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Various logos of UK mobile networks

EE vs Three: 4G speeds, network coverage, roaming and deals compared in 2019

We compare Three with EE

The retailers featured on this page may compensate us when our readers follow links to their websites and make a purchase. More

We compare EE and Three's networks head-to-head to see which offers the better 4G speeds, UK coverage, inclusive roaming and deals in 2019. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 13th November 2019

Compared in our EE vs Three guide

Networks
EE vs Three mobile network

UK coverage on 4G & 3G
4G download speeds
WiFi calling and hotspots

Compare EE vs Three's network

Perks and benefits
EE and Three perks compared

Inclusive roaming
Unlimited streaming schemes
Free extras like subscriptions

Compare perks and benefits

Deals and pricing
Compare EE and Three deals

SIM only plans
Phone contracts
Special offers

Compare EE and Three's deals

Latest news update

Black Friday on Three

Three's Black Friday unlimited data deal

It's Black Friday time on Three and they've brought back their unlimited data for £20 offer:

Unlimited data, mins and texts for £20 a month (24‑month SIM only contract)

On phones, there are discounts up to £480 on these selected models.

See our hidden Three offers > (opens in new tab)

EE's free Xmas gifts

EE Nintendo Switch offers

Get a free Nintendo Switch or Toshiba TV when you take a Samsung Galaxy A40 or Huawei P Smart 2019 on a pay monthly contract. A nice Christmas present for yourself or someone else.

See all EE offers > (opens in new tab)

Comparing Three and EE's networks

Do EE or Three have better coverage?

We compare the size of Three and EE's mobile networks to who offers better 4G/3G signal

EE and Three's network coverage

EE's network is bigger than Three's

Countryside with 4G markers

See expansion plans

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

There's a clear advantage for EE over Three in how much of the physical landmass of the UK they have covered with 4G (and to a lesser extent 3G too). That means better signal on roads, rail and in the country.

There's less of a difference between Three and EE when you're in more built up areas, like big cities and towns. In fact both networks claim 99% population 4G coverage (signal where people live).

The real key is to check each network's predicted signal before you sign up (use their coverage checkers here) to avoid disappointment. Check things like your route to work/school, not just where you live.

If Three's signal is good near you, their better pricing and benefits make them worth joining. If EE's is better they'd be a more sensible choice (remember cheaper networks BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile use EE too).

Useful link: Our guide to indoor coverage

Use Three or EE's coverage maps to check your local signal

Reception in the places you actually use your phone is more important than general coverage statistics.

Three coverage checker

Three coverage checker

Check Three coverage

using their official map
(opens in new window)

EE coverage checker

EE coverage checker

Check EE coverage

using their official map
(opens in new window)

Remember, EE and Three use only computer models to predict coverage. You might want double check their coverage using free-to-use independent services like Ofcom (government telcoms regulator), Rootmetrics (independent network performance testers) and OpenSignal (crowd-sourced network monitoring).

Our verdict on coverage:

A win for EE

"If you live in a big city, you probably wouldn't notice a difference between the two. But when you're travelling round the country, EE have signal in more places."

Compare pricing and deals

Do EE or Three have faster 4G speeds?

EE market their network around speed but is the gap between them and Three that big?

EE and Three's 4G speeds compared

EE's 4G data speeds are faster than Three's

EE 5G locations

Read EE 5G latest

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

Independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla take millions of measurements on people's phones to test what speeds they're getting on every mobile network in the UK.

Their latest reports put EE as the UK's fastest network with typical 4G downloads at 31.5 Mbps - 32.99 Mbps, vs Three's slower 18.2 Mbps - 20.39 Mbps. EE's is like a mid-range fibre home broadband - Three's low-range.

As these are averages, it's worth pointing out you can go lower on both EE and Three (around 10 Mbps) and higher (over 100 Mbps on EE, depending on phone and plan, around 40 Mbps on Three).

Both networks will comfortably support things like HD streaming over a 4G connection and fast browsing. It's just EE will be better for times like when you need last-minute downloads in a hurry when you're about to get on a plane.

Useful link: EE's guide to the differences 5G will make

Three are saying their 5G will be the UK's fastest

Three's fastest 5G network banner

Read why

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

As 5G data becomes more widespread on each mobile network and is supported by more phone handsets, it'll become more of a factor in this speeds section.

For what it's worth, Three have secured the largest amount of 5G radio wave spectrum of any UK provider. And it's on frequencies near to each other, in contrast to other networks.

