O2 & Vodafone are two of the longest standing UK networks with millions of people using their services. Read on to find out more about how O2 & Vodafone compare.
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!
There’s a reason why O2 is the second largest mobile provider in the UK. It’s always been known for quality, but that reputation also means customers might have to pay slightly more.
The carrier offers great features & extras you can’t find in any other operator. The most outstanding feature of the network is O2 Priority. You can get decent discounts and freebies from well-known retailers & exclusive early access to purchase tickets for concerts & gigs. The network gets the basics right providing over 99% 4G population coverage, however they are tracking a bit behind in terms of landmass coverage and data speeds. The network offers the second widest 5G coverage in the UK, as well as the second fastest 5G data speeds.
Vodafone is the UK’s oldest mobile network provider and it also operates in 25 other countries. The carrier offers 2G, 3G, 4G & 5G services to its customers and the network also has the widest range of SIM & device plans out of the four major mobile providers in the country.
Their customers get various unique benefits & extras, as well as features comparable with other network providers such as 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling. Vodafone’s premium plans offer you the most inclusive roaming destinations, even more than Three’s ‘Go Roam’. All these features and great network coverage make Vodafone a slightly pricier option. These deals may come with a high price point, but deliver great value.
O2’s price plans are a bit on the pricier side, but we think their deals deserve the price tag. O2 offers a wide range of SIM only plans and you have three options to choose from when it comes to the length of a contract: 1 month, 12 months and 18 months. All SIM Only plans include unlimited minutes and texts (except 500MB and 1GB data plans if you select a 30 day contract).
Regardless of the plan, all O2 customers benefit from the daily O2 Priority offers and the network’s thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK.
The cheapest O2 plan is priced at £10/month and it locks you in for 18 months with the network. You get a 5GB data allowance with this plan, as well as 6 months of Disney+ which adds even more value. If you want a 30-day rolling contract, 50GB is the largest data bundle available at the moment. O2’s unlimited data contracts require you to sign up for at least a year.
At first glance, it may be confusing to choose the right plan for you, especially if you’re browsing through Vodafone’s SIM only deals. The network offers the largest variety of SIM only plans in the UK, but the breakdown below should help simplify things.
At the time of writing, Vodafone offers three different types of SIM Only tariffs and they are called Basics, Vodafone RED & Vodafone Unlimited. All plans come with unlimited minutes & texts.
Vodafone Basics Plans are the wallet friendly alternatives. The cheapest Vodafone Basics plan gives you 2GB data allowance for £6/month, but these plans don’t offer features like 4G Calling, Wi-Fi Calling or 5G Coverage. All Basics plans are 12 month contracts.
|Basics (Black Friday Deal)||3GB||£6.00|
|All Vodafone Basics plans come with unlimited minutes and texts and are 12 month contracts.
All Vodafone Red Plans (also known as Gigabyte Plans) come with 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling and some other useful features. You also get limitless 4G & 5G data speeds with Red plans. Some Red Plans allow you to add an entertainment package to your tariff for an extra £7/month.
You can choose to be on a 30 day contract or sign up for either 12 or 24 month contracts. The longer contracts offer cheaper monthly payments.
Vodafone’s unlimited data plans come in three types: Unlimited Lite, Unlimited and Unlimited Max.
Even though all three plans offer 5G coverage wherever available, Unlimited Lite & Unlimited are subject to speed restrictions, respectively 2Mbps and 10Mbps. This means you won’t be able to benefit from super fast 5G download speeds, but you’ll still enjoy the super low latency and enhanced network capacity thanks to Vodafone’s 5G.
Vodafone Unlimited Max deal is the only deal with no speed restrictions so you get to enjoy the fastest download speeds available. With a 5G ready device you’ll be getting 150Mbps to 200Mbps download speeds, this is of course provided you’re in an area where Vodafone’s 5G coverage is live. This plan also has a total of 81 inclusive roaming destinations, which makes it the best roaming deal offered by any network in the UK, this deal even tops Three’s ‘Go Roam’. Plus, you may get 5G coverage travelling abroad with Vodafone. The network offers 5G in Germany, Italy, Spain or Ireland.
This is a close race and it all comes down to what you’re looking for from your mobile network. Both carriers offer great extras & features and a wide range of SIM only plans.
