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EE vs O2: coverage, speeds and roaming comparison for 2020

EE vs O2

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We look at the latest stats to see how EE and O2's 4G speeds and coverage compare, plus review their deals, roaming and extras. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 13th November 2019

In our head-to-head comparison

O2 and EE's networks compared
EE vs O2's mobile network

Which has better 4G and 3G coverage?
Who offers the fastest 4G speeds?
Will EE or O2 ever slow you down?

Compare EE and O2's networks

EE and O2 perks and benefits
EE vs O2 perks and benefits

Roaming plans and add-ons
Loyalty and reward schemes
Free entertainment subscriptions

Compare O2 and EE perks and benefits

EE and O2 deals and pricing
Compare EE and O2 deals

Phone contract prices
SIM only deals compared
Extra costs and price rises

Compare EE and O2's deals

Offer notifications on EE and O2

O2 and EE's networks compared

Is EE or O2's mobile network bigger?

We look at who has better nationwide 4G and 3G coverage: O2 or EE

EE and O2's mobile networks

EE's 4G network is slightly bigger than O2

Countryside with 4G symbols dotted arount it

Read expansion plans

(opens in new window)

In terms of how much of the UK's physical landmass each network has coverage with mobile signal, EE are slightly ahead of O2, although the difference isn't dramatic, particularly on 2G/3G.

In big cities and towns, there's unlikely to be any difference outdoors. Both claim 99% 4G population coverage (signal where people live). O2's frequencies mean their signal for calls is better at getting indoors than EE.

For us, the wisest thing to do is always use each network's coverage checkers to look at their signal where you live, where you work and places you travel to a lot. That way, you can be more confident with what to expect.

We'd also point out that cheaper providers use both EE and O2's networks (BT Mobile, Virgin and Plusnet for EE and Sky Mobile, Tesco and giffgaff for O2). Benefit from their coverage, without paying a premium.

Useful link: Read about O2's network improvements

How to check O2 and EE's signal

We recommend checking each network's signal in all the places you use your phone. Not just at home

EE coverage checker

EE's coverage checker

Check EE's signal

using their network map
(opens in new window)

O2 coverage checker

O2's coverage checker

Check O2's signal

using their network map
(opens in new window)

Alternative coverage checkers

Independent coverage checkers

Use Ofcom checker
Use RootMetrics checker

Our verdict on coverage:

Win for EE

"EE still have 4G in more places than any other network, including O2 and their expansion plans are impressive. It's still worth comparing each provider's reception in your local area though, as neither have universal coverage."

Compare pricing and deals

Speeds: Is 4G data faster on O2 or EE?

We look at what 4G speeds you can expect with EE and O2

O2 and EE's 4G

EE's 4G speeds twice as fast as O2's

Map of UK with 5G logos dotted around

EE 5G rollout news

(opens in new window)

On 4G downloads, EE have an emphatic advantage over O2, according to independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla, who take millions of measurements on people's phones around the UK.

Their latest reports show typical 4G speeds on EE to be around35.9 Mbps- 32.99 Mbps (mid-range home fibre broadband fast), around twice as quick as O2's at18.0 Mbps- 16.95 Mbps (copper home broadband).

In reality both networks will deliver lower and higher speeds depending on where you are in the country and how busy the network is - we'd expect EE's top speeds to outstrip O2 too.

Does that mean O2 is unusable? No, things like browsing are fine but some video streaming might start to creak a bit. If you're a big downloader and don't like waiting though, EE are more suitable.

Useful link: EE's guide to 5G vs 4G

Both networks are rolling out faster 5G

O2 5G banner

See O2 5G latest

(opens in new window)

At the moment, the number of phone handsets people have that support 5G is low. As are the number of locations where there are 5G transmitters.

But as availability grows, this will become more important and we'll see clear speed advantages for EE over O2 start to disappear in certain areas.

The technology could deliver frankly frightening speeds of 1 Gbps, similar to the very best home fibre optic broadband connection available anywhere in the country.

But the main advantage 5G will have over 4G is to do with capacity. More people can connect at once to 5G, without experiencing the dip in speeds and availability you get in large crowds with 4G.

