Which network offers better SIM only plans and network coverage? Is Vodafone a better carrier for you or do iD Mobile’s great value SIM only deals tick the right boxes?
iD Mobile is offering 5GB of Data for just £6 a month! This represents great value and also comes with unlimited minutes & texts, as well as access to the fastest 5G network in the UK!
Vodafone is the UK’s oldest mobile network provider and they have the second best 4G coverage in the country. The carrier launched way back in 1984 and it is also one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies. Vodafone’s operations go beyond the UK, the network is well established in 25 other countries.
All Vodafone services come with 2G, 3G and 4G coverage. Vodafone 5G is only available on the network’s premium plans. The carrier is also the very first UK mobile network to bring 5G to their customers. Currently, Vodafone is the only UK network to offer 5G outside the borders of the country.
The carrier has a great variety of plans to choose from, including pay monthly, pay as you go, and multiple unlimited plans, as well as high value phone contract deals.
Vodafone customers enjoy many features you won’t find with most other networks including their reward programme, VeryMe Rewards. However, Vodafone’s 4G coverage and data speeds, combined with these great features make them a costlier option.
iD Mobile is a popular mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) piggybacking on the Three Network. The carrier is a subsidiary of Dixons Carphone. iD Mobile is one of the younger MVNOs in the UK, having launched back in May 2015.
The cellular carrier offers a wide variety of low-cost SIM only deals on 30-day rolling contracts as well as 12-month contracts. iD Mobile also has a traditional pay as you go service and pay as you go bundles which are valid for 30 days. The network provider also offers 24 month phone contracts.
iD Mobile’s short term contracts offer decent flexibility as their customer can modify their plans monthly, changing their plan to fit their lifestyle. On the other hand, their long term contracts are more restricting but offer greater value and cheaper prices.
iD Mobile combines low prices with some important features such as 4G Calling, Wi-Fi calling and data rollover, however, the mobile network doesn’t offer 5G yet. They also lack 2G, which means an iD Mobile SIM won’t work, if your phone only supports 2G.
Vodafone pretty much covers all grounds when it comes to pay monthly plans. All you need to do is figure out how much data you’ll need each month and Vodafone will have a deal that meets your needs. They’ll be comparatively costlier, but you’ll get your money’s worth.
If you don’t want to pay for any of the more fancy perks on Vodafone’s premium tariffs, you can always opt for a Vodafone Basics plan, and then upgrade to a premium plan if you’re satisfied with Vodafone’s services.
Vodafone also has a decent variety of unlimited data plans you can choose from. Vodafone’s unlimited plans are split into three categories. The Unlimited Lite plan is subject to a maximum download speed of 2Mbps, meanwhile the regular unlimited data plan has a speed cap of 10Mbps. Vodafone Unlimited Max plan is truly unlimited, there are no data caps or speed restrictions. If you have an unlimited max tariff you can use your UK allowances in 81 destinations across the world. This is the only UK tariff that offers free roaming in Turkey in 2021, no other network provides free roaming in Turkey at the time of writing.
All Vodafone RED plans come with 5G at no extra cost, and you can roam freely in 51 destinations. These plans come with unlimited UK minutes & texts and you can sign up for a 30-day, 12-month or 24-month contract. Please remember that whenever you sign up for a contract deal you have to undergo a credit check. If you fail to pass the credit check you won’t be able to get the deal.
You can also add your choice of entertainment for the duration of your plan with a few expectations for an extra £7 a month. These subscriptions include Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium and Spotify.
iD Mobile only offers 30-day rolling tariffs and 12-month contracts at the moment. All of iD Mobile’s pay monthly offers are contracts. This means you have to pass the network’s credit check first. Since iD Mobile only supports 4G and 3G at the moment, you won’t get to benefit from having a 5G ready device just yet. If your handset only supports 2G your iD Mobile SIM won’t work.
Vodafone is definitely the winner here. They offer SIM only deals for all types of budgets. The network also offers wider coverage, plus 2G and 5G. iD Mobile’s offers aren’t bad and more wallet-friendly overall, but our pick is still Vodafone.
Just like their pay monthly deals, Vodafone PAYG covers a decent amount of ground. You can opt for a traditional PAYG deal, or purchase a PAYG bundle that consists of mobile data, minutes and texts. Vodafone’s Big Value bundles are valid for 30 days and any unused data rolls into the next 30 days.
