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

Sky Mobile and vodafone logos with vs lettering

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We look at everything you get when you join Vodafone or Sky Mobile to find out which is best for you, including coverage, 4G/5G speeds and benefits. Last updated: 14th February 2023.

In our Sky Mobile vs Vodafone guide

Latest offer news

Comparing their networks

How coverage compares on Sky Mobile vs Vodafone

Which network has better 5G/4G/3G/2G coverage?

Sky mobile and Vodafone logos with Signal bars

Vodafone have better 4G, but both have great call signal

Vodafone best ever network banner


Read why

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Vodafone are one of the main UK networks and thus provide signal themselves, while Sky rely on O2’s network for signal. These both have their pros and cons when it comes to coverage:

For call and text signal (3G/2G) they’re essentially equal, both covering a similar amount of the UK’s landmass (this doesn’t mean it’s always in the same places). They’re both great for getting signal indoors too.

When it comes to 4G, Vodafone hold a narrow advantage in rural areas. That means on car or train journeys you’ll stay on 4G more often on Vodafone. But in the city there’s basically no difference between the two.

There are a few cheaper networks that benefit from being on Vodafone’s extensive 4G/3G/2G network:

Talkmobile: low cost, flexible SIM only deals with no credit checks (read our review here)

VOXI: low prices, specialising in 1-month SIM only plans with endless social media and video streaming (read our review here)

Lebara: low cost, flexible 1-month SIM only deals with inclusive international minutes and roaming in India (read our review here)

ASDA Mobile: cheap pay as you go bundles (read our review here)

In any case, you should use their coverage maps to check both networks’ signal in all the places you’ll use your phone, such as at home, at work and along your commute.

Useful link: How Vodafone have improved their network

Sky Mobile have the advantage for 5G

Sky 5G location map

See latest locations

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Both networks have rapidly expanding 5G networks, but it’s very clear which network is ahead when it comes down to how many locations they have 5G live in:

Last we checked, Sky had 5G live in a massive 750+ UK towns and cities, while Vodafone have theirs live in 141+ locations. But your location might be covered by one and not the other, so it’s worth checking with both.

Sky offer 5G on all SIM only plans and 5G phone contracts (you’ll have to choose the add-on which is free). Most of Vodafone's plans come with 5G (except their low-cost, no-frills Basics SIMs).

You’re also more likely to stay on 5G on Sky as they’re typically better at covering more of their declared 5G locations than Vodafone, but you’ll still spend most of your time on 4G on both networks.

Useful link: How to get 5G data on Sky Mobile

Vodafone and Sky Mobile’s network maps

Use the coverage checkers to test everywhere you’ll use your phone - not just at home

Sky Mobile coverage checker

Sky Mobile coverage checker

Check Sky signal

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Vodafone coverage checker

Vodafone coverage checker

Check Vodafone signal

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Our verdict on coverage:

Too close to call

“Vodafone have an advantage when it comes to 4G coverage in rural areas, but that doesn’t mean much in urban areas. Sky’s 5G on the other hand is much stronger. Ultimately it comes down to which network has better coverage in your area.”

Compare pricing and deals

5G and 4G speeds compared on Vodafone vs Sky

Do Vodafone or Sky Mobile provide faster typical data speeds?

Speedometer icon with Sky and Vodafone logos

Vodafone have much faster typical 4G speeds than Sky

4G logo and various connected devices

See data improvements

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In our testing we found it pretty blatant that Vodafone was the faster of the two networks. The results from independent network testers Opensignal back this up:

Typical data speeds on Sky’s hosts O2 were around 16.8 Mbps (we found identical speeds between Sky vs O2) while they sat around 21.2 Mbps on Vodafone. Opensignal’s most recent report shows slower typical speeds on both.

But that’s just typical speeds. In reality we got speeds as high as 110+ Mbps on Vodafone while we weren’t able to get speeds over 95 Mbps on O2. We also went as low as 5 Mbps on both.