O2 offers two different PAYG plans called Big Bundles and UK & International Bundles. The latter is mainly for international calls, but you get some UK minutes & texts too. You can’t use O2’s network as a traditional PAYG. To keep your SIM active you’ll have to top-up on a monthly basis.
|O2 Big Bundle||Unlimited||Unlimited||No Data||£5|
|O2 Big Bundle||Unlimited||Unlimited||3GB||£10|
|O2 Big Bundle||Unlimited||Unlimited||6GB||£15|
|O2 Big Bundle||Unlimited||Unlimited||10GB||£20|
|O2 Big Bundle||Unlimited||Unlimited||20GB||£30|
Vodafone’s PAYG offers greater value than O2’s, plus you can use the service on a traditional basis too. Vodafone’s current PAYG rates are 20p/minute, 20p/text and 20p per 5MB of data.
Alternatively, you can purchase a Vodafone Big Value Bundle with your credit. The bundles give you a monthly allowance of minutes & data. Texting is unlimited on all bundles. Two of the pricier bundles even come with 5G coverage. There’s also an unlimited data bundle with 5G, but it’s priced at £50.
You are also given the option to spend £1 per day to unlock unlimited minutes & texts. This will also give you 500MB of data to use until midnight. All Vodafone PAYG deals include a data rollover feature, VeryMe rewards and inclusive roaming in 51 European destinations.
You have more options for PAYG on Vodafone, while O2 only sells bundles. Vodafone’s bundles offer greater value, more data for your money and you can even get 5G.
If you’re looking for a new handset and a new SIM only plan, O2 has you covered. The network offers super flexible phone deals that let you split the cost of your phone and SIM bill so you can upgrade your device whenever you want. O2 lets you choose the length of your contract starting from 3 months up to 36 months.
You’ll find a wide range of handset options including budget friendly brands all the way to your flagship Apple and Samsung releases. O2 also sells refurbished phones and offers a full year warranty.
Vodafone offers a decent range of smartphones combined with their price plans, however these deals lock you in to a 24 month contract. You can purchase a phone without signing up for a long-term SIM plan, but it wouldn’t be a great deal at all.
Wider range of phones, more flexible deals and overall more value come with O2’s pay monthly phone deals. There’s a phone deal for everyone on O2.
Both O2 and Vodafone offer over 99% population coverage, just like the other networks. However, when it comes to landmass coverage Vodafone seems to be miles ahead of its competitor. O2 is improving its 4G network at a good pace, but Vodafone is starting to catch the market leader EE, the number one network when it comes to the best 4G coverage in the UK as well as the fastest 4G download speeds.
According to Opensignal’s April 2021 speed test results Vodafone ranks second with 21Mbps download speeds and 8.1Mbps upload speeds. O2 on the other hand ranks the last among the four major mobile network operators with 17.3Mbps download and 6.7Mbps upload speeds. These data speeds are more than enough to stream your favourite series on Netflix, watch 1080p videos on YouTube, listen to music on Spotify and play video games (as both networks offer relatively low latency).
On another note, if you want the best 2G, 3G and 4G service in the UK, you can always have a look at our extensive EE Review to find out what they offer.
Vodafone’s 4G landmass coverage is larger than O2’s and the carrier offers significantly better download and upload speeds.
Until recently O2’s 5G coverage in the UK was behind Vodafone, but currently the carrier offers 5G in 193 cities and towns, that’s 93 more locations than Vodafone’s 5G.
Vodafone’s 5G is live in 100 towns and cities in the UK, the network also provides 5G in 193 more places across Europe. The network’s 5G is available on selected RED and ‘Unlimited Max’ plans. You can also purchase a PAYG bundle which offers 5G. Regardless of your network choice you’ll need a 5G-ready phone and be in an area with 5G coverage.
According to Opensignal’s April 2021 speed test results, O2’s 5G data speeds are around 129Mbps, and Vodafone’s average 5G download speed is measured at 103.1Mbps.
In the UK O2’s 5G coverage is superior and the network also provides faster 5G data speeds at the moment. Vodafone’s 5G is live in Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland too, but we’re mainly focusing on the UK side of things, hence the victory under this category belongs to O2 for the time being.
When it comes to overall voice call quality, we rely on independent testing bodies like OpenSignal, OOKLA and umlaut. They perform tests across the country and their results are similar.
The latest tests performed by OpenSignal and umlaut show that Vodafone is improving at a fast rate and following EE, the number one network with a score of ‘good’. Vodafone even overtakes EE in some towns.
O2 made huge improvements over the last year and even managed to pass Three. However, both OpenSignal and umlaut reports suggest that Vodafone is head and shoulders above O2.
