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Vodafone unlimited data plans: we see if they're truly unlimited

Vodafone logo and 5G mobile signal barsVisit

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We run the rule over the terms and conditions of Vodafone's new 5G unlimited data plans to see if they're genuinely unlimited. Last updated: 29th April 2022.

Vodafone's unlimited data deals

Are Vodafone’s unlimited data deals actually unlimited?

Vodafone unlimited data SIM banner

Some plans are speed cappedRead latest info

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Yes and no. While you do get an unlimited amount of data to use as you wish in the UK, some of their plans have a cap on data speeds.

Vodafone sort their unlimited plans into three tiers: Unlimited Lite, Unlimited and Unlimited Max. We describe the differences between these further down the page.

You can get all of these on phone contracts or SIM only plans. They used to be the only plans that offered 5G, but now all of their pay monthly plans offer the faster technology (apart from Basics).

Here we'll review each one of these plans, show the speed limit of each and what that would mean if you signed up to Vodafone on it. We’ll also compare them to other networks.

Useful link: Read Vodafone's own guide

Differences between the plans

Unlimited Lite: the speed cap is almost unusably low

Vodafone Lite SIM only plan

Unlimited data, but only 3G speedsGet this plan

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Vodafone’s Unlimited Lite plan is the cheapest unlimited data plan they offer, and you can get it on SIM only or as part of your phone contract. By taking this plan you’ll be capped at speeds of 2 Mbps.

Here's current prices for Unlimited Lite SIMs on Vodafone:

If you’re unfamiliar with how speeds work, 2 Mbps is similar to the sort of speeds you’d get over traditional 3G (if you downloaded constantly for 24hrs a day, you’d use up 650GB in a month at these speeds.)

That sort of speed will only be good enough for browsing the internet and social media. You’ll really struggle to stream video even on low quality, but you might just get by with audio streaming.

But there’s really no point getting an unlimited data plan that gives you speeds so slow that you can’t do anything that would use a lot of data in the first place. We imagine it’s there so Vodafone can advertise a low starting price.

If you’re only going to browse on your phone you’re better off with a capped data SIM as you’re unlikely to use up all your data browsing. You’ll be saving a lot more money this way, so it’s best to look elsewhere.

Useful link: Compare all SIM only plans here

Unlimited plans are capped at a more usable 10 Mbps

Vodafone unlimited plan

No limits on data but low-end 4G speedsGet this plan

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Vodafone’s mid-range Unlimited data plans are just called “Unlimited” and they also come on SIM only or phone contracts. These plans cap you to 10 Mbps and are in between their Unlimited Max and Lite plans for price:

Here are Vodafone's current SIM only deals on the Unlimited plan:

While this is still a lot slower than Vodafone’s typical 4G speeds (21.6 Mbps) it’s still generally more useful than their Lite plan. You’re also missing out on the speed benefits of Vodafone’s 5G (between 73.3 Mbps - 159.40 Mbps).

With speeds of 10 Mbps you can watch standard definition videos without buffering and comfortably stream music. Browsing the internet and social media should work just fine, just not particularly fast.

If you’re somewhere with better Vodafone coverage than other networks with unlimited data, this could be a viable option, but we’d imagine most people want something a bit faster.

Useful link: Use our SIM only comparison tool

Unlimited Max are the best choice if you’re a heavy data user

Vodafone Unlimited Max Plan

No speed caps for premium pricesGet this plan

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Most users who take an unlimited data plan do so because they plan on using up a lot of data with super-fast speeds. This plan ticks those boxes, so that’s why we think most users would rather take this one than the others.

This is the only Unlimited plan to give you access to Vodafone’s fastest 4G/5G speeds. You’ll connect automatically to the strongest possible signal. This is the best plan for those wanting to download large files.

Here's the current best Unlimited Max deal:

Here are all the combinations of Unlimited Max plan on Vodafone:

It’s obviously the most priciest of all Vodafone’s Unlimited plans. But we think it’s the most useful plan for people who need unlimited data for gaming or streaming, so we think it’s worth the extra cost.

Useful link: Latest on Vodafone's 5G rollout

There are two Unlimited plans that come with entertainment subscriptions

Vodafone Entertainment subscription

A choice from three servicesHow it works

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Vodafone offer premium Entertainment plans on unlimited and non-unlimited data plans, which give you a subscription to one of three entertainment services at a higher cost. These come on 24-month and 12-month contracts.

