under-25s. In an attempt to make themselves more attractive to this target market, their focus is primarily on social media. All their customer service is performed online and in that sense they can be considered a truly modern mobile phone provider.

The fact that all Voxi customer service is performed online could be an issue for some, but seeing as Voxi is aimed at technology-savvy young people, those who fit that bill might prefer the digital approach to a more traditional one.

Smarty

Company logo, Smarty

Smarty, run by Three, is a simple and straightforward network with just five SIM-only options on the market. If you already have a mobile phone and are looking for a simple and affordable deal, Smarty could be perfect for you. Since Smarty is quite a new provider, there is not a lot of information about their customer service available online, or any Ofcom data for that matter, but from what is available, customers have given a roughly average score to their provider.

FreedomPop

Company logo, FreedomPop

FreedomPop is probably the only mobile network provider to offer plans that are completely free. Yes, that’s right - completely free. FreedomPop offers some plans which don’t need to be paid for at all, but we would recommend keeping your expectations relatively low when it comes to these.

If you are using a free plan, you might sometimes have to put up with a weak signal or crackly phone calls. They also offer paid plans where you might have better results. Some of the customer service reviews aren't great, but for a network that has some free plans, this probably isn't too surprising. Opting for this provider might save you money, and the free plans could work for you, so whilst we don’t think the quality is the best, we wouldn’t say you should rule them out all together either.

POP Telecom

Company logo, Pop Telecom

POP Telecom is a small, family-owned mobile network which offers phone and broadband deals. The provider focuses on simple services for very specific target markets, from elderly people to gamers.

It is worth noting that POP telecom does not perform the best for customer service in the eyes of customers. You can only contact them during normal business hours but the website will tell you that they are always available, which is a little bit confusing from the offset.

If you fit into one of their target markets though, POP could be the right option for you. But be wary as apart from the disappointing customer service reviews, POP telecom also had a small legal hiccup not too long ago where they didn’t file their accounts.

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.