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BT Mobile vs EE: the differences between the two networks

BT Mobile vs EE

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We look at what's the same and what's different between joining EE directly or going with BT Mobile for 4G/5G coverage, speeds and benefits. Last updated: 5th May 2022.

Special offer news

How their mobile networks compare

Same: coverage on BT and EE is identical

They use the same 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G networks

Identical coverage on EE and BT Mobile

EE's have the most widespread 4G network in the UK

BT Mobile EE network banner

See expansion plans

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

BT own the EE brand and you’ll get the same network coverage experience on BT Mobile as you would on EE. This is a good thing, as EE easily have the best 4G network in the UK.

EE cover more of the UK’s physical landmass with 4G than other networks and can get their 4G signal to a higher percentage of the population. You can get 4G in some genuinely surprising locations with EE or BT.

Their call signal (3G/2G) isn’t quite as widespread as O2 or Vodafone’s in terms of geographical coverage, so you might find some blackspots in remote areas. But in places where people live there’s not a big difference.

EE/BT aren’t just a one trick pony for coverage, as they have arguably the best 5G coverage in the UK. They don’t claim to cover a location until it's available in 50% of that location. We go into more detail below.

Useful link: EE's network investment plans

EE and BT have the best 5G coverage of all networks

Map of United Kingdon with 5G pointers

5G rollout news

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

In our eyes, EE/BT’s 5G coverage is better than all other major networks. While they don’t claim to be present in as many areas as Three, with 160+ on EE and 300+ on Three, this is for a very good reason:

EE/BT will only claim a location as covered with 5G once 50% of that location’s area can get 5G signal. Three will declare a location covered much more easily, and their 5G coverage within locations can be limited.

Here are the options to get a 5G SIM only plan on BT or EE:

So even if you don’t find your town or city on their list, do give EE’s coverage checker a look as you might still get it. But bear in mind, their 5G coverage might be limited in locations they haven’t yet declared.

BT offer 5G on all of their plans and we’re confident their coverage is identical to EE’s. All of EE’s plans also offer 5G. Whether you’ll get 5G depends on your location and if your phone is 5G-ready.

Useful link: BT's guide to 5G with them

Use a coverage checker before you join

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

BT coverage checker

BT Mobile coverage checker

Check BT coverage

using their official map
(opens in new window)

EE coverage checker

Screenshot of EE's coverage checker

Check EE coverage

using their official map
(opens in new window)

Our verdict on coverage:

No difference

"Both BT and EE use the same 5G/4G/3G/2G network and both offer 5G on all of their SIM only plans and phone contracts. There’s no difference between the two for coverage."

Compare pricing and deals

Data speeds on EE and BT Mobile

Is BT Mobile any slower than being on EE?

EE and BT Mobile logos with a speedometer

EE and BT now share the same data speeds

EE's top speeds vs BT Mobile's

See fastest EE plans

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

We found no evidence of a speed cap or speed differences between EE and BT, so Opensignal’s result of average 4G speeds of 44.0 Mbps applies for both. That’s very impressive and should make HD video streaming very comfortable.

In real life you’ll go a bit slower in rural areas (we went down to about 10 Mbps), but you’ll go a lot faster in more populated areas, particularly in towns and cities with 4G+.

For 5G, results from Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla put both networks’ speeds between 131.9 Mbps and 158.3 Mbps. Both have the second fastest 5G in the UK.

Both networks are brilliant choices for heavy data users, but also for people moving around in more rural areas as you’ll get decent 4G speeds even out in the sticks.

Useful link: Learn about EE's faster 4G+ speeds

Old BT plans did have a speed cap

BT Mobile's top speeds compared to EE

About the add-on

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

Historically, the majority of BT Mobile plans had a discreet 30 Mbps speed cap on them. This meant you’d never get speeds above that, even if they’d be possible without the cap.

Nowadays, all new plans are sold without a cap. But if you joined BT a while ago, you may be on a plan with a cap. In which case, you could buy an extra speed add-on to get higher speeds.

If you’ve read anywhere that BT Mobile’s data is slower than EE’s, this will likely be the explanation. But it won’t apply if you join today.

Useful link: Read about Extra Speed add-ons

Our verdict on data speeds:

Draw

"Since there’s now no difference in data speeds, we can confidently say you’ll get the same network experience on BT as you would on EE."

