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Tesco Mobile vs Sky: differences between the two networks

Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile logos with vs lettering

The retailers featured on this page may compensate us when our readers follow links to their websites and make a purchase. More

Both Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile use the O2 network. So we look at which is the better choice for a phone contract or SIM only deal. Last updated: 18th February 2022.

In our Tesco Mobile vs Sky guide

Latest offer news

Comparing their networks

Same: coverage on Sky and Tesco Mobile

Are there any differences in signal on the two providers?

Tesco Mobile and Sky logos with Signal bars

You get the same coverage on Tesco Mobile and Sky

Man looking please at phone

 

Learn more

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile both use the O2 network for signal (see all others that do). While Sky Mobile is its own separate company, Tesco is partly owned by Telefonica who owned O2.

O2’s main strength for coverage is their great call signal (2G/3G) coverage, meaning you’ll very rarely be in a total blackspot, even in very remote areas. They have the joint-largest amount of the UK’s landmass covered for 2G/3G.

For rural 4G they’re a bit behind EE and Vodafone, so while you’ll rarely find yourself without call signal you’ll spend less time on 4G than on those networks. But 4G coverage in built-up areas is basically the same as other networks.

By testing a Sky Mobile and a Tesco Mobile SIM directly against each other, we found no built-in differences between the two. You should get the same signal on one as you would on the other.

Useful link: How Tesco Mobile work with O2

5G is now available on both networks

Sky 5G location map

See latest locations

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

If you’ve got a 5G-ready phone then you’ll be able to access O2’s widespread 5G network, getting you data speeds over 5x as fast as their average 4G speeds.

You can currently get 5G in these 190+ locations on both networks. O2’s 5G has expanded very quickly and they have the second highest number of locations covered for 5G in the UK at the moment.

But 5G won’t be available everywhere in their declared locations. Usually only the busiest areas are covered. However, Sky and Tesco’s hosts are quite good at covering their locations so you could get 5G even in residential areas.

You’ll have to add 5G as an add-on with Sky, but this is free to do. 5G should work straight out of the box with Tesco Mobile. As long as you’re in a covered location you should have no issue getting super fast data speeds.

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

Tesco and Sky coverage checkers

Use these maps to test everywhere you’ll use your phone - not just at home

Sky Mobile network map

Sky Mobile coverage checker

Check Sky Mobile signal

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

Tesco Mobile network map

Tesco Mobile coverage checker

Check Tesco Mobile signal

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Our verdict on coverage:

No winner

“No differences here. Both get full access to the O2 network.”

Compare pricing and deals

Same: data speeds on Tesco and Sky

Is there any difference in speeds between the two networks?

Speedometer icon with Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

There’s no built-in differences for speed

Benefits of 5G vs 4G banner

5G vs 4G guide

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

In our real life tests we took a Tesco Mobile SIM and a Sky Mobile SIM to different locations to see if we could find any differences in speed. After testing we found no evidence of speed differences between networks.

So what sorts of speeds can you expect? Well, independent network testers Opensignal put typical 4G speeds on Sky and Tesco’s hosts at around 17.1 Mbps. Unfortunately, that’s the slowest of all networks.

Well, how do they fare for 5G? Using both Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla’s results we can predict typical 5G speeds on both between 110.9 Mbps and 127.97 Mbps. That’s very fast, but still generally slower than other networks.

While there is no difference on speed between the two networks, we wouldn’t call either of them a winner. O2 is generally the slowest network to use and both their 4G and 5G speeds are underwhelming.

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

Our verdict on data speeds

No winner

“Your choice between these two networks should depend on the extra features and benefits they offer, as there’s no difference for data speeds.”

Compare pricing and deals

Different: extra network features

Do both Tesco and Sky Mobile have WiFi calling?

WiFi calling icon between Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile logos

Sky offer WiFi calling, Tesco don’t

Screenshot of Sky’s help section on WiFi calling

Check supported phones

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

Both networks cast their call signals (3G/2G) on frequencies that are good at getting through buildings indoors. But you can still get poor signal inside your home, especially if you’re far from a mast.

There’s a solution for this, WiFi calling. This lets you make/take calls over WiFi where call signal is poor. Sky Mobile offer this as standard on all plans and it should work if your phone is supported (check here).

