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Vodafone review: why the network's gone down in our view

Vodafone logo, phone and SIM cardVisit vodafone.co.uk

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Having joined Vodafone as real mobile customer, we review their 4G/5G coverage, speeds and benefits from our own experience. Last updated: 21st November 2023.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates Vodafone as a very good network
 (3.5/5, very good)

The 3 best bits

1) Excellent UK coverage
2) Above-average data speeds
3) Worldwide roaming as an add-on

The 3 worst bits

1) Slower rural 4G speeds
2) WiFi calling support patchy
3) History of poor customer service

"From a network point of view, Vodafone are an extremely safe pair of hands. Their calls/4G coverage is excellent, they have the extra features you’d expect like WiFi calling and their 5G is decent where available.

Data speeds vary massively depending on where you are, from explosive in city centres to frustrating in the country and anywhere in between. Vodafone probably vary the most of any UK network.

We’re disappointed to see even EU roaming become a premium feature with Vodafone though. Although, if you’re a frequent long-haul jet-setter and willing to invest, their Global Roaming plans are unbeatable.

Their SIM only plans can be pricey but phone contracts via other retailers can work out very good value. Their customer service is still concerning. Overall, the inconsistencies make it hard to give Vodafone a huge score."

How good is Vodafone’s customer service?

Worse than average but improving. The government regular Ofcom receives an above-average number of complaints about Vodafone’s customer service but this has been improving over the last few years, with fewer complaints per 100,000 customers than previously.

Is Vodafone good for 5G?

Vodafone have got the faster technology in the fewest declared places of any network so far and their speed scores measure up slower than other providers too. 5G isn’t currently Vodafone’s biggest strength.

Does Vodafone have its own network?

In the UK, yes it does. Vodafone is one of the main four mobile network operators in the UK with its own network.

Can I move my number to Vodafone?

Yes. As with any provider, text 65075 with the word PAC from your old SIM and they’ll give you a code you can give to Vodafone so they can transfer your phone number to Vodafone for you.

Information symbol We're a professional reviews website but we bought our Vodafone SIM card as a regular consumer, to test what it's actually like for real life paying customers. The contents of this review are a combination of our expert industry knowledge and what we experienced during our test.

Vodafone's mobile network

Coverage for calls and data is genuinely impressive

Vodafone's coverage map

Check signal near you before joiningCheck signal now

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

Vodafone are one of the main UK networks, meaning they provide call (2G/3G) and data (4G/5G) signal using their own network. They have the joint-best coverage for calls of all networks and are just behind EE for 4G.

In our real life tests we got mobile signal basically everywhere. You’ll rarely lose signal entirely unless you’re somewhere geographically strange. And indoor call signal was also consistently good in our testing.

You can still find areas without 4G, usually in very rural areas. It simply depends on location. In some rural areas we got a pretty good 4G connection, while in the town or city you should basically always get 4G.

We popped our Vodafone SIM into a test phone to see how strong their signal is in different locations. This included the built-up areas in the city, smaller towns and villages and in the middle of the countryside.

Out in the countryside we were happily surprised with how consistently we got 4G data signal, even if speeds did begin to slow down there.

We stayed on 4G most of the time in the areas where people actually live, such as in towns and cities. And in the city centre we sometimes got superfast 4G+ signal.

Vodafone’s call signal tends to be good at getting through building materials, which actually made testing their WiFi calling more difficult as we couldn’t get weak enough call signal for WiFi calling to kick in.

But we can only test how signal is near us, so we can’t say how signal is in the whole of the UK. It’s best to check coverage in your area using their signal map before you buy.

We think most people will like the mix of coverage you get with Vodafone. But it’s always worth checking signal in your area using their coverage checker. Check at home, at work and anywhere else you usually go.

Useful link: Vodafone's latest network news

4G speeds can be incredibly fast or disappointingly slow

Vodafone 5G banner with runner

5G provides their fastest data speedsRead 5G difference

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

According to independent network testers Opensignal’s latest report, typical 4G data speeds sit at 25.9 Mbps. In our real life tests we got much faster and slower speeds than that, so we see how it averages out.

Those are similar speeds to what you’d get over mid-range home broadband and will let you stream HD video without too much buffering. But speeds will vary more by location on Vodafone based networks than on others.

We tested 4G data speeds at the same time that we tested their signal in various different locations.

In rural areas, speeds suffer more on Vodafone than they do on other networks. In our tests we went as low as 5 Mbps. This is probably due to Vodafone prioritising wide coverage at the expense of rural speeds.

Data speeds will usually race ahead in the city. We got speeds as high as 110+ Mbps over 4G+ signal in and around the city centre.

So by averaging out those results you can see how Opensignal got their result. It’s worth knowing that the average doesn’t always reflect reality and you can speed ahead or slow to a crawl depending on location.

