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Talkmobile are owned by Vodafone and use their network. So which is better, who has the better deals and are there coverage differences? We investigate. Last updated: 15th February 2022.
Is signal worse on Talkmobile than Vodafone?
Talkmobile were originally set up by Carphone Warehouse and were then bought by Vodafone way back in 2015. They offer cheaper prices than Vodafone, but still use their network. So, does this make their network experience any worse?
In our side-by-side tests for 2G (calls), 3G (calls and data) and 4G (mainly data) of a Talkmobile SIM card and a Vodafone SIM in the same phone, we got the same signal bars on each, in different locations.
Vodafone’s biggest network strength is their great call signal coverage as they’re joint-first for geographical coverage. Their call signals are on naturally better frequencies for getting indoors. too They’re the second biggest for 4G too.
So on these technologies, we’d say joining Talkmobile is the same as Vodafone for signal, so you shouldn’t notice a difference if you switch between them. Do use a coverage checker if you’re new to them though.
Useful link: Talkmobile’s network guide page
If you’re on a 5G-ready phone and you want to make the most of it, then Vodafone is your only choice between the two. 5G is absent from Talkmobile and we don’t think they’ll introduce it any time soon.
You can put a Talkmobile SIM in a 5G-ready phone, but you just won’t get 5G access. Vodafone’s 5G network is the smallest in the UK, with only 120+ locations covered and pretty patchy coverage within those locations.
Again, even within their declared locations you’ll only get 5G in certain parts of that location. You can use their coverage checker below to see 5G coverage in your area on a street by street basis.
Useful link: Vodafone’s guide to their 5G
Test in all the places you take your phone
using Talkmobile's official map
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using Vodafone's official map
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“For the most part your network experience on Talkmobile will be the same as being on Vodafone. But if you’re in a 5G covered area with a 5G-ready phone, you’re probably better off on Vodafone or VOXI.”
Is data faster on Vodafone than on Talkmobile?
You might have some worries in the back of your mind that if you join a cheaper network like Talkmobile then you’ll get inferior speeds. We tested both networks in real life to put these worries to bed.
In identical phones with a Talkmobile and Vodafone SIM in, we went around a number of locations and tested whether the speeds were in the same range. They were. Even superfast 4G+ city centre connections.
Independent network testers Opensignal put average speeds on Vodafone around 21.6 Mbps, but your actual speeds will really depend on where you are.
We found on both providers in real-life you can actually go way faster (upwards of 70 Mbps, like great fibre home broadband) in urban locations and also slower in rural places (8 Mbps or so).
Useful link: Vodafone’s speed capped unlimited plans
“You are missing out on 5G speeds with Talkmobile, which can help in certain situations. But talking purely about 4G speeds, there’s no difference being on Vodafone vs being on Talkmobile.”
Are there any other network differences between them?
It’s more advanced network features where Vodafone start to have obvious advantages over Talkmobile. There’s no WiFi calling on Talkmobile, or the similar technology 4G calling (VoLTE). Vodafone have both.
The only way to make/take calls on Talkmobile is to use conventional call signal. While Vodafone’s call coverage is thankfully very good, you might still get poor indoor signal. In this case Talkmobile’s lack of WiFi calling is unfortunate.
WiFi calling on Vodafone helps by letting your phone connect to their network for calls over WiFi. So if no mobile signal can get through, you’ve got a back up. 4G calling opens up more signal types to use.
Both technologies come as standard on all Vodafone pay monthly plans, except for their Basics plans which don’t include either but are much cheaper than their regular deals.
Useful link: Vodafone’s WiFi calling guide
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Getting access to a network of free public WiFi hotspots with your mobile deal is a nice benefit you get with particular networks. But neither Vodafone or Talkmobile offer anything in this department.
You no longer get free WiFi hotspots on the London Underground as Vodafone have got rid of their scheme. It’s a shame as it’s one place where free WiFi can come in handy for keeping you connected.
Nationwide, Vodafone also don’t use their venture into home broadband to bring you any national network of hotspots either like you get on BT or O2. And Talkmobile don’t have anything either.
But free WiFi is more common in most areas these days anyway, so it’s not a massive loss. But some networks have schemes to keep you connected while saving both your data and your phone’s battery.
Useful link: Our free WiFi hotspots guide
“It’s nice to have WiFi calling as a backup, and 4G calling pairs well with Vodafone’s good 4G coverage. The lack of WiFi hotspots is unfortunate, but since Talkmobile don’t offer anything it’s an easy win for Vodafone.”
Which network has the best roaming scheme?
Vodafone have pulled their free inclusive EU roaming scheme, making roaming a largely premium feature now.
You’ll now either have to pay a daily charge of £2 a day in EU destinations or £6 a day in worldwide destinations to access your allowance, or buy one of their “Xtras” plans.
These are premium plans that offer you extra benefits. If you take a non-unlimited plan with 4 Xtras you get inclusive roaming in 51 EU destinations, but with their unlimited 4 Xtras plan you get the maximum 83 worldwide destinations.