Since Tesco Mobile don’t offer it, you’ll really have to check their indoor signal in your area before joining with them. With Sky it’s not as important.

Sky also offer 4G calling as standard too, which does the same thing but with 4G signal, while Tesco don’t. This lets your phone use a wider range of signal for calls (improving overall coverage) and improves call quality.

Useful link: Our guide to the best WiFi calling networks

No customer-exclusive WiFi hotspots on either network

Sky WiFi app screenshot

Find nearby hotspots

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

We like it when a network offers free WiFi hotspots as a feature. It’s a great way of saving data on the go, but it’s not as necessary as it used to be as you can get free WiFi basically anywhere these days.

While their hosts O2 offer a network of over 15,000 hotspots, neither Tesco nor Sky get access to any of them, nor do they have their own hotspot networks that are exclusive for their customers.

Sky do have a network of free WiFi hotspots, but it’s already free to access without being a Sky Mobile customer. There’s no additional benefit for joining Sky Mobile, so we can’t count it as an extra benefit.

If you don’t use much data on the go or you have a larger data plan anyway then this won’t be a big loss. We see WiFi hotspots as a “nice-to-have” rather than a “must-have” when choosing a network.

Useful link: Charges for going over allowance on Tesco

Our verdict on extra network features

Easy win for Sky Mobile

“Having poor indoor signal is a much worse situation on Tesco than it is on Sky, because there’s no WiFi calling to bail you out. Sky having it and Tesco not, puts Sky at a clear advantage here.”

Compare pricing and deals

Comparing their benefits

Roaming on Sky Mobile vs Tesco

Which network is better for going abroad?

Roaming globe Tesco and Sky Mobile

Tesco Mobile are one of the best networks for EU roaming

Tesco Mobile roaming charges banner

Check free countries

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

While some networks have changed or even got rid of their inclusive EU roaming schemes, Tesco have kept theirs in place. With them you can roam in these 48 countries at no extra cost.

Most networks have what are called “fair usage” policies which restrict your data use to a limited amount. The best part about Tesco’s roaming is that there are no limits, you can use as much of your regular allowance as you want.

Now, they do say they’ll investigate you if your usage is unreasonably high. But that’s only to stop people using data for commercial purposes. Unless you’re doing something extreme you shouldn’t raise their suspicion.

Tesco aren’t a great choice for going beyond the EU as you’ll have to pay some pretty steep rates (see all Tesco’s costs abroad here). But we think having a good EU roaming scheme is more important for more people.

Useful link: Full information on roaming with Tesco Mobile

Sky Mobile don’t offer free EU roaming any more

Sky Mobile roaming passport

See costs & countries

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile used to be neck and neck for EU roaming because both let you use your whole UK allowance abroad at no extra cost. But Sky no longer offer inclusive EU roaming.

That means you now have to pay £2 a day to roam in Sky’s EU destinations. While you can still use your whole allowance abroad, the fact you can’t do it for free makes Sky a much worse choice these days.

One good thing to come out of this change is that Sky now let you roam in certain worldwide destinations at the same £2 daily rate. This can work out as much better value than paying as you go with Tesco’s rates.

But we think more people care about EU roaming, and now there’s just not a lot to love with Sky’s EU roaming anymore. It’s a shame to see our number one choice now in last place, but that’s just how it is.

Useful link: Sky's full guide to roaming on their network

Our verdict on roaming:

Win for Tesco

"Sky’s roaming is a lot worse than it used to be, meaning Tesco are now the undisputed best network for EU roaming in our eyes. Still, Sky’s worldwide roaming is a lot better now. But we think most people care more about EU roaming, so Tesco will be better for more people."

Compare pricing and deals

Data rollover on Tesco Mobile vs Sky

What happens if you don’t get through all your data?

A wallet between Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

What happens if you don’t get through all your data?

Sky Mobile piggybank banner

Read full benefits

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

Using up your monthly allowance of data means you’ll either have to stop using it or pay extra (see Sky’s extra charges here). This means people will sometimes take a plan that offers more data than they’ll actually use, just to be safe.

But doing so means you’ll often have unused data leftover at the end of the month. Usually you just end up losing it. But Sky let you keep your unused data in a piggybank for safekeeping.