Three are saying that this means they've have the UK's fastest 5G network and their plans are already being sold as 5G-read at no extra cost.

5G has the capability to deliver speeds around 1 Gbps (10x faster than fastest real-life 4G). Its main benefit though is capacity. More people can use it at once, without a dip in speeds.

Useful link: Read more about 5G's benefits at Three.co.uk

Our verdict on 4G speeds:

A win for EE

"Prior to any real mass availability of 5G which will change everything, EE are still the better choice for super-users that want the very fastest but general users shouldn't be disappointed with Three either."

Compare pricing and deals

Is WiFi calling better on Three or EE?

EE were the first network to launch WiFi calling, so we see if Three's scheme compares

Three's WiFi calling works on more plans

Three's WiFi calling scheme called InTouch

Check device support

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

WiFi calling on both Three and EE lets your phone use a WiFi signal to make/take calls and send/receive SMS text messages if there's no mobile signal indoors where you are.

You'll need a phone that actually has the feature for it to work. And Three are confident their WiFi works on any phone with the latest software installed, even if you bought it originally from another network.

Three are also way more generous with their WiFi calling. You'll get it on every plan, whether pay monthly or pay as you go, SIM only or a phone deal. Other networks like EE are stingier.

Even though Three withdrew a separate WiFi calling app if your phone wasn't support, the combination of the above is why we still rate Three's Three's InTouch as the best WiFi calling scheme of any UK mobile network.

Useful link: The full guide to InTouch WiFi calling at Three.co.uk

EE WiFi calling is excellent too but check phone support

EE's WiFi calling promotional banner

See supported phones

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

Using EE's WiFi calling is in no way an inferior experience to Three's InTouch: it works in exactly the same way. And supports SMS like Three do too.

The main downsides to EE's scheme vs Three's is that you only get it on pay monthly (phone contract or SIM only) but not on any of their pay as you go or Flex plans.

EE are also a bit cagier about their scheme working on Android phones that have been bought from other networks (although we think they might be being a little over-cautious to avoid disappointing people).

Their list here shows you all supported Android and iPhone devices). If yours is on there and you have a manufacturer or EE bought phone, the feature should work.

Useful link: Full EE guide to WiFi calling

Our verdict on WiFi calling:

Minor win for Three

"Even though the basic functionality of both networks' WiFi calling is the same, you've got a better chance of your phone being supported on Three's more-flexible scheme and you don't have to worry about joining on the 'right' plan to get it."

Compare pricing and deals

Perks and benefits on EE and Three

Free roaming compared on EE vs Three

Can EE match Three's famous Go Roam inclusive roaming scheme?

Three's inclusive roaming scheme has way more countries

Roaming on Three compared with EE

See all free countries

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

Roaming is still Three's trump card over every other network. Their Go Roam scheme offers the most included countries at no extra cost, and it comes on the largest number of plans (it's why we rate it the UK's best).

While on EE, every plan lets you roam in 48 EU countries at no extra cost, to get an extra 5 worldwide destinations, you'll need a more expensive EE Smart plan or buy a Roaming Pass for an extra charge.

Three on the other hand let you roam in the 71 destinations listed here for no extra cost, and include it with all pay monthly phone contracts and SIM only deals, as well as pay as you go 30-day bundles.

There are some limits. It's only 3G speeds as standard. And you can only use up to 19GB depending on where you're going. But otherwise, you can save a huge amount vs extra roaming costs on Three.

Useful link: Three's full guide to free world roaming at Three.co.uk

EE get you 4G roaming but in fewer countries as standard

EE plans with free EU roaming

See all free countries

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

As we list in our review of Three's Go Roam, one of the few snags is that you don't get 4G speeds while roaming, even if there's 4G in the country you're in.

On EE, it's the opposite. Wherever 4G is available while you're abroad, you'll get it. And you can get some thunderous speeds without the speed cap that might apply at home. But at what cost?

All EE's deals come with at least free roaming within EU (the same as every network). But to extend that to 5 extra worldwide countries (see them here) including the USA, you have to pay for a more-premium 'Smart' plan.

These cost more than non-Smart plans, so it isn't a free benefit. Or you can pay a separate month charge for the benfit. Here's how much EE's roaming costs when it's not included.

Useful link: EE's full guide to roaming on their network

Free easyJet travel upgrades on Three

Easyjet flight upgrades

How it works

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

If you're a regular on easyJet, joining Three now gets you an extra benefit that should come in handy: free travel upgrades on easyJet when you fly from UK airports.

