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1pMobile vs Lyca Mobile: network differences between them

Lyca Mobile vs 1pMobile

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We explain what's the same and what's different in Lyca and 1p's coverage, 4G/5G data speeds and extra features like WiFi calling. Last updated: 22nd February 2024

In our 1pMobile vs Lyca Mobile guide

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Comparing their networks

How coverage compares on 1pMobile vs Lyca Mobile

Which 5G/4G/3G/2G signal differences are there between the two networks?

1pMobile and Lyca Mobile logo with signal bars

They use the same network, but 4G is stronger on 1pMobile

1pMobile coverage statement

Read network FAQs

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

1pMobile and Lyca Mobile both use EE’s network for call (3G/2G) and 4G/5G data signal, but coverage isn’t identical between the two. Lyca are a bit worse than 1pMobile for 4G coverage.

This is because Lyca don’t get access to EE’s band 20 4G masts, which are the ones used to broadcast 4G into rural areas. 1pMobile do get access to these, meaning their 4G coverage is generally better.

However, call signal is identical between the two networks. That’s a good thing for them as 3G and 2G are fairly widespread on their hosts’ network, but indoor call signal can be a bit of a weakness.

In all, while both networks benefit massively from being on EE’s network, 1pMobile come out ahead in terms of 4G coverage. Either way, it’s a good idea to use either networks’ coverage checkers here before joining.

Useful link: 1pMobile’s signal map | Lyca Mobile’s signal map

5G coverage is identical on both networks

5G at Lyca Mobile

See 5G locations

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Both Lyca Mobile and 1pMobile get full access to EE’s excellent 5G network. You’ll get 5G in the same 336+ UK towns and cities on both providers. But how good is coverage within these locations?

Since their hosts only claim a location as covered once 5G is available in 50% of its area, coverage tends to be excellent. It also means there are more 5G locations than are listed, just with worse coverage.

Unlike with 4G, Lyca Mobile get identical 5G coverage to 1pMobile. They’re not missing access to any of their hosts 5G masts, so you don’t have to worry about getting an inferior experience for this.

In all, both networks benefit massively from getting access to EE’s 5G network. Check both networks’ coverage maps below to see if your area has 5G live and how good coverage is on either network.

Useful link: Our guide to the best 5G networks

Use a coverage checker before you join

Check signal at home and other places you'll use your mobile

Lyca Mobile coverage checker

Lyca Mobile coverage map

Check Lyca signal

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

1pMobile coverage checker

1pMobile coverage map

Check signal here

(opens in new window)

Our verdict on coverage:

Small technical win for 1pMobile

"1pMobile just beat Lyca here as 4G coverage will be noticeably better on 1p, especially in the countryside. It’s a shame Lyca don’t get full 4G access, but other than that they’re still a great option, 1pMobile are just a bit better."

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Data speeds on 1pMobile and Lyca Mobile

Are there any speed differences between Lyca and 1pMobile?

1pMobile and Lyca Mobile logos with speedometer

4G data speeds are identical on both networks

Lyca Mobile web settings

Read network FAQs

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Neither network has any built in speed limits vs being on EE directly, so you’ll get identical speeds on both. That’s certainly a good thing for 4G, as they’re on the fastest network for 4G data speeds.

According to network testers Opensignal, their hosts offer typical 4G data speeds of 40 Mbps. In our experience, we reached speeds up to 130+ Mbps in the city centre and went as low as 5 or 6 Mbps in the countryside.

Their peak speeds are much faster than other networks. And their lowest speeds are still healthier than what you’d get on other networks, being fast enough to stream HD video without much buffering.

In all, both networks are equally good when it comes to 4G data speeds and much better than the other networks. It’s definitely the best part of EE’s network, and both providers offer it at much better prices.

Useful link: Our 1pMobile review | Our Lyca Mobile review

5G data speeds are also identical on both networks

1pMobile data speed table

See speed estimates

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

Just like with 4G, both providers get identical 5G data speeds as their host network. We use results from independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla to see what 5G speeds typically look like.

They measured typical 5G speeds between 99.5 Mbps - 108.91 Mbps on both providers’ hosts, with peak speeds reaching 272.77. Those are healthy speeds and should be fast enough for most users.

