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EE vs O2: Which is better?

EE and O2 are well matched propositions in the mobile space, both with excellent coverage, great plans, a good range of incentives and the best devices around. But which is best?

Overall Winner in snapshot: EE

Picking a winner isn’t easy, but for us EE just wins out. Its 5G network is the best in the UK and its coverage is rock solid and it has a range of price plans, both SIM only and phone contract, to suit all budgets.

EE has long held the title of the UK’s fastest and most extensive network. Its prices might not be the cheapest around, but its 4G and 5G network is the best in the business. It offers the very latest smartphones, whether you’re an iPhone fiend or an Android fanatic.

So while it’s hard to choose, EE just about shades it. Keep reading, and we’ll take you through every point. 

EE vs O2: Plans and pricing

EE and O2 offer plans at similar prices, which is at the slightly higher end of the market. But the extra you shell out means you get better service and more extras than on most networks.

EE’s SIM-only plans aren’t the cheapest around. But you have access to its ace 5G network, as well as its excellent 4G platform, the best in the UK by some distance. All its deals come with unlimited calls and texts, with data ranging from 250MB up to unlimited.

Phone contract plans from EE are comprehensive. Whether you want something from Apple and Samsung or an alternative option from Oppo or Huawei, it’s got you covered. In general, you’ll be locked in for 24 months either way.

You can cut the upfront cost of a new smartphone by trading in your old device, or choose a ‘good as new’ handset that’s been refurbished.

As a nice bonus though, EE has a range of add-ons, including Apple Music, BritBox and BT Sport.

O2 plans are similarly broad. Its SIM only deals start from as little as £6 per month, while 10GB of 5G will set you back £10 on a year long contract (both correct at the time of writing).

Like EE, you can get unlimited 5G too, though the network of course isn’t as widespread.

In terms of phone contracts, it likewise has the latest and greatest from Apple and Samsung – although its overall range isn’t quite as extensive as EE’s.

Deals are generally 24 or 36 months – the latter meaning you can spread the cost of a high-end phone further and pay less per month.

O2 Refresh pioneered the idea of splitting your phone and airtime bills in two, so you can pay off your device, lower your bill or upgrade early.

Sweeteners include free Disney+ access and double data if you’re a Virgin Media broadband customer – and of course access to O2 Priority for early-access tickets and exclusive discounts. (More on that below…)

EE vs O2: Coverage and 5G coverage

EE boasts 99% 4G coverage across the UK, with more 5G locations than any other network, at last count 160 places. It also makes a big play of the fact its network stretches along roads and railways, so you can stay better connected when travelling.

O2 says it now has 5G in 150 UK towns and cities and, as with EE, has further expansion plans. As with EE, its 4G now reaches 99% of the UK and is better indoors too.

So, EE’s coverage is technically quite a bit better, especially for 5G – but for most of us, there won’t be much difference. Both networks reach a similar breadth of the UK, with only a few areas not served by one or the other.

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. Both are as fast as some of the best available fibre broadband, showing just how much effort is being put into making such services better.

EE vs O2: Customer service

In a recent Ofcom report, EE and O2 scored almost identically when it came to overall customer satisfaction. EE clocked 92% and O2 91%.

O2 scored better in terms of complaint handling, but otherwise they were evenly matched in all regards.

Each network has extensive online and phone support, plus a large number of high street stores for in-person queries.

EE vs O2: Wi-Fi hotspots

EE and O2 are both big on Wi-Fi hotspots. O2 has its own network of millions of locations for getting online across the UK, while EE lets you access BT’s five million hotspots, seeing as it’s owned by the telecoms giant.

Both offer access at London Underground stations too, with 280 stations connected.

EE vs O2: Roaming

EE is bringing back roaming in Europe from January 2022. Anyone who has taken out a contract since 7 July 2021 will be subject to the new fees.

You’ll have to pay a flat £2 daily fee, to get access to your regular plan when abroad. You don’t need to opt in. As soon as you start browsing, making calls or sending texts, the charge will be added to your bill.

Alternatively, you can pay for Roam Abroad Pass as an add-on for the month. This will let you use your phone in 47 European destinations, as well as the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

O2, meanwhile, says it won’t be bringing back roaming fees in Europe, but will introduce a fair use cap of 25GB.

At a time when other networks are pushing bills up for travellers, this is a good deal – as long as you don’t need access to a huge mobile data allowance while you’re abroad.

EE vs O2: Bonuses and rewards

O2 Priority, with its wide ranging deals from cheap lunches to pre-order access for gig tickets, has long been a mainstay. It’s still going strong, with a huge number of great offers to access at any time.

So while EE’s offers, such as free Apple Music streaming, BritBox and its data bundles are excellent, this is O2’s place to shine.

How do other networks compare against each other?

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