Join on any pay monthly SIM only plan or phone contract and you'll be entitled to a free upgrade to easyJet's Hands Free whenever you fly from the UK (our guide here has more details).

The service is all about making your trips through the airport easier and faster and would normally cost £7 per flight, so getting it free with Three is a nice perk.

You get your cabin bag checked in before security so you don't have to carry it through airport, prioritised boarding and your bags will be unloaded among the first at your destination.

Useful links: Full benefits plus terms and conditions

Our verdict on inclusive roaming:

A win for Three

"The choice is between loads more free roaming countries on Three at no real extra cost, or having 4G when you go abroad with EE and paying for a premium plan. We'd say Three's free roaming is more valuable as a benefit."

Compare pricing and deals

Free streaming data: Three vs EE

Three's Go Binge gives you unlimited streaming. Do EE have anything to match?

Three's Go Binge gives you free streaming data

Three's Go Binge promotional banner

Read full details

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

If you've not heard of Go Binge yet, take a look here on Three's site, because it's an excellent benefit that not many other networks can match for scale (we've ranked similar schemes here).

What Three are basically doing is saying if you stream with particular apps on your phone, they'll not charge you for the data it uses. It's basically unlimited data for streaming.

Included in the list of apps you can use data-free are Netflix and Apple Music (see the full list here). And now Three have added unlimited Snapchat messaging to Go Binge too.

To get it, all you need is a Three pay monthly phone or SIM only plan with 12GB data or more (it needs to be an Advanced plan). Full Go Binge terms and restrictions can be read here.

Useful link: Read Three's FAQs and full guide to Go Binge at Three.co.uk

EE have some similar options that mostly cost more

Free Apple Music data

See free trials

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

Three don't include any actual subscriptions with Go Binge. But EE now include free trials of 4x streaming services with any pay monthly plan (12-month SIMs or phone contracts). Here's what's included:

6 months of free Amazon Prime Video (on demand films and TV shows), MTV Play (catch up for MTV) and Apple Music (stream millions of songs). There's also 3 months free BT Sport app access too.

Like Three's Go Binge, EE also won't charge you for the data these apps use during your trial period, so you're free to stream on them as much as you like on pay monthly. After the trial, it becomes payable though.

If you choose a Smart plan that includes EE's Swappable Benefits, you can choose a video pass for free data to stream a massive list of apps, a similar pass for music and even a gaming pass.

Useful link: How to get claim your free trial subscriptions

Our verdict on free streaming data:

Another win for Three

"EE's streaming options do cover a lot of apps but their system costs more and is fiddly to add to your account. Three's is dead simple, as long as you join on a 12GB+ pay monthly plan."

Compare pricing and deals

Shared and family plans on EE vs Three

If you're getting deals for multiple people, are Three or EE the better choice?

EE give you discounts and let you share data

EE data gifting

See all benefits

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

EE are ahead of the game when it comes to shared plans, compared to most other networks, including Three (read our best family plan guide here). There are a couple of benefits to taking out multiple deals with EE:

The first is a straight-up 10% discount off every additional pay monthly phone, SIM or mobile broadband you add to your main account (get this when you first sign up or at any point in your contract by logging in).

The second is really innovative. It's called Data Gifting and you can read about it in full on EE's website here. It lets you move around data from person to person on your account if someone ever runs low.

This is handy for avoiding extra charges for data. And it helps you avoid the inefficiency of losing unused data you've paid for, if you can pass it to someone who needs it (our data rollover guide has more about this).

Useful link: EE's guide to all their family plan benefits

Three give you discounts but no other family perks

Three's existing customer discounts

See latest prices

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

On Three, there's less of the additional facilities like EE's Data Gifting but do still reward you with discounts on extra products you add to your account.

The rule isn't as simple as a straightforward percentage off but typically existing Three customers can expect:

£1 - £3 off the monthly cost of phone contracts, plus the upfront costs waived on mid-range and cheaper models.

£1 - £3 off the most popular SIM only plans (a smaller range of 12-month contracts)

And similar discounts on tablets and mobile broadband devices too.

Considering Three's starting prices generally start from a lower place than EE, getting these discounts on top will likely still end up in a lower overall package, even if the individual savings themselves aren't so large.

