Whichever network you choose, a 5G plan promises quicker downloads, smoother streaming and better online gaming. But not all networks are created equal when it comes to 5G coverage and speeds, which means you’ve got a big decision to make.
Which 5G network is best for coverage?
As of May 2020, EE’s 5G service is available in 80 towns and cities across the UK. That means it’s the widest-ranging of any UK network.
As you’d expect, you can get EE 5G in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. It's also in more than 50 towns, ranging from Ashton-under-Lyme to Weybridge.
Which 5G network is fastest?
A 2019 study from Oooka found that EE was the UK’s fastest 5G network, with an average speed of 205.02Mbps.
That’s well ahead of O2 and Vodafone, which came in at 159.48Mbps and 140.15Mbps respectively.
When the report was carried out, Three had yet to launch its 5G service. This went live in February 2020, with Three trumpeting plans for the UK’s fastest 5G, bar none. Whether that’s true remains to be seen.
Which 5G network is cheapest?
That largely depends on the plan and the allowance you choose. However, in general we’ve often found that some the most attractively priced, cost-effective 5G plans are on Three and O2.
Both of whom are offering 5G for the same price as 4G.
Looking to save money? Take a look at our pick of the standout cheap SIM only deals.
Which networks offer 5G?
You can get a 5G mobile plan from:
At the time of writing, a 5G service is also known to be on the way from:
UK’s best 5G networks compared
Still not sure which network to choose? Here we’ll take a look at what each of the UK’s 5G networks has got to offer to help you make your mind up.
At the time of writing, O2’s 5G service is live in 30 towns and cities. O2 plans to make it available in 50 locations by summer 2020.
You can check O2’s 5G coverage, with its postcode checker.
O2’s other main sells include Rewards customer loyalty scheme and customisable plans with early-upgrade options.
Three launched later than major rivals, but it has made good progress and at the time of writing Three's 5G network extends to 68 towns and cities.
And critically, it claims its 5G service is the UK’s fastest. Something that we’ll wait for studies to confirm.
Three also offers an extensive inclusive roaming scheme, as well as its zero-data-streaming Go Binge sweetener.
Check if Three is available where you live with its postcode checker.
Vodafone offers 5G in 44 UK locations (correct as of May 2020).
You can check whether it’s available where you live, with Vodafone’s postcode checker.
Vodafone’s other major selling points are its Very Me customer rewards scheme and 5G roaming in Spain, Germany and Italy.
As indicated above EE’s network encompasses 80 towns and cities.
Check whether it’s reached your area with EE’s postcode checker.
Select EE 5G plans also include Swappable Benefits and free, time-limited subscriptions to Apple Music, BritBox and BT Sport.
BT Mobile 5G
In line with EE, BT Mobile's coverage extends to 80 locations across the UK and offers comparable speeds too.
BT 5G plans also include BT Sport and a bill reduction of £5 per month for existing BT broadband customers.
Check if BT 5G is available in your area with its postcode checker.
Sky Mobile 5G
Sky’s 5G service is based on O2’s network, with the result that it covers the same 30 towns and cities and gets you the same speeds.
Sky Mobile 5G contracts are up for grabs at no extra cost if you sign up for its free-to-join Sky VIP customer rewards scheme.
Check Sky Mobile's 5G coverage in your area with its availability checker.
Tesco Mobile 5G
Like Sky Mobile Tesco Mobile uses O2’s network. And like Sky Mobile and O2, that means you can get Tesco Mobile 5G in 30 towns and cities.
As a value network, Tesco Mobile’s 5G contracts don’t offer the same perks as the likes of Sky and EE. But customers do get free ClubCard points every time they pay their bill.
Check if Tesco Mobile's 5G service is live in your area with its postcode checker.
Vodafone subsidiary VOXI uses its parent company’s network to offer 5G in 44 locations in the UK.
As well as the same coverage as Vodafone, VOXI offers the same speeds too.
Other noteworthy selling points of VOXI include unlimited use of social media services without eating into your data, as well as flexible plans and inclusive roaming in 48 European countries.
See if VOXI 5G is available in your locality with its availability checker.
Find out more about 5G with our one-stop guide.
Which phones are 5G compatible?
- Huawei Mate X 5G
- Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
- OnePlus 8
- OnePlus 8 Pro
- OnePlus 7T Pro 5G
- OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
- Sony Xperia 1 II
- Xiaomi Mi 10
- Xiaomi Mi Mix Alpha
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
Is 5G more expensive than 4G?
In the majority of cases, you will pay more for a 5G contract than a 4G one. But given that 5G is a much faster service, that’s probably to be expected.
However, that’s not always the case. Three 5G plans, for instance, are priced in line with its 4G contracts. So it’ll cost you nothing extra to upgrade to a faster service (provided you already own at 5G-enabled phone, that is).
O2 is also offering 5G plans at the same prices as its 4G contracts. And with the same allowances and benefits too.
Find out more about 5G with our one-stop guide.