Virgin Mobile Review 2020: Super fast 4G speeds at discounted prices!

Virgin Mobile uses EE’s network to provide the best 4G network coverage & fastest data speeds in the UK. In this review, we’ll cover everything the network offers to their customers.

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Latest Offer: 20GB data for the price of 5GB a month!

Virgin Mobile offers an extra 15GB data on their 5GB data plan for a limited time only! The tariff is now priced at only £12, offering great value with EE’s super fast 4G speeds. This is a limited time deal so click through to take advantage of it now!

Who is Virgin Mobile

virgin-mobile-article-logoVirgin Mobile is a mobile network provider operating in the United Kingdom and currently it’s using EE’s network to provide 2G, 3G and 4G Coverage, however this will change with O2 and Virgin Media merging to create one of the UK’s largest telecoms firms. This means once the merger is finalised (this is expected to happen in late 2021) Virgin Mobile will begin to operate under O2’s network.

Virgin Mobile is also the world’s first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), having launched back in 1999. The network offers SIM only contracts and phone deals. No matter which option you choose, you have to undergo a credit check if you wish to join Virgin Mobile. The carrier used to have a pay as you go service, but unfortunately it was shut down in July 2020.

All Virgin Mobile plans come with a data rollover feature as well as Wi-Fi Calling, but the carrier doesn’t have a 4G Calling service. You’ll also benefit from free WiFi at over 3.5 million hotspots and data-free messaging on Facebook Messenger, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Pro’s

  • The best 4G network coverage and fastest data speeds thanks to EE.
  • Over 3.5 million free Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Data Rollover on all plans.
  • Wi-Fi Calling on all plans.
  • Unlimited UK calls and texts.
  • A wide variety of plans and great discounts.

Con’s

  • No longer offers a PAYG service.
  • Restrictions on roaming abroad
  • No 30-day plans.
  • No 4G Calling or 5G Coverage.
  • Unlimited data plans are exclusive to Virgin TV or broadband customers.

Table of Contents

Plans & Pricing

SIM Only Deals

At the time of writing, Virgin Mobile only has 12-month and 24-month contract deals, which means the carrier requires you to undergo a credit check. There are many good options to choose from and all their plans come with a data rollover feature, Wi-Fi Calling and data-free messaging for Facebook Messenger, Twitter and WhatsApp.

There’s almost always a high value deal with a huge discount or extra data on Virgin Mobile, having said that some of these offers are exclusive to their TV or Broadband customers, like their unlimited data plans. If you’re not a Virgin Media TV or Broadband customer, the largest data plan you can get from the network is 100GB/month.

If you think you can wait for a little longer, Black Friday is just around the corner and Virgin Mobile Black Friday deals tend to be quite juicy!

Pay As You Go

Virgin Mobile used to offer a pay as you go service accompanied with PAYG bundles, but the network terminated these options in July 2020. Unfortunately, Virgin Mobile doesn’t offer any PAYG deals at the moment, but they may bring the service back once the merger with O2 is finalised.

You can always check out 1p Mobile or giffgaff, as these two networks offer pretty decent PAYG options. Make sure to read our 1p Mobile Review to learn everything you need to know about the network and why they’re the best PAYG option in the UK. You can also read our giffgaff Review to learn more on how to mix their incredibly flexible ‘Goodybags’ with traditional PAYG.

Pay Monthly Phones

If you want to upgrade your current mobile device, Virgin Mobile gives you a couple of good options, plus the network splits your phone bill and airtime bill. You can either choose a 24-month deal or a 36-month deal, if you want to get a smartphone from Virgin Mobile. The carrier offers devices from manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei and more. You can find pretty much all the flagship handsets on their site.

Virgin Mobile allows you to pay up the remaining balance of your device in one go at any time, so you can upgrade your phone, but your airtime plan will continue. On the bright side the network also gives you some flexibility as you can mix and match your price plan every month.

If you’re interested in a larger selection and a bit more flexibility, we’d strongly suggest reading our O2 Review. You can also check EE’s Pay Monthly Phone deals too!

