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BT Mobile vs Vodafone: which is the better network to join?

BT Mobile vs Vodafone header

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We look at the 5G and 4G coverage, data speeds and extra perks you get with Vodafone and BT Mobile to help you decide which to join. Last updated: 31st January 2022.

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Vodafone and BT's networks compared

Coverage on Vodafone vs BT Mobile

Which has the biggest 5G/4G network?

Identical coverage on Vodafone and BT Mobile

Vodafone are superior for calls and texts

Vodafone coverage map

Check signal now

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

Vodafone own and operate on their own network and are the joint-largest for call signal (2G/3G) signal in the UK and are only second to EE for 4G coverage.

It’s not just on paper, they genuinely provide a brilliant network experience. Outside you’ll basically have to be up a mountain to not get call signal, and indoor call signal is also better than on BT.

BT cover more of the UK's geographical landmass with 4G signal than Vodafone. In built-up areas you'll hardly notice a difference between them, but you're more likely to stay on 4G with BT as you travel.

Still, it's worth checking the networks' local signal using their coverage maps up front. Check everywhere you’ll expect to have to use your phone, not just at home.

Useful link: Vodafone's latest network news

BT clearly win for 5G coverage

BT's 5

Watch 5G guide

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

In the race to expand their 5G networks, BT Mobile hold a clear advantage over Vodafone. BT’s host EE are first place on our list of the best 5G networks, and Vodafone are last.

For sheer amount of locations covered, Vodafone have the fewest of all major networks with only 120+ confirmed locations, while BT cover 160+ currently. This is impressive, but doesn’t tell the full story.

BT and EE only confirm that a location is covered by 5G when 50% of the location’s area is covered. Vodafone declare their locations covered even if it’s only in a relatively small area.

This means BT may cover more locations than they claim and coverage will generally be better in the ones they have declared. You can check on a street-by-street basis using their network maps below to be sure.

Useful link: Our guide to the best 5G networks

Use Vodafone and BT's network maps

It's worth giving their signal a double check everywhere you'll use your phone

BT Mobile's coverage map

BT Mobile coverage checker

Check BT coverage

using their official map
(opens in new window)

Vodafone coverage map

Screenshot of Vodafone's coverage checker

Check Vodafone signal

using their official checker
(opens in new window)

Our verdict on coverage:

A close win for BT

"BT’s weaker calling signal coverage is easily made up for with WiFi and 4G calling. Their superiority for 4G and 5G data coverage puts them ahead of Vodafone overall."

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Data speeds: are Vodafone faster than BT Mobile?

A look at the expected download speeds on each network

Vodafone and BT Mobile logos with a speedometer

BT Mobile are faster than Vodafone on average

Reasons to love BT

What BT say

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

With both these networks you’re more likely to spend most of your time on 4G than on 3G or 5G, so 4G speeds will be an immensely important factor in your decision between the two.

Opensignal measure network speeds using volunteers’ phones. Their measurements show that you can expect average 4G speeds of 44.0 Mbps on BT and 21.6 Mbps on Vodafone. A massive difference.

For 5G, Opensignal showed Vodafone’s results as worryingly slow at 73.3 Mbps, where Speedtest measured them at 149.9 Mbps. BT had results of 131.9 Mbps - 144.5 Mbps. A much more consistent result.

Remember that these are average speeds. You can get speeds into the hundreds of Mbps in city centres with 4G+ on BT and we got some pretty surprising results on Vodafone even out in the country.

Useful link: Our guide to the best 5G networks

Our verdict on data speeds:

A win for BT Mobile

"5G speeds on Vodafone should generally be about the same as on BT, but BT have far better 4G speeds. Since you’ll spend most of your time on 4G it’s a clear win for BT Mobile."

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WiFi calling: is BT Mobile as good as Vodafone?

Making calls over WiFi when there's poor signal

WiFi calling symbol with Vodafone and BT logos

BT's WiFi calling is one of the best

BT WiFi calling

Check supported phones

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

BT are at the top of our list of the networks with the best WiFi calling provisions. This lets your phone make calls and send/receive texts over WiFi signal rather than conventional call (3G/2G) signal.

This helps eliminate indoor blackspots in buildings. If you lose WiFi signal your call won’t drop so long as you can get 4G. Calling over 4G is possible too, and improves general coverage and call quality.

Their list of supported devices has grown quite impressively. Now, most popular Android and iPhone models are supported, so unless your phone is ancient you’ll probably get it as a feature.

You can also use WiFi to send and receive texts on BT. All of this is made even better by their brilliant network of WiFi hotspots that can keep you connected in places you wouldn’t usually get signal.

Useful link: Check BT’s supported devices list

Vodafone offer WiFi calling on most plans

Vodafone WiFi calling

See supported phones

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

While most networks that have WiFi calling now offer it on all of their plans, Vodafone don’t offer it on their low cost Basics plans or on their pay as you go ones.

These plans are much cheaper than their usual plans and won’t get you WiFi calling or 4G calling included:

There are also issues with some Android models not being supported on Vodafone. The only way to be sure WiFi calling will work is if you buy one of their supported phones from Vodafone directly.