Compare pricing and deals

WiFi calling features on both networks

What differences are there on EE and BT Mobile?

WiFi calling symbol with EE and BT logos

EE's WiFi calling helps with indoor calling

EE WiFi calling

Use WiFi signal instead of 3G/2GSee supported devices

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

Indoor signal for calls and texts can be a weakness on EE/BT, especially if you’re far away from the mast. This is because their frequencies aren’t ideal for getting through building materials. To fix this they have WiFi calling.

EE now support a wide range of both Android and iPhone models and let you make/take calls over WiFi signal and even send/receive texts over WiFi instead of conventional call signal (2G/3G).

They also support 4G calling (VoLTE) which essentially works the same way but for 4G signal. This helps improve call quality and coverage, as you can call wherever you get 4G, which on EE is almost anywhere.

They’re both great features and help make up for EE’s somewhat poorer call signal coverage. You can stay connected anywhere you get WiFi or 4G.

Useful link: Full information on supported devices

BT Mobile have WiFi calling / 4G calling too

BT Mobile WiFi calling

Make sure your phone's supported thoughSee supported phones

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

We think BT’s WiFi calling is essentially the same technology as EE’s, as it functions the same. Since they use the same network as EE for everything else we wouldn’t be surprised.

BT are a little bit less committal in saying whether some Android models not bought from them will be compatible, but the manufacturer-bought Android models we tested worked just fine. We don’t think this is a point of difference.

Their official list of supported devices is a little smaller than EE’s, so we recommend testing if it works on your phone once you receive your BT SIM, and then using their 14-days returns policy to get a refund if it doesn’t work.

You can send and receive texts just like on EE, and if you make a call over WiFi you can transfer to 4G if you lose WiFi signal without your call dropping. It also pairs well with their WiFi hotspot scheme (see below).

Useful link: See BT Mobile's new WiFi calling feature

Our verdict on WiFi Calling:

Honours even

"From our own testing, we believe there’s actually no difference between the amount of models EE and BT support. We think there’s no real difference here."

Compare pricing and deals

Free access to WiFi hotspots

Do EE or BT Mobile have a better scheme?

Coffee cup with WiFi symbol between BT and EE logos

BT Mobile have the largest WiFi hotspot network

Free WiFi app on BT Mobile

Get free BT WiFi

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

By joining BT on any SIM only or phone plan you get automatic free access to BT WiFi, which is a network of 5 million hotspots around the UK (and 13 million abroad).

You’ll generally find these in popular areas where data signal can become congested, such as restaurants, shopping centres, transport hubs and airports. There’s no limit to how much you can use and the WiFi is fast.

It’s a great way to save data while you’re on the go. You can use BT's WiFi app to automatically log in to the nearest hotspot as soon as you’re in range. It takes a lot of the hassle out of connecting to a hotspot.

That said, the WiFi you do get can be slower than being on 4G/5G directly. It shouldn’t make too much difference for social media and internet browsing, but gamers and file sharers might want to stick to 4G/5G.

Useful link: Read BT's guide to free BT WiFi

EE offer free WiFi on the Underground only

Free WiFi on EE

Free WiFi on Tube

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

You don’t get anything close to BT’s massive WiFi hotspot scheme on EE. Instead, you get free WiFi on the Underground in London.

That’s actually something that BT don’t offer, so if you’re a London commuter this is definitely a difference that you should keep in mind.

While it's nowhere near as comprehensive as BT’s scheme, if you pair it with their WiFi calling then you can easily stay connected to calls on the Underground. That’s something you can’t do on BT.

But, since you can’t offload your data usage onto WiFi as easily as you can with BT, EE’s hotspot scheme won’t save nearly as much data as BT’s. That’s something to consider when you choose your data plan.

Useful link: EE's guide to free London Underground WiFi

Our verdict on free WiFi hotspots:

BT Mobile win

"BT offer more WiFi hotspots in more parts of the country, meaning you’ll have a better chance of hanging onto your data than on EE. But, EE do have a decent niche offering hotspots on the Underground which might be important to some."

