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Lebara vs Talkmobile: which cheap network on Vodafone's best?

Talkmobile vs Lebara

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We look at what's different and the same between joining Talkmobile or Lebara, like coverage, speeds and extra benefits. Last updated: 27th March 2023.

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Talkmobile vs Lebara’s network

Mobile coverage on Lebara vs Talkmobile

Do Lebara or Talkmobile provide more widespread 5G/4G/3G/2G signal?

Talkmobile and Lebara with signal bars

Both providers use Vodafone’s full network

Screenshot of Talkmobile’s company details

See about us page

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

Both Talkmobile and Lebara use Vodafone’s entire 5G/4G/3G/2G network to provide signal. That means you get identical coverage on both networks for call and data signal.

That’s definitely a good thing for both networks considering Vodafone are the joint-largest UK network for call signal. They cover 99% of the UK’s landmass for calls and most of the areas where people live.

Both networks are only behind EE and the providers that use them for 4G coverage. You’ll get 4G in most of the places where people live and also in some surprisingly rural areas.

Finally you also get 5G in the same 141+ UK towns and cities on both and coverage is the same in these locations between them. It’s worth using their coverage checkers to see how signal is in your area.

Useful link: Talkmobile’s network guide page

Coverage checkers for Talkmobile and Lebara

See how their signal is at home, at work and elsewhere

Talkmobile map

Screenshot of Talkmobile coverage map

Check Talkmobile signal

using Talkmobile's official map
(opens in new window)

Lebara map

Screenshot of Lebara's coverage map

Check Lebara signal

using Lebara’s official map
(opens in new window)

Our verdict on coverage:


“Both networks share identical coverage and offer 5G-access on every plan. Your choice between them will come down to the other benefits they offer.”

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Data speeds on Talkmobile vs Lebara

We go over what sorts of speeds you can expect on either network

Talkmobile and Lebara with speedometer

Both networks share identical 5G/4G speeds

Screenshot of Lebara's 5G article

Read about 5G

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

Both Lebara and Talkmobile get you access to their hosts’ 5G on every plan. This means faster speeds where you can get 5G signal. And they both share identical 4G speeds with their hosts. So what does that mean?

Every plan on Lebara and Talkmobile gets you access to 5G. Here are what we think are either networks’ current best deal:

According to independent network testers Opensignal you’ll get typical 4G speeds of 21.2 Mbps on either provider. In real life we got as high as 110+ Mbps and as low as 5 Mbps in our tests.

For 5G, results from Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla put typical speeds between 105.2 Mbps - 133.54 Mbps. Since there are no speed caps, you’ll get the same speeds on both networks as on their hosts.

Overall, there’s nothing to split them on here. The speeds you get will depend on where you use your phone, more so than on other networks. But there’s no difference between the two for speeds.

Useful link: Read Lebara’s full 5G guide

Our verdict on data speeds:

Nothing to split them

“There are no speed caps on either network, so you’ll get access to the highest speeds possible on both Talkmobile and Lebara. Nothing to split them on here.”

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WiFi calling and 4G calling on Talkmobile vs Lebara

Which network has the better WiFi/4G calling provision?

Talkmobile and Lebara logos with a phone call

Lebara’s WiFi calling takes some time to start working

Common questions on Lebara

Read their guide

at lebara.mobile.com
(opens in new window)

Despite their great coverage for calls, you can still run into signal blackspots indoors on Lebara. It’s especially a problem if you’re far from the mast. Thankfully, they offer features to help with this.

WiFi calling allows your phone to connect to calls using WiFi signal where conventional call signal is poor. 4G calling does the same with 4G signal. Lebara include both on every plan.

Every Lebara plan includes WiFi calling and 4G calling. Here are their best current deals:

You can also send and receive SMS texts via WiFi or 4G signal, which can come in handy for bank confirmation texts. And you can move from 4G signal to WiFi signal without your call dropping.

You might have to wait up to 7 days for the feature to become available and they’re missing a few Android models from their supported devices list. But if you can get it working it’s a great feature.

