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Vodafone's Be Unlimited data plans with 5G: how they work & prices

Vodafone logo and 5G mobile signal bars

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We explain how Vodafone's new 5G-ready unlimited data, Lite and Max SIM only plans work, their benefits and compare their pricing. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 10th July 2019.

In a nutshell

Vodafone have launched 3x new unlimited data SIM only plans

Vodafone unlimited data SIM banner

Unlimited gigabytes but some speed limitsRead latest info

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From 10th July 2019, Vodafone have been selling a new range of 3x plans with unlimited minutes, texts and data. It's been timed to co-incide with switching on their new 5G network. And they're being sold as 5G-ready.

Although each plan doesn't have any data allowance limit that you can overshoot while in the UK, Vodafone have built in a data speed limit into each of the deals.

In this guide, we're going to review each of the plans, explain what its speed limit it is and what that would mean if you signed up to Vodafone on it.

We also take you through Vodafone's rollout of their 5G network and whether that should influence your decision to take one of these plans. We also look at Vodafone's competition for unlimited data.

Useful link: Read Vodafone's own guide

Differences between the plans

Unlimited Lite: unlimited data but limited to 2 Mbps

Vodafone Lite SIM only plan

3G speeds but no data allowance limitsGet this plan

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The cheapest deal currently comes in at £23 a month on 12-month contract with an unlimited data allowance with a capped speed of 2 Mbps:

Or as a 1-month contract:

How fast is 2 Mbps? The answer is not very. Old-fashioned 3G was capable of downloads at this speed (downloading for 24hrs a day solid at this speed would use approximately 650GB in a month).

Realistically, 2 Mbps is only going to be good for basic usage like checking social media, browsing the internet and audio streaming. Video streaming may need to buffer at this speed. Gaming would be tough.

When you're limited to this speed and these types of applications, we’d question whether there's a point in even having an unlimited data allowance. Vodafone may have launched this just to get a nice low "from" price.

If you're only ever using those things on your phone, you'll more than likely find a full 4G-speed SIM with a capped data allowance enough for your needs, which you can probably get cheaper elsewhere.

Useful link: Compare all SIM only plans here

Mid-range Unlimited plans have a healthier 10 Mbps cap

Vodafone unlimited plan

Unlimited data capped at basic 4G speedsGet this plan

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Vodafone’s mid-range Unlimited plan comes in at £26 a month, on a 12-month SIM only contract. It gets you as much data as you like at a higher 10 Mbps max speed:

It's also available as a 1-month deal too:

This speed will be useful to a lot more people, as it will comfortably support data-heavier activities like standard definition video streaming and even High Definition depending on the app you use.

10 Mbps is below the typical speeds of around 21 Mbps you could expect on average on Vodafone’s 4G mobile network. And remember it’s a max speed. Actual speeds could be lower depending on location.

If you use your phone in an area with better Vodafone coverage than other networks with unlimited data, this plan could be a feasible option (although we'd always compare prices first).

Useful link: Use our SIM only comparison tool

Unlimited Max plans always give you Vodafone’s best speeds

Vodafone Unlimited Max Plan

At Vodafone's best 4G/5G speedsGet this plan

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The most-expensive of the Unlimited plans is the Max, which we think will be the most appealing deal. It comes in at £30 a month on the 12-month contract, which is already cheap for Vodafone.

Or on a 1-month contract:

These plans don’t have a top speed cap. Vodafone say they’ll deliver the very best speed for the area that you’re in. So they’ll be suitable for downloading large files quickly or streaming in UHD if you’re in a fast area.

It's also the only plan here to make proper use of connecting to Vodafone’s brand-new 5G network. You will need a phone that has 5G as a feature (still pretty rare) and to be in a Vodafone 5G-covered area.

If neither of these applies, you'll be connecting to Vodafone's 4G network, on which we'd expect top-notch speeds around 44 Mbps via 4G+ or around 21 Mbps over regular 4G (but can be lower too).

There's definitely a point in having unlimited data in this case, because you're going to be able to use data-hungry applications like UHD streaming and modern gaming.

Useful link: How fast will Vodafone's 5G be?

Two plans are available with an entertertainment subscription

Vodafone Entertainment subscription

Choose an entertainment subscription on topHow it works

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Vodafone have also released two versions of their unlimited plans that also include a subscription to an entertainment service, available only as 12-month contracts.

The 10 Mbps speed capped version:

And the full speed one too:

Both plans are priced £6 more expensive per month than their equivalent versions without a subscription, so bare in mind this is not a freebie.

Useful link: Read more about the choices on offer

The Unlimited Plans work with Vodafone's Global Roaming

Vodafone's Global Roaming

We're still waiting for the full termsAll roaming benefits

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Vodafone roaming page here explains how they operate two different roaming zones Vodafone, depending on what plan you have. One covering just the EU, the other 77 worldwide countries.

The Unlimited Lite and Unlimited plans come with EU roaming. The Unlimited Max plan gets you the full 77 Global Roaming Plus countries.

If you read Vodafone's page on Global Roaming here, you'll see that the unlimited plans get you 25GB data a month to use while you're in an inclusive country for no extra charge.

That's no real surprise and 25GB is a huge amount to be using at home, never mind on a temporary trip to another country.

Useful link: More about Vodafone's Global Roaming

What's Vodafone's 5G network like?

Vodafone's 5G network has only launched in a few cities

Vodafone 5G network map

5G's only available in selected citiesSee future locations

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Vodafone are the second UK mobile network to switch on the beginnings of their 5G network. As always, big projects like this start off in major towns and cities first.

Currently 5G is only available in parts of Glasgow, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol. Use their 5G coverage checker here to find the precise locations within those cities.

They also have plans to roll out 5G in 12 more towns and cities up and down the country in the coming year too (see full list of future locations here).

In terms of speed predictions, Vodafone are expecting typical average of 150 - 200 Mbps, which would rival home fibre optic broadband from Virgin Media. And even peak speeds of 1 Gbps!

For the unlimited plans, it's worth noting that only the Max plan will get you 5G speeds. The other two are capped at 2 Mbps (3G speed) and 10 Mbps (mediocre 4G speed). And again you'll need a 5G-ready phone and be in an area with 5G.

If you don't have either of those, it's worth comparing against other 4G unlimited data SIMs (which we do below) first, because you could be paying a premium with Vodafone for 5G you'll never use.

Useful link: Vodafone's own guide to their 5G network

How the plans compare

SMARTY's 1-month unlimited 4G data SIM is cheaper

SMARTY unlimited data speed

No speed limits, unlimited 4G dataSee full deal

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If you've not got a 5G-ready phone or live in a 5G area, SMARTY's unlimited data SIM is worth a look. It's cheaper and on a shorter contract:

SMARTY use the Three mobile network for their coverage (check your signal here). They're a no-frills, online-only company owned by Three themselves but ran separately.

It's worth stressing this deal won't ever get you access to 5G like Vodafone's. But as it's on a 1-month plan, you're free to jump ship with no notice - just cancel your payment and you're free.

Useful link: Learn more about SMARTY

Three have a range of unlimited data options too

Three unlimited data banner

24-month contract with 4G dataSee full deal

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There's a choice of 3x unlimited 4G data plans on Three too - each with a different contract length:

None of these guarantee access to 5G when Three launch it. But they will be delivered at Three's best possible 4G speeds in the UK.

Virgin Mobile and giffgaff also have deals, which could be considered unlimited data, which we review in our guide to unlimited data here.

Useful link: Three's 5G rollout plans

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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