The Best UK Mobile Networks: From Giff Gaff To Three


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Okay, this is a biggie: which mobile network in the UK is the best? There’s a few hard stats you can base the answer on. Perhaps uptime and signal strength. But generally, for the first point, most mobile providers don’t make it easy to find those uptime numbers through public documents.

On the second point, signal strength and coverage availability to some extent, depend on the type phone you are using, the type of structure the walls are made of in the type of building you are in, and even, though rarely, the other types of structures that could interfere in the area you are using your device in.

The point is, chosen the “best” and “worst” UK mobile network is really highly subjective. So instead, we’ve listed the networks that are best for you depending what you are looking for from a network.

Most minutes for your money? Best coverage? We’ve used third-party ratings for EE, Three, O2, Vodafone, Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and Virgin assembled by outlets including PC Advisor, uSwitch, and International Business Times to come up with the results. Keep in mind, however, that though all three reports try to rely on objective data, subjectivity will always play into the results, so take these rankings with a grain of salt. With that said, here are the best mobile networks depending on your needs.

GiffGaff – best all-around network

GiffGaff was voted the best all-around mobile network by uSwitch this past February. Reasons it won included the amount of data for the money, speeds as fast as bigger mobile networks like O2, and the fact that customers get to change their allowance from month to month to meet their fluctuating data demands.

Three – best pay monthly mobile network

Unsurprisingly Three is generally viewed as one of the best pay monthly networks. That’s in large part thanks to their All You Can eat data allowances on their monthly SIM plans. However, it should be noted that Three doesn’t have as wide ranging 4G coverage as the bigger players like EE.

O2 – best sweeteners network

Just what is a “sweetener”? It’s those little extra add ons you get with your mobile plan that save you money places or give you extra freebies. O2 is the winner here with their Priority member benefits plan. Every O2 customer gets access to Priority gifts and discounts, including, depending on the month, discounted cinema tickets, discounts at restaurants, discounts and retailers, and even free drinks at cafes. O2 customers can check out the free Priorities app at any time to see the dozens of sweetness available to them.

EE – best for speed 

While EE may be one of the pricier networks, it also is praised generally for having the fastest data networks in the UK. But more than just being the fastest, EE is also seen as being on of the most reliable scoring top marks in mobile internet performance, call performance, and text performance by Rootmetrics.

Virgin – best customer service

While it lacks in other areas, those customers who like to be treated well and responded to in a timely manner should consider a plan from Virgin. The network has been ranked as having the best customer service in the UK.

Tesco Mobile – best for…Clubcard points

Yeah, not a stellar “best of” category, but users of Tesco Mobile get Tesco Clubcard points with their monthly usage. Plus Tesco, like GiffGaff, piggy backs on O2’s network so you can expect speed and reliability–at cheaper prices than what you would get with O2 directly.

Vodafone – best for entertainment lovers

While Vodafone has had a few rocky years, getting dinged for customer service, uptime, and speeds, the network could be appealing for those entertainment junkies out there. That’s because if you go with one of their Red plans you can get six free months of Now TV, Spotify, or Sky Sports along with your plan. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

[Image: Carl Lender]

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