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Vodafone vs EE: coverage, 4G/5G speeds and benefits compared

Vodafone and EE logos and VS text

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We compare EE and Vodafone head-to-head to see which has the better mobile network, extra perks and pricing on SIM only and phone contracts. Last updated: 4th July 2022

In our head-to-head guide

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Mobile network quality: EE vs Vodafone

Signal coverage on EE vs Vodafone

Which network offers best signal coverage?

Vodafone and EE logos and mobile signal bars

EE and Vodafone are both brilliant for 4G coverage

Countryside dotted with 4G indictors

See coverage target

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

EE and Vodafone are two of the four main mobile networks in the UK (O2 and Three are the others) and as such own and operate their own networks. Each has its pros and cons.

Vodafone are quite a bit better for call signal (3G/2G) coverage as they have more of the UK’s landmass covered than EE. You’re less likely to find yourself in a total blackspot on Vodafone than on EE.

In terms of 4G this is flipped around. EE hold an advantage for rural 4G as well as providing it in some pretty surprising locations. In large towns and cities there’s basically no difference between them.

Your decision between the two should come down to which one has better coverage in your area. Use their coverage checkers below to check anywhere you expect to have to use your phone, not just at home.

Useful link: EE's geographical 4G expansion plans

EE have much better 5G coverage

Vodafone best network banner

Latest 5G news

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

If your phone is 5G-ready then you’ll have better luck getting 5G on EE than on Vodafone. We consider EE to be the best network for 5G (read our review here).

EE currently cover 160+ locations with 5G vs Vodafone’s 120+ locations. That’s already quite a big difference, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

When EE declares a location covered they only do so when 5G is available in 50% of that location’s area. Coverage within locations can be quite poor on Vodafone, but this varies per area.

So not only does EE cover way more places with 5G, but they’re better at covering their locations. But it’s still worth using their coverage checkers just in case.

Useful link: How Vodafone have been improving their network

Use their coverage checkers

Don't just check at home, test everywhere you'll take your phone

Vodafone coverage map

Vodafone coverage checker

Check Vodafone signal

using their official checker
(opens in new window)

EE coverage map

EE coverage checker

Check EE signal

using their official checker
(opens in new window)

Our verdict on coverage:

A close win for EE

"We’d say good 4G coverage is the most important as you get good data speeds and you can pair it with 4G calling. EE clearly has the advantage for 4G and 5G, making Vodafone’s better call signal seem less important."

Compare pricing and deals

How 4G/5G speeds compare on EE vs Vodafone

Which network has the faster speeds?

EE and Vodafone logos with a speedometer

EE have by far the fastest 4G speeds

EE 5G locations on map of United Kingdom

See future 5G cities

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

You’ll spend most of your time on 4G with both networks, so it’s important to know which network gives you the better 4G data speeds.

Independent network testers Opensignal’s results show typical 4G speeds on EE to be around 44.0 Mbps vs 21.6 Mbps on Vodafone. So on average, EE are more than twice as fast.

In reality, speeds will vary depending on location. Both networks were capable of giving speeds over 100 Mbps in city centres. But Vodafone tends to slow down below 10 Mbps in rural areas, while EE can keep a consistent 20 Mbps.

Again, it will really depend on your location. We think you’ll have a bit more luck streaming HD video outside the city on EE, but in the city there shouldn’t be a massive difference between the two.

Useful link: About EE's faster 4G+ service

5G speeds about equal between them

Vodafone 5G locations map

Read 5G rollout news

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

While you’ll spend most of your time on 4G, some might want the fastest 5G speeds possible. If you’re in a 5G-covered location with a 5G-ready phone what sorts of speeds can you expect?

Results from Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla put EE’s 5G speeds between 131.9 Mbps - 158.30 Mbps vs speeds between a weirdly low 73.3 Mbps - 159.40 Mbps on Vodafone.

The variation on Vodafone’s speeds might be explained by people using 5G on the fringes of their 5G coverage. That’s all the more credit to EE’s brilliant 5G coverage. But peak speeds should be pretty similar between them.

So 5G speeds might be a little more consistent on EE, but it will really vary per location. We’d expect there to be little difference between them most of the time.

Useful link: EE's 5G vs 4G guide

Our verdict on 5G/4G speeds:

Win for EE

"EE have the fastest 4G speeds in the UK by a country mile. In built-up areas there shouldn’t be too much difference between them, but EE is better at getting you fast 4G on the go."

Compare pricing and deals

WiFi calling / 4G calling on Vodafone vs EE

Which has the best network features to keep you connected?

Vodafone and EE logos and some gears

EE offer WiFi calling on all plans

EE WiFi calling

Check device support

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

EE now offer WiFi calling and 4G calling as standard on all pay monthly plans and even their pay as you go monthly bundles. This helps a lot with their patchier call signal (3G/2G).

WiFi calling makes it possible to connect to calls over WiFi connection rather than conventional call signal. Since EE’s call signal isn’t great at getting into buildings this helps you stay connected indoors.

4G calling is the same but for 4G signal instead. This improves the quality of the call when you’re connected to 4G and improves coverage as your phone can use more available signal for calls.

The only problem is that Android models not bought from EE directly aren’t guaranteed to work with WiFi calling. But their list of supported phones is huge so most people shouldn’t have too much trouble getting it to work.

Useful link: EE's help guide on WiFi calling

Vodafone’s supported phones list is limited

Vodafone WiFi calling scheme

See supported phones

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

Vodafone’s WiFi calling has got a lot better. You can now send SMS messages over WiFi (like you can on EE) and they now support more phones. But there are still some limits. Firstly it’s not available on their no-frills Basics plans.

These strip out any roaming, WiFi calling or 4G calling but are much cheaper than Vodafone's main set of SIM only deals:

Also, like with EE, Android models bought from other networks or from the manufacturer aren’t guaranteed to work. And our own tests found Vodafone aren’t being defensive when they say this, they won’t work.

So if you just want to join on SIM only, it might be worth testing your SIM as soon as it arrives to see if WiFi calling works. If not you always have the choice to return it within 14 days of its arrival.

If you join on a phone contract with Vodafone, then WiFi calling will work on the models that are listed as having WiFi calling as a feature (check the specifications on each model).

Useful link: Vodafone's WiFi calling info page

Our verdict on WiFi calling:

Win for EE

"Not only do you have a better chance of getting WiFi calling to work on EE, but it’s also a better implemented feature on EE too."

Compare pricing and deals

Perks and benefits on EE vs Vodafone

How roaming compares on Vodafone and EE

Many networks have removed inclusive EU roaming. But do these networks still offer it?

Branded roaming icons from EE and Vodafone

Vodafone offer roaming on select premium plans

Vodafone Global Roaming

What you can get

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

Vodafone no longer offer inclusive EU roaming as standard. You’ll either have to pay a daily rate while abroad in the EU, or you can take select premium plans that offer inclusive roaming.

It’s only available on their plans with 4 Xtras. These are pricier plans that give you some added extras, one of which is inclusive roaming. On their non-unlimited 4 Xtras plans you get inclusive roaming in 51 EU destinations.

If you want to go beyond the EU and you don’t mind investing a little extra cash, then you can take their Unlimited plan with 4 Xtras to get inclusive roaming in 32 additional worldwide destinations.

These deals give you the full 81 countries:

Roaming has unfortunately become a premium feature on Vodafone. On regular pay monthly plans you’ll pay the daily rate and you can’t roam at all on their Basics plans. Overall, you’ll be spending a lot.

Useful link: All roaming costs on Vodafone

EE offer roaming passes on premium plans

Free EU roaming on EE

See latest destinations

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

EE have similarly got rid of their inclusive EU roaming scheme, meaning you’ll have to pay a daily rate to roam in their EU destinations or pay for a daily data add-on if you go further abroad.

However, they do offer a Roam Abroad pass as a benefit on their Smart plans. These are similar to Vodafone’s Xtras plans and give you certain benefits for a pricier plan.

Choose extra roaming as a Smart Benefit with any of these:

So, like Vodafone, roaming has become a premium feature on EE. It’s a shame as EE are one of the pricier networks, so the fact you have to pay more to roam means being on EE can get pricey quickly.

In any case, both offer premium options for worldwide roaming, but Vodafone do offer a lot more destinations overall. We’d say there are better networks for EU roaming, so look elsewhere if that’s a priority for you.

Useful link: All other roaming costs on EE

Our verdict on roaming:

Vodafone win

"Neither offer free inclusive roaming anymore, but Vodafone’s worldwide roaming is still a standout feature, even if it is costly."

Compare pricing and deals

Extra benefits compared on Vodafone and EE

Do EE or Vodafone's plans come with better additional perks?

EE and Vodafone benefit icons

EE offer Smart benefits and entertainment trials

EE Smart Benefits banner

How they work

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

On all pay monthly plans you’ll get free trials to four different entertainment services (with free data use on these). If you’re willing to shell out a little extra you can also get extra benefits with their Smart plans.

These Smart benefits are a free Video Data Pass (data use on certain apps won’t come out of your allowance), their previously mentioned Roam Further Pass and certain entertainment subscriptions.

All these lets you choose at least one Smart Benefit:

It’s usually the case that you’ll save money with a Smart plan vs paying for a non-Smart plan and the benefit separately. But you should always make sure you’re actually saving money overall.

Useful link: EE's guide to their Smart Benefits

Vodafone don’t offer many added extras

VeryMe banner

See example offers

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

Vodafone don’t offer much to make their plans more worth the cost. This is a shame as they tend to be pricier than other networks. But they do offer some extras on more premium plans.

You’ll notice some plans labelled as “Entertainment Plans”. These include subscriptions to certain entertainment services, but are usually around £6 more expensive than their usual plans, so it’s not like it’s a freebie.

Pick an inclusive subscription with any of these SIM only deals:

All pay monthly plans do get their customers free access to Vodafone’s VeryMe rewards scheme, which gets you special offers, freebies and discounts on high-street restaurants, shopping and experiences.

If you’re someone who loves searching for the best possible deal then this might be for you. But in the end it’s more of a way of getting you to spend money with their associates than a way of saving you money.

Useful link: Read our full Vodafone review

Our verdict on extra benefits:

EE win

"Getting free subscriptions that you can activate any time already makes your EE deal a little bit more valuable. Their Smart plans can also get you more than Vodafone’s Entertainment plans."

Compare pricing and deals

Vodafone and EE deals and pricing

Comparing SIM only plans on Vodafone and EE

Are EE or Vodafone's SIM only deals cheaper?

Vodafone and EE SIM cards

Networks

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Added features

Our verdict on SIM only pricing:

No clear winner

"SIM only plans on both networks tend to be a lot pricier than some of their no-frills competitors and are similarly priced to each other. Neither offers particularly amazing value."

Compare pricing and deals

Special offers running on Vodafone and EE

A quick look at the promotions running on both networks this month

Special offers logos in Vodafone and EE branding

Comparing phone contracts on EE and Vodafone

Are you better off taking a pay monthly handset from Vodafone or EE?

EE and Vodafone logos with a generic white phone

Vodafone offer flexibility with their EVO plans

Vodafone Evo How it works

Compare phone contracts

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

Vodafone offer phone contracts with their EVO scheme, which splits your monthly bill into two payments. One is a finance agreement (a loan) for the cost of your phone, the other is for your usage (mins, texts and data).

This means you can choose a contract length anywhere between 12 and 36 months, you get the flexibility to change or leave your usage plan whenever you want and you can choose an upfront cost.

Because you’re paying a loan you can also pay lump sum amounts to reduce your monthly bill. But they don’t let you upgrade early. You can only upgrade after 12 months by trading in your phone, which we don’t think is worth it.

They do tend to be one of the pricier networks when you buy direct, so you might want to look at Vodafone’s sub-brand VOXI or at resellers like Carphone Warehouse for a better deal.

Useful link: Compare Vodafone phone contracts

EE only offer traditional phone contracts

Compare phone contract prices

Use phone deal finder

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

It seems like EE have gone about tearing up their partnerships with third party retailers like Fonehouse, ChitterChatter and earlier Carphone Warehouse, who all used to sell EE phone contracts.

Now, the only way to join EE for a phone deal is direct via their website, or go into a store. You’ll join on a more “traditional” 24-month contract, where it’s one payment covering the phone and usage.

There’s no finance, so no option to upgrade early, pay off your phone early, change your usage plan or set a different contract length or upfront cost. Flexibility isn’t EE’s strong suit.

But you do get all the benefits of being an EE customer listed above and their prices are actually pretty fair despite them being one of the more expensive networks.

Useful link: Use our phone contract comparison tool

Our verdict on phone contracts:

Little to split them

"While Vodafone's phone contracts might be a smidge cheaper than EE's, there's little to split them for benefits. Their network in your local area and which of their perks you like best might be the deal clincher."

Compare phone prices

More Vodafone guides

More articles about EE