BT vs EE Network Comparison 2020: Both networks running on the same network with very different perks.

In this article, we provide a comprehensive review comparing EE & BT Mobile. Read on below to get Half Cooked's full breakdown.

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Who is EE?

EE mobileEE is a British mobile network operator and one of the four major network carriers in the UK. It’s also the largest mobile provider in the country at the moment. EE launched back in 2012 with the merger between T-Mobile & Orange. More recently, EE was acquired by BT, in January 2016. EE offers the fastest 4G data speeds and best 4G network coverage in the country. The network also provides the best 5G coverage and arguably the fastest 5G download speeds. However, the best coverage and fastest speeds come at a higher price point. EE’s 4G coverage reaches 90% of UK geography and over 99% of the population. The carrier’s 5G is active in 80 cities and towns in the UK, and EE aims to roll out to even more locations before the end of 2020.

Pro’s

  • Fastest 4G download speeds and best network coverage in the country.
  • Largest 5G coverage and arguably the fastest 5G data speeds.
  • Allows data sharing up to 100GB.
  • Wide range of handsets.

Con’s

  • Most plans are considerably pricier than other mobile providers’.
  • International roaming is very limited compared to some other networks.
  • 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling not available to PAYG customers.
 

Who is BT Mobile?

BT MobileBT Mobile is one of the biggest mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) in the UK. It uses EE as its network provider, this means BT Mobile offers over 99% population and 90% landmass coverage. The carrier offers pay monthly contract deals for both handsets and SIM only deals. If you’re a BT Broadband customer, you’ll also benefit from discounts; BT Halo customers get discounts and double data on their plans.

Pro’s

  • Best coverage & fastest data speeds with 29 MB/S on 4G.
  • Access to over 5 million Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK saving you data.
  • Family SIM’s with 20% off additional plans and no strings attached 30 day plans.

Con’s

  • Only 12 month plans.
  • Limited loyalty perks.
  • No data rollover.
 

Table of Contents

 

Plans & Pricing

SIM Only Deals

o2-sim-only-dealsThere are two different types of SIM only deals on EE. If you need larger data allowances or unlimited data deals with 5G data speeds then EE’s ‘Smart Plans’ are the right way to go. Smart Plans also come with a free ‘Swappable Benefit’ which you can change every month. To access these perks or larger data allowances you’ll need to sign up for an 18 month contract.

The lower-cost alternatives are called ‘Essential Plans’ and they don’t offer any 5G coverage or free Swappable Benefits. However, you still get the fastest 4G download speeds and the best 4G network coverage in the UK, so these plans still offer great value.

Neither of these two choices offer great flexibility. Both Smart and Essential plans lock you into a long term commitment with EE (for at least a year). If you want to explore them a bit more, we’ve prepared a detailed comparison of EE Essential vs Smart plans.

BT Mobile doesn’t offer any 30-day rolling pay monthly offers. To join their network you have to sign up for a 12 month or 18 month contract. If you’re already a BT Broadband customer you automatically get £5 off a month. BT Halo customers also get double data on all plans, including two unlimited data deals. Even BT Broadband customers can get 100GB data per month at best.

The network allows you to change your data monthly on all their deals. If you’re looking for an unlimited data deal, but don’t have BT Halo you should read Half Cooked’s networks in the UK with unlimited data deals guide.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

We think this is somewhat a close race. You get slightly more data per £ with BT Mobile’s plans, but EE offers faster 4G data speeds and more value with their premium plans. If you’re a BT Broadband and/or a BT Halo customer we’d recommend going with BT, otherwise EE edges it.

Pay As You Go

o2-payg-dealsYou can join EE on a pay as you go basis and use EE’s PAYG in a traditional sense at 30p/minute and 15p/text. However, going old school with EE means you won’t be able to connect to the internet. If you want to use EE’s PAYG service and also access the internet you have to purchase a ‘PAYG Pack’. These are EE’s 30-day PAYG bundles and they offer monthly data allowances. Except the 4GB data pack, all EE PAYG deals come with unlimited minutes & texts.

You may also want to check out EE’s Flex Plans. Both options are similarly priced, but you get a limited amount of minutes with Flex plans.

BT Mobile doesn’t offer any PAYG deals, whether that be a 30-day option or a traditional top up and go PAYG service. You might want to check out giffgaff’s flexible goodybags, SMARTY’s budget friendly mobile plans or VOXI’s deals with endless social media if you’re looking for monthly rolling deals.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE winnerGiven how BT Mobile doesn’t offer any PAYG deals or even monthly rolling plans it’s a clear win for EE here.