Useful link: All prices for existing customers at Three.co.uk

Our verdict on shared / family plans:

Minor win for EE

"Even though we think the overall cost of all your deals added together will probably be cheaper on Three, EE's Data Gifting benefit will come in handy for many people and the discounts are more straightforward."

Compare pricing and deals

Deals and pricing on EE and Three

Comparing EE and Three's SIM only plans

Are Three always cheaper than EE for SIM only deals?

Comparing EE and Three SIM only plans

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Latest Three and EE offers compared

We look at the promotional plans on EE and Three this month

Black Friday offers on Three

Three Black Friday offers

See phone deals

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

Three have launched their Black Friday offers, which sees the return of their popular unlimited data SIM for £20:

For less data, see their hidden 4GB 8GB for £13 £8 and 12GB for £16 £12 offers, which offer more data for less money than what's advertised directly at Three.

If it's a phone contract you're after, now's an excellent time to buy on Three. There's savings on all the phones on their dedicated Black Friday page here.

Useful links: See all latest Three offers

EE's free Xmas gifts and Flex SIM data boosts

EE Nintendo Switch offers

See EE phone offers

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

Order and activate an EE Flex SIM by 30th January 2020 to get triple data for six months:

For a bigger data allowance, you can get a Flex plan with 10GB 30GB for £25 a month and 20GB 60GB for £30 a month. And you'll have a simple 30-day rolling contract you can leave at any time.

Meanwhile, if you're after a smartphone contract, you can get a free Nintendo Switch or Toshiba TV when you take a Samsung Galaxy A40 or Huawei P Smart 2019. A nice Christmas present for yourself or someone else.

Useful link: See all EE's latest offers > (opens in new tab)

Phone contracts on EE and Three compared

We look at both networks' smartphone deals to find any differences

EE and Three's phone contracts work similarly

EE annual upgrade programme

How it works

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

Both EE and Three offer their smartphone deals on what we'd call traditional mobile contracts:

That means you'll sign a 24-month contract (no shorter deals available) and there's no complicated loans or financing arrangements, just a straight-up bill each month for your phone and plan.

Neither network offer any strong early-upgrade deals, although EE do have a scheme where you can upgrade after 12 months on certain phones/plans (see here) but it involves handing in your old phone.

We're generally not fans of this type of arrangement, as you'll usually get a better price selling your phone elsewhere. And there are a fair amount of terms around the condition of your old phone.

Useful link: How EE annual upgrade works from their help section

Compare EE and Three's pricing on phones

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Our verdict on phone contract pricing

Three slightly cheaper on the whole

"EE and Three are closely matched but Three are probably slightly cheaper in general if you're willing to pay a higher upfront cost. Use our phone comparison tool to look up to compare specific phone/plans though."

Compare phone contracts

Choosing between Three and EE

Key differences between EE and Three

Here are the key points of difference between the networks to help you make your mind up:

EE could be best for you 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 Three don't (check EE here and Three here)

Three could be best for you if...

Their coverage is better near you (check here)

You want to roam for no extra cost in the most destinations of any network

You want unlimited streaming on loads of apps

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

You'd use the daily offers on their Wuntu app

Don't miss these offers

EE's free Xmas gifts

EE Nintendo Switch offers

Get a free Nintendo Switch or Toshiba TV when you take a Samsung Galaxy A40 or Huawei P Smart 2019 on a pay monthly contract. A nice Christmas present for yourself or someone else.

See all EE offers > (opens in new tab)

Black Friday on Three

Three's Black Friday unlimited data deal

It's Black Friday time on Three and they've brought back their unlimited data for £20 offer:

Unlimited data, mins and texts for £20 a month (24‑month SIM only contract)

On phones, there are discounts up to £480 on these selected models.

See our hidden Three offers > (opens in new tab)

Compare Three with other networks

Comparing Three and O2

Three vs O2

Read Three vs O2 guide

Comparing Three and Vodafone

Three vs Vodafone

Read our Three vs Vodafone guide

Comparing Three and BT Mobile

Three vs BT Mobile

Read Three vs BT Mobile

Comparing Three and giffgaff

Three vs giffgaff

Read Three vs giffgaff guide

Comparing Three and SMARTY

Three vs SMARTY

Read our Three vs SMARTY guide

Comparing Three and Virgin Mobile

Three vs Virgin Mobile

Read our Three vs Virgin Mobile guide

Compare EE with other networks

Comparing EE and O2

EE vs O2

Read our EE vs O2 guide

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 EE vs Virgin Mobile

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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