Useful link: Lebara’s guide to their WiFi calling

Talkmobile’s WiFi calling can be tricky to get working

Talkmobile say hello to Wi-Fi Calling

See FAQs

at talkmobile.com
(opens in new window)

Talkmobile introduced WiFi calling fairly recently, but their scheme is a few steps behind most other networks for now. You still get it included on every plan at no extra cost:

Talkmobile include WiFi calling and 4G calling on every plan. Here are their current best ones:

There’s not much information on their website about their WiFi calling. They say you’ll need the latest software update for the feature to work. But they don’t list which devices are supported. So we asked them.

Their online chat agent claimed that it should work with most iPhone models, but that most Android models (even some recent ones) aren’t supported. That can make it hard to get WiFi calling to work on Talkmobile.

We struggled to get it working in our tests and we found it only worked ion iPhone. And you can’t move from WiFi to 4G without your call dropping. It will likely improve over time, but for now it’s not great.

Useful link: Our full review of Talkmobile

Our verdict on network features:

Win for Lebara

“Talkmobile’s scheme is still far behind the other networks. While you might have to wait a bit to get it working on Lebara, you’re still more likely to get it working than on Talkmobile. And when it does work, Lebara’s scheme is much better.”

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Perks and benefits

Inclusive roaming

Are Talkmobile or Lebara better for going abroad?

Talkmobile and Lebara logos with a globe

Lebara let you use your allowance in the EU and India

Lebara's answer to whether you have to pay for EU roaming on their network

See all destinations

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

These days many UK networks have removed EU roaming from their plans, so we appreciate the networks that have kept their roaming in place. Lebara are one such network.

That means you can use your UK allowance in these 42 EU/EEA destinations. You will be limited to 30GB of your data allowance, but that’s more than some networks let you use abroad and enough for a short trip.

And you can even use your allowance in India at no extra costs. They’re the only network to offer any worldwide roaming destinations on their plans, but beyond India and the EU you’ll have to pay at these rates.

Overall we’d say that Lebara are a great network for short trips to the continent and a fantastic network if you want to go to India. But if you want to go beyond that we’d say Vodafone are worth a look.

Useful link: Our guide to the best roaming networks

Talkmobile now offer inclusive EU roaming again

Talkmobile roaming

See costs per country

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

Talkmobile have brought back inclusive EU roaming to their plans after removing it for a while. This means you can use your Talkmobile plan in these 41 EU destinations at no extra cost.

The main difference between them and Lebara for roaming is that Talkmobile only let you use 5GB of your data allowance while abroad. That can feel restrictive, especially if you’re away on a long trip.

If you do hit that limit while you’re in the EU you’ll have to pay for a Euro Holiday Booster. These are temporary allowances of mins, texts and data that you can buy for 1 day, 8 days or 15 days.

That will work out cheaper than paying their roaming rates. If you want to go beyond the EU you will have to pay these rates, however. There’s no inclusive worldwide roaming destinations like you get on Lebara.

Useful link: Talkmobile’s EU roaming guide

Our verdict on roaming:

Win for Lebara

"We like that Talkmobile have brought back inclusive EU roaming, but the limits on your data and lack of any inclusive worldwide roaming destinations mean they’re a worse choice than Lebara.”

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Other benefits on Talkmobile vs Lebara

What other benefits do either network include on your plan?

Talkmobile and Lebara logos with a gift

Lebara include international minutes on every plan

List of countries that Lebara provides 100 international minutes to

Read their guide

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

Lebara’s main selling point is that they offer inclusive international minutes to these EU and worldwide countries on their plans, letting you call abroad without having to pay extra.

You get a different number of international minutes depending on your plan, which is typically between 100 to unlimited inclusive mins. The more you pay for your plan the more minutes you usually get.

And some of their plans even include unlimited international minutes. Here's the current cheapest deal with unlimited international minutes:

If you get through all your inclusive minutes you’ll have to top up and pay to call abroad. But Lebara offer calls to lots of countries at only 1p per minute and are the best network for international calling.

Useful link: Lebara’s international calling costs

Earn cashback for referring friends onto Lebara

Refer and Earn, Lebara's referral scheme

How it works

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

If you’re an existing Lebara user and have got friends or family looking to take out a new SIM only deal, then it could be worth referring them onto Lebara. You’ll both get extra benefits for doing so.