If you usually just check a few emails or browse social media then you won’t notice a real difference between them. But for HD streaming you’ll find yourself buffering less often on Vodafone.

Useful link: What difference 5G will make on Sky Mobile

5G is typically a bit faster on Vodafone

Sky Mobile branded phone with free 5G text

How to get 5G free

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Now that 5G is a well established feature on all main UK networks, we can get a better idea of what typical speeds you’ll get over 5G. We use results from Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla to show this.

In the latest reports from both testers, Sky’s host network O2 got typical speed results between 90.61 Mbps - 92.3 Mbps, where results for Vodafone showed typical 5G speeds between 105.2 Mbps - 133.54 Mbps.

Those speeds are what you’d expect from high-end fibre optic broadband and lets you do things you’d otherwise struggle with, such as gaming or make high quality video calls without stuttering.

It’s worth noting that Sky’s 5G speed results have gone down in the latest report while Vodafone’s results have gone up. 5G is still an improvement over 4G for speed, but don’t expect to go racing ahead on Sky.

Useful link: Vodafone’s latest 5G rollout news

Our verdict on data speeds

Win for Vodafone

“Vodafone now hold the advantage for typical 4G speeds, peak 4G speeds and typical 5G speeds. Sky Mobile can look a bit sluggish in comparison, so it’s an easy win for Vodafone here.”

Compare pricing and deals

Extra ways to stay connected

Do Sky Mobile or Vodafone have better WiFi calling?

WiFi calling icon between Vodafone and Sky Mobile logos

Both Sky Mobile and Vodafone provide WiFi calling

Screenshot of Sky’s help section on WiFi calling

Check supported phones

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WiFi calling is a feature that lets your phone use WiFi signal to connect to calls rather than “conventional” call signal. This is great for when you’re indoors where signal can be poor.

Both networks broadcast on frequencies that are good at getting call signal into buildings. But they both also offer WiFi calling (and 4G calling) on most plans (you don’t get it on Vodafone Basics).

Vodafone’s scheme has got a lot better, as you can transfer from WiFi to 4G without your call dropping and you can now send SMS texts over WiFi and 4G signal. We found Sky’s scheme couldn’t do either in our tests.

If you’re on an older Android model your device might not be supported on either network, but you can check Vodafone’s supported device list here and Sky Mobile’s here. Most iPhone models are supported on both.

Useful link: Vodafone’s guide to 4G calling

There’s no exclusive WiFi hotspots on either

Expired stampScreenshot of Vodafone’s TFL WiFi page

Check supported phones

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While data plans and speeds are usually enough for most people’s needs these days, it’s nice for networks to offer free WiFi hotspot access with their deals.

Vodafone used to provide a network of free WiFi hotspots on the London Underground, but they got rid of it a while back. You don’t get any free WiFi hotspots with them anymore.

On the other hand, Sky actually do offer a wide network of WiFi hotspots. But these are free for everyone to access anyway, not just Sky Mobile customers. So it’s not a particular benefit of joining Sky Mobile.

It’d be nice if it automatically logged you in, but no. Overall, WiFi hotspots shouldn’t really factor into your decision with either network.

Useful link: Why Vodafone don’t offer hotspots anymore

Our verdict on extra network features

Win for Vodafone

“Vodafone’s WiFi calling scheme is quite a bit better than Sky’s in terms of how it works as a feature and the models it’s compatible with. Neither network have exclusive WiFi hotspots for customers.Overall, Vodafone take the win here.”

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing their benefits

Streaming on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which network has better features to stay entertained?

Smartphone with video streaming icon between EE and Sky logos

Sky offer unlimited streaming data for their TV apps

Devices with unlimited streaming lettering

Read full guide

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If you’ve got Sky TV at home then you’ll love Sky Mobile’s unlimited streaming data benefit. This lets you stream their TV apps on the go without using up your data allowance.

It's called Sky Mobile Watch. It’s offered on all plans, even down to their cheapest data plan:

When you stream on Sky Go or any of Sky’s TV apps on the go, the data you’d usually use up won’t come out of your monthly allowance of data. It’s basically like getting unlimited data to use their apps.

