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EE Mobile review 2017

Luke Thompson
Monday, January 9th 2017

EE owns the UK’s largest mobile network and delivers, on average, the fastest 4G speeds in the country. The company, which was created by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, covers 99% of the UK population with its 4G network.

EE exploits its 4G advantage by providing fast mobile internet services and has a wide range of different contract options for different types of SIMs and phones. However, EE is not cheap, its customer service lags behind other providers, and it has recently dropped some of its more popular freebie extras...

Is EE Mobile any good?

Broadband Luke Thompson
  • Tariffs & plans
    4/5
  • Phone & device range
    5/5
  • Customer service
    3/5
  • Value for money
    3/5
  • Coverage
    4/5
  • Overall
    4/5

Pros and cons

  • The UK’s best 4G coverage
  • Fast mobile internet
  • Free BT Sport and Apple Music
  • Shareable pay monthly contracts
  • Tethering is permitted
  • Not everyone can get 4G in their area
  • No unlimited data options
  • Prices sit at the higher end of the market
  • Customer satisfaction is below average
  • The 2-for-1 cinema tickets deal has been stopped

What we like

EE was the first UK provider to launch a 4G network, and it still has the largest in the country. EE’s mobile download speeds are also the fastest on average, rivalling even some fixed-line home services.

But what does this all mean for its customers and does EE deliver a service that lives up to expectation? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons...

EE has the UK’s best 4G coverage

Since 2012, EE has been leading the race in rolling out 4G across the UK. Today, its 4G network covers more than 500 UK towns and cities – 99% of the UK.

For users, this means increased accessibility across more of the country, which in turn improves the chances of having a reliable mobile signal and actually being able to use your phone without losing your connection.

Fast mobile internet

EE boasts that it has the fastest 4G speeds in the UK and the Ofcom report backs this up. With an average speed of 33Mbps, EE exceeds the UK average for 4G downloads (33Mbps) and is the fastest of the top four providers (EE, O2, Vodafone and Three).

Speeds like these help make using the mobile web a faster and more seamless experience. High speeds are especially useful for activities that require you to access high volumes of data, so if you like streaming videos on your mobile or downloading music and other files on the go, EE may be the network for you.

Free BT Sport and Apple Music

EE is currently offering three months' access to the BT Sport for free. Customers just need to text SPORT to 150 and register for a BT ID and then download the BT SPort app.

Both new and upgrading customers can get Apple Music free for six months. Again, customers just need to text MUSIC to 150 to gain access. After six months, customers can choose to cancel or continue for just £9.99 per month.

Shareable contracts

EE was the first network in the UK to launch shareable contracts. The idea being one monthly allowance and one bill for multiple users. Aimed at families or individuals with multiple devices, shared plans claim to help customers save money by distributing a single set of minutes, texts and data among a group.

There is an added cost for sharing a plan, with prices varying depending on what you share and how long for, but if you distribute your allowance effectively, you could end up saving on the cost of multiple, individual contracts.

You can use your data for tethering

With the fastest 4G in the UK, it would be a shame to be barred from sharing those speeds with your other internet devices. Thankfully, EE does allow tethering, which turns your phone into an internet router able to share data wirelessly or via a USB connection.

What’s more, unlike some providers, EE doesn’t place a cap on how much of your available data you can share with your laptop, tablet or any other device for that matter.

Visit EE Mobile

What we don’t like

Not everyone can get 4G

Despite standing for ‘Everything Everywhere’, EE’s 4G service isn’t available to everyone and currently only covers 99% of the population. So, if you sign up without first checking your EE mobile coverage, you may end up paying for a 4G service and only achieving 3G speeds.

In addition, EE’s top speeds – 4G Extra (also called double speed 4G) and 4G Plus – are available to an even smaller proportion of the population. Double speed 4G is available in most major cities, but 4G Plus, which achieves speeds of up to 90Mbps, is currently only available in central London.

There are no unlimited data options

Imagine having a top-of-the-range sports car but only being allowed to drive it for a maximum of 25 miles each month; that’s a little bit like 4G on EE. The speeds are impressive but the maximum data allowance on a data SIM package is 32GB per month.

If you don’t want a data-only SIM package and and are looking for the best deal for a new mobile phone, you will find the maximum allowance drops to 20GB on a mobile phone contract. That being said, select devices – like the iPhone – are available with up to 50GB of 4G data.

Finally, if you are happy with your handset and just want a SIM with a generous pile of calls, texts and data, the most you can get on a phone SIM-only deal is 16GB. There are smaller allowances available, depending on your chosen deal, but if you do a lot of downloading or tethering these data caps may prove insufficient.

