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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: 13th July 2023.

In our Sky Mobile vs Vodafone guide

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Comparing their networks

How coverage compares on Sky Mobile vs Vodafone

Which network has the more widespread 5G/4G/3G/2G?

Sky mobile and Vodafone logos with Signal bars

4G more widespread on Vodafone, but call signal is equal

Vodafone best ever network banner


Read why

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

Vodafone are one of the four major UK networks and provide their customers signal themselves. However, Sky use O2’s network to provide signal. Both networks have strengths and weaknesses for coverage:

The two networks are basically equal for calls and texts (3G/2G signal), both covering most of the UK’s landmass (but might not always be in the same areas). Both also typically provide good indoor signal.

Vodafone provide more widespread 4G data rurally (see 5G below). So you’ll get more consistent 4G while on car or train journeys on Vodafone. But the two are basically identical when it comes to 4G in the city.

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 unlimited 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: Other networks that use Vodafone

Sky have 5G in more locations than Vodafone

Sky 5G location map

See latest locations

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky and Vodafone both offer access to their rapidly expanding 5G networks at no added cost (apart from Vodafone Basics). But there’s a big difference in the number of 5G live locations on either network:

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 on 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).

So you’re more likely to get 5G in your area on Sky and you’ll typically stay on it more often as they tend to be better at covering their locations. But you’ll likely spend most of your time on 4G on both.

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

“When it comes to coverage it depends if you have a 5G-ready phone or which network has better signal near you. Vodafone have stronger 4G for rural users, but you’re more likely to get 5G on Sky. Use their coverage checkers before joining either network.”

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5G and 4G speeds compared on Vodafone vs Sky

Which network provides the faster 4G and 5G data speeds?

Speedometer icon with Sky and Vodafone logos

Vodafone have faster 4G speeds than Sky

4G logo and various connected devices

See data improvements

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

When we used a Vodafone SIM and a Sky SIM in real life, we found we got consistently faster speeds on Vodafone than Sky. That’s in line with what independent network testers Opensignal’s latest report shows:

Typical 4G data speeds on Sky’s hosts O2 were around 16.8 Mbps (we found identical speeds between Sky vs O2) and around 21.2 Mbps on Vodafone. Both networks’ results have gone down recently as well.

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.

The difference in speeds isn’t really noticeable when browsing social media or sending messages, but streaming HD video on Vodafone will typically be a lot smoother than on Sky.

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

5G speeds are also faster on Vodafone

Sky Mobile branded phone with free 5G text

How to get 5G free

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Both networks have offered 5G for a while now, so we can get a good idea of what typical 5G speeds will look like using results from Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla.

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 are similar speeds to what you’d get over high-end fibre optic broadband. That’s great if you want to do data heavy activities like mobile gaming and file sharing smoothly.

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 provide faster peak and typical 4G speeds as well as faster typical 5G speeds, while Sky use the slowest UK network for both 4G and 5G speeds. Vodafone clearly win this one.”

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Extra ways to stay connected

Are Sky or Vodafone better for WiFi calling and WiFi hotspot schemes?

WiFi calling icon between Vodafone and Sky Mobile logos

Vodafone have the better WiFi calling scheme

Screenshot of Sky’s help section on WiFi calling

Check supported phones

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

If you’ve ever struggled to get signal in your home then you’ll like the fact that both networks provide WiFi calling. This lets your phone connect to calls over WiFi instead of “conventional” call signal.

Indoor call signal is typically strong on both networks due to the frequencies they use to broadcast it. And they both include WiFi/4G calling on most plans (but not on Vodafone’s Basics plans).

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

Neither network provide exclusive WiFi hotspots

Expired stampScreenshot of Vodafone’s TFL WiFi page

Check supported phones

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

These days data deals and speeds are typically enough for what most users need, but we still like it when networks offer free WiFi hotspots on their plans.

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 any more.

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 good if being a Sky customer let you automatically log into these, but that’s not the case. So WiFi hotspots won’t be a decisive factor in your decision between the two networks.

Useful link: Why Vodafone don’t offer hotspots anymore

Our verdict on extra network features

Win for Vodafone

“Vodafone support more devices for WiFi calling and their feature is better than Sky’s in terms of how it works. While Sky have WiFi hotspots, the fact you can connect to these even if you’re not a Sky customer means we can’t count it as a benefit. So Vodafone take this one.”

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Comparing their benefits

Streaming on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which network is better for saving data while streaming on data?

Smartphone with video streaming icon between EE and Sky logos

Sky let you stream their TV apps without eating your data

Devices with unlimited streaming lettering

Read full guide

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

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.

They call it Sky Mobile Watch and it comes on all of their deals, even their smallest and cheapest 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 tested it out ourselves for our review here. We found it’s just as good in real life as in concept. You can keep yourself or your kids entertained on long journeys without having to worry about your data usage.

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

Vodafone include a subscription on certain plans

Logos of streaming apps

See your options

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

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.