If you join on a SIM only plan with a phone not bought from Vodafone you can test if WiFi calling will work by taking one of their SIMs, test if the feature works and then return it within the 14 day returns period if it doesn’t.

The feature itself works well if you can get it. You can move from WiFi signal to 4G without dropping your call and you can send and receive SMS messages.

Useful link: Vodafone's WiFi calling info page

Our verdict on WiFi calling:

Narrow win for BT

"While Vodafone’s WiFi calling works similarly to BT’s, it’s harder to get it working on a phone. It’s also not offered on pay as you go or on their Basics plans and you don’t get to pair it with a WiFi hotspot scheme like you do with BT."

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Free hotspot access on BT Mobile vs Vodafone

We compare what free WiFi each provider offers

Coffee cup with WiFi symbol between BT and Vodafone logos

BT offer a massive WiFi hotspot network

Free WiFi app on BT Mobile

See hotspot locations

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

If you find yourself feeling anxious about using up your data while on the go, BT’s free unlimited WiFi hotspot provision can help you put your mind at ease.

BT offer the largest network of WiFi hotspots with over 5 million all over the UK (find ones near you here). Whether you join on a phone contract or SIM only plan you get free access to these hotspots.

These hotspots are dotted around busy areas in order to ease congestion on mobile signal, or where signal might be poor. You’ll generally get them in airports, high streets, restaurants and transport hubs.

You do need to download their app, but it will keep you logged in automatically to any nearby hotspots. This is nice, but sometimes you’ll get put on a hotspot with a weak connection which can slow you down to a crawl.

Useful link: More about free WiFi on BT Mobile

Vodafone no longer offer WiFi hotspots

Expired stampFree WiFi on London Underground expired

How it worked

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

Vodafone used to offer a fairly standard WiFi hotspot provision on the London Underground that could keep you connected on the go. But this has been removed.

Their hotspot provision on the TFL network offered 250+ hotspots around London. This included Underground stations, ticket barriers and walkways but not the trains themselves.

This isn’t a death blow to the network. But if you want a WiFi provision on the Vodafone network, Virgin offer 4.5+ million hotspots around the UK and are the closest competitor to BT in terms of WiFi hotspots.

While free WiFi is more common anyway (especially in restaurants and such) it’s still nice to have hotspots to help keep the data you’ve paid for. So the fact you get none on Vodafone is a shame.

Useful link: How to connect via Vodafone

Our verdict on free hotspots:

BT Mobile win by default

"It’s hard to beat BT’s widespread WiFi hotspot connection. So comparing a network that offers the best hotspot provision against one that offers none is chalk and cheese. BT win by default."

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Which offers the better perks and extras?

Inclusive roaming on Vodafone and BT Mobile

Which has the better roaming scheme?

A globe between BT and Vodafone logos

BT’s inclusive EU roaming is still in place

BT Mobile Roam like Home banner

See countries list

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

With many networks pulling or changing their inclusive roaming schemes, BT have risen in our rankings for the best roaming networks. You can access your regular UK allowance in these EU destinations, at no extra cost.

Inclusive roaming is offered on all of their plans. You will be limited to 50GB if your plan is above that much data, but that’s more than enough for a short trip. If you do get through it, you’ll pay per MB at these rates.

For worldwide roaming there are daily add-ons for data you can buy when roaming in these 11 worldwide destinations. It’s not great value (£6 a day for 500MB) but it’s better than paying expensive rates abroad.

In our real-life BT review, we found BT’s roaming worked really well. It’ll work right away automatically and you’ll get 4G connection wherever it’s available.

Useful link: Learn more about Roam Like Home

Vodafone offer inclusive worldwide roaming on select plans

Vodafone roaming banner

What you can get

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

Vodafone have made inclusive roaming exclusive to customers on their 4 Xtras plans. None of their other plans get you any inclusive roaming. Xtras are premium plans that get you extra benefits, including roaming.

If you take their “Red” or non-unlimited plans with 4 Xtras you’ll be able to roam in 51 EU destinations. But if you take their unlimited plan with 4 Xtras you get 32 extra worldwide destinations thrown in.

You can only get roaming on Vodafone on these plans:

Vodafone are actually the only network to get you 5G connection while abroad. And if you’re able to get their unlimited plan with 4 Xtras you’ll be able to roam in more destinations than on any other network.

But, it only comes on expensive plans on a network that is already expensive. On regular pay monthly plans you’ll pay £2 per day to roam in the EU and £6 elsewhere. Either way, going abroad will put you out of pocket with Vodafone.

Useful link: All roaming costs on Vodafone

Our verdict on roaming:

A win for BT Mobile

"Most people will do their roaming in the EU, so the fact BT include it at no extra cost on all plans is much more appealing. Vodafone are better for worldwide roaming if you’re willing to invest in it as a premium feature."

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Free entertainment extras

Do Vodafone or BT Mobile have the better freebies?

Smartphone streaming alongside Vodafone and BT logos

BT Mobile offer free BT Sport app access on some plans

BT Sport on mobile

Full offer terms

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

BT don’t offer any free unlimited data streaming schemes like VOXI or Sky, but they do offer free access to the BT Sport app on phone contracts or SIM only plans £15 a month (BT broadband customer price) or over.

