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EE mobile review 2018: a superior network but do their benefits match?

EE Mobile review

We look beyond EE's 4G coverage and fastest speeds at everything else you get with their SIM only plans or phone contracts. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: September 5th 2018.

Overall rating

EE

SIM Sherpa rates EE as excellent even if their deals do come with a premium price tag ★★★★☆ (4/5, excellent)

"If you want a mobile network that's going to deliver the UK's fastest 4G speeds, plus the best national coverage, EE are still the clear best choice.

Our guide below shows their leading network is complemented by some useful perks but that EE's deals can be on the expensive side."

The 3 best bits

1) The very best coverage in the UK
2) Fastest 4G speeds of all providers
3) Shared plans with discounts and data-sharing

The 3 worst bits

1) WiFi calling has too many device restrictions
2) Deals are generally more-expensive
3) Many benefits are time-limited

In our 2018 EE review

Overall rating

Our verdict

Overall rating

Network review

Network

4G/3G/2G coverage
Data speeds
Call quality
Free WiFi hotspots
Tethering
WiFi calling

Perks review

Perks & extras

Inclusive roaming
Spending caps
Rewards/incentives
Multibuy discounts
Free subscriptions
Data-saving schemes
Data rollover

Deal review

Deals

Special offers
SIM only plans
Phone contracts
Pay As You Go
Mobile broadband

Customer service review

Customer service

Ofcom data

Rating EE's mobile network

Coverage: you still get the UK's best 4G coverage on EE

Check EE 4G/3G coverage

Use their map to check EE's reception near youUse coverage checker

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

EE are one of the four main providers in the UK who own and operate their own mobile network of masts up and down the country (the other three are Vodafone, O2 and Three).

They were the first to offer 4G when it launched in 2012 and the other networks have never caught them up in terms of the number of places they offer it. In fact, 99% of the UK population can now receive EE's 4G signal.

But EE aren't just sitting back. if you join them you'll benefit from their constant investment to bring 4G to places where people don't live but do travel through. Like railway lines, roads and countryside.

They want 95% of the UK's geography to receive 4G by 2020.

For us, not only do EE already have the best mobile network but they're also investing the fastest to keep improving it in future, which all their customers benefit from. That makes them our best choice for coverage.

Useful link: See what EE's coverage is like where you use your phone

Our rating:
★★★★★ (best choice)

Rank:
1st

Call quality: EE now top the table thanks to 4G Calling

4G calling on EE's network

EE's tests results have improved since last yearMore about 4G calling

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

EE are probably best known for their 4G data, because they've also focussed their marketing around it.

But if you're looking for the best network for call quality (how quick they connect and sound quality), tests show EE could be a good choice. That's according the results of independent tester P3's most recent report.

Their results put calls EE top of the pile ahead of Vodafone, Three and O2 for connection speed and audio quality. We'd say this is partially thanks to EE's rollout of 4G Calling technology.

EE's guide to 4G Calling here has full details about the benefits of 4G calling. It's worth noting you'll need to be on Pay Monthly to get it and you should check if EE support your phone here if it's something you're keen on.

Useful link: What EE customers are saying about calls

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (very good)

Rank:
1st out of 4

Better than:
Vodafone, O2, Three
(and providers that use them)

Equal to:
BT Mobile

WiFi calling: EE had the first scheme and it's one of the best

WiFi calling on EE reviewed

You'll need a supported device for EE WiFi callingAll about EE's scheme

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

If you find yourself somewhere where there's no conventional mobile signal like underground or in a building with thick walls, there's now an alternative. It's called WiFi calling and only a few operators provide it.

Instead of using regular mobile signal for calls, WiFi calling lets you use a WiFi connection instead. EE were the first network to offer this but others have now caught up too.

We rate EE's scheme highly if your phone's supported so check your phone is on this list here before you join on SIM only, or choose one of these models if you're taking out a phone contract.

You'll need to join pay monthly, because EE don't support WiFi calling for their pay as you go customers.