Useful link: Read O2's guide to what 5G means on their network

Our verdict on speed:

EE win

"We put EE comfortably ahead of O2 for 4G. With generally similar prices on SIMs and phones, speed fans will most likely be better off on EE or the networks that use them like Virgin Mobile and BT."

Compare pricing and deals

Is WiFi calling better on EE or O2?

Both networks have a scheme, we look to see if O2 or EE's is best

EE's WiFi calling is more flexible than O2's

EE WiFi calling banner

See supported phones

(opens in new window)

On any mobile network you can end up somewhere with poor indoor signal for calls. WiFi calling lets your phone make and take calls using WiFi instead of conventional mobile signal.

EE's WiFi calling scheme is one of the best, as it allows you to make/take calls on your usual number with no separate app, and you can also send/receive regular SMS text messages too.

It also lets you move seamlessly from WiFi calling to regular calling if you move away from the WiFi signal mid-way through a call - handy if you like to walk and talk.

The main limitations of EE's scheme is that you only get it on pay monthly and for non-iPhone models EE's are very non-committal about their network supporting your phone, even if it has the feature itself.

Useful link: More about how WiFi calling works at

O2's WiFi calling supports fewer phone models

O2's WiFi calling

See supported phones

(opens in new window)

There are a couple of subtle differences between the WiFi calling that O2 offer and the technology on EE:

First is that O2's WiFi calling only lets you switch between a WiFi connection and a 4G mobile signal if you walk out of an area with WiFi (EE works on 2G and 3G too). This is probably a very minor point in reality.

You also can't send and receive regular SMS text messages on O2's WiFi calling scheme (you can on EE).

The main weakness on O2 is you'll need to have bought your Android phone from them directly for WiFi calling to work. This could be a problem if you're joining on SIM only and got your phone from somewhere else.

Our advice: check O2's guide to supported phones for WiFi calling before signing up, to avoid disappointment.

Useful link: O2's full guide to WiFi calling at

Our verdict on this topic:

A narrow win for EE

"Out of the two, EE's WiFi calling is more likely to support your phone, and we like the fact that you can move seamlessly from WiFi onto any mobile signal, which you can't do on O2."

Compare pricing and deals

EE and O2's perks and benefits compared

Going abroad: how EE and O2 compare for roaming

Both O2 and EE offer free EU roaming as standard, we see who's best if you're going further afield

O2 roaming vs EE's

O2 now offer some inclusive worldwide roaming on top of free EU

Free EU roaming on O2

See all roaming costs

(opens in new window)

On every pay monthly O2 tariff, you'll get free roaming in these EU countries included as standard. And on pay as you go, using your phone will cost the same there as it does at home.

In destinations further afield, O2 operate a roaming pass system called O2 Travel. This gives you a block of minutes, texts and data to use for a fixed daily charge (see latest costs and full details here).

As a new feature, O2 are now including roaming at no extra cost in 27 selected non-EU countries with their more-premium phone models and SIM only tariffs (look out for tariffs flagged with "O2 Travel Inclusive Zone").

Altogether, O2 have a pretty standard roaming offering. They make inclusive worldwide roaming more available than EE, and offer a larger amount of extra countries too.

Useful link: O2's full guide to roaming and costs at

EE have some worldwide roaming and give you 4G everywhere it's available

EE plans with free roaming

See free EE roaming

(opens in new window)

You'll get the same free EU roaming with every pay monthly plan on EE as you do on O2. Here's EE's full list of countries you can visit in Europe without paying extra for normal usage.

And if you take a phone on one of EE's Smart plans, you can choose inclusive roaming in 5 extra countries as a Swappable Benefit too, which includes the USA and Canada (see full list here). This isn't something you can get on SIM only though.

All other roaming on EE is either charged on a pay as you go style basis at the rates here, or you can buy international passes, with a block of allowances to use in certain countries.

Where EE do shine, is by offering 4G speeds in every country where they're available. O2 can be a bit non-committal about what speeds you'll get abroad and even actively slow you down while roaming.