Pay Monthly Phones

pay monthly phonesEE has a wide range of mobile devices for customers to choose from, these include flagship phones from Apple, Samsung etc. to low-end devices and even refurbished alternatives. BT Mobile’s store provides mainly the latest devices, which means there is less of the back catalogue than you could get with EE. Older mobile devices tend to offer better value for money so you’ll be missing out on both variety and potentially better deals with BT. On top of that, EE provides lifetime warranty for their devices, which you won’t find with BT Mobile.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE winnerBT Mobile offers a much smaller range of devices when compared with most of the other networks. EE on the other hand offers the widest range of handsets and lifetime warranty, even for the refurbished ones they’re selling.

Network Coverage & Speeds

2G, 3G & 4G Coverage

4G network coverageEE is owned by BT, but BT Mobile uses EE as its network coverage provider. Therefore both networks customers get the exact same network coverage. Given how EE offers the best 2G, 3G and 4G network coverage in the UK, BT Mobile customers also enjoy the best coverage.

There is, however, a difference in download speeds. Even with EE’s basic plans you can reach as high as 60Mbps download speed, while on BT Mobile the most you can get is 30Mbps, unless you purchase the BT Mobile Extra Speed 4G add-on. This will increase the maximum 4G download speed to 60Mbps. The Extra Speed add-on is a monthly rolling contract priced at £4/month. However, if your EE plan is eligible for 4G+, you may get as high as 90Mbps download speeds.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE winnerSince EE and BT Mobile are running on the same network, their network coverage is identical. However, EE makes sure there’s a difference between them and BT Mobile, and it’s the maximum download speeds. EE plans generally offer faster 4G download speeds.

5G Coverage

5g coverageAs stated above BT actually owns EE, but both networks use EE’s infrastructure. This means both carriers offer 5G in the very same locations across the country. Currently, EE provides 5G coverage in 80 cities and towns. Their customers get identical 5G download speeds as well, but unfortunately BT Mobile’s 5G service only works with devices directly bought from their stores and there are only a handful of phones to choose from.

If you wish to join EE, you should know that only EE Smart plans come with 5G, while all BT Mobile plans provide 5G perks at no extra cost.

As always, we’d like to remind you to check the networks’ coverage map before you invest in a 5G handset or a tariff.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE winnerEE and BT Mobile offer identical 5G network coverage and data speeds, but the latter’s 5G only works with devices directly bought from their stores and sadly there aren’t many choices.

Voice Call Quality

EE vs o2 voice call qualityTo measure a network’s voice call quality, we rely on tests performed by independent bodies such as Open Signal, OOKLA and umlaut, as personal experiences may differ depending on location & timing.

Looking at the results published by Open Signal and umlaut, we see that EE takes the top spot again with a score of ‘very good’. This of course means so does BT Mobile. EE has been ranked as the best in the last couple of years, because the network has great audio quality & faster call setup times than other carriers. EE is advancing its technology and increasing coverage consistently so we expect them to hold the top spot in the near future. Vodafone challenges EE in terms of voice call quality, but both Three and O2 are miles behind these two networks.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE and BT Mobile have the same level of quality when it comes to voice calls. There are no differences between the two networks in this regard.

Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling

ee vs bt 4g calling wi-fi calling4G Calling allows you to make and receive phone calls over a carrier’s 4G network. If you have a compatible device, you can turn on the feature to make higher definition calls.

Wi-Fi Calling will let you call and text over Wi-Fi. You’ll stay connected even if you’re not getting any phone signal. These two features improve your voice call quality, but keep in mind that they only work in the UK. They’re not available when roaming abroad.

EE’s 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling are exclusive to pay monthly customers. All BT Mobile tariffs come with both of these perks. EE and BT say if you’ve got your handset from elsewhere, 4G calling & Wi-Fi calling might still work but they won’t guarantee it.

If you wish to enjoy 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling with monthly rolling plans, we strongly recommend you to check Three and iD Mobile. iD Mobile uses Three as its network provider and offers some extra features with competitive prices. Since both carriers use the same network, you might want to read our iD Mobile vs Three review too.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

Both networks offer 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling and the overall quality is pretty good. You can’t go wrong with either EE or BT Mobile.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

ee vs o2 wifi hotspotsEE customers with eligible plans can use free Wi-Fi hotspots on the London Underground at over 250 stations, provided by Virgin Media. Some premium EE plans allow you to access BT Wi-Fi hotspots but you’ll have a 3GB monthly limit.

