Home  /  O2 Review 2021: 5G, Great Discounts, Offers, and Free Prize Draws with O2 Priority

O2 Review 2021: 5G, Great Discounts, Offers, and Free Prize Draws with O2 Priority

O2 is one of the big four Mobile Network Operators and has 99% 4G coverage across the UK. Read on below to get Half Cooked’s full O2 Review.

What is O2?

O2 is the second oldest mobile network operator in the UK, launching back in 1985 under the name of Cellnet. The network rebranded as O2 back in 2001 and has been operating under this name since then. O2 is one of the four major mobile network providers in the country, offering pay monthly SIM contracts, pay monthly phone deals, as well as commitment-free SIM deals.

The network offers one of the best entertainment schemes under the name of O2 Priority, which gives exclusive access to event tickets (up to 48 hours before the release), special discounts, and free prize draws. The network allows you to create your own contract, separate your phone bill & airtime bill; and all of their SIM only contracts come with 5G + unlimited UK calls & texts.

O2 used to offer a traditional PAYG service but it’s no longer available to new customers. Alternatively, you can grab an O2 PAYG bundle, which requires no credit checks, however, you won’t have access to 5G coverage on your phone when picking one of these SIM deals.

Pro's

  • Decent 5G coverage and data speeds
  • Build your own phone contract
  • Thousands of free WiFi hotspots
  • O2 Priority deals and discounts
  • A decent range of handset options
  • 6 months free Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or more

Con's

  • Most tariffs are pricier than competitors
  • The slowest 4G internet speeds in the UK
  • Not the best 4G coverage

Latest Offer: 250GB of data with Apple Music & Disney + for £23!

O2 is offering 250GB of data bundled with 6 months free Disney + and Apple Music for just £23/month with a 24-month contract. The plan also includes unlimited UK minutes & texts.

Alongside, 5G coverage in certain locations, customers can also choose a premium subscription such as Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video to access free of charge. This deal will end soon, so hurry up!

Network Coverage & Speeds

O2 4G Coverage

O2 is one of the four main mobile network providers, meaning they have their own underlying infrastructure and they don’t piggyback on another network. Just like all the other providers, O2’s 4G population coverage is over 99%, but what matters more is the landmass coverage, and the carrier is weaker than EE & Vodafone in this area. While they seriously improved their 4G geographical coverage, it’s still behind these two operators.

Before you order a SIM or a mobile device from O2, we strongly recommend you check out the network’s 4G coverage in your area. Even though the mobile network operators offer quite good coverage nowadays, your frequent areas might be in one of their blind spots.

O2 4G Speeds

According to Opensignal’s September 2021 report, O2 has the slowest 4G data speeds. The network’s average download speed is measured at 17.1Mbps and upload speed is at 5.4Mbps. Keep in mind that these are average data speeds and your experience may differ greatly. We don’t recommend the network for mobile gaming or watching 4K videos, but streaming HD videos on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+, etc. should be just fine.

EE is still the fastest 4G network provider with 44Mbps 4G download speed and 9.7Mbps upload speed.

O2 5G Coverage

O2’s 5G kicked off back in October 2019 and it has been improving since then. At the moment there are 193 cities and towns with O2’s 5G services, and the number is ever increasing. O2’s 5G network generally has wider coverage per location compared to Three and Vodafone, but the former, Three, offers 5G in over 300 cities and towns.

To get 5G from O2 you’ll need a 5G phone, a 5G SIM card, and also be in a 5G coverage area.

O2 5G Speeds

Per Opensignal’s September 2021 5G Experience report, O2’s average 5G download speeds are around 111Mbps, and their 5G upload speeds average around 9.3Mbps. This means O2 is one of the fastest 5G networks in the UK. 100Mbps is more than enough to stream multiple 4K videos without any issues.

The network’s 5G upload speeds are the slowest, but 9.3Mbps is still more than enough for the average internet user. It’s even good enough to stream on platforms such as Twitch, Facebook Gaming, TikTok, and YouTube.

WiFi Calling and 4G Calling

With WiFi Calling, when you’re having a signal problem, you can use an available WiFi connection to make calls and send texts. And 4G Calling allows you to make calls over 4G, meaning clearer calls whilst eliminating many indoor blackspots. O2 offers both these features to their pay monthly customers at no extra cost. You can move seamlessly between WiFi and 4G to continue your calls.

Unfortunately, O2’s pay as you go bundles don’t include WiFi Calling or 4G Calling. If you want to access these two voice call quality improving features, you must pass the network’s credit check first and sign up for a SIM only or phone contract.

O2 Free WiFi

You can get online for free on O2 with over 16,000 O2 WiFi hotspots across the UK. To be able to use the hotspots you’ll need to register at one of O2’s hotspots first. You can use O2’s WiFi Hotspot finder to locate the closest one to you. The network also claims the data speeds it offers are up to 10 times faster than a normal mobile connection.

Once registered, your device will always automatically connect to O2’s free WiFi hotspots seamlessly, but you are also given the option to connect manually if you wish. Although this hotspot network belongs to O2, it’s actually free to everyone, regardless of who your mobile contract is with.

The real deal for O2 customers is the “O2 WiFi Extra” feature, which allows your mobile device to seamlessly connect to O2’s Wi-Fi service at over 7,000 hotspots. The network will automatically connect you to WiFi Extra when the service is stronger than the mobile network signal you receive.

