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Various logos of UK mobile networks

O2 vs Vodafone: comparing their coverage, 4G speeds, roaming & deals in 2019

Vodafone vs O2

We compare Vodafone and O2 to find out which offers the better network coverage, fastest 4G speeds and overall benefits in their deals.SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 17th January 2019

In our O2 vs Vodafone comparison

How their networks compare
Vodafone vs O2's mobile network

Coverage on 4G / 3G
Download speeds tested
WiFi calling and extra features

Compare Vodafone and O2's networks

Benefits on O2 and Vodafone
Vodafone vs O2 benefits and perks

Inclusive roaming
Loyalty programmes
Other freebies

Compare O2 and Vodafone extras and benefits

Comparing pricing and offers
Compare O2 and Vodafone prices

SIM only plans
Phone contracts
Special offers

Compare Vodafone and O2's deals

Special offer news

Vodafone's 100GB for £20 SIM only deal

Vodafone 100GB SIM only banner

There's the largest amount of data ever in a Vodafone SIM only deal, for their best price we've seen too:

100GB for £20 SIM only (12-month contract)

Available only until 21st March.

See all Vodafone offers > opens in new tab

O2's big data SIMs on offer this month

O2's best SIM only deal

There's better prices on O2's SIM only plans with big data allowances than last month including:

25GB for £25 £20 a month (12-month contract)

25GB 40GB for £25 a month (12-month contract)

50GB for £29 a month (12-month contract)

See all O2's latest offers > (opens in new tab)

How Vodafone and O2's networks compare

Are O2 or Vodafone best for UK mobile coverage?

We check if Vodafone or O2 have the bigger mobile network

Vodafone and O2 networks

4G coverage is extremely close between O2 and Vodafone

Vodafone 4G coverage
O2 4G coverage
99%
99%

The statistics for how much of the population can get O2 and Vodafone's 4G signal show there's little difference between the two networks:

O2's 4G data reaches 99% of households and Vodafone are basically the same on 99%.

This is just coverage where people live. Realistically there's a lot more work to be done to get more of the UK's landmass covered, so you can use 4G on trainlines, roads and in the country.

Use both networks' coverage checkers in the section below to check signal, not only where you live but wherever you plan to take your phone.

For 3G, Vodafone and O2 are basically identical

Vodafone 4G coverage
O2 4G coverage
99%
99%

It's stilll important to think about 3G coverage, because neither Vodafone, O2 or any other network have fast 4G data absolutely everywhere. It's also used for calls and texts.

The two networks are very close for 3G too. On Vodafone, 99% of UK households are able to get their 3G. That compares with O2 on 99% too, so no difference.

Coverage maps: check O2 and Vodafone signal near you

The stats above are fine as a general comparison but the most important thing is your phone works in your actual area

O2 network map

O2 coverage checker

Check O2 coverage

(opens in new window)

Vodafone network map

Vodafone coverage checker

Check Vodafone coverage

(opens in new window)

In addition to the official checkers, you can also double check using independent sources like network testers, OpenSignal, RootMetrics and the telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Our verdict on coverage:

Basically a draw

"It's extremely close as to whether Vodafone or O2 have the bigger network. Really, you'll find one is better in some locations and vice versa. That's why it's important to check their signal in all the places you'll use your phone."

Compare pricing and deals

Are Vodafone or O2 faster for 4G speeds?

We compare 4G download speeds on O2 and Vodafone

Vodafone have faster 4G than O2 on average

Vodafone 4G speeds
O2 4G speeds
21 Mbps
16 Mbps

We expect Vodafone customers to receive 4G downloads speeds that are typically around a third faster than being on O2:

On Vodafone you can expect around 21 Mbps on average, while on O2 it's a much lower 16 Mbps (in fact we believe O2 are the slowest major network altogether).

Both speeds support fast browsing, although Vodafone would be more reliable for watching videos without buffering, and downloading large files / apps in a shorter time.

For 3G there's little to split them

Vodafone 3G speeds
O2 3G speeds
4.5 Mbps
4.5 Mbps

Even though less and less of browsing is done over a 3G connection as 4G coverage improves, it's still good to know it's not going to be painfully slow:

We expect Vodafone and O2 to have similar 3G speeds, with both Vodafone and O2 averaging around the 4.5 Mbps mark for downloads.