According to the test results Vodafone’s call setup times are faster, and overall audio quality is significantly better than O2’s.
Wi-Fi Calling will keep your mobile device connected by using an available Wi-Fi network. You’ll be able to make & receive calls, even when you’re not getting any phone signal.
4G Calling allows you to make higher definition audio calls and it also eliminates many indoor blackspots. This feature allows you to make calls over a 4G network rather than 2G or 3G.
O2 and Vodafone offer these two features to their pay monthly customers. However, Vodafone Basics plans are excluded. You’ll also need a compatible handset for either one of the features to work. You may not be able to use Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling if you didn’t purchase your smartphone directly from your operator’s store though.
One key difference in this comparison is O2’s WiFi Extra service. O2 automatically connects your device to WiFi Extra when the service is stronger than the mobile network signal you receive and there are thousands of these hotspots available nationwide.
Alternatively you can check out iD Mobile for cheaper tariffs with Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling. The network is powered by Three, and offers monthly contracts with no credit checks! Read our iD Mobile Review and discover more.
O2 and Vodafone offer similar 4G Calling features, though Vodafone’s 4G is a bit more widespread in the UK. However, O2’s WiFi Extra is an amazing service and makes a distinct difference, therefore we give the win to O2.
In order to use the free hotspots you’ll need to register at one of O2’s hotspots. You can use O2’s Wi-Fi Hotspot finder to find the nearest hotspot to you. These free hotspots offer much faster data speeds than a regular mobile connection. Once registered, unless you opt out you’ll always automatically & seamlessly connect to them wherever available. O2 Wifi is free for everyone, whether or not you’re with O2, but you won’t get all the benefits O2 customers do.
The game changer here is the ‘O2 WiFi Extra’ perk that is unique to O2 customers. With WiFi Extra, you’ll get faster download speeds and much better audio quality when making a phone call.
Vodafone customers get free Wi-Fi access on London Underground Stations, but this isn’t unique to Vodafone. Other major network operators like Three, EE and its competitor in this review O2 also offer the very same service. These free Wi-Fi hotspots are provided by Virgin Mobile. You can read our Virgin Mobile Review if you want to learn more about their free Wi-Fi hotspots, or if you want to read more about the best when it comes to this perk check out our extensive BT Mobile Review.
Considering how Vodafone doesn’t offer any free Wi-Fi hotspots to begin with, O2 is the clear winner here. However, we must praise O2 WiFi Extra perk separately, for it also improves your overall voice call quality too.
Tethering is the action of turning your smartphone into a personal hotspot. By doing this you’ll be allowing other compatible devices to share your device’s internet connection.
Both networks allow tethering, but when it comes to unlimited data plans O2 limits tethering to 12 devices and also sets a fair usage limit of 650GB. Vodafone lets you tether more freely, but Unlimited Lite and Unlimited deals come with speed restrictions. While unlimited plan has a max download speed of 10Mbps, which is tolerable for tethering to a few devices, Unlimited Lite only comes with a max download speed of 2Mbps. This is barely enough for a single user, let alone sharing the connection with others.
As always, we’d like to remind you that tethering uses data at a much faster rate. If you’re planning to tether often, you’ll either want to have an unlimited data plan or a large data plan.
Yes, both networks allow tethering, but O2 limits the number of devices and the amount of data you can tether to and two of Vodafone’s unlimited deals come with speed restrictions. From where we stand it looks like a tie, depending on your needs one could prove better or worse.
All mobile network operators -including mobile virtual networks- based in the UK are legally obliged to offer free inclusive roaming in the EU zone.
In Europe you can use your data allowances, minutes & texts just like you would in the UK with both O2 and Vodafone. Having said that, O2’s base deals will let you roam freely in 48 destinations while Vodafone’s will in 52 locations. If you have the ‘Vodafone Unlimited Max’ plan, the network gives you the ‘Global Roaming Plus’ perk and it is by far the best roaming deal. You can roam freely in 81 countries, plus you can get both 4G & 5G coverage. Vodafone is the only provider offering 5G outside the UK. Sadly though, Vodafone Basics plans don’t come with any inclusive roaming.
O2’s premium roaming deal, the ‘O2 Travel Inclusive Zone’ is included in some of the more expensive plans. With this perk you can roam freely in 75 countries. The feature adds popular destinations like the USA, Australia, New Zealand and 24 more destinations to the list, but in these countries you can only use 120 minutes & 120 texts. Data usage is unlimited, but your data speeds will be heavily restricted.
You can read our detailed roaming abroad guide to discover the best network for you.
