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EE mobile vs Giffgaff

Wednesday, April 13th 2016

One was the first 4G provider in the UK, while the other sees its customers as members of one big extended family, but which offers the best mobile deals?

With EE’s cutting-edge tech and giffgaff’s ‘you run the company’ approach, the two couldn’t be any more different, so deciding which is better for you is understandably tricky. We take a look in detail at how the two stack up and what they have to offer their customers.

At a glance

EE Mobile and giffgaff have very different approaches to providing mobile services. EE proudly trumpets its wide 3G coverage and its leadership in the 4G market, while giffgaff extols its community involvement, which is a unique selling point.

3G coverage 98% 98%
4G coverage 99% 97%
Network carrier EE O2
Data allowance 250MB - 25GB 100MB - unlimited
Pay-as-you-go
Pay monthly
SIM-only
Handsets 95+ 25+
Extras Public wi-fi Community reward programme
Prices from £9.99 per month £5 per month
See deals → See deals →
EE
3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
99%
Network carrier
EE
Data allowance
250MB - 25GB
Handsets
95+
Tariffs
  • Pay as you go
  • Pay monthly
  • SIM-only
Extras
Public wi-fi
Prices from
£9.99 per month
GiffGaff
3G coverage
98%
4G coverage
97%
Network carrier
O2
Data allowance
20MB - unlimited
Handsets
25+
Tariffs
  • Pay as you go
  • Pay monthly
  • SIM-only
Extras
Community reward programme
Prices from
£5 per month

Plans

EE

EE instantly becomes more appealing when selecting a tariff, as you can waltz up to an EE store and talk to someone about it, and having a play with the handsets with an expert on hand is much better than reading reviews.

EE’s tariffs are less flexible that giffgaff’s, and all stem from the phone you choose, allowing you to select how much data you want. If you want more data, you can opt for a data SIM. You can get up to 25GB of data on a data SIM. However these SIMs come without texts and calls. Data SIMs last for 30 days or 12 months.

giffgaff

Giffgaff offers fewer handsets on its network than EE, but it has many of the big hitters like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy series of phones. Once you’ve selected your handset and decided whether you want to pay monthly or upfront, you choose your goodybag, and the phone will be sent out to you.

If you select to pay in instalments, you can choose an amount to pay upfront and then how long you want your contract to be (you can choose between 6, 12, 18 or 24 months).

The phone comes with next-day delivery, complete with a compatible giffgaff free SIM. If you want to get a data SIM for your tablet or iPad, giffgaff has two data SIMs (known as gigabags) to choose from. You can get 500MB or 1GB of data.

Visit EE → Visit giffgaff →

Price

EE

EE has a more substantial range of plans and a wider variety of pricing options. You can opt for a pay monthly deal with a number of phones from the likes of Apple and Samsung, or you can opt for a less substantial pay-as-you-go deal, where you get a free SIM and can choose either a £10, £15 or £20 top-up.

EE is generally more expensive than giffgaff, but it offers more as a company, and offers 4GEE (and in some cases double-speed 4G) on all its deals.

giffgaff

Giffgaff offers seven 4G plans, called goodybags, for its pay monthly deals, and within these you should be able to find something around your price range. At the bottom end is the £5 Hokey Cokey goodybag which gives you a minimum amount of minutes, texts and data, to the more substantial £20 goodybag, which gives unlimited, minutes, texts and data.

PAYG bundles From £10 From £5
SIM-only plans From £9.99 From £5
Pay monthly From £14.99 From £5
UK calls 30p per minute 10p per minute
Standard UK texts 12p per message 6p per message
UK data As per add-on 20p for 20MB per day
Picture messages 40p per message 16p per message
Video calls
Customer care calls 25p per call
Prices from From £9.99 From £5
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
  • Yes
Customer care calls
25p per call
Prices from
From £9.99
GiffGaff
PAYG bundles
From £5
SIM-only plans
From £5
Pay monthly
From £5
UK calls
10p per minute
Standard UK texts
6p per message
UK data
20p for 20MB per day
Picture messages
16p per message
Video calls
  • Yes
Customer care calls
  • N/A
Prices from
From £5

Data speed

EE

The standard speed of EE’s 4G is 33Mbps but it also offers double-speed 4GEE which is available in a growing number of cities across the country.

giffgaff

Giffgaff uses O2’s network to provide its mobile service. O2’s average 4G speed is 18Mbps. However, a quick search on its community boards reveals that the average speed experienced by many customers sits between 2Mbps and 4Mbps.

Visit EE → Visit giffgaff →

Coverage

EE

EE 4GEE network now covers over 99% of the UK population, while consumers finding themselves in an area without 4G are offered the backup option of switching to either the T-Mobile or Orange 3G signal. EE mobile coverage combined serves approximately 98% of all UK households.

giffgaff

As a mobile virtual network operator, giffgaff uses another provider to carry its calls, data and texts: O2. This provides over 98% coverage of UK households on 3G. Its 4G network covers 97% of the country.

Check EE coverage → Check giffgaff coverage →

Customer service

EE

EE did have a stumbling start to its telecommunications campaign, with many customers forced to contact EE mobile to report problems with their connections. According to Ofcom’s latest report, EE’s customer satisfaction levels came out at 66% in comparison to the sector average of 72%.

giffgaff

As giffgaff doesn’t own any shops it’s impossible to speak to someone face-to-face. It also doesn’t have a helpline number, so speaking on the phone is out of the question too. However, it does have a very active online community, so most questions are answered quite quickly by those who frequent the boards.

Visit EE → Visit giffgaff →

Technology and equipment

EE

EE have a wide range of 4G ready handsets, meaning you should be able to find one that’s perfect for you. You can also have a mooch round your local EE store, have a play with all the new tech there and have a chat with people who can help you make your decision.

giffgaff

If you know which phone you want, and it just so happens to be included among giffgaff deals, then great. If that’s not the case, you may have a problem. Giffgaff’s SIM-only tariffs rely on its customers providing their own handsets, which means unlocking them – a practice that almost always invalidates the warrantee.

Extra features

EE

With EE you can get tickets to live music events before they go on general sale, while the EE Film Store has hundreds of movies available on demand, with discounts offered on rentals every week. Tickets for England international football matches are also available before they go on sale to the general public.

giffgaff

Giffgaff has a reward scheme for users who visit and post on the community pages often. These rewards can be credited as money in your account, for top-ups and future phone purchases.

Conclusion

A brave opening couple of rounds from the plucky upstart, but we think EE’s might and reach win in the end. The size of the two companies is the key difference between the two, but many who are looking for a cheaper option will appreciate what giffgaff is doing. For those looking for a more traditional network, there really is only one winner.

Visit EE → Visit giffgaff →

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