Opensignal’s results are only typical speeds and don’t give you the full picture. In real life you’ll usually get much faster speeds than that in the city centre and much slower speeds in the countryside.

There are speed caps on some of Vodafone’s plans (mostly on their Unlimited data plans) so make sure to check before you buy your deal so you can be sure to get the fastest possible speeds.

Useful link: How Vodafone are improving their network

Our data speed rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Joint 2nd

Not as good as:
EE, Three (Joint First)

Better than:

5G coverage and speeds are a bit underwhelming on Vodafone

5G coverage map

They are still expanding their 5GSee locations

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

Vodafone currently have 5G live in 160+ UK towns and cities. They’re still behind all the other UK networks for the number of 5G locations. But you don’t really have to worry about that if you get 5G near you.

No network is able to fully cover their locations with 5G, and it’s still on a street by street basis (check your area here). You can usually get 5G in busy areas like shopping centres and stadiums.

According to network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla, typical 5G data speeds sit between 100.6 Mbps - 146.19 Mbps with peak speeds up to 315.35 Mbps. That’s a huge improvement over 4G.

Again, Vodafone’s 5G isn’t bad. You might be in an area where Vodafone have better 5G coverage than any other network. That’s why it’s important to check your local area before signing up to a new network.

Useful link: Latest 5G rollout news and locations

Our coverage rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Joint 2nd

Not as good as:

Better than:

WiFi calling and 4G calling are great features

Vodafone WiFi calling

Connect to calls with WiFi/4G signalSee supported devices

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

WiFi calling is a fairly standard feature across all networks these days. Vodafone offer it on most plans, letting you connect to calls with WiFi signal where conventional call signal (3G/2G) is weak.

All plans now come with WiFi calling as standard with Vodafone (except their Basics SIMs). But you’ll have to make sure your phone is supported. Androids bought elsewhere than Vodafone can be problematic.

We popped our test SIM into a few phones that we didn’t buy from Vodafone directly to see if we could get WiFi calling to work.

When testing our Vodafone SIM only plan in our test iPhones we got both 4G calling and WiFi calling to work without issue. But it was tougher to get it working with our test Android models, especially older ones.

It was actually hard to get WiFi calling to “kick in” as we could hardly find anywhere in the house with weak enough call signal on Vodafone.

In our own testing we found we could move from a WiFi call to 4G without our call dropping, which is in line with what Vodafone themselves said. If you move from WiFi to 3G/2G however your call will drop.

All in all, call quality was typically great and we were connected to calls as fast as we would have been over conventional call signal.

And you can send and receive SMS texts using WiFi signal, which is useful now and again for getting bank confirmation texts or anything else you need to connect to texts for.

If Vodafone support your phone model, then their WiFi calling will be brilliant for smashing indoor blackspots and staying connected wherever you happen to be.

Useful link: Full details on getting WiFi calling to work

Our WiFi calling rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Joint 3rd

Not as good as:
Three, EE, iD, O2

And they offer a good amount of extra network features too

London Underground sign and Big Ben

Get your eSIM right after paying for itRead guide

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

You no longer get access to free WiFi hotspots on the Underground on Vodafone, meaning they’re the only network without a WiFi hotspot scheme in place (O2 have the largest of the main networks).

Vodafone do let you tether non-data devices to your data signal. There’s no limits to this and no extra costs for doing so (even with their Basics SIMs). It also works while you’re roaming abroad too.

Call forwarding to another number is also supported on Vodafone. It even works on their Basics SIMs, but won’t work on their pay as you go bundles.

Vodafone also offer visual voicemail, letting you go through your voicemails one at a time. And you can join them on an eSIM directly. Not a lot of networks offer these features, so it’s great Vodafone offer both.

The only thing you’re missing out on are free WiFi hotspots. Vodafone used to offer these, but not anymore. That means they’re now the only main UK network without WiFi hotspots.

Useful link: Read our guide to visual voicemail

Our extra feature rating:
★★★★☆ (very good)

Joint Last

Not as good as:
BT Mobile, Virgin Mobile, O2, EE

Same as:
All others

Vodafone's additional benefits

Vodafone’s roaming is pretty good but comes at a cost

Vodafone Global Roaming banner

Inclusive roaming on some premium dealsRead why

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

Vodafone only include EU roaming on plans with 3 Xtras, with non-unlimited plans letting you roam in 51 EU destinations. But you can roam in these 83 destinations on their priciest Unlimited data plan with 3 Xtras.

On other plans it’s £2.25 a day to roam in the EU and £6.85 in their worldwide destinations. And you’ll be limited to 25GB of data while there. That’s a bit annoying, but it’s more than some networks let you use.

The most popular worldwide destinations like the USA and Australia are covered, and even destinations like Japan and India are also included. But there are still a lot of remote countries that aren’t covered.

