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Sky Mobile vs EE: which is the better network to join in 2021?

Sky Mobile and EE logos with vs lettering

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 Sky Mobile head-to-head to see which offers the best 4G/5G coverage, speeds and overall benefits with your deal. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 10th September 2020.

In our Sky Mobile vs EE guide

Latest offers

Comparing Sky and EE's mobile networks

Coverage compared on EE and Sky Mobile

We look at which has the biggest 3G/4G/5G network

Sky and EE logos with mobile signal bars icon

Sky Mobile better for calls, EE better for 4G data

Sky Mobile and Telefonica logos

 

What this means

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

EE own and run their own network, while Sky Mobile use O2's. Generally speaking, each has its own strengths depending on whether you use your phone more for basic calls or mainly for data.

Sky Mobile have more of the UK's physical geography covered with signal for calls and texts than EE, and their indoor reception for calls should generally be better thanks to the frequencies they're broadcast on.

EE have more of the country's landmass covered with 4G data (which can also be used for 4G calling) than Sky Mobile, meaning better data connections as you travel around.

If you live in a town or city and mainly stay there, the difference between EE and Sky is neglible. If you travel around more, one might be better than the other. Use their coverage checkers to test their signal in all the frequent places you'll take your phone.

Useful link: More about Sky's network

5G is more comprehensive on EE than Sky Mobile

EE's map of the UK with 5G location markers

Full location list

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

Both EE and Sky Mobile have their 5G data services live. EE's runs on their own network, while Sky use O2's and have 5G in all the same places O2 directly.

Currently, that means you can connect to 5G in these 125+ UK locations on EE, compared to the 150+places on Sky Mobile. There is some overlap in where Sky and EE have 5G but plenty of differences too.

We'd say EE are doing a much better of job of bringing 5G to as much of the town/city they list as possible, including residential areas. On Sky, 5G is concentrated in busier spots like stations and high streets.

Here's the best value 5G deal from each provider currently:

Both networks make it awkward to get 5G. On EE, you can only get it with a 5G-ready model phone contract directly. SIM only is harder. On Sky, you can get it with a phone or SIM but you'll pay extra unless you're a Sky VIP member.

Useful link: How to get 5G on Sky Mobile

EE and Sky Mobile coverage checkers

Use their official maps below

Sky coverage checker

Sky Mobile coverage checker

Use Sky map

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

EE coverage checker

EE coverage checker

Use EE map

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

Our verdict on coverage:

Minor win for EE

"A lot depends on what you'll use your phone for but we think EE's better geographical 4G coverage and 5G locations just about edges Sky nationwide for most people."

Compare pricing and deals

Data speeds on Sky Mobile vs EE

Are 5G and 4G as fast on Sky as EE?

Speedometer icon with Sky and EE logos

4G consistently measures up faster on EE

Hello 5G banner

Sky 5G benefits

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

EE were the first network in the UK to launch 4G and they've kept up the advantage in coverage and speeds ever since - that's what independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla have found.

Their apps take millions of speed measurements in the background on volunteers' smartphones up and down the country. They found typical downloads over the EE network to be around 32.99 Mbps or 35.9 Mbps.

Over Sky's host network O2, typical downloads were measured at 16.95 Mbps and 18.0 Mbps. That's like a low-level fibre home broadband connection, so fine for browsing and even standard definition video streaming.

If you're into 4K streaming and large downloads, EE are probably a better choice for you. But if you mainly just plan on streaming music, using social media and browsing, Sky's data speeds should still be enough for most.

Useful link: EE's network awards

5G speeds will likely be faster on EE too

EE 5G medal banner

Read 5G speed guide

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

Because not as many people have 5G-ready phones or plans yet, there's not as much test information about for each network as there is for 4G. But Speedtest have done some early investigations.

They found typical 5G downloads on EE to average-out at 142.86 Mbps and peak at 245.73 Mbps. Sky's host network O2's typical 5G downloads were measured at 181.19 Mbps, peaking at 289.65 Mbps.