However, you can take a subscription to Amazon Prime, Youtube Premium or Spotify Premium on Vodafone’s premium Entertainment deals (on phone or SIM only 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.

Having your subscription as a part of your mobile bill can be more convenient than having to manage different bills. But just make sure you’re actually saving money vs taking the plan and subscription separately.

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

Our verdict on streaming benefits

Easy win for Sky Mobile

“Sky have one of the best unlimited streaming data benefits of all networks that can genuinely save loads of data. Vodafone provide nothing close to it, unless you join on an unlimited data plan.

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Data rollover on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Do either network give you another chance to use your leftover data?

A wallet between Sky and Vodafone logos

Sky give you up to 3 years to use up your leftover data

Sky Mobile piggybank banner

Read full benefits

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky Mobile let you hold onto the data that’s left at the end of each month on all of their plans (SIM only, phone and tablet deals). The data is added to your “Piggybank” automatically 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!

And you can even gift your banked up data to other users on the same account as you or trade it in for money off a phone or tablet from Sky.

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 offer data rollover of PAYG plans

Vodafone Total Rollover banner

How it works

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

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.

But you can hold onto your leftover data on their Pay As You Go bundles on SIM only (it’s called “Total Rollover”). So you get another month to use the mins, texts and data you paid for.

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.

As far as data rollover schemes go, it’s pretty good. But it’d be a lot better if they included it on their pay monthly contracts as well (like Sky do).

Useful link: Vodafone’s full guide to Total Rollover

Our verdict on unused data schemes

Win for Sky Mobile

“Sky let you hold onto your unused data for longer and do more with it than any other network. Vodafone have a worse scheme and only include it on worse value PAYG bundles. Sky easily win this one.”

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Roaming on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which provider is better for using your SIM abroad?

A globe between Sky and EE logos

Vodafone only include roaming on premium deals

More roaming destinations banner

See full country list

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

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.

You can roam in 83 EU and worldwide countries on their Unlimited 3 Xtras plans, with lots of popular destinations included. But on their non-unlimited plans with 3 Xtras you can roam in 51 EU countries only.

On plans with fewer Xtras than that then you don’t get inclusive roaming. Instead you’ll have to pay £2 a day in the EU or £6 a day in their worldwide countries (read all details here).

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

We do like that you can connect to 5G abroad, which isn’t common. But ultimately if inclusive roaming is worth the extra cost then Vodafone might be a good choice for you. If not, there are better options out there.

Useful link: All roaming costs on Vodafone

Sky Mobile don’t include EU roaming any more

Sky Data Passport banner

Latest roaming costs

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

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 roam abroad. A shame considering they had the best roaming before that.

You have to pay £2 for every day you use your SIM in the EU (the same rate as on Vodafone’s regular deals). However, you can still use up to your entire data allowance while you’re there.

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).

But Sky are a decent option for roaming beyond the EU, as they have the same £2 a day rate for their worldwide destinations. That can be better value than taking Vodafone’s premium plans, if only for short trips.

Useful link: Full roaming costs on Sky Mobile

Our verdict on roaming

Slight win for Vodafone

“Between the two networks only Vodafone provide some way to get inclusive roaming, if only on premium plans. As such, Vodafone are better for EU roaming. But which network is better for worldwide roaming depends on how long you go abroad.”

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Comparing their prices and deals

SIM only plans Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which provider has the better value deals on SIM only plans?

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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.”

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Special offers on Vodafone and Sky Mobile

Here’s what promotions each have on this month

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Phone contracts on Vodafone vs Sky Mobile

Which of the networks offers better prices and flexibility on phone contracts?

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Sky offer good flexibility on their phone contracts

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What is Swap?

at Sky.com
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Sky Mobile are very competitive when it comes to the cost of their phone contracts. You can compare their phone deals to other networks using our phone comparison tool here. Most come with no upfront costs.

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.

They offer all their phone models on finance agreements (basically loans). So if you’ve got a poor or no credit history you’re unlikely to be accepted for one. But these kind of agreements also have some upsides:

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

Take a cheaper Vodafone phone deal via resellers

Our phone comparison tool screenshot

Compare phone contracts

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

Vodafone offer very similar phone contracts to Sky with their EVO plans. These are finance agreements that give you 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 Mobiles.co.uk, Fonehouse, Buymobiles.net, Metrofone, e2save, ChitterChatter and Carphone Warehouse.

These resellers can offer better prices on phones as they have lots in stock. So you’re trading extra flexibility for a better overall deal. You can compare them using our tool here.

Useful link: Compare phone contracts using our tool

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Probably a draw

“You can get a better overall price for your phone via a reseller with Vodafone, but it’s a trade off of flexibility for price. Sky offer a good mix of flexibility and low costs. Vodafone offer the most flexible plans but at higher costs. Ultimately it comes down to what you prefer.”

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More Sky Mobile guides

More articles about Vodafone