Neither speed would support HD video streaming but general internet browsing won't be tedious either.

Our verdict on 4G speeds:

Vodafone win

"If you know you want to do data-heavy activities like streaming HD video, Vodafone's faster 4G speeds make them a safer bet than O2. For general web browsing, the difference is less important."

Compare pricing and deals

Is Vodafone or O2's WiFi calling better?

We compare O2 and Vodafone's WiFi calling features

Vodafone's WiFi calling supports more phones than O2's

Vodafone's WiFi calling scheme

See supported phones

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

In our guide to the UK mobile networks with WiFi calling, we rate Vodafone more highly than O2 because their scheme is more flexible in terms of the phones that it works with.

WiFi calling on Vodafone will work as long as your device is one of the 30+ phones listed here in Vodafone's help section, and you're on a pay monthly phone contract or SIM only plan.

It lets you make or take calls anywhere there's WiFi but mobile signal can't reach (like underground or in a thick-walled building) and the minutes will come out of your plan's normal monthly allowance.

If you have an Android phone, don't need you to have bought it from them to work on their WiFi calling, so they're a bit more flexible than O2, who you'll see do have that requirement in the next section.

Useful link: Vodafone's full guide to their WiFi calling

O2's WiFi calling is decent as long as your phone's supported

O2 WiFi calling scheme

See supported phones

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

We used to rate O2's WiFi calling schemes higher than Vodafone's, when they had a nice app that let you use your mobile minutes on multiple devices on WiFi and when you were abroad. That's been scrapped though!

In its place is WiFi calling that works via your phone's existing software without a separate app. Unfortunately with O2, there are more restrictions on whether WiFi calling will work on your phone than Vodafone:

With Apple, if you have an iPhone 6 or more modern model, O2 WiFi calling should work. If you have one of these Android phones, you'll need to have bought it from O2 for WiFi calling to work.

Like we say, as long as your phone's supported, O2's works in the same way as any other provider.

Useful link: Full guide to O2's WiFi calling

Our verdict on WiFi calling:

Narrow win for Vodafone

"As long as your phone's supported, there's little to split Vodafone and O2's WiFi calling schemes. We just think statistically, there's a better chance Vodafone will support yours at the moment."

Compare pricing and deals

Free WiFi hotspots compared on O2 and Vodafone

Access to free WiFi hotspots saves your mobile data. So do Vodafone or O2 offer more?

Connect automatically to O2 WiFi on O2

O2's free WiFi network

Find nearby hotspots

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

It's useful when mobile providers give you free access to public WiFi hotspots, because it saves on using your regular allowance of mobile data, and it can even be faster than 3G/4G on your phone too.

So it's a good feature on any O2 pay monthly or pay as you go deal that you get access to over 15,000 O2 WiFi hotspots up and down the country, free of charge and with no download limits.

What's particularly good about O2's WiFi is that their mobile customers' phones will connect automatically to 7000 of those hotspots without having to log in, but only if they offer faster data than 4G where you are.

Have a look at the O2 WiFi page here for the locations of free hotspots near you, which are in useful places like shopping centres, cafes and transport hubs. O2 also get you free WiFi on the Underground.

Useful link: How to access O2 WiFi from O2's help section

Vodafone only offer free WiFi on London Underground

WiFi on the London Underground

How to get it

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

While O2 offer thousands of WiFi hotspots around the UK, it's not something that you get on Vodafone.

If you're regularly in London, Vodafone get you free access on the Underground (something O2 get you too), as long as you're a pay monthly customer or have a red bundle on pay as you go (full details here).

Other than that, you'll need to find your own WiFi when you're out and about (there's quite a lot free nowadays anyway) or use up your mobile data.

It's one point of difference between Vodafone and O2. You'll have to decide for yourself how important you think it is.

Useful link: Costs for going over your data limit on Vodafone

Our verdict on this topic:

Easy O2 win

"With their own network of 15,000 hotspots and automatic connection to many of them, O2's free WiFi goes way beyond what Vodafone offer."

Compare pricing and deals

Extras on O2 and Vodafone

Are O2 or Vodafone better for inclusive international roaming?