Network Coverage & Speeds

3G and 4G Coverage

virgin-mobile-network-coverage-map-4gVirgin Mobile is currently using EE as its network provider, but this will change in late 2021 once the merger between O2 and Virgin Media is finalised. At the time of writing Virgin Mobile customers get the best 4G coverage in the UK and the fastest 4G download speeds thanks to EE’s unrivalled infrastructure. EE has over 99% population coverage and the largest network in the country also offers over 90% landmass coverage.

According to Open Signal’s latest speed test results EE’s 4G download speeds average around 36Mbps, while their upload speeds are at around 10Mbps. Virgin Mobile itself isn’t tested, but their results would be quite similar. Even though EE has the largest coverage in the UK, we strongly recommend you to use Virgin Mobile’s coverage map before you sign a contract with them.

5G Coverage

5gWhile EE has the widest 5G coverage in the UK, Virgin Mobile customers don’t get to benefit from this. Most MVNOs don’t offer any 5G deals and Virgin Mobile isn’t an exception.

If you want to experience the fastest download speeds and other benefits of 5G, we’d recommend checking our Three Review. All Three plans, including PAYG deals come with 5G at no extra cost. Alternatively you can check out VOXI’s unlimited data plan, which comes with 5G data speeds.

Voice Call Quality

virgin-mobile-voice-call-qualityAt Half Cooked, we rely on voice call quality tests performed by independent testing bodies such as Open Signal, umlaut and OOKLA. They’re reliable, they perform extensive countrywide tests and they’re objective.

Looking at their test results we can see that Virgin Mobile’s host network EE outperforms all the other major networks, scoring ‘Very Good’. Since both networks share the same infrastructure, it means Virgin Mobile customers would have a similar experience. We’d like to remind you to check your frequent areas are well covered by your mobile provider.

Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling

virgin mobile 4g calling4G Calling allows your phone to stay connected to 4G when you’re making or receiving a phone call. It also eliminates many indoor blackspots and improves your voice call quality. Thanks to 4G Calling you can use data at 4G speeds even when you’re on a call.

Wi-Fi Calling allows you to make and receive voice and video calls over a Wi-Fi connection rather than using your regular cellular connection.

To benefit from these two features you’ll need a compatible handset, as well as a price plan that includes them. Virgin Mobile customers can enjoy Wi-Fi Calling provided their device supports the feature, but sadly 4G Calling isn’t available on the network.

If you’re looking for a cheap alternative with 4G calling, we’d recommend checking out iD Mobile’s deals. You can also learn more about the network by reading our iD Mobile Review.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

Virgin Mobile customer’s enjoy one of the best free Wi-Fi deals in the UK. The mobile virtual network operator offers exclusive free Wi-Fi hotspots to their customers at over 3.5 million locations around the UK.

They even have free Wi-Fi hotspots in 250+ London Underground stations and more than 79 London Overground stations. There are even more free hotspots you can connect to when you’re roaming outside the UK. Virgin Mobile offers 20 million more hotspots across the world!

You’ll need to download Virgin Media’s Connect app to benefit from the free WiFi service, but don’t worry it’s free.

Tethering

virgin-mobile-tetheringTethering or turning your smartphone into a personal hotspot means sharing your mobile data with other compatible devices. You can start tethering by turning your WiFi Hotspot on. Apple and Android phones differ slightly, but the feature works just the same.

You can freely tether with your Virgin Mobile plan, but we’d recommend staying on top of your usage as you can eat through your mobile data at a much faster rate when you’re tethering. If you’re planning to tether to other smartphones, tablets, laptops and video game consoles etc. Virgin Mobile might not be the best choice for you. The network doesn’t offer any unlimited data plans unless you’re a Virgin Media TV or Broadband customer. If you’re going to tether here and there and are a generally light user then it’s fine.

We recommend checking out SMARTY’s and Superdrug’s unlimited data plans if you’re tethering on a regular basis. Both networks are powered by Three and offer similarly priced, super-cheap unlimited data plans with no credit checks. Make sure to have a look at our SMARTY Review and Superdrug Mobile Review too!