At Half Cooked, we think BT Mobile is the best network when it comes to free Wi-Fi hotspots, as all BT customers have unlimited access to the carrier’s free Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK. There are over 5 million free hotspots at hotels, cafes, city centres, train stations & shopping centres. BT doesn’t set a limit so they’re truly unlimited, which means you can save your mobile data for when you really need it.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

bt mobile winnerEE provides some free Wi-Fi here and there, but they can’t compare to BT Mobile’s millions of free Wi-Fi hotspots. Easy win for BT Mobile here.

Tethering

o2 vs three tetheringTurning your mobile device to a personal hotspot will allow other devices to use it to connect to the internet. It’s possible to tether on both EE and BT Mobile, however, EE’s tethering comes with certain restrictions. You can only tether to a maximum of 12 devices and the fair usage limit is set at 1000GB. BT Mobile’s tethering page doesn’t mention any limits, but you need BT Halo to get an unlimited data plan.

You’ll be going through your mobile data at a faster rate when you’re tethering, so remember to turn tethering off when you’re not using it.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE winnerWhile EE sets some limits to tethering, the network at least offers unlimited data plans to all. If you don’t have BT Halo, you won’t be getting any unlimited deals on BT Mobile. We think it’s a narrow win for EE.

International Roaming

id-mobile-vs-o2-mobile-roamingSince the introduction of EU roaming regulation in 2017, all the mobile networks in the UK have to provide inclusive EU roaming.

EE & BT Mobile offer inclusive roaming in the EU so you can use your UK allowances freely in selected destinations. If you want to use your UK allowances in more countries EE offers an add-on called the ‘Roam Further Pass’. If you have an EE Smart plan you can also take it as your ‘Swappable Benefit’. The roaming pass adds Australia, USA, Mexico, Canada & New Zealand.

Unlike EE, all BT Mobile plans offer the same basic EU roaming deal, but you can purchase the ‘Travel Data Pass’ add-on, which gets you a 500MB data allowance for £6 a day in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Turkey, UAE, Thailand, India, China, South Africa and Andorra.

Neither EE nor BT Mobile offer an amazing roaming deal though. If you travel abroad quite often you might want to have a look at Three’s ‘Go Roam ’ feature. Go Roam lets you use your UK allowances freely in 71 destinations, at no extra cost. Another great option is Vodafone’s ‘Global Roaming Plus’ perk, which increases the number of inclusive roaming destinations upto 81 locations around the world.

Do you want to discover more about international roaming in the UK? Make sure to read Half Cooked’s detailed roaming abroad guide.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE winnerEE and BT Mobile will always give you 4G data speeds where they are available in the country you’re visiting. They offer the same base inclusive roaming in the UK. The tie-breaking difference is EE’s ‘Roam Further Pass’.

Features

EE’s Features

Swappable Benefits & Add-Ons

ee-swappable-benefitsSwappable Benefits are extra perks available with EE’s ‘Smart Plans’ at no extra cost, however, you can only pick one for free. The network allows you to swap between them once per month. On an EE Essential plan you have to pay for each benefit separately. There are currently five Swappable Benefits available.

There are five more add-ons, but even Smart Plan customers have to pay for them. You can get 6 months free trials for Apple Music and MTV Play on EE, and may cancel them at any time.

Swappable Benefits

ee-pass-video-dataVideo Data Pass: Allows you to watch videos and streams without burning through your data. Works with Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, BT Sport, MTV Play amongst others.

ee-pass-roam-furtherRoam Further Pass: You can use your inclusive minutes, texts & data in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, no extra charges will apply.

ee-pass-amazon-prime-videoAmazon Prime Video: You can watch Amazon Prime Video content on your phone or tablet. Keep in mind that it uses your regular data allowance.

ee-pass-bt-sportBT Sport Ultimate: Allows you to watch BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN on your phone or your tablet. It uses your regular data allowance.

ee-add-on-britboxBritBox: Lets you use the BritBox streaming service. Britbox provides on-demand content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. You can also stream on your TV too. It uses your regular data allowance.


