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Virgin Mobile Review 2022: Super fast 4G speeds at discounted prices!

Virgin Mobile uses EE’s network to provide the best 4G network but uses Vodafone for 5G coverage and speeds. They’re also partnered with O2. Read to learn more!

Latest Offer: 32GB £12 p/m!

Virgin Mobile offers 32GB of data, unlimited UK minutes & texts for just £12/month and it now comes with 5G! The deal is a 24-month contract. It also includes Wi-Fi Calling, 4G Calling and free access to millions of Virgin Media Wi-Fi hotspots. Virgin Mobile frequently change their deals so hurry up and catch this deal before it’s gone!

What is Virgin Mobile?

Virgin 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. The network also offers a 5G service, powered by Vodafone. The network is actually partnered with O2, but it will be some time before they switch their underlying network providers.

Virgin Mobile is 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. You can combine a Virgin Broadband deal with an O2 SIM only deal, and get upgrades on both your phone and broadband plans.

All Virgin Mobile plans come with a data rollover feature as well as Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling. 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
  • 5G coverage from Vodafone
  • WiFi Calling and 4G Calling on all plans
  • A second chance to use your leftover data
  • Free access to 3.5 million Virgin WiFi hotspots
  • Wide variety of SIM only deals to choose from

Con's

  • No PAYG deals
  • No short-term contracts
  • All plans require a credit check
  • Strict restrictions when roaming abroad
  • A little pricier than its competitors

Network Coverage & Speeds

Virgin Mobile 4G Coverage

At the moment Virgin Mobile customers get the best 3G and 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 95% landmass coverage, per Opensignal and OOKLA.

However, Virgin Mobile will eventually get coverage from Vodafone instead of coverage from EE, most likely around early 2022. Make sure to keep this in mind before you apply for a Virgin Mobile SIM only plan.

Virgin Mobile 4G Speeds

Virgin Mobile’s current provider EE’s average 4G download speeds are around 44Mbps, and their upload speeds are around 9.7Mbps, according to Opensignal’s latest speed test results. However, since the network will switch to Vodafone soon, it’s worth noting Vodafone’s average data speeds. Vodafone’s average 4G download speeds are around 21.6Mbps, and their upload speeds are around 7.5Mbps. EE’s average download speeds are twice as fast, meaning this switch will be a significant downgrade for the carrier.

Either way, both networks provide decent data speeds, more than enough for light data activities such as checking your emails, surfing on the web, or listening to music; and also enough to stream high-quality videos on platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime and more.

We can’t recommend Virgin Mobile if you’re planning to use 4G for mobile gaming, since the switch to Vodafone is inevitable. EE 4G can provide speeds necessary for gamers, but we can’t say the same for Vodafone.

Virgin Mobile 5G Coverage

Virgin Mobile’s 5G network is available in more than 100 cities and towns in the UK. Vodafone has the slowest growing 5G network in the UK. They’re dead last when it comes to 5G coverage and 5G data speeds. Having said that, this doesn’t mean their 5G service is bad. If you get Virgin Mobile 5G in your area, you’ll get superfast data speeds and a very reliable connection.

Virgin Mobile 5G Speeds

Virgin Mobile’s 5G is around 3 times faster than their 4G network. Virgin’s 5G provider Vodafone scored 74Mbps for 5G download speeds on Opensignal’s latest speed test. They also offer the second fastest 5G upload speeds with 12.3Mbps.

To get superfast 5G download speeds from Virgin Mobile, you must be in an area with Vodafone 5G and have a 5G ready handset. Virgin Mobile’s SIM only deals are 5G ready, but if you have an older SIM card, you may have to get it switched for a new one.

WiFi Calling and 4G Calling

Virgin Mobile customers get to enjoy WiFi Calling and 4G Calling (VoLTE) at no extra cost. All they need is a handset that supports these features. Of course, for WiFi Calling to work you also need to enable the feature and have an available WiFi connection. As for 4G Calling, being in an area with decent 4G coverage is enough.

Using WiFi Calling you can make and receive calls; send and receive texts over an available WiFi connection. As long as you have a reliable internet connection your device will stay connected, even if there’s no signal in your area.