Your unused data stays in the piggybank for up to 3 years and can be withdrawn in 1GB increments whenever you need it. You can even share it with family members on your account if they need it.

If you have no need for your rolled over data, then you can trade it in for money off a new phone or tablet as well. Sky offer a good deal of flexibility in how you use your leftover data and it’s our favourite data rollover scheme.

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

No second chance to use leftover data on Tesco

A phone and recycle icon

Guide to data rollover

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

Tesco Mobile don’t offer anything similar to Sky’s data rollover scheme. Any data you don’t end up getting through is gone forever, so it’s something worth thinking about when signing up with them.

So if you get through your monthly allowance then you’ll either have to stop using data until your next month or pay for extra data at these rates. They’re not too expensive, but it’d be better to avoid paying for them.

You can read our guide to data rollover here, or you can see which networks offer data rollover below. Bear in mind not all data rollover schemes are the same:

All these deals let you keep unused data for at least one month:

This is another key difference between the two networks, as Sky help you get your money’s worth. We still think it’s best to get a plan that suits your needs, but if your needs change per month then Sky are a flexible option.

Useful link: Use Tesco Mobile’s data usage calculator

Our verdict on unused data schemes

Easy win for Sky Mobile

“Sky have the best data rollover scheme for flexibility and the amount of time you can keep your unused data. Tesco offer nothing of the sort and haven’t made any indication that they will any time soon.”

Compare pricing and deals

Unlimited streaming on Sky and Tesco

Which network’s best for watching loads on your mobile?

Smartphone with video streaming icon between Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Sky offer unlimited data streaming on their TV apps

Sky unlimited streaming banner

Read full guide

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

If you’re already a Sky TV customer, then you can get more out of your home package when joining on Sky Mobile. With any of their plans you can stream Sky’s TV apps on your phone without using data.

You can stream for hours on end without using up any of your data, but bear in mind that adverts will still eat into your data. It means you can keep up with your favourite shows on the go.

Since video streaming can be very data-intensive you can save a lot of data with this benefit. This is especially handy on smaller data plans. You even get the benefit on their smallest plan:

So if you find yourself bored on your commute or need something to keep the kids entertained on car journeys, then Sky can be a great choice for you if you’ve got a home TV package.

Useful link: Sky’s full guide to their streaming data

Tesco Mobile offer unlimited data plans

Tesco Mobile SIM and an unlimited data roundel

See latest pricing

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

While Tesco don’t have anything similar to Sky’s unlimited data streaming but you can take an unlimited data plan on Tesco which you can’t do on Sky.

So long as you’re using it in the UK and only for personal use then their unlimited data plans are truly without limits.

If you’re not worried about price then it’s a better option as you can do anything without having to worry about going over a limit, but it’s a very expensive option, while Sky offer their streaming benefit on their cheapest plan.

Useful link: Use Tesco Mobile’s data usage calculator

Our verdict on streaming benefits

Win for Sky Mobile

“Sky’s free streaming is incredibly generous, especially since it comes on the cheapest plan. While it only works on their TV apps, this could still save you a lot of data.”

Compare pricing and deals

Family plans on Tesco Mobile vs Sky

Which is best for joining as a family?

Family with Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Family Perks for adding family members on Tesco

Tesco Mobile Family Perks banner

See full perk list

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

With Tesco Mobile you can add up to four extra plans to your account so you can manage them all from one place. But there’s also some extra benefits for adding family members on Tesco Mobile:

You’ll benefit from their Family Perks scheme, which lets you and every user you add choose an extra benefit each month. Every user can choose their own and will benefit from their own.

These include discounts on the overall bill, extra Clubcard points, money off phone insurance and extra data (see the full list here).

This won’t save you tonnes of money, but taking a small discount on five plans can mean decent savings every month. Or you can add extra data to avoid charges. Overall it’s a nice-to-have benefit.

Useful link: Our guide to the best family plans

No discounts for extra members on Sky

Breakdown of discounts per GB data

How it works

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

With Sky you can add up to 7 extra SIM only deals or 5 extra phone contracts on your account, letting you manage them all from one place. But there’s no direct discount for doing so.

But you can share your rolled over data in your piggybank with other users in your account. So if someone has used up all their data you can stop them from incurring extra charges by gifting them some data.