Useful link: See if your phone's supported by EE's WiFi calling

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
3rd of 6

Not as good as:
Three, Vodafone

Free WiFi hotspots: all you get is free WiFi on the Underground

Free WiFi on the Underground with EE

YouTube on The Tube: free WiFi at stationsHow to connect on EE

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

Given that EE are owned by BT, it's surprising their customers don't get access to BT's network of thousands of free WiFi hotspots. It's just one of the differences between EE and BT Mobile you can read about in our guide.

We can't help but wonder whether this is a deliberate move from EE so that their customers use up more of the mobile data each month, because they can't connect to free WiFi outside the house.

At least on EE you will get free WiFi on London's Underground network, which allows visitors and residents of the capital to keep using their phones in hundreds of stations on the transport network.

Overall, it's fair this isn't EE's strong point. In our guide to mobile networks with free WiFi we only give them an average rating for this category.

Useful link: How free WiFi on the Underground works from their official guide.

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
Joint 4th

Same as or better than:
Everyone else

Tethering: it's allowed on all EE's plans

EE tethering guide

Tethering may use up data more quickly than usualSee extra data costs

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

Just in case you've never heard of tethering, it's a function on most modern smartphones that lets you turn your mobile into a portable WiFi hotspot.

Your phone takes the regular mobile data signal and turns it into WiFi signal, to which you can connect other devices like laptops or tablets. It's useful for when you want to get these online but there's no regular WiFi.

Some networks don't allow it because it can hog bandwidth but EE commendably let you tether on any of their plans: pay monthly or pay as you go, phone or SIM only.

That makes EE our joint-best choice for tethering.

But remember you're more likely to overshoot your data allowance when you're tethering so make sure you're comfortable with EE's extra out of allowance charges listed here.

Useful link: Read EE's tethering guide for more details

Our rating:
★★★★★ (Joint best choice)

Rank:
Joint 1st

As good as:
Vodafone, O2, BT, Plusnet, Tesco

Better than:
Three, iD Mobile, Virgin Mobile

EE benefits reviewed

Inclusive roaming: EE get our second best rating

EE's inclusive roaming plans

48 free roaming destinations in the EUSee countries included

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

We rate EE as one of the better networks for roaming because they go beyond the new minimum requirement that every provider must let you use your UK minutes, texts and data abroad in EU countries for no extra cost.

This benefit is included as standard across all EE's pay monthly plans (SIM only or phone contracts) and lets you go to these 48 free roaming destinations without paying extra for your regular usage.

Where EE go one step better is by extending free roaming to a further 5 worldwide destinations Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA on their so-called 4GEE Max plans (more premium options).

You'll always get 4G speeds too when in countries where it's available.

The only reason EE's scheme falls behind Three's Feel At Home roaming is because the number of inclusive destinations is lower and EE's 4GEE Max plans come at a much higher premium than on Three.

Useful links: Full roaming costs on EE

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Rank:
2nd

Not as good as:
Three

Spending caps: EE have some measures to prevent bill shocks

EE data cap alerts

Notifications when you've nearly used up dataHow it works

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

When we're evaluating how networks stop you from accidentally overspending on your bill in this category, we're normally looking for so-called 'capped contracts' or spending caps.

EE don't directly offer contracts that let you set an amount in £ pounds that you're happy to pay for extra usage above your usual monthly spend (BT Mobile and Plusnet Mobile both offer these and use EE's network).

Instead, EE offer the protection of not letting you go over your limit for data usage. You'll get text notifications when you get near your limit and data will stop once you hit it (buy one of these data add-ons to continue).

For us, this doesn't really go very far as there are a million other things you can overspend on like roaming costs, premium numbers, UK minutes (see all their costs here).

Capping data alone doesn't offer full peace of mind. That's why we can only give EE an average rating for spending caps.

Useful link: How EE's data caps work in full

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
4th

Not as good as:
Tesco, iD Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, BT Mobile

Equal to:
All others

Customer rewards: EE offer limited loyalty perks

EE broadband customer data boost

Some minor perks if you also have EE broadbandSee broadband deals

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

In this section of our reviews, we're basically looking for extra sweeteners that mobile providers give their customers along the way once they're in-contract to reward them for loyalty.