When it comes to roaming outside the UK, Vodafone almost always offers the best deal. They may seem expensive, but they deliver great value. Plus you still get 4G & 5G coverage.
O2 Priority is an amazing free service exclusive to O2 mobile customers. O2 Priority contains a mix of exclusive offers with high street brands as well as tickets to thousands of events. There are also some deals open to everyone. All you have to do is download the free app from your app store. O2 Priority is available on all compatible smartphones.
Thanks to ‘O2 Refresh’ O2 can split your bill into two parts: one being your phone plan and the other your airtime plan. Your phone plan will be as flexible as possible so you’ll be able to update to a new handset whenever you feel like it. However, your airtime plan will still keep you locked in with O2 depending on how long your contract is.
To benefit from O2 Refresh you have to purchase your handset from O2. Other sellers can’t offer you this deal.
When you’re running low on your data, minutes or texts, you can always purchase a Bolt On and increase your allowance. These are O2’s add-ons starting from £3 a month. You can also purchase minutes for calling abroad and for roaming outside the EU.
O2 joined the unlimited data plan party a bit late and they still have a lot of room to improve. The ‘limitless data’ plans -as O2 dubs them- start from £33/month for SIM-only customers. You can also buy an unlimited data plan when purchasing a handset from O2.
You have two options to choose from and the cheaper alternative is priced at £33/month. It’s an 18 month contract, and you get a good deal of extra perks with it. The second contract lasts for 12 months, priced at £35/month. Both unlimited data tariffs come with O2 Travel Inclusive Zone bolt on and 6 months Disney+.
O2’s limitless plans are not really that limitless though. The network only lets you tether to a maximum of 12 devices, and there’s a 650GB/month fair usage limit.
O2 lets you take the driver seat and build your own specific plan suitable for your needs. You are allowed to pick how much you’re willing to pay upfront and how much data you want. You can also spread the balance starting from 3 months all the way up to 36 months. Best part is, you can change your allowance on a monthly basis.
O2’s PAYG bundles come with a data rollover feature. As long as you’re not switching between bundles you get to keep all your unused data from the month before. Provided you renew your plan within the same day it expires. If you decide to change your bundle or wait longer than a day to renew your bundle, your rolled over data will expire.
You can get up to a 40% discount with O2’s family plan offers. Discounts apply when you purchase additional plans under one main account and you can buy up to 20 plans. When you bring a family member to O2 via your referral link, both you and your family member will get a £25 Amazon voucher.
Ineligible tariffs are as listed: Business tariffs, standard tariffs, Apple Watch tariffs and any tariff that already has a discount applied.
Vodafone’s ‘VeryMe Rewards’ are available to all their customers. It’s the network’s loyalty programme and it really is something. VeryMe Rewards offers you free movie tickets, free coffees, high street discounts and many more rewards. VeryMe rewards get even better as you use them, because the loyalty programme adjusts itself to match your interests.
Vodafone’s entertainment packages are available to Red and Unlimited (except Unlimited Lite) customers. Having said that, not all Red & Unlimited tariffs are eligible. You’ll need to be on either a 12 month or a 24 month contract, but conditions don’t end there. If you wish to sign up for a Red plan you’ll also need to get a tariff with at least 5GB of data. You’ll need to pay an extra £7/month for the entertainment package, it doesn’t come for free on any plan. You’re given the option to choose between Amazon Prime Video, Spotify Premium, NOW TV and Sky Sports Mobile TV for the duration of your contract.
Vodafone proposes unlimited data for both their pay monthly and PAYG customers. Pay monthly customers are given three options: Unlimited Lite, Unlimited & Unlimited Max. PAYG users can only purchase the £50 Big Bundle, but at least it comes with 5G with no restriction. As stated earlier, Unlimited Lite and Unlimited tariffs are subject to speed restrictions, respectively at 2Mbps and 10Mbps.
Their prices differ depending on the length of contract. You pay considerably less per month when you sign up for a longer contract. If you go with the ‘Unlimited Max’ plan you’ll also get the ‘Global Roaming Plus’ perk which is the best roaming service offered by any network in the UK. It allows you to roam abroad like at home in 81 destinations.
Three is the first network that comes to mind when talking about unlimited data. We rate Three’s unlimited data plan highly and it’s worth reading our extensive Three Review to learn more about what the network offers.