Vodafone are one of the best networks for worldwide roaming, but we think most people will care more about going to the EU for short trips. For that there are much better options out there (read our guide here).

Useful link: See Vodafone’s worldwide destinations

Our EU roaming rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)


Not as good as:
O2, Virgin, 1p Mobile, ASDA Mobile, Talkmobile, SMARTY, iD Mobile, Plusnet, giffgaff, Honest Mobile

Better than:
Tesco Mobile, EE, Three, VOXI and all others

Their Xtras plans are decent for premium users

Vodafone Xtra Plans banner

The best benefit is worldwide roamingSee what you get

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

We talked above about how you get worldwide roaming on Vodafone’s Xtras plans, but these plans also come with more benefits that can help you get a bit of extra value out of your plan.

You’ll get unlimited pictures messaging and free device care all on plans with 3 Xtras (along with roaming). But on their non-unlimited plans with 3 Xtras you can replace one of these with 6 Unlimited data boosts.

Inclusive EU and worldwide roaming only come with 3 Xtras plans. Their non-unlimited data 3 Xtras plans let you roam in 51 EU destinations. You need their Unlimited data with 3 Xtras plans to get worldwide roaming.

In all, we think most people would take an Xtras plan for the inclusive roaming as the other benefits aren’t exactly groundbreaking. But if you like these benefits then you’ll be even happier n on a 3 Xtras plan.

Useful link: Vodafone’s full guide to their Xtra benefits

Entertainment plans can be good value overall

Entertainment subscriptions

Higher costs than their other plansSee what you get

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

Vodafone offer certain SIM only deals that they call “Entertainment” plans. These plans come at a higher cost to their regular ones, but include subscriptions to select services.

When you take one of these plans you get to choose one of three entertainment services (Amazon Prime, Youtube Premium or Spotify Premium) which you’ll keep for the length of your contract.

You don’t get inclusive roaming on their Entertainment plans, but they offer some Entertainment plans with 3 Xtras. Inclusive roaming works the same on these as it would for non-Entertainment plans with 3 Xtras.

If you definitely want a plan on Vodafone and you were thinking of taking one of these services then you can get better overall value than paying for both separately. But remember, it’s not a freebie.

Useful link: Vodafone's Red Entertainment plan guide

Our rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)


As good as:

Better than:

Their VeryMe app is a nice reward for customer loyalty

Vodafone Very Me Rewards app

Special offers on food, drinks and moreSee example rewards

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

Joining on any Vodafone pay monthly plan or Pay As You Go monthly bundle gives you access to their brilliant rewards app called “VeryMe”:

You get a selection of different time-limited freebies (such as snacks or coffees in select businesses), prize draws for rewards like free holidays and subscriptions, discounts and vouchers.

To get these you just have to go to the VeryMe Rewards section in Vodafone’s app. It’s a handy scheme for getting a bit of money off when eating out or shopping. And there’s always new rewards to suit your fancy.

It’s a nice extra to get on top of your plan, but we think most users won’t make the most of it. You can get some nice value on extras, but nothing mind blowing.

Useful link: Current offers on VeryMe

Our rewards rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)


Not as good as:
O2 Priority

Better than:
All others

Data rollover is a handy benefit on their PAYG bundles

Vodafone Total Rollover banner

Another chance to use your dataHow it works

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

Some UK networks offer a benefit called data rollover, that lets you hold onto the data you didn’t get through in one month for you to use in your next month. That’s another chance to use up the data you paid for.

While it’s not included on their regular pay monthly contracts, you do get it on their Pay As You Go monthly bundles.

Their Total Rollover scheme lets you hold onto the mins, texts and data you didn’t get through for your next month. But bear in mind all their bundles include unlimited mins and texts anyway.

Pay As You Go users will enjoy this scheme, but customers on a pay monthly contract get better overall value on their plans. We’d like this scheme a lot more if they included it on all of their plans.

Useful link: Guide to Vodafone's Total Rollover

Our data rollover rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Joint 4th

Not as good as:

Similar to:
EE and O2

You might also like the other benefits you get on Vodafone

Vodafone additional contracts

Add 9 extra plans on your accountHow it works

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

Vodafone let you add up to 9 extra SIM only or phone contracts to your existing Vodafone account. Doing so will give you a nice 15% discount on every extra plan on your account.

The discount even applies to most of their phone contracts (most networks only discount SIM plans). However, a few of their models don’t benefit from the discount, so check here to see which ones do.

You also get a 3 months free trial to their Secure Net service. This lets you set time limits on your kids’ data usage and set restrictions on what they can access over data. But after the trial it’s £1 a month.

Finally, you can also get extra rewards for referring friends onto Vodafone. Every time you bring a friend onto Vodafone you’ll both get a £50 Amazon reward card each. That can help make up for their high costs.