So both offer a signficant upgrade on their own 4G speeds, beating even home fibre optic connections for speed out-and-about. 5G also lets more people at once connect without slowing down.

If you're after bragging rights, EE are the faster of the two. But day-to-day, you'd be unlikely to notice the difference between them unless you're downloading absolutely huge files or using it as home broadband.

Useful link: Our guide to the best 5G networks

Our verdict on data speeds:

Easy win for EE

"EE are the long-reigning champions of 4G speeds in the UK and their 5G speeds look to be the best too, so speed-conscious customers will generally be happier with them over Sky."

Compare pricing and deals

Other network features on EE and Sky Mobile

Is WiFi calling on Sky Mobile as good as EE?

WiFi calling icon between EE and Sky Mobile logos

Sky and EE both have WiFi calling and 4G calling (VoLTE)

EE WiFi calling banner

Check phone support

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

On any network you can end up somewhere conventional mobile signal for calls can't get, like indoors or underground. WiFi calling and 4G calling help with this by letting you make/take calls over extra signal types.

EE were the first network in the UK to offer WiFi calling and we still rate EE's among the best. We like that it supports a huge number of phone models that don't have to be bought from EE originally (check yours here).

Sky's WiFi calling is less settled. It doesn't support SMS text messaging (EE's does) and they're cagier about older phones and non-Sky bought ones being supported too (see list of supported devices here).

We also found Sky calls dropped when moving from WiFi calls to a 4G call. But as long as your phone is supported, both EE and Sky are viable choices.

Useful link: 4G calling on Sky

EE and Sky both have some free WiFi hotspot access

Sky WiFi banner

How to connect

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

If you're a regular in London, EE get you free access to the WiFi hotspots on the TFL network, if you're on pay monthly or top up regularly on pay as you go. It keeps you connected where mobile signal often doesn't reach.

Sky Mobile don't offer anything on the London Underground but they do have their Sky WiFi network of hotspots in public places, like cafes and bars, transport hubs and shops.

But this is free to everyone who registers, whether you have Sky Mobile or not, so you don't really gain anything extra or exclusive by joining them for this.

We do like mobile networks that get you free WiFi hotspot access but it's not the be all and end all that it might have once been, because 4G/5G is fast enough, coverage is better and data plans have got bigger.

Useful link: Costs for going over your limit on Sky

Our verdict on network features:

Win for EE

"EE have had WiFi calling and 4G calling longer than any other UK network and it shows in the number of phones they support and the quality of the service. Sky are still catching up."

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing benefits on EE vs Sky Mobile

Free streaming data schemes on EE and Sky

Which is the most generous?

Smartphone with video streaming icon between EE and Sky logos

Stream as much Sky TV as you like

Devices with unlimited streaming lettering

How it works

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

If you've got Sky TV at home, there's more benefits to joining them for mobile too than just decent prices. You'll be able to get more out of your TV package by it watching when you're out-and-about too:

Every plan gets you unlimited streaming data for watching Sky TV apps, no matter how small the regular data it comes with. Here's the cheapest SIM only plan on Sky Mobile that comes with the benefit:

Every time you watch Sky Go or any of these other Sky TV apps on your mobile, the data it uses won't be charged from your regular monthly allowance, so you'll have more left over for everything else you want to do.

There are a couple of limitations, like adverts come out of your data and you have to have some regular data leftover for it to work but otherwise it's a really generous scheme and keeps you entertained.

Useful link: What the Sky Go app can do

EE have something similar that's harder to get

Man watches content on a laptop

See Video Data Pass

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

EE also have an unlimited video streaming option with their Video Data Pass, which covers a lot more different services to Sky, including Youtube and BBC iPlayer (see latest full list of apps here).

It too gives you an unlimited data allowance for watching them on your mobile (although you'll need to have regular data left for it to still work), you can watch as much as you like.

The main issue on EE is that you either have to pay a monthly add-on cost to get the pass, or choose it as one of your Smart benefits - and you only get them on premium plans with phones (there's none on SIM only).