One way that EE do this is by letting existing customers add two of the perks available for new customers: free Apple Music and BT Sport access, if they didn't get them when they first signed up.

Other than that, there's a reward on your mobile deal for signing up to broadband from EE too. You'll get a monthly 5GB boost to your data allowance.

Overall, EE don't compare as well in this category as other networks like O2 whose popular Priority rewards scheme gives their customers daily deals for high street and online shops, plus exclusive tickets for music gigs and sporting events (read our full EE vs O2 comparison here).

Useful link: See all EE's reasons to join them from their official site

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
9th

Not as good as:
O2 Priority, Tesco Mobile Clubcard points...

Equal to:
Most others

Shared plans/multibuys: handy discounts and 'data gifting'

EE data gifting

Share data with other people on your accountHow data gifting works

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

In this part, we're looking for how networks encourage you to take out extra deals for family members or friends with discounts or shared plans.

This is something EE are working quite hard on. They now offer 10% off any extra pay monthly deal you add to your account (phones, SIMs, mobile broadband or tablets).

They also let you do something called data gifting. This where you can move chunks of data around each of the plans on your account, if someone runs out and someone else has some spare.

It's a decent effort from EE but we still say the best shared plans are BT Mobile's Family plans (which use EE's network). These give you large savings for every extra SIM you add to your main BT Mobile deal (read our Family SIM review here).

Useful link: All benefits of EE's family accounts

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (very good)

Rank:
2nd

Not as good as:
BT Mobile

Better than:
All others

Entertainment subscriptions: EE give you two in one deal

Free Apple Music on EE

Apple Music and BT Sport app on pay monthlyLearn more

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

When it comes to included entertainment subscriptions, we currently rate EE as the best provider in the UK.

That's because all their pay monthly plans (phone contract or SIM only) let you claim subscriptions to two services at once: Apple Music and the BT Sport app.

Apple Music is a service similar to Spotify with millions of songs, podcasts and audiobooks to listen to. The BT Sport app lets you watch what's covered on the TV channels on your mobile.

In a new move, EE are also also giving you free data for listening to Apple Music (see section below).

The only real downside to these are the subscriptions don't last for the entire length of your contract. And if you forget to cancel them while they're free, you'll end up paying for the service as part of your monthly bill.

Useful link: See all pay monthly benefits on EE

Our rating:
★★★★★ (best choice)

Rank:
1st

Slightly better than:
Vodafone, BT Mobile

Much better than:
All others

Data rollover: only some of EE's Pay As You Go deals have it

EE data rollover scheme

Keep unused data for next month on PAYGSee qualifying plans

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

Data Rollover is when mobile networks give you another chance to use up any data you've not previously got through in future months. We've written a whole guide to it here and the networks that offer it.

Each provider has different rules about how long you get to keep your unused data for, and which of their products let you do it all. And on EE, it's a benefit that's reserved for pay as you go (PAYG) customers only.

Take any of these PAYG SIMs with 100MB data or more on EE and they'll include data rollover that gives you an extra 30 days to use your leftover data. You'll also get it on EE's new pre-paid Flex plans.

Regular pay monthly SIMs and phones on EE don't include the benefit, so we can't rate EE highly for data rollover. See our guide for pay monthly data rollover schemes under the link below.

Useful link: Our guide to the UK networks with data rollover plans

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

Rank:
Joint 5th

Similar to:
O2, Vodafone

Free data schemes: stream Apple Music all you like

EE free streaming data

Unlimited data for streaming Apple MusicHow to get it

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

One new concept making its way through only a few mobile providers in the UK is giving you free data for using particular services and apps on your mobile phone. See the networks doing this in our guide here.

If you join EE on a pay monthly SIM only deal or a phone contract, they'll let you stream music on the Apple Music app without eating into your data for 6 months.