However, their results have gone down by quite a lot in recent reports compared to what they used to be. They’re now in joint-third place for 5G speeds, so they’re not the ideal choice for heavy data users.

But the 5G picture is always changing and we could see their typical speeds improve again with time. For now, 5G is an improvement over 4G for speeds, but nothing that other networks can’t compete with.

Useful link: Our guide to the best 5G networks

Our verdict on data speeds:


"There are no differences when it comes to the speeds you’ll get on either network. It’s a common misconception that budget networks offer an inferior network experience and both 1p and Lyca prove that it’s not true.”

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WiFi calling on Lyca Mobile and 1pMobile

Which provider has better WiFi calling and other extra network features?

1pMobile and Lyca Mobile logos with a phone call

1pMobile’s WiFi calling is excellent, Lyca don’t have it

1pMobile now with 5G and Wi-Fi calling

Read their guide

at 1pMobile.com
(opens in new window)

As we said above, you’re more likely to run into indoor calling blackspots on Lyca or 1p than on some networks. This is where WiFi calling comes in handy, letting you connect to calls and texts with WiFi signal.

1pMobile have an excellent scheme that worked with most devices we tested. They also support 4G calling which does the same as WiFi calling with 4G and we could switch from a WiFi to a 4G call without it dropping.

Lyca Mobile unfortunately don’t offer WiFi calling at all. That can be frustrating if you struggle to get call signal in your home. But, in terms of extra features Lyca do offer eSIMs which is something 1p don’t.

Both networks let you tether with no limits. Apart from that, both networks are thin on the ground when it comes to extra network features. To be fair, that is what we’d expect from most networks.

Useful link: Our guide to the best WiFi calling networks

Our verdict on extra network features:

1pMobile win

"Between them only 1pMobile offer WiFi calling, which in our eyes is the most important extra network feature to have. Lyca having eSIMs is nice, but it just doesn’t make up for the lack of WiFi calling. 1p take this one."

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Perks and benefits

Roaming on Lyca Mobile vs 1pMobile

Which provider is better for taking your SIM abroad?

1pMobile and Lyca Mobile logo with globe

1pMobile have the better EU roaming scheme

1pMobile's international roaming rates

See all the countries

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

Unlike EE, both Lyca and 1pMobile offer inclusive EU roaming on all plans. But between them, 1pMobile are just a bit better for taking your SIM abroad. You can roam in these 41 EU/EEA destinations on 1p’s plans.

You can use your regular UK mins and texts there and up to 14GB of your data allowance. That’s a lot compared to what other networks limit you to and should be more than enough for a short trip.

1pMobile don’t offer any inclusive roaming beyond the EU. So you’ll have to top up and pay as you go at these rates. You’ll find yourself using up your credit quickly, so it’s best to limit your usage while there.

But overall, 1pMobile are an excellent choice for taking your SIM to the continent and are certainly the best choice for EU roaming on EE’s network.

Useful link: 1pMobile’s guide to their EU roaming

Lyca Mobile’s inclusive EU roaming is also good

Lyca Mobile roaming within EU countries

See EU destinations

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Lyca Mobile also include EU roaming on all their plans at no extra cost. This lets you use your UK allowance in these 30 EU/EEA destinations. So what about their fair usage limit?

Well, each of Lyca’s plans has a different data limit. That applies to even their smallest plans. So while their unlimited plan has a bigger fair usage limit than 1p’s, the rest of their plans are more restricted.

You also don’t get any inclusive roaming destinations outside the EU. Again, that’s what we’d expect from a smaller network. But roaming beyond the EU can get expensive quickly so keep an eye on your usage.

What brings Lyca down is the fact that even their smallest plans are restricted even more while you’re in the EU. Most of the time you’ll be able to use more data abroad on 1p, but both are still excellent options.

Useful link: Read Lyca Mobile’s EU roaming guide

Our verdict on roaming:

Win for 1pMobile

"While we appreciate that both networks include EU roaming, the varying fair usage limits on Lyca Mobile make them a potentially worse option on most of their plans. Unless you want to shell out on an unlimited data plan, 1pMobile are the better option here."

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Better benefits on Lyca Mobile

What do Lyca Mobile offer that 1pMobile don’t?