The cellular carrier no longer offers a traditional pay as you go service. If you don’t have a PAYG bundle you will start paying Vodafone’s standard pay as you go rates, also known as Vodafone Pay As You Go 1. The provider will only charge you £1 on the days you use your plan and that’s all. You won’t be charged if you don’t make a call, send a text or use your mobile data. Receiving calls, texts or using your WiFi connection won’t trigger the £1 charge.
Sadly, you only get 50MB of data per day to spend. It used to be 500MB per day, but Vodafone reduced it to 50MB in January 2021. Vodafone PAYG 1 is still a great option for any light mobile data users. A worthy opponent against 1p Mobile’s unbeatable pay as you go rates.
Vodafone’s Big Value bundles cost quite a lot, especially compared to most other networks. At this price point we think it’s smarter to get a contract-free SIM only deal from VOXI, which is also owned and operated by Vodafone. VOXI’s more expensive tariffs come with 5G at no extra cost, endless video and endless social media, and unlimited UK calls and texts. On top of that, you’ll still pay less. Vodafone’s £30 and £40 Unlimited Bundles provide 5G coverage, the latter also includes unlimited data as the name suggests.
iD Mobile provides an old school pay as you go service, which you can combine with the network’s pay as you go bundles. As you can guess, since this is a prepaid service there are no credit checks to pass. You use the network on a traditional PAYG basis, buy one of their pay as you go bundles which last for 30 days, or mix and match these two pay as you go services.
You’re required to use your iD Mobile SIM at least once every 90 days or it will go inactive. You can reactivate your SIM if it becomes inactive by adding credit to your account. You have to top-up at least once a year or your credit will expire and you may lose your number.
|Available Network Types for PAYG||3G, 4G|
|Traditional Pay As You Go||Yes|
|Base Rates||40p/Minute, 14p/text, 10p/MB|
|Mandatory Top-up Period||Three Months|
|Minimum Top-up Requirement||£5|
Vodafone’s Pay as you go 1 service is great for light mobile users, but the same can be said for iD Mobile’s traditional PAYG rates. We think iD’s PAYG bundles offer greater value and they’re significantly cheaper when compared to Vodafone’s Big Value Bundles. If you’re looking for a SIM only plan that requires no credit checks, we’d recommend looking at other options though.
Once again Vodafone offers a wide variety of options. The network offers both pay monthly phone contracts and pay as you go phone deals.
Vodafone’s store has a great variety of smartphones from manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Google, OPPO and more. All Vodafone pay monthly phone plans are 24-month contracts, there are no other alternatives. If you’re looking for a 5G ready smartphone combined with a decent 5G plan and great perks, Vodafone might be the right network for you.
iD Mobile is owned by Dixons Carphone and the carrier makes great use of this, offering high value mobile phone contracts bundled with wallet-friendly tariffs which are packed with a lot of data. The carrier sells flagship phones from Samsung, Apple, Huawei and others, as well as mid to low tier devices from Google, Honor, Motorola, Oppo and Nokia.
Some of their phone deals even come with Apple TV+ and other great rewards that add value to their offers. Just like Vodafone, iD Mobile’s phone deals are also on 24-month contracts with no exceptions.
Both networks offer a great variety of phone deals and all their offers are 24-month contracts. Vodafone’s deals come with more perks and rewards, meanwhile iD’s offers are more wallet-friendly. We think it’s a tie and the winner of this comparison depends on your preference.
Since all UK mobile network operators offer over 99% population coverage, we examine what matters more: UK geographical coverage. Vodafone has the second best 4G availability in the UK with 95% and the network is still improving their 4G service. Vodafone’s 3G network is also pretty solid and their customers have 2G to fall back on should the other services fail.
According to OOKLA’s (speedtest.net) market analysis which was published in February 2021, Vodafone’s average 4G download speed is around 32Mbps, and their average upload speeds are around 8Mbps.
iD Mobile piggybacks on the Three network for 3G and 4G coverage. Sadly, the cellular network doesn’t offer 2G coverage, it’s not a must have but it still improves your overall coverage somewhat. Three has the worst UK geographical coverage with 84.3% in terms of 4G availability.
Having said that, when it comes to 4G data speeds we see iD Mobile overtaking Vodafone. iD Mobile’s average 4G download speeds are around 35Mbps and their upload speeds are around 8.5Mbps. The difference between Vodafone and iD Mobile isn’t massive when it comes to data speeds, but may impact your overall experience.
Vodafone is the winner here. Their 4G download speeds may be a little slower, but the network’s 4G service is superior in every other way. Vodafone’s 3G service also works better as call setup times are much faster than of Three/iD Mobile’s. On top of that you have 2G on Vodafone. Old as it may be, 2G can come in handy in some situations.