After your friend has stayed on Lebara for 2 months (60 days) you’ll get cashback from Lebara that’s usually about twice the cost of your friend’s plan. If they take a £15 plan you’ll get £30 back for example.

Your friend also benefits by getting 50% off the cost of their plan for the first 6 months of being on Lebara. It’s a win-win-win. You get cashback, your friend gets a discount and Lebara get a new customer.

It’s simple to get it working. You send your friend a special link where they’ll buy their plan. The downside is that the benefit doesn’t work with every plan, so your friend might not get the deal they want.

Useful link: Our guide to the best customer reward schemes

No contracts on Lebara’s 1-month SIM only deals

Lebara's no credit checks policy

Read more

at mobile.lebara.com
(opens in new window)

If you like to stay flexible with your SIM only plan, then you’ll like that Lebara’s 1-month deals don’t require you to sign up to a contract to join. This leaves you free to switch or leave your plan every month.

All of these deals are paid for up front each month. So if you’re paying too much for your plan you can either let your plan run out without renewing it or switch down to a lower-end plan at the end of the month.

This also means you don’t need to pass a credit check to join them, so they’re a decent choice if you’ve been rejected for a contract on another network.

Lebara also offer 12-month contracts at a lower cost per month if you prefer. It’s a trade off of better costs for greater flexibility, so your choice between them will come down to what you want out of your deal.

Useful link: Our 1-month contract guide

Talkmobile also offer great flexibility with their plans

Talkmobile's ID checks

Read full terms

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

Talkmobile sell most of their plans on 1-month contracts that leave you free to switch or leave your plan each month. But you can’t let your plan run out while keeping your SIM active like you can on Lebara.

Essentially that means you have to keep paying per month to keep your SIM activated. But otherwise, Talkmobile offer a great deal of flexibility and let you join without passing a credit check.

Like Lebara, Talkmobile also have a range of 12-month contracts that are usually better value per month. However, they sometimes share hidden 1-month contracts with us that are even better value than these:

Here are the best 1-month contracts you can currently get on Talkmobile, including any hidden deals if there are some available:

Talkmobile’s 1-month contracts are already usually some of the most competitive in terms of value of all UK networks, so it’s a case of great value and good flexibility with Talkmobile.

Useful link: Talkmobile's buying online terms and conditions

Our verdict on extra benefits:

Lebara win

"Lebara’s inclusive international minutes can end up saving you a lot of money if you call abroad often and their refer-a-friend scheme is great. Talkmobile don’t offer anything unique over Lebara, so it’s a clear Lebara win here."

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Pricing and deals differences

SIM only plans on Talkmobile vs Lebara

Which network has the better value SIM only deals?

Talkmobile and Lebara logos with a SIM card



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Our verdict on SIM only pricing

Slight win for Talkmobile

"While both networks are low-end on price, Talkmobile just beat out Lebara here. Ultimately, the higher prices on Lebara are a trade off for their inclusive international minutes. But if you’ll never call abroad, Talkmobile are the better value network."

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Phone contracts on Lebara vs Talkmobile

Which network has the better phone contracts?

Talkmobile and Lebara logos with a phone

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Only Talkmobile offer phone deals between them

Phone comparison tool screenshot

See phone range

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

Only Talkmobile offer phone contracts between the two networks. But you can’t just buy one from them directly. Instead you have to stay on a SIM only deal for a while before being able to take a phone contract.

Talkmobile are the only network to do this and it’s a bit of an odd way to sell their phone deals. If you want a Talkmobile phone contract right away you can take one via third party resellers Fonehouse.

They buy lots of Talkmobile phone contracts and then resell them for a lower cost. These are offered on 24-month contracts, the same as getting one via Talkmobile directly.

We wouldn’t say Talkmobile are one of the best networks for phone contracts, but at least they offer some. Lebara don’t offer any and we don’t see that changing any time soon.

Useful link: How to upgrade to a Talkmobile phone contract

More guides about Lebara

More Talkmobile guides