The data rollover feature is exclusive to Vodafone’s PAYG customers. If you don’t use up all your data, whatever’s left will be moved into the next month. Your rolled over data will expire in 30 calendar days, but at least you’ll be using the rolled over data first. A 1 month data rollover is pretty common among providers. Sky Mobile’s data rollover is the one big exception. Using the O2 Network to provide 4G and 5G coverage, Sky Mobile allows customers to hold onto rolled over data for up to three years. You can read our Sky Mobile Review to learn more about the network’s unique features.
Vodafone’s existing customers get a straightforward 15% loyalty discount when they purchase additional plans under one main account. You can add 9 more additional plans and have 10 SIMs under one account. However, you’ll have to sign a contract for at least a year on SIM deals and 24 months for handsets.
If you’re still undecided you should definitely have a look at our detailed family mobile plans guide.
Both networks offer great extra perks. It’s especially hard comparing O2 Priority and Vodafone VeryMe Rewards. Their offers change daily and weekly. However, we think O2 Refresh, free Wi-Fi access, O2 WiFi and other features add greater value to your price plans. This was still a close race though.
We have a tight race in our hands, but Vodafone seems to come out on top where it matters the most: network coverage, data speeds and voice call quality. O2 might have more wins, but most of them are close ones, while Vodafone’s wins are way more convincing. Either way, as long as you get coverage in your area neither network will let you down.
Yes, O2 offers 5G coverage in 193 cities and towns and the number will most likely increase even more before the year ends.
Yes, O2 offers Wi-Fi Calling and yes it’s free, but only if you’re on a pay monthly contract. You’ll also need a compatible handset. Plus you’ll enjoy O2 WiFi wherever available, which will give you faster download speeds and much better audio quality.
Yes, O2 also has 4G Calling, but just like Wi-Fi Calling, it’s exclusive to pay monthly customers. Your handset needs to be compatible with the feature too.
O2 Priority is a free loyalty programme exclusive to O2 mobile customers, however there are also some deals which are open to all. It’s free to use, but of course you’ll be burning through your regular data while on the app. It’s nothing to worry about though, the app is not a data hungry one.
Perhaps you joined the O2 Network very recently. You might need to wait for Priority’s database to catch up with you. Give it a couple days, but if the problem persists contact O2’s customer support.
Yes, you can. Just get your unique PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) code from your current network and deliver it to O2. They will do the rest.
Under normal circumstances it shouldn’t take any longer than 24 hours. Normally you can make phone calls, and use your data within a few hours, but texting takes longer. If you still can’t use your new SIM after 24 hours make sure to contact O2’s customer support.
According to Open Signal’s October 2020 reports O2’s average 4G download speed is around 18.2 Mbps. The carrier’s upload speed is measured at 6.2Mbps. Keep in mind though, depending on the coverage you get, your data speeds can be faster than the average rate or lower.
Yes, all Vodafone pay monthly customers (except Basics plans) get free 4G Calling, provided their smartphone is compatible with the feature.
Yes, Vodafone customers also get free Wi-Fi Calling if they are on a Vodafone Red plan or above.Vodafone Basics plans and base PAYG bundles don’t offer this feature though. You’ll also need a compatible device to benefit from this feature.
Yes, there are three different SIM only unlimited data plans on Vodafone: Unlimited Lite, Unlimited and Unlimited Max. Unlimited Max comes with unrestricted download speed, but Unlimited Lite and Unlimited plans are subject to speed restrictions, respectively at 2Mbps and 10Mbps. Unlimited Max plan has 5G coverage.
The number of destinations you can use your allowances depends on which Vodafone plan you have. The carrier’s base deal comes with ‘Global Roaming’ which allows using your UK minutes, texts and data in 52 destinations. Unlimited Max plan comes with ‘Global Roaming Plus’ and with it you can roam freely in 81 countries. If you’re travelling to a destination without inclusive roaming, make sure to check Vodafone’s roaming charges.
Yes, both your device and your Vodafone SIM will work just fine, provided the country you are travelling to is supported by Vodafone’s infrastructure or at least they have a partner.
Yes, Vodafone offers five different PAYG plans to choose from and two of them even come with 5G coverage. You can also use the network as a traditional PAYG service or pay £1 and get unlimited minutes & texts as well as 500MB till midnight.
Yes, Vodafone’s UK 5G coverage is live in 100 towns and cities and you can also get 5G coverage in 193 other locations across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland.
5G is completely safe to use. A 5G network tower won’t hurt you. All mobile network providers in the UK are setting up their 5G networks according to government legislation and international guidelines. Major health organizations like WHO and many other also performed numerous tests and found no harm.