This will be useful for most families, as having a little data in the bank for emergencies can help keep a parent’s mind at ease. You might also want to trade in your data for a discounted device for a family member.

We wouldn’t say Family Plans are Sky’s strong suit, but their piggybank benefit is genuinely brilliant and can make managing multiple accounts less of a headache.

Useful link: Manage parental controls on Sky Mobile

Our verdict on family plans

Win for Tesco Mobile

“While Sky’s data sharing benefit is very helpful, Tesco just go the extra mile in rewarding you for bringing your family onto their network.”

Compare pricing and deals

Benefits you get on Tesco but not on Sky

What unique benefits do Tesco Mobile offer their customers?

Tesco Mobile better than Sky Mobile

Tesco’s Clubcard scheme can help save money on shopping

Tesco Mobile discount calculator

How it works

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Tesco shoppers might be familiar with the Clubcard. This lets you collect points for shopping which you can save up and use to get money off your shopping later. You might not know this can be used on Tesco Mobile too.

First of all you get access to exclusive, cheaper SIM only and phone deals just by having a Clubcard. Look out for the deals labelled “Clubcard prices” on their website. These change now and again, so keep an eye open.

But as a Clubcard holder you’ll earn points from your monthly Tesco Mobile bill, the same as you’d gain them from shopping. After collecting enough points you can then get vouchers to get money off your Tesco Mobile bill (read more here).

It’s a brilliant scheme if you’re a Tesco shopper, but even if you’re not you can get a bit of money off while not having to pay anything extra. You’ll have to be loyal to Tesco to make the most of it, but in any case it’s a great scheme.

Useful link: How to join your Clubcard and Tesco Mobile accounts

Comparing their prices and deals

SIM only plans Sky Mobile vs Tesco

Are Tesco Mobile SIMs better than Sky Mobile?

SIM card between Tesco Mobile and Sky 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+)

Minutes: (0+)

Contract

Maximum length: (Any)

Added features

Special offers on Tesco Mobile vs Sky

Which network’s got the best offers this month?

Special offer ribbon with Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Phone contracts on Tesco vs Sky Mobile

What differences are there between Tesco and Sky’s contracts?

Smartphone between Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Tesco Mobile offer very flexible phone deals

Tesco Mobile Anytime Flex and woman on phone

Read full terms

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

In one way Tesco’s and Sky’s phone contracts are similar. Both are based on a finance agreement (essentially a loan) for the cost of your phone and a separate monthly payment for your usage (minutes, texts and data).

However, Tesco give you more flexibility in choosing the length of your contract. You can choose a contract length of 12, 18, 24, 30 or 36 months which will change how much you pay at the end of the month.

You can also choose from four different upfront costs (you can choose not to pay one too). Whatever your combination of upfront cost and contract length you’ll end up paying the same overall for your phone.

Finally, you get the freedom to change your usage plan whenever and you can pay off your loan early if you want to upgrade to a new model on a new contract. You won’t incur any fees for doing so (read their terms and conditions here).

Useful link: Read full ins and outs of Tesco’s Anytime Upgrade

Sky offer a bit less flexibility on phone contracts

Sky Swap contract screenshot

What is Swap?

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky’s phone contracts aren’t massively different from Tesco’s as they’re still based on a finance agreement. But there are some key differences that might help your decision between the two.

With Sky you have to commit to your usage plan for 12-months, while Tesco let you change your usage plan after 30 days. You also can’t pay off your loan before 12-months with Sky.

There are fewer options for contract lengths, as you can only choose between a 24-month and 36-month contract. Generally you can’t choose to pay an upfront cost either, so you can’t reduce your monthly bill.

But after that 12-month period you can still upgrade early or trade in your phone with their Swap contracts to pay off your loan (though we don’t recommend this) and their prices are very competitive (compare phone contracts here).

Useful link: Our guide to Sky Mobile Swap contracts

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Minor win for Tesco Mobile

“Tesco offer just a bit more flexibility than Sky, but your choice should ultimately come down to which offers the best price for your phone. Use our comparison tool to see which can off you the best deal.”

Compare pricing and deals

More Sky Mobile articles

Other Tesco Mobile guides