Lyca Mobile and 1pMobile logos with a greater than symbol

Lyca include international minutes on all plans

Cheap international calls FAQs

See their plans

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

One of the more unique benefits of being on Lyca Mobile is the inclusive international calls you get on all of their plans, with even their smallest plan coming with 100 international mins:

You can use these to make calls to 40 EU and worldwide countries. There are also some plans that include Unlimited international mins. These come at a higher cost, but can save you a lot if you call abroad often.

If you use up all your international mins then you can top up with credit and pay to call abroad per min at these rates. Calls to some countries are quite cheap, so you shouldn’t eat through your credit too quickly.

In all, Lyca are excellent if you make a lot of calls abroad and want a plan that won’t set you back a huge amount. 1pMobile’s calling rates are similar to Lyca’s, but they don’t include any international mins.

Useful link: See Lyca Mobile’s international calling rates

Lyca don’t make you pay for customer service

Lyca Mobile contact us banner

Get in touch

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Both networks have customer service you can call. It’s free on Lyca. But if you’re on PAYG on 1p, you’ll have to pay at these rates to call. All their monthly plans include unlimited mins, so you won’t be charged on these.

Lyca don’t show up in Ofcom’s complaints report, as they’re technically not a pay monthly network. But in our experience we found their call agents were very helpful and efficient at resolving our issues.

You can call them between 9am - 6pm from Monday-Saturday (it’s closed on Sundays). If you can’t fit that around your work schedule then you can send a message to their chat agents or use their app to get help.

1pMobile do have a free online chat, but no app to help you manage your account or get help that way. Lyca offer a more comprehensive customer service experience and one you don’t have to pay extra for.

Useful link: Our rankings for the best customer service networks

Better benefits on 1pMobile

What do 1pMobile offer that you don’t get on Lyca Mobile?

1pMobile and Lyca Mobile logos with a greater than symbol

1pMobile have a generous refer-a-friend scheme

1pMobile friend referral

Read full details

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in new window)

If you’ve got close friends or family members that are looking to join on a new SIM only plan, you can get extra rewards each time you refer someone to 1pMobile.

You need to be an existing 1pMobile customer for it to work. Then you send your friend or family member a special link where they can take a SIM only plan directly from 1pMobile’s website.

Once your friend stays on their new plan for 30 days, you’ll both get £5 credit. And there’s no limit to how many friends you can refer to 1pMobile, meaning you can get some genuinely brilliant value out of it.

We’d like the scheme a bit more if they just gave you the money back, but considering Lyca Mobile don’t have anything like it, 1pMobile certainly win out here.

Useful link: Our guide to the best customer reward schemes

Our verdict on extra benefits:

Depends on what you want

"Which of these benefits you prefer really comes down to what you’ll actually use. You might not ever call abroad, rarely need customer service or not have anyone to refer to 1pMobile. Ultimately, it comes down to what you need."

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Comparing pricing, offers and deals

SIM only prices on Lyca vs 1pMobile

How do these networks compare on price?

Lyca Mobile vs 1pMobile SIM only deals



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Special offers on 1pMobile and Lyca

We go over the best current promotions on both networks

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Phone contracts on 1pMobile vs Lyca Mobile

Which provider offers the better phone contracts?

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Only Lyca offer phone contracts between the two

O2 custom plans

How to pay

at lycamobile.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Between the two networks, only Lyca Mobile let you take a phone contract. And they actually offer great flexibility on these, with lots of new phone models on split finance agreements (essentially loans) via Klarna.

They’re called split agreements because the cost of paying back your phone and your usage plan (mins, texts, data) are on separate bills that come together to make up your monthly payment.

This lets you pay lump sums to reduce your monthly payment or pay off your loan entirely at any point. You can also switch or leave your usage plan at the end of each month like you can on SIM only.

You can choose a contract length of 6, 12, 24 or 36 months depending on your budget and Lyca Mobile tend to be quite good on price. Of course, they win by default as 1p don’t offer phone contracts at all.

Useful link: Lyca Mobile’s range of phone contracts

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Depends on what you want

“Lyca win this one by default, but that takes nothing away from the fact they’re a very competitive and flexible network for phone contracts."

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More 1pMobile guides

Other articles about Lyca Mobile