This app lets you watch live sport covered by BT and also gets you access to news stories and highlights. If you’re a sports fan this may sound very appealing.

There are a few restrictions. Like we said, you don’t get free unlimited streaming data. So if you’re not on WiFi you could end up eating through your data quite quickly.

You can only use it on your phone and you can’t cast it onto larger devices. It is a nice freebie, but there are better features on other networks.

Useful link: How to get it when you join

Vodafone offer subscriptions on premium plans

Vodafone entertainment subscriptions

See what you get

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

In Vodafone’s list of SIM only plans and phone contracts you’ll notice some plans called “Entertainment” plans. These are a bit pricier than their regular plans, but you’ll get some nice extras for the cost.

By getting an Entertainment plan you can choose one subscription from three options (Spotify Premium, Amazon Prime or Youtube Premium) which you’ll keep getting so long as you stay on the same plan.

You used to get roaming included on these Entertainment plans, but not anymore. It’s a big shame as these plans aren’t as valuable as they used to be. What you’re essentially getting now is a discount on the subscription.

If you really want one of these subscriptions, it’s not a bad choice. You’ll be paying less overall than having your plan and subscription paid separately. Just bear in mind it’s absolutely not a freebie.

Useful link: Vodafone's Red Entertainment plan guide

Our verdict on extra benefits:

BT win

"BT’s free offer of BT Sport app access comes on most of their plans, where Vodafone make you pay more. Vodafone do offer a greater range of options, but since you’re still paying extra we have to give the win to BT."

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Family plans compared on BT Mobile and Vodafone

Which is best for taking out multiple contracts with?

A family between BT and Vodafone logos

BT's Family SIMs give discounts the more deals you add

BT Mobile Family SIMs banner

Calculate discounts

at BT.com
(opens in new window)

Some networks offer family plans for parents wanting to put their kids on a mobile plan, giving discounts on SIMs added to the main account as an incentive.

BT Mobile have a really good family plan that lets you add 4x extra SIMs on top of your main deal that will each get a discount of 20% (calculate savings here).

The family SIMs are all offered on 30-day contracts which means you can add and drop them with basically no notice necessary. It’s great if contract end dates are giving you a headache.

What we don’t like is that all the family SIMs have to have the same amount of data, which we just don’t find realistic for most families (teens are likely to use up more data than parents are). But otherwise it’s a great way to save.

Useful link: Read our full review of BT's Family SIMs

Vodafone give you 15% off additional contracts

Vodafone discounts off additional plans

How it works

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

Vodafone let you add extra pay monthly deals to your account and receive a 15% discount on each one, so long as you’re an existing pay monthly customer (and not on a 30-day contract).

The best part is that basically all plans and devices can benefit from the discount (both SIM only and devices on 12-month or 24-month contracts). You can potentially add 9 extra plans, but you’ll need good credit history.

The discount can be applied to all SIM only plans, both on 12-month and 24-month contracts. Here’s what we think their best current deals are:

That sounds like massive savings for phone contracts, but this only applies to your usage (minutes, texts and data). That’s still decent money off. You can add new plans when you wish and the discount is applied automatically.

But with Vodafone, you’ll really need that money off. In the end 15% off is good, but when their prices are already so expensive it’s more of a consolation rather than a great value deal.

Useful link: 15% off phones | 15% off SIM only plans | 15% off tablets | 15% off dongles

Our verdict on family plans:

A win for BT Mobile

"We actually appreciate the flexibility of Vodafone’s family plans as you can get more types of plans discounted. But 20% is a bigger discount than 15% and when BT is already better value, it means you’ll be saving more with BT."

Compare pricing and deals

Vodafone and BT deals and pricing

Comparing SIM only plans on Vodafone and BT

Are BT or Vodafone's SIM only deals cheaper?

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Vodafone offer more flexibility with their EVO scheme

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Compare phone contracts

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The choice between Vodafone and BT is really a matter of flexibility vs price. Vodafone offer greater flexibility with their EVO plans, while BT are a little better on price.

Vodafone’s EVO plans split your phone contract into two separate agreements. One is for the cost of your phone, the other for your usage (minutes, texts, data). This lets you change or leave your usage plan before your contract is up.

They also let you pay lump sums to reduce your monthly bill, choose a contract length between 12 and 36 months to suit your monthly budget and adjust your upfront payment (there is a minimum) as you please.

BT on the other hand will work out cheaper than Vodafone, but they offer traditional contracts where the payment for your phone and usage are on one bill and all their contracts are 24-month ones.

You can still match BT for price with a Vodafone contract if you take with a third-party reseller. These include Carphone Warehouse and Mobiles.co.uk who will offer you traditional Vodafone contracts for a reduced price.

Useful link: Use our comparison tool to compare against resellers

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Win for Vodafone

"While BT might work out a bit cheaper than Vodafone overall, you can get an even cheaper deal by getting on Vodafone via a reseller. The sheer flexibility that Vodafone offer makes them an appealing choice for more customers."

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More guides about BT Mobile

More guides about Vodafone

Individual network reviews