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EE vs O2 mobile

Thursday, June 9th 2016

If you’re looking for a new mobile phone deal, EE and O2 could be on your shortlist. Extensive network coverage, the latest handsets and superfast 4G are just some of the perks from both providers, so how do you decide between the two?

We strip down EE and O2 to help you figure out which is best suited to you, based on availability, price, tariffs, mobile internet speeds and other key features.

At a glance

EE and O2 have some major differences when it comes to the key parts of their services. The biggest differentiator is EE’s focus on 4G, where it has 99% coverage of the UK population compared with O2's 97% coverage. EE also has slightly better 3G coverage and larger usage limits, but O2 has the edge in its range of handsets.

3G coverage 98% 98%
4G coverage 99% 97%
Network carrier EE O2
Data allowance 250MB to 32GB 250MB - 30GB
Pay as you go    
Pay monthly    
SIM-only    
Handsets 90+ 40+
Prices from £9.99 per month £9.50 per month
  See deals → See deals →
EE
3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
99%
Network carrier
EE
Data allowance
250MB to 32GB
Pay as you go
  •  
Pay monthly
  •  
SIM-only
  •  
Handsets
90+
Prices from
£9.99 per month
O2
3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
97%
Network carrier
O2
Data allowance
Data - 250MB - 30GB
Pay as you go
  •  
Pay monthly
  •  
SIM-only
  •  
Handsets
40+
Prices from
£9.50 per month

Plans

EE

If you want a shiny new phone at EE, you’ll need to commit to a 24-month pay monthly contact, or pay for it outright with a pay-as-you-go deal. If you already have a phone you’re happy with, you can take a SIM-only plan on a 12-month contract, or more flexible 30-day rolling terms.

Tablet customers can also choose between 24-month pay monthly or PAYG plans, while existing owners can get SIM-only plans on 30-day contracts.

O2

O2 pay monthly customers who want a new handset have to commit to a 24-month contract, or pay upfront with a PAYG deal. However, the O2 Refresh feature mixes things up with the option to upgrade early. This new type of tariff basically splits your contract into two parts – the Airtime Plan and Phone Plan – allowing you to pay them off at different rates.

So when you want a new phone for example, simply pay off your Phone plan and choose a new handset, while keeping the same tariff. SIM-only is also available on 12-month and 30-day contracts, although the 30-day option is not yet offered on the 4G service.

Price

EE

Entry prices are higher at EE since all tariffs run on the 4G network. For 4G SIM-only plans with unlimited texts, prices range from £9.99 per month for 250MB of data to £34.99 per month for 16GB of data, on 12-month contacts. Prices for 30 day plans range from £12.99 to £27.99. Pay monthly phone contracts vary based on your chosen handset.

O2

O2's Prices start from £12.50 per month for 4G pay monthly. SIM-only prices for 4G from O2 start from £8.50 per month for 1GB of data to £30 per month for 8GB.

PAYG bundles From £10 From £10
SIM-only plans From £9.99 From £10
Pay monthly From £14.99 From £12.50
UK calls 30p per minute 35p per minute
Standard UK texts 12p per message 12p per message
UK data As per add on Add per add on
Picture messages 40p per message 35p per message
Video calls    
Customer care calls Free Free
  See deals → See deals →
EE
PAYG bundles
From £10
SIM-only plans
From £9.99
Pay monthly
From £14.99
UK calls
30p per minute
Standard UK texts
12p per message
UK data
As per add on
Picture messages
40p per message
Video calls
  •  
Customer care calls
Free
O2
PAYG bundles
From £10
SIM-only plans
From £10
Pay monthly
From £12.50
UK calls
35p per minute
Standard UK texts
12p per message
UK data
Add per add on
Picture messages
35p per message
Video calls
  •  
Customer care calls
Free

Data speed

EE

As the oldest 4G provider, EE has the most performance data and recent tests show average 4G speeds of 33Mbps in comparison to the UK average speed of 33Mbps.

O2

O2 purports to achieve 4G speeds at up to five times faster than its 3G service (currently around the 5Mbps mark). According to Ofcom, O2's current average 4G speed is 18Mbps.

Coverage

EE

As the first provider to launch a superfast 4G network, EE has the widest 4G coverage in the UK and is currently available in over 100 towns and cities, with more added all the time. EE currently covers 99% of the UK population. To find out if you're in an EE covered area, you can use their coverage checker.

O2

O2 is owned by Telefónica, one of the world’s largest telecoms network operators, so coverage is far-reaching both in the UK and abroad. O2 joined the superfast 4G market in summer 2013 and the network currently covers 97% of the population.

Handsets

EE

All EE handsets are 4G-ready and there are currently over 90 to choose from. These include the Samsung Galaxy S6, iPhone 6s and Nokia Lumia 930.

O2

O2 offers a much wider variety of 4G-ready phones, plus refurbished handsets and more basic models for those on a budget. There are currently around 40 handsets to choose from. These include, Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6s.

Visit EE Mobile → Visit O2 Mobile →

Customer service

EE

EE customers were subject to many technical issues following the 4G network launch in October 2012 and users had trouble even making basic calls, according to the BBC. However, according to Ofcom's customer satisfaction report EE achieved 66%, in comparison to the sector average of 72%.

O2

O2 has retained its position as the provider generating fewest complaints. In the latest Ofcom report O2 was rated above average for overall customer service satisfaction (76%) with 80%. It also scored higher than average in other respects, such as being easy to contact, providing clear advice and the speed with which it resolved issues.

GuruTV offers unique service

O2 has also recognised the need for help with the techie side of smartphones and tablets. O2 GuruTV runs an ‘Untangled Tech’ channel on YouTube where you can search or browse for advice on common problems, like software updates or transferring data between iPhones. You can also book a 25-minute appointment with an ‘O2 Guru’ in a store.

Extra features

EE

EE customers can get tickets to live music events and England football matches before they go on sale to the general public. If you’re a film fan, the EE Film Club has hundreds of movies available to watch on demand, with discounts offered on rentals between Monday and Wednesday each week.

O2

O2 also offers a number of extras including Priority Moments app, which includes exclusive offers for O2 customers, such as discounts at popular restaurants and retail chains. Plus you get free access to O2 public Wi-Fi with select partners, including McDonalds.

Conclusion

As ever, the best option depends upon what you want from your mobile phone provider and how much you want to spend each month. If you’re not fussed about 4G for example, you can choose from some great value deals at O2 for a wide range of budgets, but if you’re desperate for the superfast service you’re more likely to get it in your area with EE.

We’ve reviewed each mobile firm in even more detail in our comprehensive provider guides to O2 and EE.

Visit EE Mobile → Visit O2 Mobile →

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