It's a good scheme if you're into Apple Music. But it has the obvious disadvantage of being time limited (although you can redeem it at any point during your contract, you don't have to use it immediately).

A much better scheme is Three's Go Binge with unlimited data for Netflix and Apple Music streaming, plus a number of other services. It lasts your whole contract and covers way more apps.

Useful link: Full Apple Music streaming data details and terms

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Rank:
2nd

Not as good as:
Three

EE's deals compared

Overview of EE SIM only options

Number of plans available:
Price range: £ - £ a month
Contract lengths:
SIM card sizes: Standard, Micro, Nano

Minutes allowances:
Texts allowances:
Data allowances:
Data speed: 4G on all plans

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EE's Christmas Mega Deals

In the run up to Christmas, EE have launched a series of decent offers that focus on SIM only and phone contracts including:

20GB for £20 a month (12-month SIM only contract)

30GB for £25 a month (12-month SIM only contract)

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a phone to give as a present, EE's 30GB for the price of 10GB offer could come in handy. It's available on these phones:

Samsung Galaxy S9 for £48 a month with £10 up front (24-month contract), iPhone 8 for £53 a month with £10 up front (24-month contract) or the Google Pixel 3 for £53 a month with £30 up front (24-month contract).

The SIM only offers end 9th January and the phone deals end on 7th January.

Useful link: See all EE Christmas deals > (opens in new tab)

Phone contracts on EE summary:

Pay monthly phones on EE

EE's range is one of the biggestCompare phone deals

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

iPhone: Yes, full range of latest models
Samsung Galaxy: Yes, latest flagship plus mid-range
Other makes/models: Google, Huawei, HTC, LG, Nokia, Sony
Upfront costs: Depends on model
Locked to EE?: No

Contract lengths: 24 month only
Contract types: Regular. No handset financing.
Expected ease of passing credit check: Typical

EE's smartphone contracts are offered in the straight-up old-fashioned way of a 24-month contract and upfront fees depending on the value of your device (there's no financing or early upgrades available).

They're one of the few places you can get Google's Pixel handset on a contract (BT Mobile are the others).

We rate EE as typical in terms of how hard it is to be accepted on one of their contracts via a credit check.

See popular phones at EE.co.uk: iPhone | Samsung Galaxy | All makes

Our rating:
£££££ (above average cost)

Rank:
4th most expensive

Not as cheap as:
Most others

Cheaper than:
Vodafone, BT Mobile, O2

Pay As You Go: get more data free every 3 months with EE

Pay As You Go on EE

500MB extra free data for every 3 monthsSee EE's PAYG deals

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

There are now two main ways to do pay as you go in the UK: either you top up and pay for minutes, texts and data as you use them, or you pre-buy a bundle that you renew every month.

EE's PAYG deals work on the bundle method. You can't literally just pay as you go (see Three's 321 plan).

While we don't like the inflexible nature of EE's deals, the bundles themselves are about averagely priced and there is a nice benefit that might make them appeal to you:

Every 3 months, EE will reward you for renewing your bundle by adding 500MB extra data to your account. And they'll just keep doing this more and more the longer you stay.

Our rating:
£££££ (average)

Rank:
4th

Not as cheap as:
Three, giffgaff, iD Mobile

Similar to:
O2, Vodafone

EE customer service reviews

Customer service: EE perform well in Ofcom rankings

Ofcom complaints data

EE are one of the less complained about providersEE's UK call centres

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

When you're running a mobile network across the country with millions of customers, people are bound to experience problems, whoever their with. The key is how well mobile providers resolve their customers' issues.

When companies don't deal with consumers' problems, that's when they go to the government ombudsman Ofcom. So we look at how many complaints they receive about EE for our measure of customer service.

Happily, Ofcom receive fewer complaints per 100,000 customers about EE than the average across all providers (3 per 100k compared to 5 per 100k).

A factor in this decent score could be that EE have invested in UK and Ireland call centres, which many people find more satifactory to deal with rather than operations abroad.

Useful link: Read about EE's UK & Ireland call centre

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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