We tried it in real life for our review here and we found it as great as it sounds. You’ll not have to worry about using up your data to keep your kids (or yourself) entertained. By far Sky’s best benefit.

Useful link: Full terms and conditions on Sky's streaming

Vodafone include a subscription on select deals

Logos of streaming apps

See your options

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Vodafone don’t offer anything like Sky’s data free streaming and there’s no way to stream video on the go without using up your data allowance unless you take one of their unlimited data deals.

But Vodafone do offer a choice of YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime Video or Spotify Premium subscriptions on their premium Entertainment plans (available on SIM only or phone contracts).

Choose an included subscription with any of these SIM only deals from Vodafone:

We wouldn’t call these freebies, as they only come on pricier plans compared to their regular ones. We prefer to think of it as getting a discount on the subscription with your plan vs paying for them separately.

It’s also convenient to have your subscription bundled with your mobile deal, as you can manage your payment in one place rather than separately. But, we’d recommend checking that you’re actually getting them cheaper.

Useful link: Full terms and conditions for Vodafone’s Entertainment plans

Our verdict on streaming benefits

Easy win for Sky Mobile

“Sky’s unlimited data streaming benefit can save you tons of data on the go without having to pay anything extra, that is if you’re an existing Sky TV customer. Vodafone don’t offer anything like it.”

Compare pricing and deals

Data rollover on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which network is better for holding onto leftover data?

A wallet between Sky and Vodafone logos

Hold onto leftover data for up to 3 years on Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile piggybank banner

Read full benefits

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With any Sky Mobile plan (phone, tablet and SIM only), you’ll be able to hold onto your unused data at the end of the month. Sky will automatically add it to your “Piggybank” for you to use later.

If you’ve run out of data one month and have some banked up, you can withdraw data from your Piggybank in 1GB increments instead of paying for extra data. And you get to keep your leftover data for up to 3 years!

They even let you send it to other mobile users on the same account as you, or trade it in for discounts off phones and tablets.

It’s our number one data rollover scheme of all UK networks as you can hold onto your unused data for longer than on other networks and you get the flexibility to use it how you like.

Useful link: Read Sky’s full guide to their data rollover scheme

Vodafone only include data rollover on PAYG bundles

Vodafone Total Rollover banner

How it works

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Vodafone don’t offer data rollover on their pay monthly SIM only or phone contracts, meaning the data you don’t get through in a month is lost once your next month comes around.

They do let you keep unused data on their pay as you go bundles on SIM only, all of which come with Total Rollover. This means you keep your unused minutes, texts and data allowance when the month is up.

All these come with data rollover:

It’s a fairly standard data rollover scheme, as your unused data lasts for a month and then after that it vanishes. But you will use up your rolled over data before eating into your new allowance of calls and data.

It’s not bad for a pay as you go system. We only wish they’d extend this feature to their pay monthly plans like Sky do.

Useful link: Vodafone’s full guide to Total Rollover

Our verdict on unused data schemes

Win for Sky Mobile

“Sky’s scheme is head and shoulders above any other network, while Vodafone restrict data rollover to their worse value PAYG bundles. Sky win easily here.”

Compare pricing and deals

Roaming on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which network is better for taking your phone abroad?

A globe between Sky and EE logos

Vodafone restrict inclusive roaming to their high end plans

More roaming destinations banner

See full country list

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Vodafone no longer include EU roaming on their plans as standard. These days you can only get inclusive roaming on their highest end Xtras plans. That includes both their Unlimited Xtras and Xtras plans.

Their Unlimited Xtras plan gets you the most amount of destinations, including popular destinations outside the EU. If you’re only going to the EU their non-unlimited data plans with 4 Xtra benefits give you roaming in 51 EU destinations.

If you take a plan with 3 Xtras or fewer then you won’t get roaming included. You only get it with their 4 Xtras plans, whether with unlimited or limited data amounts. You have to pay to roam on any other plan.

