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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: 10th December 2021.

In our Sky Mobile vs Vodafone guide

Latest offer news

Comparing their networks

How coverage compares on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which has the better 3G, 4G and 5G reception?

Sky mobile and Vodafone logos with Signal bars

Vodafone win on 4G data, more even for calls

Vodafone best ever network banner

 

Read why

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

Vodafone own and use their own network for signal, where Sky use the O2 network. Both have their advantages and disadvantages for 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.

But for 4G, Vodafone hold a small advantage. You’ll find no difference in 4G between them in large towns or cities. But out in rural areas, on roads and on train lines Vodafone do a better job in getting their users 4G.

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

Virgin Mobile: they’ve recently moved from EE to Vodafone’s network and offer fairly priced phone contracts and SIM only plans (read our review here)

Talkmobile: very cheap 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)

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

As always, we recommend you check the areas that you’re expecting to have to use your phone (use their maps further down), not just at home, but at work, along your commute and so on.

Useful link: How Vodafone have improved their network

5G is being rolled out in more places on both

Sky 5G location map

See latest locations

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

5G news comes and goes quickly, so it’s hard to take a definitive stand over which network has the better 5G coverage.

Vodafone's list of 5G locations currently stands at 136+, while Sky Mobile's is at 194+. In both cases, the locations in these lists aren’t covered entirely, but only in certain busy areas in that location.

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 and some Red plans).

For the moment, most users will only be able to get 4G connection most of the time. We’ve found 5G can crawl below typical 4G speeds if you’re far away from a mast, so 4G is still the more important factor for now.

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

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Vodafone coverage checker

Vodafone coverage checker

Check Vodafone signal

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

Our verdict on coverage:

Too close to call

“Vodafone hold a small advantage in rural areas, but in urban areas you won’t notice a difference. Sky hold a small advantage in 5G. Use their coverage checkers to see which is best for you.”

Compare pricing and deals

5G and 4G speeds compared on Sky vs Vodafone

Are downloads faster on the Vodafone network or Sky Mobile?

Speedometer icon with Sky and Vodafone logos

4G on Vodafone is noticeably quicker than Sky

4G logo and various connected devices

See data improvements

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

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:

Depending on which you ask, O2’s typical data speeds range from 17.1 Mbps (and there’s no difference in speeds between Sky vs O2) and from 21.6 Mbps for Vodafone.

Bear in mind that’s an average. In real life you could see much faster speeds in the city and much slower speeds out in the sticks. But our real life tests showed that O2 hardly ever go much above that average range.

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 data currently slightly faster on Vodafone

Sky Mobile branded phone with free 5G text

How to get 5G free

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

As 5G is becoming more and more available, a more accurate view of data speeds on 5G can be made. Speedtest include 5G download tests in their latest report here.

They put O2’s (by extension, Sky’s) 5G “experience” (mix of upload and download speeds) at 141.3 Mbps and about 149.9 Mbps. Both improve massively over 4G, but Vodafone are slightly faster.

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.

5G not only improves on speeds, but also improves how many people can connect to the network without getting slowed down due to network congestion. That’s essential for large venues and busy city streets.

Useful link: Vodafone’s latest 5G rollout news

Our verdict on data speeds

Win for Vodafone

“We can’t really separate them on 5G speeds. However, Vodafone has a marked advantage in 4G speeds over Sky giving them an edge here.”

Compare pricing and deals

Extra ways to stay connected

Is WiFi calling better on Vodafone than Sky Mobile?

WiFi calling icon between Vodafone and Sky Mobile logos

Vodafone and Sky Mobile both offer WiFi calling

Screenshot of Sky’s help section on WiFi calling

Check supported phones

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

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).

We don’t rate either as having amazing WiFi calling schemes. But so long as your phone is supported they should work just fine. Bear in mind some Android models, especially older ones, may not be compatible.

Check Vodafone’s supported device list here and Sky Mobile’s here just to check your phone model. iPhones should generally be safe on both. Vodafone let you send SMS messages by WiFi, Sky don’t.

Useful link: Vodafone’s guide to 4G calling

Free WiFi hotspots are essentially no different now

Expired stampScreenshot of Vodafone’s TFL WiFi page

Check supported phones

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

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 offer free WiFi hotspots on the London Underground, but now that’s gone and Vodafone have no hotspots to offer whatsoever.

Sky do offer a network of free WiFi hotspots, but since everyone can access them for free there’s actually no benefit of being a Sky Mobile customer in this regard.

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

Minor win for Vodafone

“The WiFi calling on both is largely the same, but you’re more likely to have your phone supported on Vodafone. Neither offer hotspots (at least not exclusively to their customers).”

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing their benefits

Streaming on Sky Mobile vs Vodafone

Which has the better options for staying entertained?

Smartphone with video streaming icon between EE and Sky logos

Unlimited Sky TV app streaming data

Devices with unlimited streaming lettering

Read full guide

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky Mobile have a brilliant incentive for Sky TV members to join on their mobile plans. You’ll be able to stream all the channels from your home package without eating into your data.

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

When you use Sky Go or any of these other Sky apps on data signal, you won’t eat into your monthly data allowance. You essentially get unlimited data to stream their apps on.