We find out if Vodafone or O2 let you go more places for free

Vodafone now include Global Roaming with selected plans

Vodafone inclusive roaming

See destination list

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

If you're most likely to only go abroad within the EU, you're safe to join Vodafone on any of their pay monthly phone or SIM only contracts, because you can roam for no extra cost in the 40 countries listed here.

If you want inclusive roaming elsewhere in the world, you'll need to join on one of Vodafone's more-expensive "Red Entertainment" plans. These include Global Roaming Plus, which unlocks a further 37 worldwide destinations, including the USA.

If you don't want to pay more for your basic plan, there's still the option to add Global Roaming to your existing one for a fixed daily charge (their latest prices are listed here). This includes even more countries too.

Really on Vodafone, it's a story of if you want more roaming destinations, you do have to pay extra (unlike with Three's Go Roam). We'll see in the next section, that's barely different on O2 either.

Useful links: See other Vodafone roaming charges | See Vodafone's Global Roaming page

O2 have EU roaming as standard with worldwide costing extra

O2 international roaming options

All O2 roaming info

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Just like Vodafone, O2 also include EU roaming at no extra cost on every one of their pay monthly SIMs and phone contracts. In fact, every provider must now do this (as our guide to the best roaming networks explains).

Also similarly, O2 have a scheme offering extra destinations with inclusive roaming, which you'll need to take a more-premium plan to access. It works a little differently though.

Join on a SIM only deal costing £20 a month or more, or larger data phone plan (O2 tell you which ones), you'll get roaming 27 extra destinations within their Travel Inclusive Zone, including the USA.

Instead of your usage coming out of your regular allowance on this scheme, you'll get a separate batch of 120 daily minutes, 120 texts and some data (probably around 100MB before being slowed down).

If your plan doesn't include this, you can buy access to the same destinations (plus a few more) and allowances with a fixed daily charge to.

Useful link: Learn more about O2 Travel in O2's own guide.

Our verdict on roaming:

Minor Vodafone win

"Both Vodafone and O2 will charge you if you want to go anywhere other than the EU, either through a higher-cost plan or via their daily passes. We'd say Vodafone's scheme is more generous and doesn't cap your speed abroad."

Compare pricing and deals

Are the freebies and extras better on Vodafone or O2?

We compare what you get on top of your basic minutes, texts and data

Benefits on O2 and Vodafone

Everybody on O2 gets access to exclusive daily offers and tickets via Priority

O2 Priority

See Priority offers

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

It may have been around a while now but that just proves how popular O2's Priority rewards scheme is. In fact, we believe it's the best mobile provider loyalty programme out there, so here's what you get:

Exclusive discounts on eating out or ordering in, online or high street shopping, days out and travel. Just download the O2 Priority app and access the latest deals available.

You'll also get first opportunity to buy tickets for gigs and events hosted at O2 sponsored venues before the general public, and get preferential treatment once at the venue (see what's on offer here).

The nicest thing about Priority is that everyone gets it, whether you're Pay Monthly or Pay As You Go, so you don't to spend extra to get it.

Useful link: See O2's full list of Priority perks

Some of Vodafone's plans come with an streaming service subscription included

Vodafone subscriptions

How you get it

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

There's no similar loyalty scheme on Vodafone. But if you choose one of their premium "Red Entertainment bundles, you will get a subscription to one of four entertainment services. Choose either:

1) A Spotify Premium subscription (up to 24 months)
2) A NOW TV Entertainment Pass (up to 24 months)
3) Access to Sky Sports Mobile TV (up to 24 months)
4) Amazon Prime Video (up to 24 months)

If the plan with the right data amount you were going to choose anyway includes this, then you're onto a winner, because it's extra value on top of what you already wanted.

Otherwise we'd advise that you're careful you don't pay more a premium for these plans than the subscription would cost you to buy separately anyway! Else it's not a freebie.

Useful link: See qualifying bundles and learn more in Vodafone's own guide.

Our verdict on freebies and extras:

A minor win for O2

"Every single customer who joins O2 gets Priority, no matter how much you spend, whereas Vodafone's subscriptions require you to pay a little more on your deal. For that reason, O2 wins over Vodafone for freebies. Ultimately, it depends what you're into."

Compare pricing and deals

Deals and pricing on Vodafone and O2

SIM only deals: comparing O2 and Vodafone plans

Can you get a cheaper SIM on Vodafone or O2?