Vodafone is the only UK mobile network that offers 5G outside the UK. Vodafone 5G is live in 100 UK locations and also in 193 EU locations across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. While having 5G when roaming abroad is great, we care more about having it in the UK. Vodafone 5G covers the least amount of places among the four major operators.
The carrier’s 5G download speeds are not impressive either. Vodafone’s average 5G download speeds are around 130Mbps, per OOKLA. This means Vodafone has the slowest 5G in the UK, at least at the time of writing. To enjoy 5G from Vodafone you’ll need a tariff that offers 5G and a 5G ready handset. You’ll also have to be in an area with Vodafone’s 5G service.
Unfortunately, iD Mobile doesn’t offer 5G yet and we don’t even know when they will start offering this service. We expect the network to use Three as their 5G provider though.
Vodafone is the undisputed winner in this category, since iD Mobile doesn’t offer 5G plans yet. Please remember that not all Vodafone plans come with 5G, make sure to pick one that offers this service to experience super fast download speeds.
Both Vodafone and iD Mobile offer 4G Calling and WiFi Calling to their pay monthly customers. The only exception is Vodafone Basics plans, these tariffs don’t come with any extra perks. These two features improve your overall network coverage and availability, meanwhile improving your voice call quality.
4G Calling (also known as VoLTE) allows your smartphone to make calls over a 4G network instead of 3G. This means you get to access 4G download speeds even when you’re on a call. Plus, calls made over 4G are higher definition if both parties are making use of it. This means your voice calls will be significantly clearer. 4G Calling improves your coverage and eliminates most indoor blackspots.
WiFi Calling allows you to talk and text over an active Wi-Fi connection that has internet access. Your phone will stay connected even if you’re not getting any cellular signal or if it’s too weak. In many ways Wi-Fi Calling completes 4G Calling (VoLTE), getting you full coverage at your home or office.
These two features work seamlessly, but please remember that you’ll be using your allowances when you’re making calls over 4G Calling and WiFi Calling. Your network will still charge you for out-of-plan usage.
Vodafone’s pay monthly plans (except Basics) include 4G Calling and WiFi Calling at no additional cost. All of iD Mobile’s pay monthly plans come with both 4G Calling and WiFi Calling as well.
It’s a very close race as both networks offer 4G and WiFi Calling to their pay monthly customers, but Vodafone’s 4G service is objectively superior than iD Mobile’s; so we think they deserve the win here.
Both Vodafone and iD Mobile customers can use O2 Wi-Fi (not O2 WiFi Extra) and Sky Mobile’s the Cloud at no extra cost. However, these services are available to all UK mobile customers at no extra cost.
Having said that, Vodafone customers get free WiFi access on the London Underground at over 250 stations, thanks to Virgin Mobile. Vodafone WiFi on the London Underground is available to Vodafone’s pay monthly and business customers, as well as pay as you go users with a PAYG bundle.
It’s another close win for Vodafone, but this doesn’t mean Vodafone is a good choice in terms of free WiFi hotspots. We recommend checking out BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile, if you want free WiFi access across the UK.
Tethering or turning your smartphone into a personal hotspot refers to sharing your mobile data wirelessly with other compatible devices. These devices may be other smartphones, laptops, PCs with WiFi access and so on. Vodafone and iD Mobile let you tether freely with your plan, but you’re not allowed to use their unlimited data plans for commercial purposes.
Please don’t forget that having multiple devices connected to your mobile hotspot means you’ll burn through your mobile data at a much faster rate, even if the connected devices stay idle they’ll consume some data. In fact, they may even download updates in the background without you even noticing.
At the end of the day hotspot data usage is still directly related to what you are doing. One last thing to remember is laptops, game consoles and PCs will eat up significantly more data than a smartphone or a tablet, even when just surfing online. Web pages designed for mobile devices are optimised to burn through less data.
If you’re planning to tether to other devices on a regular basis, please consider opting for an unlimited data plan, or at least a large data plan.
Since both networks allow tethering freely and there’s nothing significant enough to differentiate them, we believe this is a tie.
When it comes to using your UK allowances abroad Vodafone is second to none. The carrier’s base roaming scheme allows you to use your data, minutes and texts in 51 European destinations.
Purchase Vodafone Roam Further add-on and you can roam freely in 104 more destinations. Vodafone Roam Further is priced at £6 a day.