International Roaming

Virgin Mobile lets you use your UK minutes, texts and data in 43 destinations in the EU. Even if you go over your UK allowances while in one of the inclusive roaming destinations, you won’t pay more than you’d pay back home.

However, when you’re roaming outside the EU, things change. The network sets a default roaming cap at £51.50 (including VAT) unless you change it. You won’t be allowed to use your UK allowances when travelling outside the EU and data usage outside of the EU may be charged up to £12.50/MB, but this of course depends on the country you’re in. The network also applies a fair usage policy. You can find out your plans fair usage limits by using their FUP calculator.

If you’re a frequent traveller we’d recommend having a look at Vodafone’s deals. Make sure to read our Vodafone Review to learn all about their huge inclusive roaming zone and add-ons.

Features

Virgin Media WiFi

There are more than 3.5 million free Virgin Media WiFi hotspots in the UK, and 20 million more across the world. All Virgin Media customers get free access to all these Wi-Fi hotspots. Plus you also get free Wi-Fi in 250+ London Underground stations and more than 79 London Overground stations.

Data-Free Messaging on Social Media

Virgin Mobile customers can enjoy WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter without using up their regular data allowance. Don’t forget that voice and video calls through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are excluded.

Data Rollover

The network offers unlimited data plans for both 12-month contracts and 24-months contracts, however, these are only available to existing Virgin Media TV or Broadband customers.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

Half Cooked’s overall rating for Virgin Mobile: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

  • Network Coverage and Speeds – Virgin Mobile uses EE’s network, that means they’re offering a market leading 99% population and 90% landmass coverage in the UK. Virgin Media also offers the fastest 4G download speeds.
  • Voice Call Quality – According to objective testing bodies such as Open Signal and umlaut, Virgin Mobile is one of the best networks when it comes to voice call quality.
  • Tethering – You can tether freely with your Virgin Mobile plan, but always remember that tethering eats data at a much faster rate. Always be extra careful!
  • Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling – Virgin Mobile only has Wi-Fi Calling at the moment. 4G Calling isn’t available.
  • Wi-Fi Hotspots – Virgin Mobile has over 3.5 millions of free WiFi hotspots in the UK, and another 20 million across the world.
  • International Roaming – Virgin Mobile lets you use your UK allowances in 43 destinations in Europe. Outside the EU extra charges and different rates apply.
  • Virgin Media WiFi – As stated right above, the mobile virtual network offers one of the best free WiFi services in the UK.
  • Data Free Messaging – Virgin Mobile allows you to use Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter without burning through your regular data. Video and voice calls via these apps are not included.
  • Data Rollover – A lot of MVNOs still don’t offer an app, but Virgin does. It’s simple, well designed & effective.
  • Unlimited Data Plans – If you’re a Virgin Media TV or Broadband customer you can get an unlimited data plan. This deal isn’t available to regular customers though.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What network does Virgin Mobile use?

Currently, Virgin Mobile is using EE’s network, however we expect this to change in late 2021. O2 and Virgin Media are planning a merger and this is due to happen next year.

What will happen when O2 and Virgin Media merge?

Virgin Mobile will start using O2’s network and O2’s free Wi-Fi service will probably merge with Virgin Media WiFi. This will make O2 WiFi the best free WiFi service in the UK. This may also mean cheaper price plans with more value.

Does Virgin Mobile have 4G Calling?

No, Virgin Mobile plans don’t come with 4G Calling.

Does Virgin Mobile have Wi-Fi Calling?

Yes, while missing out on 4G Calling, Virgin Mobile offers Wi-Fi Calling at no extra cost.

Does Virgin Mobile have 5G?

At the time of writing, Virgin Mobile doesn’t offer any 5G services. The MVNO might wait till the next year to start providing this service.

Does Virgin Mobile offer PAYG?

Sadly, not anymore. Virgin Mobile used to offer multiple pay as you go deals and bundles, but the network shut down its PAYG service in July 2020.