We don’t really like this. Your choice is essentially pay more while you’re abroad or pay more all the time to get free roaming. But if you’re always on the go, then we think they’re a fair choice.
Useful link: Our guide to the best roaming networks
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Since there’s no law forcing networks to include EU roaming on their plans, we really appreciate that Talkmobile still offer it. This gives them a surprising edge over Vodafone.
You’ll be able to access your UK allowance in 41 EU destinations on all of Talkmobile’s pay monthly plans. You can’t roam for more than two months and you’re limited to 15GB a month, so they’re only good for short trips.
But we think that’s more than fair enough for most people. If you’re looking to go further afield you’ll end up having to pay as you go at some pretty steep rates. We’d recommend looking elsewhere for that.
In all, Talkmobile’s EU roaming isn’t the best, but it’s a far sight better than Vodafone’s for short trips over to the continent. Worldwide roamers ought to look elsewhere, however.
What extras do you get on Vodafone but not Talkmobile?
If you’re big into websites like Groupon and other voucher websites, Vodafone’s VeryMe Rewards might appeal. It works via Vodafone’s app and sends you personalised offers on retail and services.
It’s Vodafone’s answer to O2’s much-loved Priority scheme, but doesn’t offer you quite as much. You can get some nice freebies on it that sweeten the overall deal. Talkmobile offer nothing like it.
There’s also Vodafone’s Entertainment plans, which for a monthly extra cost, include an entertainment subscription of your choice from YouTube Premium, Spotify Premium or Amazon Prime.
But be cautious with these. You are paying about £5 - £6 extra for these plans against the non-Entertainment ones, so you might only be saving a pound or two depending on which subscription you take.
Useful link: More about Vodafone's Entertainment plans
What’s better on Talkmobile than Vodafone?
Whenever you take a SIM only plan on most networks, they’ll run a credit check on you to make sure you can afford to pay your monthly bill. This means they’ll look to see if you’ve missed any payments in the past.
Vodafone run a credit check for theirs (apart from pay as you go). Talkmobile do not. They only run an ID check, which makes sure you are who you say you are (here’s how they check).
They’re a great choice if you’ve been rejected by Vodafone, as you can build up your credit score if you pay your monthly bill on time with Talkmobile. This could even help you get a phone deal in the future if you play your cards right.
They’ve also got a decent system of spending caps that let you set a cap as £0 or anywhere upwards in £1 steps. That helps you avoid surprise bills, when Vodafone jumps in steps of £10 that could catch you out.
Useful link: Read our full Talkmobile review
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A lot of low cost networks can offer their deals so cheap by not having call centres. This helps them save a quick buck, but can often leave you without a “real person” to talk to if you run into a problem.
Talkmobile buck that trend and publish details of how to just ring them nice and clearly on their website. And when you do ring them, we found you get through quickly and they’re good at dealing with your queries.
Vodafone have improved their customer service over the years, but they still get higher than average levels of complaints according to Ofcom. They get 3 complaints per 100,000 while the average is 2 complaints.
It’s one of those situations where smaller is better. Vodafone have millions of customers to deal with. Talkmobile have relatively few, so find it easier to sort out their problems.
Useful link: How to get in contact with Vodafone
“While Talkmobile don’t offer as much, their roaming is definitely better for EU travellers and their customer service is a step above Vodafone’s. On the other hand, you pay more to get more with Vodafone. It really depends what’s important to you.”
Which offers better value on pay monthly SIMs?
Here’s what promotions each have on this month
Which offers the best phone contracts?
Vodafone are able to offer far more phone models than Talkmobile, as they’re really a network that are set up for selling phone contracts. With their EVO plans, you get flexibility to build your phone deal as you like it.
Their EVO plans are what are called “split contracts”. You get two separate payments for your usage (mins, texts, data) and one for the cost of your phone. That means you can change your usage plan before your contract is over.
They also give you the flexibility to choose an upfront cost to reduce your monthly payment, choose a contract length between 12 and 36 months to suit your budget and you can pay lump sums when you wish.
You can also go with third party resellers to get a better deal, though your contract won’t be nearly as flexible. Use our comparison tool below to compare Vodafone’s prices against going with a reseller.
Useful link: Compare phone contracts with us
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There’s no way to join Talkmobile on a phone contract immediately. But they do have a small range of low-cost handsets that you can take after you’ve been on a SIM only plan for a few months.
This can be a good option, if you’ve ever been declined for a phone contract before. Take a SIM only with Talkmobile, build up a good record of payment, take an upgrade and then build up more good credit.
If you don’t want to wait, you can take a Talkmobile phone contract via certain resellers. Fonehouse offer contracts that work the same way as being on Talkmobile directly but at a generally cheaper cost.
The range of phones (which you can see here) focuses on lower-cost models but still has some iPhone and Samsung Galaxy ones. They’re decently priced too, so definitely worth a look.
Useful link: Compare all phone contracts
“For the latest, high-end models you’re better off on Vodafone. But if you’ve got a poor credit history or want a cheaper device then going with either via a reseller isn’t a bad idea. It’s really a case of flexibility vs cost.”