Useful link: EE's full guide to roaming and costs at

Our verdict on roaming:

Too little to split them

"Both O2 and EE offer inclusive roaming outside the EU but you'll need to make sure you're on the right plan, and both come at a premium (for out-and-out value we still think Three's Feel At Home with 71 countries is the best roaming scheme out there)"

Compare pricing and deals

Free extras and rewards on EE vs O2

We compare how O2 and EE cram extra value into their deals with included freebies

Perks and free on EE vs O2

O2 are pretty low on added extra benefits

O2 Priority daily deals

See latest Priority deals

(opens in new window)

There's very little by way of unique benefits on O2, it's one of the reasons we think you could be better off joining a provider like Sky Mobile, who use O2's network and have some great extra features on top.

That said, we still think O2 Priority is the biggest and best loyalty scheme offered by any of the mobile networks, and EE have nothing similar.

If you've not heard of it, Priority is essentially an exclusive club for anyone on O2 (pay monthly or pay as you go) that gives you access to special offers, food and drink discounts, and event tickets hosted at O2 venues.

It all works using The O2 Priority app where you'll find the deals, which update daily. It's a decent benefit, as long as you don't pay extra to join O2 in the first place.

Useful link: See everything that Priority gets you in O2's official guide

You can get four free trial subscriptions with EE

EE entertainment subscriptions banner

Read full benefits

(opens in new window)

EE don't have anything similar to O2's Priority. Instead they offer free trials for a number of entertainment services to all their pay monthly customers.

New customers can claim at any point in their contract, a free 6-month trial of Apple Music, Amazon Prime Video and MTV Play, plus a 3-month trial of the BT Sport app. EE say the total value is up to £164.

They add more value by not charging you for the mobile data that these apps use during your trial too, so EE are among the few operators to give away free streaming data.

On the face of it, the whole scheme is generous. But remember each service becomes chargeable if you don't cancel after your free trial period (you'll receive a text message before they end).

Useful link: EE's help article about free apps and their costs

Our verdict on included freebies and extras:

No clear winner

"The freebies offered by O2 and EE are radically different. Deciding which is more useful is more down to personal taste, so we're calling this one a draw for the time being."

Compare pricing and deals

Shared family plans and data sharing on EE and O2

We look at whether O2 or EE offer better benefits for groups

Shared plans on EE and O2

EE's Family Accounts are easier to use and get benefit from than O2's

EE's data gifting family plans

How it works

(opens in new window)

EE have just made some big improvements to how managing multiple plans on one account works, and it's put them ahead of O2 in our family plan rankings here.

You'll get a flat 10% discount against the regular price on most pay monthly products (phone contract, tablet deal or SIM only plan over £12.99) that you add to your existing EE account Just sign in when you order.

And a really nice feature they've included is called data gifting. This lets you switch chunks of data between the different plans that you manage on your account.

So if one member's running out of data, and another has some spare, you send it over and avoid paying extra for going over your limit. It's a flexible system and it's the best data-sharing scheme we've seen.

Useful link: All Family Account benefits on EE from the EE website

O2's data-sharing and family discounts aren't as straightforward

O2 Family Plan

See O2 Family Plans

(opens in new window)

If you're taking out multiple contracts with O2, there are some similar benefits to what you get on EE. We just think they're slightly less flexible and a little harder to take advantage of.

In terms of discounts, it's only really phones that O2 offer group-savings on. And the money-off is only on the airtime (your mins, texts and data), not the device itself. You can save up to 50% as O2 explain here.

Sharing data on O2 is possible too but you'll need to have a phone contract with them for it to work.

You have one lead device, which can give data to other users on your account. You can't swap data between the other plans like you can on EE.

Useful link: How data sharing works on O2 from their official guide

Our verdict on this topic:

A win for EE

"EE's approach to shared family accounts is a little more transparent and simple to understand. We also think it'd be easier to use EE's data gifting on a regular basis, so we're saying a win for EE over O2 here."

Compare pricing and deals

EE and O2 deals and pricing

SIM only deals: comparing EE and O2

Here's how EE and O2's pricing stacks up if you're joining on pay monthly SIM only

EE and O2 SIM only plans
Deal options >
Mins, texts and data >
Data speed (4G or 5G) >
Max contract length >

Close options








Minimum data speed


Maximum contract length

1 month
12 months

Close filters

Choose which networks you'd consider:

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

Our verdict on SIM only prices:

Too close to call

"EE and O2 are always very similarly priced for SIM only. Realistically, you're best off comparing deals with mins, texts and data you want and seeing which is best value at the time."