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 offer a subscription on certain plans

Logos of streaming apps

See your options

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

You don’t get anything like Sky Mobile’s unlimited streaming with Vodafone. There’s no way to stream on data without eating into it, unless you have one of their unlimited data plans.

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 hesitate to call these freebies, however. You only get them on more expensive plans than their regular ones, so in the best case scenario it’s more like a discount on the subscription as you’re still paying more to get it.

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

“If you’re a Sky TV customer, then Sky Mobile obviously have the better benefits. You’ll save a ridiculous amount of data without having to pay anything extra.”

Compare pricing and deals

Data rollover on Sky Mobile vs Vodafone

Who’s got the best system for unused data?

A wallet between Sky and Vodafone logos

Bank up unused data on Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile piggybank banner

Read full benefits

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

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 have some banked up, instead of paying extra for more data when you run out, you can take some out of your Piggybank, 1GB at a time. Your unused data stays in your Piggybank 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.

We rate it as the best data rollover scheme in the UK, because you can keep your unused data for the longest time out of any network and you get the most flexibility to use it how you wish.

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

Vodafone only have data rollover on pay as you go

Vodafone Total Rollover banner

How it works

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

Vodafone still don’t offer any data rollover schemes on their pay monthly SIM only or phone contracts. Once your month is up your unused data vanishes.

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:

But this only lasts for the next month. After the next month your rolled-over calls and data will be gone. They do make sure you use that before eating into your “fresh” calls and data, however.

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

“Pay as you go is becoming a thing of the past and the vast majority of users will join on a monthly plan. Sky’s system is far above anything Vodafone offer. An easy win for Sky.”

Compare pricing and deals

Roaming on Sky Mobile vs Vodafone

Are Vodafone or Sky Mobile better for going abroad?

A globe between Sky and EE logos

Vodafone only offer roaming on premium plans

More roaming destinations banner

See full country list

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

Vodafone have changed their EU roaming policy, so now only their most premium Xtras plans include inclusive roaming. This applies both to Unlimited Xtras and Xtras plans.

Their Unlimited Xtras plan gets you the most amount of destinations, giving you some beyond 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.

There are plans with 3 Xtra benefits or even fewer, but these won’t get you inclusive roaming. Only plans (either unlimited or non-unlimited) with 4 Xtras will get you roaming. On other plans you’ll have to pay to use your UK allowance.

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’re fine with paying for a premium plan then they’re not a bad choice. For worldwide roaming they’re probably one of the best. But other networks can offer inclusive EU roaming without emptying your pockets.

Useful link: All roaming costs on Vodafone

No free roaming included on Sky Mobile

Sky Data Passport banner

Latest roaming costs

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky Mobile used to offer free roaming on all of their plans, but that’s no longer the case. They’ve joined the irritating trend of networks removing their free EU roaming policies. A shame since they were our number one pick before.

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).

However, roaming in Sky’s worldwide destinations is now £2 a day. That means it’s cheaper than worldwide roaming on Vodafone’s regular plans, and might be cheaper than taking Vodafone’s priciest plan if you’re not going for a long time.

Useful link: Full roaming costs on Sky Mobile

Our verdict on roaming

Slight win for Vodafone

“Both networks are reasonable choices for worldwide roaming and which one is better depends how long and how often you go beyond the EU. For EU roaming neither network is great, but at least some Vodafone plans offer inclusive EU roaming.”

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing their prices and deals

SIM only plans Sky Mobile vs Vodafone

Which offers better value on pay monthly SIMs?

SIM card between Sky and Vodafone 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+)

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Contract

Maximum length: (Any)

Added features

Special offers on Vodafone and Sky Mobile

Here’s what promotions each have on this month

Special offer ribbon with Sky and Vodafone logos

Phone contracts on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which provider’s best for taking out a pay monthly phone deal?

Smartphone between Vodafone and Sky logos

Sky offer flexible phone contracts

Sky Swap contract screenshot

What is Swap?

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

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.

But they also give you great flexibility. You can choose to a 36-month contract to lower your monthly cost and spread it over a longer time, or a 24-month contract to pay it off quicker.

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.

It means you’re allowed to upgrade early or leave Sky entirely after the first 12 months by paying off the rest of your loan. With Sky you don’t need to pay termination fees like you would on Vodafone and other networks.

Useful link: Our guide to Sky Mobile Swap contracts

Vodafone's phone contracts are cheaper via resellers

Our phone comparison tool screenshot

Compare phone contracts

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

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.

You can choose to pay off your loan anywhere between a 12-month or 36-month period (you can set it at one month increments) or pay some upfront in increments of £10. This lets you get a suitable plan for your budget.

Another choice is going via resellers who offer Vodafone contracts, but only on 24-month ones. Like Carphone Warehouse, Mobiles.co.uk, e2save, Buymobiles.net, Metrofone, Fonehouse and ChitterChatter.

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

“Vodafone and Sky essentially offer the same levels of flexibility. With Sky you get to upgrade or leave early, which is an edge, but with Vodafone you can get better prices via resellers. We can’t give either a clear win here.”

Compare pricing and deals

More Sky Mobile guides

More articles about Vodafone