Here are the prices for their Unlimited Xtras and limited Xtras plans:

One thing we do like is that they’re able to offer you 5G connection while abroad if you can get it. But it’s the only thing they really have over other networks and we’re not sure it’s worth the price tag.

If you don’t mind being on a more expensive plan then their roaming is quite good, especially their worldwide roaming. But if you just want to go to the EU, there are much better options around.

Useful link: All roaming costs on Vodafone

Sky Mobile no longer offer inclusive roaming as standard

Sky Data Passport banner

Latest roaming costs

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Sky Mobile removed inclusive EU roaming from their plans a while ago, meaning they’re on the growing list of networks that make you pay to use your SIM abroad. A shame considering they had the best roaming before that.

To roam in their EU destinations you’ll now have to pay £2 a day (the same as on Vodafone’s regular pay monthly plans). But at least you get to use your entire data allowance while you’re abroad still.

Their unlimited data streaming benefit doesn’t work abroad, but we wouldn’t really expect it to (it’s based around UK TV channels after all).

One good change is that worldwide roaming is only £2 a day. That’s cheaper than on Vodafone’s regular deals could actually work out cheaper than taking Vodafone’s premium plan if you’re going on a short trip.

Useful link: Full roaming costs on Sky Mobile

Our verdict on roaming

Slight win for Vodafone

“Neither network has a great EU roaming scheme, but since Vodafone are the only network to offer any inclusive EU roaming they take the advantage. For worldwide roaming, your choice between them will come down to how long you’re going abroad.”

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing their prices and deals

SIM only plans Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which network offers better value on pay monthly SIM only deals?

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Our verdict on SIM only deals:

Slight win for Sky

“Vodafone can only compete with Sky Mobile on price with their Basics SIMs. Otherwise Sky Mobile tend to offer better value, especially on mid-range deals. Either way it’s worth using our comparison tool above to find the best deal for you.”

Compare pricing and deals

Special offers on Vodafone and Sky Mobile

Here’s what promotions each have on this month

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Phone contracts on Sky Mobile vs Vodafone

Which of the two offers better value or more flexible phone contracts?

Smartphone between Vodafone and Sky logos

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Sky’s phone contracts are flexible

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What is Swap?

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For price, Sky are one of the more competitive providers. Use our phone contracts deal comparison tool to compare them to other networks. Most of their phones are offered with no upfront costs to pay.

On top of great value you also get the flexibility to choose between a 36-month contract for lower monthly costs, or a 24-month contract to pay off the cost of your device sooner.

All their phones are offered on finance agreements (essentially loans). If you have a poor credit history it can be very hard to be accepted for one. But it does come with some benefits too.

You can pay off your loan to upgrade early or leave Sky altogether after the first 12 months. You can also trade in your phone after 12 or 24 months (on Swap12 or Swap24) for an upgrade, but we don’t recommend this.

Useful link: Our guide to Sky Mobile Swap contracts

Cheaper Vodafone phone contracts via third party resellers

Our phone comparison tool screenshot

Compare phone contracts

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If you get your phone from Vodafone directly, you'll now join on an EVO Plan. These are basically like Sky’s contracts, but with even more flexibility.

These let you choose a contract length anywhere between 12 months and 36 months (in one month increments) and choose an upfront cost at £10 increments. This helps you suit your plan to your budget.

But if you’d prefer a better value deal you can take a 24-month Vodafone phone contract via resellers such as, Fonehouse,, Metrofone, e2save, ChitterChatter and Carphone Warehouse.

You usually get better prices from them as they have a lot of phones in stock, so it’s a trade-off of money against flexibility. We compare them all for Vodafone here.

Useful link: Compare phone contracts using our tool

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Probably a draw

“While Vodafone offer a bit more flexibility, Sky offer better value with their phone contracts. You can get a better deal on Vodafone via resellers, but then you’re losing the flexibility you usually get. Overall, it just comes down to what you want out of your contract.”

Compare pricing and deals

More Sky Mobile guides

More articles about Vodafone