Compare pricing and deals

Perks and benefits

Freebies and subscriptions

We look at whether EE or BT Mobile have better free pay monthly extras

Smartphone streaming alongside EE and BT logos

EE get you loads of free trials

EE streaming services

See included apps

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

On any of EE’s pay monthly SIM only or phone plans, you’ll get multiple free trials to various entertainment services to sweeten the deal. Bear in mind these are trials, not full-on subscriptions.

The services covered changes now and again, but is currently a 6 months free Britbox, Apple Music, Apple News+ trial. They used to offer 3 months free BT Sport, but now you get 3 months free Apple TV.

Android users definitely get the short end of the stick here, as most of these trials are geared towards iPhone users. Still, they might be worth something to you, especially since these services won’t use your data when you stream them.

Just keep in mind these are trials, not total freebies. Once the trial is over, you’ll start getting billed for the subscription. You’ll have to cancel it manually if you don’t want to keep being charged.

Useful link: How much each costs after your trial ends

BT Mobile offer free access to BT Sport app on some plans

BT Sport banner

How to get it

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

If you take a SIM only or phone plan with BT that costs £15 or over (£20 for non-BT broadband customers) then you’ll get full access to the BT Sport app on your mobile.

All these come with BT Sport app access included:

You can watch any live sports events covered by BT Sport, as well as on-demand highlights and sports news. It’s a big shame that it doesn’t work on larger screens and you can’t cast it onto a TV either.

So it’s important to know it’s not a free BT Sport TV subscription, but more a way of keeping up with sports on the go. This might be enough for some people, and since it’s free we can’t really complain about it.

One thing you’ll have to keep in mind is that the data you use to stream the app will come out of your regular monthly data allowance. BT don’t offer free unlimited streaming data like these networks do.

Useful link: How to claim BT Sport with your mobile deal

EE's Smart plans are worth looking at

EE Smart Benefits banner

How they work

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

Along with their free trials, EE offer premium SIM only and phone plans called Smart Plans. These let you choose up to three extra benefits to add to your plan depending on which one you take.

These currently include: BT Sport Ultimate (lets you stream BT sport in 4K), a Video Data Pass (unlimited streaming data for these services), a Roam Abroad (roaming in 47 EU and five worldwide destinations).

All these come with at least one Smart benefit:

Apple users can choose Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, all worth between £3.99 and £4.99 each. Android users can get Apple Music worth £9.99 a month and a Netflix subscription worth £5.99.

It’s worth comparing the cost of the Smart plan against the cost of a normal plan with the subscriptions you want on top. But it is possible to get some decent value, even if you’re still paying a lot overall.

Useful link: EE's Smart Benefits guide

Our verdict on free subscriptions:

A win for EE

"While they’re free trials are time-limited and their Smart plans quite pricey, we think EE give you more variety in terms of benefits. BT’s is alright, but will only apply to people who want to watch BT Sport on their phones."

Compare pricing and deals

Shared family plans on EE and BT

We compare what they offer for taking multiple deals

A family between BT and EE logos

BT's Family SIMs get bigger discounts the more plans you add

BT Mobile Family SIMs banner

Calculate savings

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

It’s more common now for networks to offer group or family mobile plans where additional plans on an account get discounts. BT’s Family SIMs are one of our favourite types of this scheme:

If you have a main account on any plan, any additional SIM only plans you add will be discounted, for each plan you add (calculate savings per plan here).

You don’t have to sign them all up at once, and they’re all on 1-month contracts meaning you can take and drop them with very little notice. It gives a good amount of flexibility which is nice for building an ideal Family plan.

The major downside is that all the plans have to be the exact data amount as the main account holder’s plan. This just isn’t realistic for most families and can lead you to either pay more than you need or incur extra data charges.

Useful link: Calculate BT Family SIM savings

EE offer 10% discount and data sharing facility

EE data gifting banner

Read how it works

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

Any pay monthly phone or SIM only plan added to your main account with EE will be discounted by 10%. You can add up to 4 extra plans, the same as BT.

It’s an easier discount to work out, as it’s just a flat 10%, whereas BT’s can be quite a bit harder to work out.

EE give you the flexibility to add any kind of plan you want and you can also share chunks of data between other people, which is great from stopping a heavy data user from going over their limit and incurring extra charges.

But we’d still say that BT can probably get you a cheaper overall deal, and 10% isn’t really that much in comparison, especially since EE’s plans are already so expensive. It’s a good Family plan, but you’ll be paying more overall.