The 10 Mbps speed capped version:

And the full speed one too:

These are usually about £6 pricier than their non-Entertainment plans, so it’s not a freebie. It’s better to look at these as discounts on the cost of the subscriptions, as it is cheaper than buying both separately.

Useful link: Read more about the choices on offer

Choose a maximum of four extras with their Xtras plans

Vodafone Xtra Plans

You’re paying more to get moreSee their guide

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If you want a bit more out of your plan and you don’t mind spending a little extra, then Vodafone’s range of premium Xtras plans might appeal to you. You get up to four added benefits you wouldn’t otherwise get.

These benefits include free device care, unlimited picture messaging, inclusive roaming (how many destinations will depend on your plan), six unlimited data boosts and 50% smartwatch connectivity (see more details here).

We’re honestly not sure these extras are really worth the cost. Most users won’t get much use out of all of them. It’s a waste of money to pay for extra benefits that you won’t end up using.

It’s currently the only way to get inclusive EU roaming on Vodafone (unless you’re a long-term existing customer) so if you’re absolutely sold on going with Vodafone this is your best option for roaming.

Useful link: Latest on Vodafone's 5G rollout

Vodafone's unlimited data abroad

Inclusive roaming is only on plans with 4 Xtras

Vodafone's Global Roaming

You’ll have to pay more to get inclusive roamingAll roaming benefits

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Vodafone have separated their roaming destinations into different zones. Which of these zones you can roam in with your regular UK allowance depends on which plan you take, but only Xtras plans include it now.

Their Unlimited Max plan with four Xtra benefits gives you inclusive roaming in 83 worldwide destinations, where their limited data plans with four Xtra benefits only give you inclusive roaming in EU destinations.

They also operate a fair usage limit of 25GB while abroad. This applies to their Unlimited Max plan with 4 Xtras. If you’re only going to roam in the EU you might as well just get a 25GB plan with 4 Xtras.

Still, it’s already a lot of data to get through in a month, let alone on a short to medium-length trip abroad. And just offering worldwide roaming these days certainly makes Vodafone stand out.

Useful link: More about Vodafone's Global Roaming

How the plans compare

Three offer typically much cheaper unlimited data plans

Three is Vodafone’s biggest competitor for unlimited data and they arguably offer better plans. Unlimited data is available on every phone contract. On SIM only, Three offer cheaper plans without speed caps:

They offer 5G on all their plans without any speed caps. You get 5G in 300+ locations on Three, making it the most widespread 5G network in the UK. Vodafone have a comparatively small 120+ locations.

And according to results from independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla, users on Three get 5G speeds between 103.9 Mbps - 246.65 Mbps, making them the fastest 5G network in the UK.

One disadvantage to Three is their roaming. With them you’ll have to pay £2 a day to access your usual UK allowance while abroad (see more details), where Unlimited Max Xtra lets you roam without extra charges.

The biggest downside of being on Three vs being on Vodafone is Three’s comparatively poor 4G coverage. In any case, you should check their network coverage in your area before you buy.

Useful link: Three's 5G rollout plans

EE's unlimited data deals are more expensive than Vodafone’s

EE unlimited data banner

No speed caps on EESee full details

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By far Vodafone’s biggest competitors are EE, as they’re the UK’s largest network. Their unlimited data plans also come with no speed limits:

EE have a slight advantage over Vodafone for 4G coverage and have typical 4G speeds almost twice as fast as Vodafone’s. But check both EE’s coverage and Vodafone’s coverage in your area before going with either.

While abroad, EE let you use 50GB of your plan. That’s double what Vodafone give, but we doubt you’ll ever need that much. With EE you can share up to 120GB from your plan with others on your account.

It’s up to you whether these advantages are worth the extra cost. Vodafone’s most expensive unlimited plans are still cheaper than EE’s.

Useful link: Full FAQs on EE's unlimited data plans

SMARTY's unlimited plans are cheaper and offer more flexibility

SMARTY unlimited data speed

You get unrestricted super-fast 5G speedsSee full deal

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SMARTY are a cheaper sub-brand of Three and offer the cheapest unlimited data plans on 1-month deals. They also give you access to Three’s great 5G network.

You’re also getting most of the network features you’d get with bigger providers on SMARTY, such as WiFi calling. It's worth checking you have decent SMARTY/Three signal using their coverage checker.

Since you now get 5G, WiFi calling and WiFi hotspots on SMARTY, the only big reason to join one or the other is whichever network has better coverage in your area (check SMARTY’s coverage vs Vodafone’s coverage here).

Useful link: Learn more about SMARTY

Unlimited data guides on other networks

More Vodafone guides