Who's better value depends on the plan and offers

O2 vs Vodafone SIM only deals

O2 and Vodafone have very similiar prices on SIM only.

Who's cheapest depends on the monthly minutes, texts and data you want.

Use the filters below to find what you want in your next deal:

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Current offers running on Vodafone and O2

We see if it's a better month for promotions on O2 or Vodafone

O2 improve their top-end SIM only plans

O2's best SIM only deal

See all SIM offers

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

There's better prices on O2's SIM only plans with big data allowances than last month including:

25GB for £25 £20 a month (12-month contract)

25GB 40GB for £25 a month (12-month contract)

50GB for £29 a month (12-month contract)

Meanwhile, if you're after a phone, O2 have an promo code running on-site that gets you up to £30 off the up front cost of a phone when you order by 20th February 2019. Get the offer here.

Useful link: See all O2's latest offers

Vodafone's 100GB for £20 SIM only deal

Vodafone SIM offersSee this deal

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

We've been following Vodafone for 4 years, and we've never seen them launch a SIM only deal with as much data at such a low price. Their previous best was 20GB for £20. Order by 21st March and get:

100GB for £20 SIM only (12-month contract)

Meanwhile, you've been able to get an entertainment subscription included with Vodafone's Red Entertainment bundles for quite a few years. But you've previously still effectively paying extra for it (vs plans without it).

This month's SIM only pricing means that you're now getting this much more of a genuine freebie. The following plans include a subscription and are not more expensive as a result:

20GB for £20 SIM only (12-month contract), 40GB for £25 SIM only (12-month contract) and 60GB for £30 SIM only (12-month contract).

If you're looking for a phone contract, take a look at Vodafone's offers page here with the latest deals.

Useful links: See all Vodafone offers

Phone contracts: are Vodafone or O2 better value?

We look at whether O2 or Vodafone's handset deals are best

Phone contracts on O2 and Vodafone

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Early upgrades and build-your-own plans on O2

O2 custom plans banner

See new custom plans

at O2.co.uk
(opens in new window)

O2 are one of the few networks that offer their phone contracts on credit agreements (essentially loans to the value of the handset you purchase offer them). O2 call it Refresh (here's their full guide).

Refresh has the advantage that you can upgrade your phone early by paying off what's left on your loan, so O2 are more flexible than Vodafone if you prefer to have the latest phone once a year.

However, because it's a financial product (basically a loan) we suspect it could be more difficult to get accepted for a phone deal on O2 than Vodafone, if you have bad marks on your credit report in the past.

Another benefit on O2's phone contracts you don't get with Vodafone is choosing your own contract length anywhere between 3 and 36 months with O2's new custom plans, to find a monthly price that suits you.

Useful link: O2's full range of phones at O2.co.uk

Vodafone's phone contracts are more conventional

Screenshot of Vodafone's pay monthly phone range

See phone range

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

Phones on Vodafone are offered on what we'd call a standard mobile contract. It's the type most people are used to:

24 months in length, no complicated loans or financing, and you pick one plan and stick to it the entire length of your deal.

Unlike O2, there are no early upgrade options on Vodafone, other than to buy yourself out of the contract, which won't be cheap, and will rarely work out better than just sticking it out.

We have no specific inside information about Vodafone's credit checking policy but we'd expect it to be slightly easier to be accepted than on O2 because you're not dealing with loans and financing.

Useful link: Vodafone's full pay monthly range at Vodafone.co.uk

Our verdict on phone contract prices:

Too close to call

"Realistically, you need to compare each phone individually on the plan of your choice with each network to get the best impression on who's cheaper. In general there's little to choose between O2 and Vodafone on price."

Compare pricing and deals

Other useful network comparisons

Comparing Vodafone and EE

EE vs Vodafone

Read Vodafone vs EE

Comparing Vodafone and Three

Vodafone vs Three

Read Vodafone vs Three

Comparing Vodafone and Talkmobile

Vodafone vs Talkmobile

Read Vodafone vs Talkmobile

Comparing O2 and EE

O2 vs EE

Read O2 vs EE

Comparing O2 and Three

O2 vs EE

Read O2 vs Three

Compare all networks' coverage

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