If you want the best of the best, you should consider getting a Vodafone Unlimited Max plan, which includes ‘Global Roaming Plus’. This scheme lets you use your UK allowances in 81 destinations across the world. This is also the only UK tariff that offers free roaming in Turkey. This is the best free roaming deal in the UK, in fact it’s even better than Three Go Roam, but it’s rather a costlier option and definitely not for everyone, even for a frequent traveller.
iD Mobile, meanwhile allows you to use your UK allowances in 46 EU and EEA destinations. You may also roam freely in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Macedonia and Kazakhstan.
Vodafone’s roaming schemes rank as the best in the market. The network offers three different roaming schemes and add-ons. Their ultimate roaming scheme is the best in the UK.
This is Vodafone’s loyalty programme and it’s one of the best in the UK alongside O2 Priority. In a nutshell, Vodafone gives you treats and giveaways that change to match your interests. Your VeryMe Rewards will become more personalised as you interact with the My Vodafone app. VeryMe Rewards include major discounts, prize draws and freebies from popular brands. VeryMe rewards are updated weekly, so make sure to check the app on a regular basis.
VeryMe Rewards are only available through the My Vodafone app. All Vodafone pay monthly customers, business customers (with 1 to 9 employees) and pay as you go customers topping up £10 or more every 6 weeks are eligible for these rewards.
Some Vodafone pay monthly plans come with entertainment options. You can add one of the following services to your plan for an extra £7/month: YouTube Premium, Spotify Premium and Amazon Prime. Keep in mind that once you’ve chosen a pack, you won’t be able to change it for the duration of your contract.
Vodafone Basics tariffs, 1GB plans, Unlimited Lite plans and 30-day contracts are excluded.
Vodafone’s rollover scheme is exclusive to their pay as you go bundles (Big Value Bundles) customers. Vodafone Total Rollover allows you to keep any unused data, minutes and texts from your previous Vodafone PAYG Bundle, and use them in the next 30-day period. Keep in mind that remaining allowances can only be rolled over once. You’ll always use your carried over allowances first.
Renewing your PAYG bundle early, changing to a different PAYG bundle or if your PAYG bundle doesn’t auto-renew on day 30, means you’ll lose your leftover allowances.
Existing Vodafone customers are eligible for a 15% loyalty discount on additional SIM and device plans. The main Vodafone account can manage the additional lines via their My Vodafone app after logging into their account. This means you can effectively use this discount to create your own family mobile plan.
If you sign up for an iD Mobile pay monthly plan, the carrier gives you a second chance to use your leftover data within the next 30-day period. Let’s say you still have 1GB of data remaining on your 5GB plan. Your 1GB leftover data will be added to your next price plan and you’ll have 6GB of data in total. You’ll always use your rolled over data first. Keep in mind that your leftover data only rolls over for one month.
iD Mobile gives you a couple options to limit your monthly spend. You can choose a bill cap which is between £1 and £25 above your monthly allowance, and you’re also given the option to change the cap anytime you want. This isn’t something flashy and almost all UK mobile networks let you set bill caps nowadays, but it’s still nice to have to prevent bill shock.
We like iD Mobile’s extra perks, but Vodafone’s extras and features add greater value to their plans. VeryMe Rewards alone could make Vodafone the winner of this comparison, but you also get some other great extras including entertainment add ons.
Vodafone is clearly the better network overall. Vodafone’s 4G and 3G is superior, plus they also offer 2G. Vodafone 5G is available both in and outside the UK, meanwhile iD Mobile are yet to launch their 5G service. Vodafone offers a wider range of services, meanwhile iD Mobile’s target audience is a little narrower.
Unless you have a specific reason to pick iD Mobile (Coverage or price point), the winner of this comparison is definitely Vodafone.
No, iD Mobile is owned by Dixons Carphone. The network uses Three as its network provider to provide 3G and 4G Coverage.
Yes, iD Mobile offers 4G Calling, but only their pay monthly customers with smartphones that support this feature can benefit from it.
Yes, but just like 4G Calling, iD Mobile WiFi Calling is exclusive to their pay monthly customers. WiFi Calling won’t work if your handset doesn’t support the feature. You can check the iD Mobile WiFi Calling page to see if your device is supported.
No, iD Mobile doesn’t have 5G yet and the network didn’t announce a date yet.
Yes, Vodafone 5G went live on July 3. Vodafone and their sub-brand VOXI are the only UK mobile network providers offering 5G outside the UK.
You’ll need to purchase a Vodafone plan that offers 5G coverage and data speeds. Vodafone’s official website marks the 5G plans with a special icon that is easy to spot. You’ll also need a 5G ready handset and be in an area with Vodafone 5G to enjoy superfast download speeds.