Useful link: All benefits to EE's family plans

Our verdict on shared plans:

Basically a draw

"You can get a cheaper overall deal on BT with higher percentage savings. But EE do offer a lot more flexibility in letting you choose the plans you want. It really depends which one is more important to you."

Compare pricing and deals

Roaming in the EU and the world

Is roaming better on EE or BT Mobile?

A globe between BT and EE logos

Premium EE plans let you roam in some worldwide destinations

EE inclusive roaming banner

EE's roaming guide

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

EE no longer offer EU roaming as standard on all of their pay monthly plans. Instead you’ll have to pay a daily fee abroad of either £2 or £6 depending on whether you’re in the EU or beyond (see EE's list of covered countries here).

There is one way of getting EU roaming included in your plan and that’s to take it as a Smart benefit on one of their Smart plans. These are pricier than their usual plans, but can get you other benefits on top of roaming (see above).

With their Roam Abroad Smart benefit you get inclusive roaming in 47 EU destinations, as well as five popular worldwide destinations including the US and Australia.

Roaming isn’t really a strength on EE any more. We assume most people care more about EU roaming, and sadly it’s become more of a premium feature on EE. You’ll end up paying a lot even for a short trip.

Useful link: All roaming costs on EE

BT Mobile still offer inclusive EU roaming as standard

BT Mobile roaming banner

See included countries

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

On any BT plan you can roam in any of these 47 EU countries without paying extra to access your UK allowance, however you will be limited to 50GB while abroad. That should be more than enough for small journeys.

If you want to go further afield you can pay for their Travel Data Pass, which is £6 a day while abroad to get 500MB data each day in these 12 worldwide destinations.

With that you’re paying a lot for very little data. Still, it’s better value than topping up and paying as you go at their steep international rates. You’ll have to do this in countries not covered by roaming.

Most people will go on holiday to the EU anyway, but if you want a good worldwide roaming scheme then you can read our list of the best roaming networks.

Useful link: BT's full guide to all extra costs

Our verdict on inclusive roaming:

Win for BT Mobile

"Most customers will care about EU roaming, so the fact BT have inclusive roaming while EE don’t puts them ahead. Worldwide roaming will be pricey on both, but you might be better off on EE for that."

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing pricing, offers and deals

SIM only on EE and BT

How do EE and BT Mobile stack up in terms of monthly costs of their SIM only deals?

BT and EE logos around a SIM card

Networks

Providers:

Three logo
ASDA logo
BT Mobile logo
EE logo
giffgaff logo
Honest logo
ID logo
IQ logo
Lebara logo
O2 logo
Plusnet logo
Sky logo
SMARTY logo
Talkmobile logo
Tesco logo
Virgin Mobile logo
Vodafone logo
VOXI logo

Plan

Data: (0MB+)

Minutes: (0+)

Contract

Maximum length: (Any)

Added features

Special offers

One of the biggest differences between BT Mobile and EE is the extent of their special offers:

Special offer ribbon with BT and EE logos

Smartphone contracts on EE and BT Mobile

We look at what phones you can get and their pricing to see what's similar and different:

Smartphone between BT and EE logos

Phone contracts on EE and BT are very similar

Phone comparison screenshot

Compare phone deals

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

There’s not a whole lot to differentiate EE from BT Mobile for phone contracts except the perks and benefits listed above. They both offer 24-month contracts that aren’t based on finance or anything complicated.

The costs between the two aren’t massively different for most models. But with EE you can go via a reseller like buymobiles.net who can offer you a better deal than going with EE directly.

We’ve noticed BT are beginning to promote EE phone deals on their website, pushing their own phone deals to the back. Since BT own EE it could be that they’re focusing more on EE’s phone contracts.

Either way, our phone comparison tool can help you get the best deal, either from a reseller or going directly with the network. Play around with it and see how much you could be saving.

Useful link: Compare phone contracts with us

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Very minor EE win

"You’ll be saving a lot more going with a reseller on EE, and going with a Smart plan on top of that can get you some great overall value. BT have largely phased out their own contracts, so there’s also more models on EE to choose from."

Compare pricing and deals

More guides about BT Mobile

More guides about EE