Add-Ons

ee-add-on-apple-music ee-pass-bt-sport ee-pass-gamers-data ee-pass-music-data

As stated above the regular add-ons aren’t for free. EE offers a Music Data Pass, a Gamer’s Data Pass, BT Sport HDR Ultimate and BT Sport Large Screen, Apple Music and MTV Play as purchasable extras.

Music Data Pass & Gamer’s Data Pass were ‘Swappable Benefits’, but as of May 2020 they are both now regular add-ons.

We think EE’s rewards and extra perks are good, but you’ve got many other options available so we prepared a detailed guide for extra perks like unlimited social media data usage.

Unlimited Data Plans

Currently, there’s only one unlimited data plan available to EE customers. As of May 2020, EE‘s Essential unlimited data plan doesn’t exist anymore. The Smart unlimited data plan offers the fastest 4G download speeds as well as 5G coverage in 80 cities and towns whilst tieing you to an 18 month contract. You also get a free ‘Swappable Benefit’ which you can change on a monthly basis.

EE Smart Unlimited Data PlanUnlimited
Minutes & Texts
Unlimited Data with 5G Data Speeds£35/month 18 Months

EE’s unlimited data deal comes with a fair usage policy of 1000GB & the carrier limits tethering to 12 devices per month. If you go over the fair usage policy or tethering limit, you’ll be caught on the network’s radar. EE says “If you regularly tether 12 or more devices, we will consider this non-personal use and have the right to move you to a more suitable plan.” so be careful.

Three has the best value unlimited data deals in the UK, we detail these in our Three review, check it out.

Data Rollover

ee-data-rolloverEE’s data rollover perk is exclusive to PAYG packs and Flex customers. Data rollover will take your unused data from the previous month and add it to the following month’s data allowance. You’ll be burning through your rolled over data first, but you should know that you need to start your next PAYG pack or Flex plan within seven days or else your leftover data expires.

You can read Half Cooked’s detailed Data Rollover in the UK guide to learn more about the feature and discover which other mobile networks offer this data saving perk.

We strongly recommend checking out our SMARTY and Sky Mobile reviews, if you’re constantly finding yourself with leftover data from previous months. SMARTY proposes a discount on your next bill for your unused data and Sky Mobile saves leftover data for up to three years!

Free Data Boost

EE offers a free data boost programme to PAYG and Flex customers. The network rewards your loyalty with extra 500MB data for every three months you use the same pack (£10 or above) or flex plan. The boost stays as long as you continue purchasing the same pack and once every three months you’ll get another 500MB data as a reward. Let’s say your data allowance is 5GB, after three months it will grow to 5.5GB and in six month you’ll have 6GB.

Share EE, Share £20

When a friend/family member purchases a £10 or above PAYG pack or a Flex Plan via your unique referral link, you both get a £10 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card from EE. The network will send your reward within the first seven days after the transaction.

Only existing EE PAYG or Flex customers with a £10 or above tariff are eligible for this reward.

Family Account – Data Gifting

ee familyEE offers a 10% discount and also an extra 1GB data for each additional plan added under the same account. The main account is given full control, including moving the spare data between additional plans.

To activate EE’s Family Account you need at least two eligible plans under the same bill payer. You can control all the additional plans via the ‘My EE’ App or on EE’s website.

BT’s Features

BT Wi-Fi

There are over five million BT Wi-Fi hotspots available to BT Mobile customers across the UK. The best part is they are free for all BT customers, no exceptions. BT Wi-Fi’s free hotspots can be found around shopping centres, train stations, cafes, restaurants and other popular places.

BT Sport

All BT Mobile plans with at least 20GB of data will give you free access to the BT Sport mobile app. You can watch live games and sporting events with the app, but you should keep in mind that the app will still burn through your monthly data allowance. The live games include Premier League and FA Cup matches too.

BT Broadband and BT Halo Discounts

If you’re an existing BT Broadband customer you get an automatic £5/month discount on all BT Mobile price plans. The bill doesn’t have to be under your name, but you’ll have to provide proof that you’re living in a household with a BT Broadband connection. If you also have BT Halo, you’ll be getting double data on all BT Mobile plans.

Spend Caps

BT Mobile’s spending cap is designed to stop you from spending more than you plan to by giving you full control over your plans and bills. Thanks to this you won’t be facing any bill shocks at the end of a month. You can easily change your monthly spending cap via ‘My BT’.

If what you want is a strict limit to your allowances then you may want to have a look at VOXI or SMARTY. These two networks won’t ever let you exceed your allowance.

