Best Unlimited Data Plans UK
- Vodafone (View Deals) – Vodafone kick-started the entire “unlimited data” thing in 2019 when it confirmed it would be doing unlimited 5G data plans. It even roped Lewis Hamilton in to help promote it. Vodafone has three 5G plans, though the cheapest option does have speed restrictions on it which kind of sucks.
- EE (View Deals) – Caving into Vodafone, EE, the UK’s largest network has now confirmed it will provide its users with unlimited data plans – both 4G and 5G. But unlike Vodafone, EE does not apply any speed restrictions on any of its unlimited data plans (even the cheapest ones).
- Three (View Deals) – Three does a range of unlimited data plans, both on contract and via SIM-only deals. Prices start at just £10.99 a month and go up to around £26 a month, though the more expensive packages come with extras like 5G for no extra cost, personal hotspots, and free-roaming.
- GiffGaff (View Deals) – GiffGaff offers unlimited data add-ons (it calls them goody bag) which can be accessed either on phone contracts or SIM-only deals. There are caveats, though: data is trolled between 8 am and midnight once you exceed 20GB. Roaming is also capped at 20GB, after this, you will be charged full price for using data while away (around £0.20 per megabyte).
- Smarty (View Deals) – Smarty offers one of the best value unlimited data plans around. Piggy-backing off of Three’s network, Smarty offers rolling, one-month plans for unlimited data with prices starting at just £18.95 a month. And it is truly unlimited too; no speed throttling and no data caps. Meanwhile, you get 20GB of free-roaming.
- LycaMobile (View Deals) – LycraMobile does an unlimited plan, but it is one of the worst on the list. You do get unlimited data, unlimited calls, and unlimited texts, but it is capped at 9GB and then throttled down to around 5-10% of 4G’s normal speed thereafter. Prices start at just £20 for this plan, which is good – though we’re not keen on all that throttling…
- Virgin Mobile (View Deals) – If you’re a Virgin Media customer, you’re entitled to the network’s unlimited data plan, which costs £27 a month. You have to be a Virgin TV or Virgin Broadband user to get it, but if you are it will secure truly unlimited 4G data that isn’t throttled. On top of this, Virgin Media lets you do unlimited tethering too! And that’s awesome.
Contract or SIM-Only – Which is Best?
Going the contract route is kind of like leasing a car. You get a shiny new phone and a rather expensive monthly fee. If you’re after £1000 phones, then a contract, for many, is the only way to achieve this – it spreads the cost of the handset, as well as the data and calls, over a period of a couple of years. Me personally, I don’t like contracts all that much. I’d much rather buy a phone outright, then shop around for the best SIM-only deal.
Why? Because SIM-only deals are WAY cheaper per month than a contract. How much cheaper? Around 30-50% in most cases, though this will depend on the network you go with. Another cool thing: you’re not tied into any one network. You can switch networks as often as you like; all you need is your PAK number and you’re good to go.
Of course, unless you’re loaded, buying phones outright isn’t always an option. But there are ways to do it. Take buying a refurbished iPhone, for instance, you can save around 40% on the usual RRP by doing this. It also works the same with refurbished Samsung phones too. I’ve had many refurbished iPhones over the years, and they’ve always been great.
You then have cheaper, but still impressive Android handsets like the Google Pixel 3a, OnePlus 7, and Xiaomi Mi 9. All of which can be acquired for less than £500, making them around 50% cheaper than Apple’s top of the line iPhone handset. Case in point: I’ve been using the Google Pixel 3a for about three months now and it has been great. And I’m a tech journalist! Kind of shows that maybe you don’t need a £1000 phone, after all?
What About Unlimited 5G Data Plans?
5G is coming to the UK, in fact, some networks have even started rolling out 5G across the country. Vodafone was the first out the blocks with a truly unlimited data plan, a move that took most of its competitors completely off guard. It even released a crazy, 5G-powered home internet hub called the GigaCube which brings unlimited 5G data to your home.
The rise of 4G saw the end of traditional, unlimited data plans, much to the chagrin of many consumers in the UK, but with the advent of 5G, unlimited data plans are officially BACK!
Which Network Has Best Unlimited 5G Plans?
Tough call, as they’re all really competing hard at the moment. But right now, I’d say it’s a toss-up between EE, Vodafone, and Three. Let’s take a look at each in more detail…
- EE (View Deals) – EE has a range of unlimited 5G data plans. It does not throttle speeds, unlike Vodafone, and you can get 5G on SIM-only as well as with supported phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and OnePlus 7. EE also includes the following benefits: Amazon Prime Video, BT Sport App (HDR) access and Roam Further Pass access
- Three (View Deals) – Three will no charge extra for 5G, it’s simply bolted on as an added benefit, so if you have a 5G phone, you can pick up an unlimited SIM from Three and start accessing 5G right away. On top of this, Three will let you tether your phone and use the data without any restrictions. You also get free-roaming. Three also claims its 5G network is the fastest in the UK.
- Vodafone (View Deals) – Vodafone was the first UK network to come out with truly unlimited 5G plans. It started a chain-reaction that forced all the UK’s major networks to follow suit, so nice one for that, Vodafone! With respect to unlimited 5G data plans from Vodafone, you have three options, though only the top two are truly unlimited data plans, as the cheapest option has throttling applied after a certain amount of data has been used.
Our #1 pick? Me personally, I’d go with EE. Why? It is the largest UK network and it has the best coverage, overall. EE also does a range of excellent unlimited 5G data plans, as well as carrying the latest and greatest handsets. For this reason, if you’re after an unlimited 5G data plan in 2019/20, and you’re in the UK, I’d be looking at EE’s range of plans.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.