So it's no way near as a generous as Sky Mobile's benefit, which comes as standard on every plan. But if you've not got Sky TV and are after a premium phone contract, EE's Video Pass is an option.

Useful link: Our favourite streaming data schemes

Our verdict on free streaming:

Win for Sky

"A lot will depend on what you actually want to watch without using data. EE cover more services but is a premium option. Sky's is way more generous for the price."

Compare pricing and deals

Roaming compared on Sky Mobile and EE

Which network is better for going abroad?

A globe between Sky and EE logos

EE offer some extra non-EU roaming destinations

Flags of country with roam further pass icon

Extra countries list

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

Like practically every UK network, EE offer free EU roaming, where you can use your plan's regular minutes, texts and data abroad without paying extra - or for the same cost as at home if you're on pay as you go.

There is technically a fair usage policy of 50GB per month if your plan contains that much or more - but we'd say the vast majority of people are unlikely to ever be affected by that while going a way for a week or two.

EE earn themselves quite a high place in our best roaming network rankings, because they also offer a 5 additional worldwide roaming destinations through the Roam Further pass - including the USA.

Choose a Roam Further pass as your Smart benefit with any of these plans:

You can either choose the pass as a monthly add-on that costs you (see latest rates here) or certain more-premium plans with phones (and sometimes SIMs) let you claim the pass as one of your Smart benefits.

Useful link: All roaming costs on EE

Sky Mobile's roaming is more basic

Sky Mobile roaming banner

What you get

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

If you mainly travel within the EU, then Sky Mobile are as good a choice as any other network. You can use your UK minutes, texts and data, without paying extra.

Unlike some of the other mobile networks, you can use anything up to your full monthly data allowance while you're in an inclusive country. There's no fiddly fair usage policy to worry about.

You get 4G while you're roaming and what's really nice is that Sky's unlimited streaming benefit Watch also works while you're roaming within the EU, so you can keep yourself entertained without using up your data.

Overall, you can't go as far with Sky without paying as you go at these pretty-expensive rates but for hops over to the continent, most people will be more than satisfied.

Useful link: Full roaming costs per country on sky

Our verdict on roaming:

Minor win for EE

"Even though most plans on EE don't include any extra worldwide roaming, some do so they narrowly beat Sky Mobile for roaming, though there's basically no difference otherwise."

Compare pricing and deals

Unused data on Sky vs EE

Here's what other benefits you get on each

A wallet between Sky and EE logos

Sky let you keep and share your unused data

Piggybank showing saved data

Read full guide

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

There are often months when you won't get through your full data allowance. On most networks if you don't use it, you lose it. But quite a few providers now offer data rollover, where you hold onto unused data.

Sky and EE are both on that list. On Sky Mobile any unused data gets stored in a piggybank for up to three years. It's like a data savings account. If you ever run out in future, you just make a withdrawal 1GB at a time.

And if you have family/friends on the same mobile account, you can even share data from your piggybank with them if they run out. Or you can also use the value of the data to get money off the cost of a new phone or tablet with Sky.

You get this benefit with every Sky Mobile plan as standard. And it really does help you to keep as much value as possible from your monthly deal. It's probably Sky's most useful benefit.

Useful link: Sky's full guide to their Piggybank system

EE's data gifting is similar but you do lose unused data

EE data giting banner with phones sharing data

How it works

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

If you take out multiple deals on one account with EE, you get a very similar feature to Sky. You can move data from one person's number to another if anyone has spare and someone else needs it. It's called data gifting.

In some ways it's better than Sky, because you don't have to wait for unused data to build up before you can share it. You can just take it from this month's data allowance instantly.

But otherwise on a regular pay monthly EE deal, any data you don't use does get lost. The exception to this is EE's pay as you go and their monthly Flex plans. They do let you keep your data. But only for a month.

Keep unused data for next month with any of these plans

Useful link: Our full review of EE Flex SIMs

Prices and plans compared

SIM only on Sky Mobile vs EE

Do EE or Sky have better SIM only deals?