Family Plans/Discounts

When it comes to family plans, BT Mobile is probably one of the best networks you can choose. The network’s family plans are straightforward with great value, plus if you’re an existing BT Broadband member you get even better discounts. BT Halo customers are in for an even better treat as they’re rewarded with double data on all plans.

One downside to BT’s family plans is all family members must be on the same price plan. You can save upto 20%, but the more plans you add (maximum five SIMs per family plan) and the pricier ones you pick, the more you’ll be saving with BT Mobile.

If you’re interested in a different kind of family deal, you should read Half Cooked’s best family mobile plans in the UK guide. Perhaps another network is offering exactly what you’re looking for.

Change Your Data Monthly

BT Mobile ties you in for at least a year once you sign up with them, but the network also offers great flexibility by allowing you to switch between all available tariffs. You’re given the option to change your data once per month. However, if you’re looking for SIM only no credit check plan to just use monthly we’d recommend checking out giffgaff’s flexible goodybags.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

EE winnerWe like BT Mobile’s extras & special features, but EE’s perks add more value to their plans and there’s certainly more variety. We’re giving the win to EE, but this was a close one.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

EE winnerWhile both EE and BT Mobile are running on the same network, EE seems to offer just a little more on everything, except free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Wider range of plans and handsets also make the EE the better choice in this comparison. Unless you’re a BT Broadband customer, we’d recommend going with EE.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does EE have 5G? Is it the fastest?

Yes it does. EE is the first mobile network provider to offer 5G in the UK. The network provides 5G coverage in 80 cities and towns at the moment.

Does EE use 2G?

Yes, EE still uses 2G but only for calls and texts. 2G is still a reliable option when staying connected in rural locations.

Does EE have 4G Calling?

Yes, EE has 4G Calling but it’s exclusive to pay monthly customers of the network. Also to be on the safe side you should purchase your handset directly from EE or else the 4G calling may not work.

Does EE have Wi-Fi Calling?

Yes, EE offers Wi-Fi Calling, but it’s also exclusive to pay monthly customers. With EE’s Wi-Fi Calling you’ll stay connected even when you’re not getting any phone signals. You’ll need a compatible device for it to work though.

Is EE really the fastest mobile network carrier?

Yes, EE offers the fastest 4G data speeds in the UK. At the moment it seems like the network also offers the fastest 5G download speeds as well, however, this is yet to be proven. We are waiting for independent bodies to perform nationwide tests.

Can I use my EE SIM in the USA?

Yes, your EE SIM should work fine in the USA, but the country is not included in base inclusive roaming. You’ll need the ‘Further Roaming Pass’ add-on if you wish to use your UK allowances at no extra cost in the States.

Does EE have an app?

Yes, EE’s mobile app is called ‘My EE’. We think it's user friendly and it will improve your EE experience.

What are EE Swappable Benefits?

Swappable Benefits are EE’s special extras that come free on Smart Plans. If you’re on an Essential Plan you have to purchase them monthly.

Can I get extra SIM to my EE plan?

Yes, you can easily add more SIMs to your account.You may also turn your regular account into a family account by adding more SIMs.

Can I gift data to others on EE?

Yes, but the other plans have to be under the same bill payer. You should also know that there’s a 100GB/month limit on unlimited tariffs.

Where can I use my inclusive roaming allowance on EE?

You may use your EE inclusive roaming in Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin (French), Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City (Italy). If you have ‘Further Roaming Pass’ all of the above plus Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and USA.

Does BT Mobile have free BT Sport’s mobile app?

Yes, BT Mobile offers free usage of BT Sport mobile app, however, it only comes with BT Mobile plans with at least 20GB of monthly data allowance.

Which network is BT Mobile running on?

BT Mobile is powered by EE’s network. Therefore both carriers offer the same network coverage in the UK.

How to set a spend cap on BT Mobile?

You must first log into your account and then head down to 'Tools to manage your spend' and choose the amount you want to set.

Does BT Mobile have Wi-Fi Calling?

Yes, all BT Mobile customers take advantage of Wi-Fi Calling. All you need is a compatible device.

Does BT Mobile have 4G Calling?

Yes, BT Mobile offers 4G Calling and it’s available to all BT Mobile customers. You’ll still need a compatible device for the feature to work though.

Does BT Mobile have 5G?

Yes, BT Mobile offers 5G coverage in 80 cities and towns in the UK, but only if you also purchased your 5G Ready device from their stores.

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