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

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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: 4th September 2023.

Vodafone's unlimited data deals

Do Vodafone’s unlimited data plans really have no limits?

Vodafone unlimited data SIM banner

Certain plans have speed limitsRead latest info

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The answer is both yes and no. All of Vodafone’s unlimited data deals give you an unlimited UK data allowance, but some of their plans are speed capped.

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 take any of these on SIM only or phone contracts. Historically, they used to be the only Vodafone plans with 5G, but you now get access to the technology on all their pay monthly plans (except for 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: you’ll struggle to do much with the speed cap

Vodafone Lite SIM only plan

Data is unlimited, but 3G speeds onlyGet this plan

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The cheapest of Vodafone’s unlimited data plans is their Unlimited Lite deal, which you can take as part of a phone contract or a SIM only plan. But speeds on this plan are limited to just 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).

Those kinds of speeds are only really fast enough to browse the internet and social media. You’ll notice a lot of buffering when streaming even low quality video, but audio streaming should be possible.

But what’s the point in taking out an unlimited data plan when the speeds you get are so slow you’d struggle to use up much data anyway? We think it’s only 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 limited to a more practical 10 Mbps

Vodafone unlimited plan

Endless data but only at 4G speedsGet this plan

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Vodafone’s “Unlimited” deals are their mid-range Unlimited data plans that you can take with your phone contract or as a SIM only plan. These are limited to 10 Mbps and are between their Lite and Max plans on price:

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

Considering Vodafone’s typical 4G speeds sit at 25.9 Mbps according to independent network testers Opensignal, you can see that being on this plan gives you an inferior experience to users on other plans.

What’s potentially more frustrating is that you’re missing out on Vodafone’s fastest 5G speeds, which sit between 100.6 Mbps - 146.19 Mbps according to Opensignal and Speedtest, and peak at 315.35 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 get better coverage on Vodafone than other networks with unlimited data plans in your area then this plan can be a good option. But we think most users will want faster speeds with their deal.

Useful link: Use our SIM only comparison tool

Unlimited Max plans are best if you use lots of data

Vodafone Unlimited Max Plan

Highest costs but no speed limitsGet this plan

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If you take out an unlimited data deal you probably want to use lots of data with the fastest possible speeds. Vodafone’s Unlimited Max plan does all that, which is why we think it’s the best choice of the three.

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:

But those fast speeds come at the highest prices of Vodafone’s Unlimited deals. Still, this plan is the best choice for heavy data users such as streamers or mobile gamers who may find the extra cost worth it.

Useful link: Latest on Vodafone's 5G rollout

Get entertainment subscriptions on certain Unlimited plans

Vodafone Entertainment subscription

Choose from three servicesHow it works

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You can take a Vodafone Entertainment deal with unlimited or non-unlimited data on a 12 or 24-month contract. These plans give you a subscription to one of these three entertainment services for a premium cost.

The 10 Mbps speed capped version:

And the full speed one too:

They typically cost about £6 more than the same plan without a subscription, so it’s not a freebie. It’s better to look at these as discounts for the subscriptions, as it is cheaper than buying both separately.

Useful link: Read more about the choices on offer

Choose up to three extra benefits on their Xtras plans

Vodafone Xtra Plans

Higher costs for more benefitsSee 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.

The sorts of things you can get include unlimited picture messages, free device care, inclusive roaming (read more below), 50% off smartwatch connectivity and six unlimited data boosts (see full 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.

These plans are the only way to have inclusive EU roaming on your Vodafone plan (unless you’ve been on a contract for a long time). If you definitely want to join Vodafone, this plan is the best choice for roaming.

Useful link: Latest on Vodafone's 5G rollout

Vodafone's unlimited data abroad

Inclusive roaming only comes on plans with 3 Xtras

Vodafone's Global Roaming

Inclusive roaming on highest end plansAll roaming benefits

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Vodafone have split their roaming destinations into different zones. You’ll be able to use your UK allowance at no extra cost in different zones depending on which Xtras deal you take.

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

You’ll also be limited to 25GB while abroad, which is also the case for their Unlimited Max plan with 3 Xtras. If you’re just going to the EU you’d be better off just getting a 25GB deal with 3 Xtras instead.

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 unlimited data deals at much lower prices

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:

You get full-speed 5G on every one of their plans. You currently get 5G in 484+ UK towns and cities on Three, which is a lot more than you get on Vodafone with just 141+ live 5G locations.

Three also offer much faster 5G speeds according to independent network testers Opensignal and Speedtest. Typical 5G speeds sit between 237.7 Mbps - 286.27 Mbps, with peak speeds up to a blistering 696.73 Mbps.

Roaming works similarly to Vodafone on Three. On most plans you’ll have to pay £2 a day to use your plan in the EU (read more), but they offer roaming passes on their Complete and Value plans (see our guide here).

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 prices for unlimited data are higher than Vodafone’s

EE unlimited data banner

Speed caps on EE’s lower end plansSee 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 more widespread 4G data signal than Vodafone and provide typical 4G speeds that are also twice the speed of Vodafone’s. But check EE’s coverage and Vodafone’s coverage before joining either.

There are some speed caps on EE depending on which plan you take. Some of their unlimited plans have a speed cap as low as 10 Mbps, which is the same as Vodafone’s “Unlimited” deals, so be careful of these.

Similar to Vodafone, EE only include EU and worldwide roaming as premium benefits. You can get their Roam Abroad pass on lots of EE’s premium plans, but they don’t include nearly as many destinations as Vodafone.

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 data deals are cheaper and more flexible

SMARTY unlimited data speed

No speed caps on any planSee 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 with no speed caps on any plan.

You get the network features such as WiFi calling and access to free WiFi hotspots that you’d expect from larger networks on SMARTY. Just make sure you get good signal in your area using SMARTY’s signal map here.

And you get all of that at much lower costs than on Vodafone. The only major reason you’d join one over the other would be which one has better signal near you (check Vodafone’s coverage vs SMARTY’s coverage here).

Useful link: Learn more about SMARTY

Unlimited data guides on other networks

More Vodafone guides