Compare pricing and deals

Latest special offers on O2 and EE

We compare the current promotions running on EE and O2

Phone contracts on EE vs O2

We compare the benefits and prices when you take a smartphone

EE and O2 phone contracts

O2 let you build your own plans and upgrade early if you want

O2 Refresh phone contracts

See custom plans

(opens in new window)

Compared with EE, O2's new custom plans are much more flexible. You can upgrade early, choose your contract length between 3 - 36 months, and tweak the upfront cost you're willing to pay. How does it all work?

Your deal is split into two parts: a loan that covers the cost of your device, paid off monthly. And a contract covering the cost of your minutes, texts and data (read O2's full explanation here). This has a few benefits:

Firstly, you can pay the loan off in full at any point you like, with no exit fees. You're then free to upgrade to a new phone, leave O2 altogether, or stay and only pay the lower cost for your mins, texts and data.

The other advantage is having the ability to spread the device cost over your choice of months. Pay it off quickly at a higher monthly rate. Or more slowly at a lower monthly cost. The total phone cost is the same whichever you choose.

If you find standard 24-month contracts constraining, O2 could be a better choice than EE. You'll need a good credit history though, as the contracts are based on finance.

Useful link: Full details on O2's custom plans from their own guide

EE offer some early upgrade options on phone contracts

EE early upgrades on smartphones

How they work

(opens in new window)

Most of EE's contracts work like what we'd call "standard mobile contracts": ones that last 24 months and give you a phone, plus your mins, texts and data, for one single monthly payment.

This probably means the credit check on EE isn't as hard to pass as O2's whose contracts are based on loans (although we have no specific information on either's requirements).

On selected top-end phones, and more-premium plans EE offer "Annual Upgrades". This is basically a scheme where EE will buy you out of your contract but you have to give them back your phone.

We're not huge fans of this sort of deal, because you're giving back a phone that you've already half paid for. When you could go sell it yourself via a second-hand phone store, potentially for more.

In short: EE are less flexible than O2 but their deals are a lot simpler to understand and compare.

Useful link: See EE's range of phones

Compare O2 and EE phone pricing

Pick a make and model to see if EE or O2 are cheaper

A white mobile phone

Choose a manufacturer

Which make of phone do you want?

Find a plan for your phone

Choose what you want from your deal

Deal options >
Mins, texts and data >
Data speed (3G or 4G) >
Max contract length >
Max upfront cost >

Close options








Maximum contract length

12 months
24 months

Upfront cost

Any upfront cost


Close filters

Choose which networks you'd consider:

Three logo
BT Mobile logo
EE logo
giffgaff logo
ID logo
O2 logo
Sky logo
Tesco logo
Virgin Mobile logo
Vodafone logo

Our verdict on phone contract pricing:

EE and O2 are fairly evenly priced

"The two providers are reasonably closely matched on phone contract prices. Use our phone deal comparison tool to find deals "

Compare phone deals

Choosing between EE and O2

Key differences between O2 and EE

Consider these points when making your mind up between EE and O2:

EE could be the best choice if...

Their 4G/3G signal is better near you (check here)

You want the network with the fastest 4G speeds

You're happy with mainly free roaming in the EU

You want an included BT Sport app and Apple Music subscription

Their WiFi calling supports your phone and O2 don't (check EE here and O2 here)

O2 could be the best choice if...

They have better coverage near you (check here)

You want a plan with loads of inclusive roaming outside the EU too

You want a phone contract that lets you upgrade early

Their WiFi calling supports your phone and EE don't (check O2 here and EE here)

You'd benefit from the daily offers on Priority

Other useful network comparisons

Comparing EE and Three

EE vs Three

Read EE vs Three comparison

Comparing EE and Vodafone

EE vs Vodafone

Read our EE vs Vodafone guide

Comparing EE and BT Mobile

EE vs BT Mobile

Read differences between EE and BT Mobile

Comparing EE and Virgin Mobile

EE vs Virgin Mobile

Read differences between EE and Virgin

Comparing O2 and Three

O2 vs Three

Read O2 vs Three comparison

Comparing O2 and Vodafone

O2 vs Vodafone

Read O2 vs Vodafone comparison

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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