4G Calling (also known as VoLTE) is the superior of the two features. This perk improves the quality of your voice calls, provided both parties are using 4G Calling. Calls made over 4G are clearer and are in better quality. 4G Calling also eliminates most indoor blackspots.

If your device supports these features, but you can’t use them with a Virgin Mobile SIM, make sure you have them turned on. Some devices come with these features, but they’re turned off by default. In some cases, you may have to update your device first.

Personal Hotspot

Tethering a device to your mobile phone will let you share your mobile data. However, it’s worth knowing tethering burns through your data at a much faster rate. Therefore, we usually suggest choosing an unlimited data plan (or at least a big data plan) if you’re planning to tether to multiple devices regularly. Virgin Mobile allows tethering, which is also known as turning your mobile phone into a personal hotspot.

We strongly recommend checking how much data you’ve spent after each session to be on the safe side.

Features

Virgin Media WiFi Hotspots

Virgin’s customers enjoy one of the best free WiFi deals in the UK. The carrier 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. Virgin Mobile also offers 20 million more hotspots across the world.

Data Free Social Media Messaging

Virgin Mobile customers can enjoy WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter without using up their regular data allowance. Sadly, voice and video calls through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are excluded.

Data Rollover

With Data Rollover, you won’t lose unused inclusive data you’ve paid for when your monthly allowances refresh. Instead, you’ll pocket this unused data to use next month. All Virgin Mobile plans include data rollover and there’s no limit to the amount of data you can carry over from your data allowance.

Any unused rollover data expires at the end of the following month. It rolls over for one month only.

Supercharged Volt Plans

When you’re with both O2 and Virgin Media, you’ll get double the mobile data on every eligible O2 Pay Monthly plan and a broadband speed boost to the next available level on your Virgin Broadband plan. You’ll also get supercharged connectivity at home and on the move, wherever available.

Unlimited Data Plans

The network offers unlimited data plans for both 12-month contracts and 24-months contracts. This was an exclusive deal for existing Virgin Media TV and Broadband customers, but now it is available to all.

Virgin Family Plans

If you already have Virgin Media broadband or TV at home, you can use the network’s family mobile plan and save £2 a month on up to 4 additional SIMs. You can pay your family’s mobile bills all in one go & manage all the plans from one place.

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 whilst 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 plan’s fair usage limit by using their FUP calculator.

We don’t recommend Virgin Mobile for making international calls from the UK, as their rates are higher than most other networks. Picking a prepaid SIM that offers good rates to where you wish to call may be a better alternative.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

Virgin Mobile offers the fastest network speeds and the best 4G network coverage, but this comes at the cost of being one of the pricier networks on the market. Their deals offer more value if you’re already a Virgin Media customer. Also keep in mind that, come early 2022 Virgin will switch from EE to Vodafone completely. This means their 4G performance will go down a level. Their 5G is already powered by Vodafone, but it’s far from being the best in the UK.

We give Virgin Mobile 4 stars out of 5 and strongly recommend it. If your area gets decent coverage, Virgin Mobile will certainly deliver. Our rating may change when the network switches to Vodafone. We’ll need to test the carrier ourselves after the switch to update our rating.

Frequently Asked Questions

What network does Virgin Mobile use?

Currently, Virgin Mobile is using EE’s network, however, we expect this to change in early 2022. Virgin will be powered by Vodafone afterward.

What will happen when O2 and Virgin Media merge?

The merger already happened, and now their joint venture is called Virgin Media O2. However, Virgin Media already had a deal with Vodafone prior to this, therefore the network will be powered by Vodafone for some time.

Does Virgin Mobile have 4G Calling?

Yes, as of early 2021 Virgin Mobile is offering 4G Calling at no extra cost.

Does Virgin Mobile have Wi-Fi Calling?

Yes, Virgin Mobile offers WiFi Calling at no extra cost.

Does Virgin Mobile have 5G?

Yes, however, there’s a unique situation at hand. Virgin Mobile’s 2G, 3G & 4G is currently powered by EE until the end of this year, meanwhile, their 5G service is powered by Vodafone.

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.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Half Cooked’s overall rating for Virgin Mobile