Useful link: Our guide to the best networks for kids

But you might prefer what other networks offer

Three Go Binge banner

Free streaming data on some VOXI plansSee all apps

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

Vodafone don’t offer any free streaming or social media data schemes. Both Virgin and Vodafone’s sub-brand VOXI let you use some social media apps without using data, and VOXI apply this with streaming apps too.

You can set a cap on extra spending, but the increments Vodafone let you set these at are inflexible compared to some providers. The minimum is £10 and you can only set them £10 at a time up to £100.

Their contracts are also inflexible, as you can only switch to a bigger plan mid-contract not a smaller one. Talkmobile use Vodafone’s network and offer flexible 1-month contracts with £1 spending cap increments.

The cost of your SIM only or usage contract will also go up each year. And, there’s no data rollover on regular plans. Sky Mobile have the best data rollover scheme, letting you keep leftover data for up to 3 years!

Useful link: What are the best networks to sign your kids up to?

Our free data scheme rating:
★☆☆☆☆ (poor)

Joint last

Not as good as:
Three, Sky, EE, VOXI

Same as:
All others

Vodafone plans and offers

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Phone contracts on Vodafone

We go over the sorts of prices and contracts you can get on Vodafone

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Vodafone’s phone contracts are some of the most flexible

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Compare phone contracts

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Vodafone’s phone contracts are all on what are called “split contracts”. These split the cost of your device and usage plans (mins, texts, data) into separate payments that make up your monthly bill.

One big upside of this is that you can choose a contract length for your phone anywhere between 3 and 36 months to suit your budget. And you can change your upfront cost as well (but there is a minimum amount).

And you can pay lump sum amounts to reduce the monthly cost of your device plan. So you can really set up your contract to your budget. But unlike some networks you can’t upgrade to a new device right away.

You also can’t switch or leave your usage plan until the 12 or 24 months are up, even if you’ve paid off your phone. And Vodafone have some of the most expensive phone deals (VOXI tend to offer better value).

And on top of that, passing a credit check for these can be difficult if you’ve missed payments before. But if that’s not an issue then you’ll like the added flexibility that Vodafone offer on their phone contracts.

Useful link: Compare Vodafone phone contracts

Third party retailers can offer better value deals

Carphone Warehouse Vodafone

See Vodafone offers

at carphonewarehouse.com
(opens in new window)

If you’re certain you want a Vodafone phone contract, we’d recommend checking third party resellers like Carphone Warehouse and Mobiles.co.uk for Vodafone deals.

These resellers buy up more phone models in bulk than Vodafone and as such can offer a better value deal on these devices than taking one from Vodafone directly.

You get all the benefits of being a Vodafone customer mentioned above, but you miss out on the flexibility of their EVO plans. You’ll get a 24-month phone contract with no way to change plans or upgrade early.

Use our price comparison tool to compare Vodafone’s phone deals against those offered by third party resellers. You can check chitterchatter, buymobiles.net and mobilephonesdirect also.

Useful link: Carphone Warehouse's Vodafone deals

Pay As You Go plans are decent if you want to stay flexible

Vodafone Pay As You Go options

Data rollover on all PAYG plansLatest pricing

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

Instead of a traditional PAYG scheme where you top up with credit and pay for your usage with that, Vodafone offer a scheme where you pay £1 a day to get unlimited mins, texts and 50MB each day.

If you’re a very frequent phone user this is definitely better value than topping up in the conventional way. But at that point you’d probably be better off on one of Vodafone’s PAYG monthly bundles:

If you do want a proper Pay As You Go scheme, 1pMobile offer the cheapest rates of all UK providers (they use EE’s network for signal):

What we do like is that you won’t lose your credit, so long as you do something to keep your SIM active, like using some data, every 180 days at the very least. They have the best PAYG scheme in our eyes.

Useful link: Compare pay as you go bundle SIMs

Customer service

Lots of ways to get help and an alright complaints record

Ofcom complaints table

Ofcom show complaints per networkRead our guide

at simsherpa.com
(opens in new window)

One way to check the quality of a networks’ customer service is to see how many complaints Ofcom receive from their customers. When a complaint is filed to Ofcom, it means the network couldn’t resolve their issue.

In their latest report, Ofcom measured an increase in the number of complaints they received about Vodafone from 2 to 3 per 100,000, which is also the current industry average.

It’s concerning to see their score getting worse. But, again, it’s still only at the industry average. So we think it should be a relatively smooth experience getting your issues resolved on Vodafone.

We have run into issues with them in the past, however. It can be a struggle if you’ve got issues around bill pricing. But overall, there’s a lot of ways to get help and they’re better at resolving issues than some.

Useful link: Ofcom's complaints data reports

More Vodafone guides

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