Personal Hotspot

Turning your handset into a personal hotspot is allowed on O2 SIM plans, be it a contract deal or a PAYG bundle. Having said that, we strongly recommend you to opt for a plan with a lot of data because tethering burns through your data allowance at a much faster rate. O2’s unlimited data plans may not be truly unlimited (you’re not allowed to use more than 650GB of data), but they provide more than enough to share your mobile data with other compatible devices.

O2 allows you to tether to 12 other devices (tablets, laptops, other smartphones, etc.) at max.

Features

O2 Priority

With Priority, O2 customers get exclusive offers with high street brands, tickets to thousands of gigs & events across the UK, and online entertainment discounts. To benefit from this service, you’ll need to download the free app from your app store. Priority is available on any compatible handset. All O2 customers can benefit from this service.

O2 Custom Plans

Building your own custom plan is a great feature. O2 puts the customer in control and lets them design a suitable plan for their needs. Customers get to choose how much they wish to pay upfront, how much data they want to have and they can spread the balance starting from as little as 3 months all the way up to 36 months. You’re even allowed to change your plan on a monthly basis depending on your needs. You can read our detailed guide on how to create an O2 custom SIM plan.

O2 Refresh

O2 Refresh lets you change your handset whenever you want. When you purchase a new mobile device with O2 Refresh, the network splits your bill into two parts: a phone plan and an airtime plan.

The phone plan is the cost of the phone you get from O2, and the airtime plan includes all your calls, texts, and data allowances. When you feel like a phone upgrade is due, O2 will not lock you into a long-term phone contract but instead will let you pay off your phone plan. Your airtime plan will continue and you’ll be able to purchase a new device on a new contract.

Supercharge with Volt

You can get exclusive benefits for being with both Virgin Media and O2. The most eye-catching ones are double mobile data on any eligible O2 Pay Monthly plan, a broadband speed boost to the next available level, and supercharged connectivity at home or on the move thanks to Virgin Media.

Data Rollover

Data rollover is available for O2’s PAYG users, O2’s PAYG plans are called Big Bundles and UK & International Bundles. Your unused data can roll over month to month without any base limit, as long as you renew your bundles. However, if you decide to change your bundle, your data rollover will reset. You also have to renew your bundle on the same day it expires or your unused data will expire.

O2 Bolt-Ons

If you are running low on your data, minutes, or texts, you can get a Bolt-On from O2’s store to increase your allowance. Bolt-Ons are simple add-ons offered by O2, starting from £3 a month. There are also other kinds of Bolt Ons, i.e. for calling abroad or for international roaming perks.

Family Accounts

If you have a family with multiple connections, you can manage and save money with O2 Multisave plans. O2’s family mobile plan gets you a 20% discount when you buy additional lines.

All you have to do is choose one simple monthly bill for the whole family, by bringing all your connections together. You can manage all the available plans at any time with the My O2 app. You can add up to 20 connections.

O2 Student

If you’re unhappy with your current phone or tablet, you can get a new device from O2 and enjoy 20% off your airtime plan. The discount is only available on O2 Refresh. You can find much better student SIM only offers on other networks though.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

O2 has always been synonymous with quality when it comes to UK networks and as a result, you can expect to be paying slightly more than some of the other competitors. However, with that, you will get access to O2 Priority which has the best customer offers in the market with weekly savings available including free coffee, cheap meal deals, and discounts with popular high street brands.

O2’s 4G coverage and data speeds aren’t the best, but the carrier offers a decent 5G service and it is improving at a good rate. You can also get free Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or another service of your choice.

O2's Frequently Asked Questions

Does O2 support 5G?

Yes, O2 offers 5G coverage. At the time of writing O2’s 5G is live in 193 cities and towns.

Does O2 have Wi-Fi Calling?

Yes, O2 has Wi-Fi Calling. To benefit from this feature you have to be on a SIM Only contract and your device must be compatible.

Does O2 have 4G Calling?

Yes, O2 has 4G Calling. The network provides a VoLTE service, but you’ll have to be on a SIM Only plan and your handset must support this feature.

Is O2 Priority free?

Yes, O2 Priority is a free loyalty programme exclusively for O2 customers. However, while you’re on the app you’ll be using data.

Why can’t I access O2 Priority?

If you recently joined the O2 Network, it might be that Priority’s database hasn’t caught up yet, so your number might not be recognised. If it doesn’t work in a couple of days contact O2’s customer support.

How long does it take for a number to transfer on O2?

It shouldn’t take any longer than 24 hours. Usually, you’ll be able to make phone calls with a couple of hours, however, texting might take longer. If you still can’t use your new SIM after 24 hours please contact O2’s customer support.

How long does it take for Amazon referral vouchers to arrive on O2?

The Amazon voucher reward will be sent to both parties within 3 months of your referred friend’s connection.

How fast is O2’s 4G internet?

According to Open Signal’s latest reports, O2’s average 4G download speed is around 17Mbps and average upload speed is measured at 5.4Mbps.

Can I keep my number when switching to O2?

Yes, you can. It’s quite easy to keep your number. All you need is a unique PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) code, which you can get from your old network. You’ll deliver this code to O2 and they will do the rest.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Half Cooked’s overall rating for O2 UK: