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Tesco Mobile vs Sky: differences between the two networks

Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile logos with vs lettering

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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: 6th July 2023.

In our Tesco Mobile vs Sky guide

Latest offer news

Comparing their networks

Same: coverage on Sky and Tesco Mobile

Are there any coverage differences between the two networks?

Tesco Mobile and Sky logos with Signal bars

4G/3G/2G coverage is identical on Sky and Tesco

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 Virgin Media O2.

One of the best parts about using O2’s network is their fantastic call signal (2G/3G). Total calling blackspots are very rare, even out in the sticks. Both are joint-first for covering the UK’s landmass for calls.

For rural 4G data (see 5G below) they’re 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 in urban areas is largely the same as other networks.

When we tested our Tesco SIM vs our Sky SIM in the same test phone we found no built-in signal differences between them. You should get identical coverage on one network as on the other.

Useful link: How Tesco Mobile work with O2

5G is now offered on both networks as standard

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’ll currently get 5G in a long list of 750+ UK towns and cities on both providers. That means you get 5G in more locations on both networks than on any other UK provider.

Coverage within those locations is also typically quite good. This will depend per location, but you’ll usually get it in the busier streets, at stadiums, transport hubs and even sometimes in the suburbs.

You have to add 5G as an add-on with Sky, but this is free to do. 5G works 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

“Both provide full access to O2’s network, so there are no differences for coverage. Your choice between them will come down to the better benefits either network offer.”

Compare pricing and deals

Same: data speeds on Tesco and Sky

Are there any speed differences between Tesco and Sky Mobile?

Speedometer icon with Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Data speeds seem identical on both networks

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 them.

We use results from independent network testers Opensignal to see what typical 4G speeds look like on each network. Speeds on Sky and Tesco’s hosts sat around 16.8 Mbps, making them the joint-slowest of all networks.

But what about 5G? Results from Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla put typical 5G speeds between 80.57 Mbps - 92.3 Mbps, with peak speeds up to 214.2 Mbps. But again, they’re slower than other networks.

While there is no difference in speeds 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


“There are no in-built differences for speeds between the networks. Again, your choice between them will come down to the benefits and deals they offer.”

Compare pricing and deals

Different: extra network features

Do you get WiFi calling and WiFi hotspots on both networks?

WiFi calling icon between Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile logos

Tesco’s new WiFi calling scheme is better than Sky’s

Screenshot of Tesco’s help section on WiFi and 4G calling

Read more

at tescomobile.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.

Thankfully, both networks offer WiFi calling as a solution. This is a feature that lets you connect to calls over WiFi instead of conventional call signal. Both networks now offer it on all their plans.

You also get 4G calling on both which does the same thing with 4G signal and both let you send/receive SMS texts over WiFi and 4G. But only Tesco let you transfer from a WiFi call to a 4G call without it dropping.

Both have short lists of supported devices (see Tesco’s here and Sky’s here). We found devices not on their lists don’t work for WiFi calling. But Tesco’s list is growing fast, with more compatible devices than Sky.

Useful link: Our guide to the best WiFi calling networks

Neither network have customer-exclusive WiFi hotspots

Sky WiFi app screenshot

Find nearby hotspots

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

We like networks that offer WiFi hotspot schemes, as it’s a nice way to save customers a bit of data on the go. It’s not as crucial as it used to be, as free WiFi is more common now, but it’s still handy.

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 provide WiFi hotspots, but anyone can access these for free, not just Sky Mobile customers. That means it’s not an additional benefit of joining Sky Mobile.

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

Tesco Mobile win

“While they’ve only recently brought it out, Tesco already surpass Sky for WiFi calling. While Sky have WiFi hotspots, these aren’t an exclusive benefit for their customers. So Tesco take this one.”

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Comparing their benefits

Roaming on Sky Mobile vs Tesco

Which network is better for using your SIM abroad?

Roaming globe Tesco and Sky Mobile

Tesco will remove their inclusive EU roaming

Tesco Mobile roaming charges banner

Check free countries

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Tesco have said they will remove inclusive EU roaming from their plans at the end of 2023. Until then you can still roam in these 48 EU countries at no added cost, but after 2023 you’ll have to pay to roam.

They still don’t have a fair usage policy, meaning you can use as much of your data allowance abroad as you like. If you’re an existing customer, you can continue to enjoy their roaming until the end of the year.

But new customers might want to join a different network to get inclusive EU roaming for their entire contract. It’s a real shame Tesco are removing theirs, as they used to be one of the best choices for roaming.

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). Bear their roaming changes in mind when deciding to join Tesco Mobile or not.

Useful link: Full information on roaming with Tesco Mobile

Sky Mobile also don’t include EU roaming

Sky Mobile roaming passport

See costs & countries

at Sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky Mobile removed their inclusive EU roaming a while ago. That means new customers can no longer use their UK allowance in the EU at no added cost.

It’s £2 for every day you roam in these EU countries. Like Tesco, Sky don’t limit your data usage abroad so you can use up to your entire allowance. That’s a small consolation for paying to use your SIM abroad.

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 more people care about EU roaming and Sky aren’t a good choice for this. As it stands they’re worse than Tesco for EU roaming, but that’s due to change. And at least they’re better than Tesco for worldwide roaming.

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

Our verdict on roaming:

Win for Tesco

"Tesco Mobile are the better roaming network for now. However, we’ll have to wait and see what their roaming charges look like once they bring them out. Sky’s worldwide roaming is better, but Tesco’s better EU roaming gives them the edge here."

Compare pricing and deals

Data rollover on Tesco Mobile vs Sky

Which networks let you hold onto your leftover data?

A wallet between Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Sky let you hold onto unused data for up to 3 years!

Sky Mobile piggybank banner

Read full benefits

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

Usually when you use up all your data then you’ll have to stop using it or pay extra data charges (see Sky’s here). So users might end up buying a bigger plan than they need to avoid going over their allowance.

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.

And if you don’t need your rolled over data, Sky let you trade it for discounts off phones or tablets. Sky let you do more than other networks with your unused data, so that’s why it’s the best scheme in our eyes.

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

Tesco don’t offer data rollover at all

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.

If you use up all your monthly data then you’ll have to either stop using data until the end of the month or a data bundle at these rates. They’re not hugely expensive, but it’s best to avoid having to pay 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:

Sky are better for letting you use up the data you’ve paid for. But it’s still better to take a plan that best suits your needs. If your needs change per month, however, then Sky’s scheme is great for you.

Useful link: Use Tesco Mobile’s data usage calculator

Our verdict on unused data schemes

Easy win for Sky Mobile

“Sky have by far the best data rollover scheme of all networks, while Tesco Mobile don’t offer it at all. And we don’t imagine they’ll bring it out any time soon.”

Compare pricing and deals

Unlimited streaming on Sky and Tesco

Which provider is better for streaming on the go?

Smartphone with video streaming icon between Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Sky include free streaming data for 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 without it coming out of your allowance. Keep in mind that ads may use up your data, but other than that you can watch your favourite shows on the go without worrying about your usage.

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’re often bored on your commute or want to keep the kids entertained on a long trip, then Sky are a good option if you’ve got a Sky TV package at home through Sky or Virgin Media.

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

Tesco Mobile let you take an unlimited data plan

Tesco Mobile SIM and an unlimited data roundel

See latest pricing

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Tesco don’t have any free data streaming benefits like Sky’s scheme, but at least they offer unlimited data plans while Sky Mobile don’t.

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 don’t mind the high cost then it’s better than what you get with Sky as you can do what you want without ever going over a limit. However, it’s a high end option while Sky offer their benefit on all plans.

Useful link: Use Tesco Mobile’s data usage calculator

Our verdict on streaming benefits

Win for Sky Mobile

“Sky let you stream their apps as long as you want even on their cheapest plan. The only way to get anything similar is to buy an expensive unlimited data plan on Tesco.”

Compare pricing and deals

Family plans on Tesco Mobile vs Sky

Which provider is better for signing up to multiple plans at once?

Family with Tesco Mobile and Sky logos

Get Family Perks for adding multiple users on Tesco

Tesco Mobile Family Perks banner

See full perk list

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Tesco let you add up to four extra plans onto your account to manage them all in the same place. And on top of that Tesco give you extra benefits for doing this:

You’ll benefit from their Family Perks scheme, which lets you and every user you add choose an extra benefit each month. These include discounts on your bill, extra Clubcard points and more (see the full list here).

Or if you take out a 1-month unlimited data plan marked as a “Family Pack” deal, you can add extra unlimited data SIMs at a hugely discounted price, potentially saving you money across multiple plans.

There’s no general big discounts, but you can save a bit with Family Perks. Their Family Packs are nice for stopping extra data charges, but can be hard to work out if it’s worth it. Tesco do a lot to help families overall.

Useful link: Our guide to the best family plans

Sky don’t offer any family plan discounts

Breakdown of discounts per GB data

How it works

at sky.com
(opens in new window)

Sky let you add up to 7 extra SIM only deals or 5 additional phone deals onto your account. This lets you manage your plans in one place, but they don’t offer any discounts for doing this.

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 is handy for families as it’s good to have a bit of data to use for emergencies and prevent extra charges. Or you can trade it in and get a discount on a new 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

“We think Sky’s data gifting is a fantastic benefit, but the fact is you don’t get any money off your additional plans while Tesco give you a nice discount. Tesco win this one.”

Compare pricing and deals

Benefits you get on Tesco but not on Sky

What do Tesco Mobile offer that Sky Mobile don’t?

Tesco Mobile better than Sky Mobile

Tesco’s Clubcard scheme can save you money

Tesco Mobile discount calculator

How it works

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

If you regularly shop at Tesco you would have heard of the Clubcard. This gives you points that you can turn into vouchers to get money off your shopping. But this also works with Tesco Mobile as well.

Firstly, 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.

As a Clubcard holder you’ll get points for paying your monthly Tesco Mobile bill, the same as you would by shopping. Once you’ve got enough points you can convert them to vouchers to get money off your bill.

It’s a great scheme if you’re a Tesco shopper, but if not you can get a bit of money off while not paying 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

Which network provides the better value deals?

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Special offers on Tesco Mobile vs Sky

Which network’s got the best offers this month?

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Phone contracts on Tesco vs Sky Mobile

How are both networks’ phone contracts different?

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Tesco Mobile offer great flexibility on their phone deals

Tesco Mobile Anytime Flex and woman on phone

Read full terms

at tescomobile.com
(opens in new window)

Tesco and Sky’s phone deals are similar in one way. That is both base their phone contracts around finance agreements (loans) with the cost of your phone and usage (mins, texts, data) plan as separate payments.

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.

And you can choose an upfront cost from four different options (you can choose no upfront cost as well). No matter what your contract length and upfront cost you’ll pay the same amount for your phone in the end.

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 don’t offer as much flexibility on their 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.

You have to commit to your usage plan for 12-months whereas you can switch your usage plan after a month on Tesco. And Sky don’t let you pay off your entire loan before 12 months.

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.

After your first 12 months you can upgrade early or trade in your device with their Swap contracts to pay the rest of your loan (but we don’t recommend this). On price they’re a very competitive choice (compare costs here).

Useful link: Our guide to Sky Mobile Swap contracts

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Minor win for Tesco Mobile

“Tesco offer that little bit of extra flexibility, but in the end your choice between them should come down to which one offers the best price for your device. You can find the best deal using our phone comparison tool.”

Compare pricing and deals

More Sky Mobile articles

Other Tesco Mobile guides