SIM card between Sky and EE logos

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 on Sky Mobile

Which has the best promotions this month?

Special offer ribbon with Sky and EE logos

Phone contracts on Sky Mobile vs EE

Which has the better phone deals?

Smartphone between EE and Sky logos

Sky's phone contracts good for low monthly costs and flexibility

Screenshot of credit check

What they check

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky are one of the few networks that offer phone contracts on credit agreements (basically loans), which spread the device's cost over 24 months or 36, then effectively add a SIM only plan on top.

This lets them offer more competitive deals than providers with conventional contracts (like EE) and gives customers a bit more choice in how much they want to spend each month, by choosing a longer contract.

It also means that after your first 12 months, you can leave Sky altogether for the SIM part but carry on paying them for the phone. Or pay your phone off early and get an upgrade without early cancellation fees.

There's also their Swap scheme, which lets you trade in your phone for an early upgrade too. We're not huge fans of this as it means surrendering a phone you've paid for at a price you may be able to beat by selling your phone elsewhere yourself.

Useful link: Use our phone deal comparison tool

EE phone contracts are simpler

Screenshot of phone comparison tool

Compare phone contracts

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

If you want to join EE on a phone contract, there's actually quite a few ways you can do it. Either join directly at EE.co.uk or via a big list of re-sellers like Carphone Warehouse, Mobiles.co.uk and Fonehouse.

However you join, you'll be on what we'd call a conventional mobile contract: one that lasts 24 months and where you pay for the phone and usage in one monthly amount, with no finance involved like on Sky.

This does mean there's less flexibility to upgrade or leave early on EE, without paying termination charges. But it could mean it's slightly easier to get accepted for a contract than on Sky if you've ever had issues in the past.

We'd say the strongest reason to get a phone contract on EE is the quality of their network, rather than them offering lower prices than others (although do compare joining EE via companies like Fonehouse or Mobiles.co.uk, because they generally offer much better deals than direct).

Useful link: EE's pay monthly phone range

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Minor win for Sky

"If you compare joining both directly, Sky will almost always win on price and offer more flexibility to change things mid-contract. EE usually only become competitive when you look at re-sellers like Carphone Warehouse."

Compare pricing and deals

iPhone 12 on EE vs Sky Mobile

Which is the best network to join for an iPhone 12 contract?

iPhone 12 logo between Sky and EE ones

Sky's a better choice to spread the cost out longer

iPhone 12 double data offer

See all options

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

To buy the new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro outright, you'd be paying between £799 and £1399. But Sky are one of the few networks to offer you the ability to spread the device cost over as long as 36 months.

That brings the monthly cost down. And there's no upfront fee to pay on Sky Mobile either, making them a good option if you can afford the monthly but don't have budget to spend now. This entry-level tariff is arguably Sky's best:

You've also got some nice benefits to complement the features of the new iPhone 12 on Sky, like free 5G data for VIP loyalty programme members and unlimited streaming on the Sky Go app, which will look great on the new OLED display.

Sky have also added double data to all their plans on every iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro model.

Useful links: Compare all iPhone 12 deals | Compare all iPhone 12 Pro deals

EE have the best 5G coverage to get the most from your iPhone 12

EE branded 5G medal

See EE deals

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

This is the first iPhone model to have faster 5G technology built-in but coverage is still quite limited in the UK. Out of all the networks, EE have got 5G in the most places. So will help you get the most out of it.

Joining EE directly is pretty expensive in general. So we'd definitely recommend having a look at re-sellers Fonehouse's EE deals, because they can offer better prices for the same network experience.

This unlimited 5G data deal from Fonehouse is very attractive:

If you really want to treat yourself, take a look at EE's Full Works iPhone plan, which bundles in a subscription to Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade with your iPhone 12 and unlimited data too.

Useful links: Compare all iPhone 12 deals | Compare all iPhone 12 Pro deals

More Sky Mobile guides

More guides about EE