Customer satisfaction is below average

EE may fare well in Ofcom’s 4G speed tests, but when it comes to customer satisfaction, the figures depict the network in a less flattering light. In the latest report, EE’s customer satisfaction scored 66% overall, falling short of the industry average of 72% and losing out to its main competitors.

EE 2-for-1 cinema tickets have been discontinued

When EE took over Orange it inherited ‘Orange Wednesdays’, which offered customers a buy-one-get-one-free deal on cinema tickets and pizzas every Wednesday. Referring to it as ‘EE 2-for-1’ after the merger, the network continued to run the popular promotion for a time but stopped it in February 2015, citing a decline in sales amidst changing viewing habits.

Prices aren’t as competitive as some other networks

Since its launch, EE has been one of the more expensive networks on the market. As it was the UK’s only 4G operator for a time, its pricing strategy was once unavoidable, but with a number of other networks now competing, more options are available. You can see how its prices measure up to those of other providers on our comparison page.

Compare SIM-only deals

Coverage checker

To find out if you can get EE mobile services in your area you should use EE’s coverage checker.

Check coverage

EE SIM-only plans

A SIM-only plan is useful if you already have a phone that you’re happy with and just want a suitable allowance of monthly texts, talk time and mobile internet data. EE offers a range of 12-month and 30-day contracts, giving easy access to its 4G network.

Minute and data allowances vary based on what you’re willing to spend each month and you’ll typically get more generous amounts for your money if you sign up for the 12-month plans. Here’s everything you need to know…

12-month SIMs

4G Data Minutes Texts Monthly cost  
250MB - 30GB 250 - Unlimited Unlimited £9.99 to £39.99 Buy Now

12-month SIMs offer better value than 30-day SIMs

SIM-only plans are shorter than the 24-month pay monthly phone contracts and are available from 30 days at a time on a renewable basis. However, the 12-month plans work out cheaper than the comparable 30-day ones.

12-month SIMs come with a higher data limit than 30-day SIMs

EE’s top SIM-only deal comes with 30GB of 4G data per month. (The most offered on a 30-day SIM is only 6GB.) If you browse the web frequently, download music on the go, or stream videos constantly, then an allowance such as this may be ideal for you. Note that EE’s maximum mobile data allowance of 32GB per month is only available with a data-only SIM.

Compare EE SIM-only deals

30-day SIMs

4G Data Minutes Texts Monthly cost  
250MB – 3GB 250 - 1000 Unlimited £12.99 to £20.99

Prices from £12.99 per month

On a 30-day rolling SIM-only contract, £12.99 per month will get you unlimited texts, 250 minutes and 250MB of 4G data. If you want a bit more data to play with, you can have up to 3GB. If you need help choosing a data allowance, there’s a calculator on the EE website.

With 30-day SIMs you’re free to cancel whenever you like

A 30-day plan offers the balance of value and flexibility. While you’ll pay a little more compared to a 12-month plan, you’ll have the freedom to cancel whenever you like, should you spot a better deal. The 30-day SIM renews automatically each month, so there’s no added hassle either.

Note that EE's 30-day SIM-only phone deals are only available to buy in an EE store, not online.

Compare EE SIM-only deals

EE pay-as-you-go plans

A pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plan is the simplest way to use your mobile phone. There are no contracts and no scheduled payments. When you need to make a call or send a text, top-up your phone with credit then either use it at the standard network rate or convert your credit into a set allowance of minutes, texts and data.

Pay-as-you-go SIMs are flexible and non-binding, but frequent users may find a SIM-only plan to be better value and a more convenient option. Nevertheless, if PAYG is the way you want to go…

Get a free PAYG SIM

Free pay-as-you-go SIMs are available direct from EE either online or in store. You can sometimes find them at supermarket checkouts too, but you’ll have to pay to top it up with credit before putting it in your phone.

When you have your SIM topped up, you can use it at the standard network rate – that’s 12p per message when texting and 30p per minute when making a call. Alternatively, you can opt for a PAYG pack.

Get more minutes and texts with a pay-as-you-go pack

EE lets its PAYG customers spend their credit top-up on one of their pay-as-you go packs if they want. There are three categories to choose from, each offering better value on minutes and texts over the standard tariff, although a SIM-only plan would still give you more for your money.

The Everything Pack comes in three variations, all running for 30 days and starting from £5 for a mix of minutes, texts and data. The Talk and Text Pack is cheaper but does not offer any data download allowance, and the seven-day Data Pack has only a tiny amount of data, minutes and texts.

Free EE PAYG SIM

EE mobile phone contracts

A pay monthly phone plan divides the cost of a brand new phone over the length of a minimum term contract, combining it with a monthly usage allowance for calls, texts and mobile data.

EE is usually pretty reliable for stocking the latest smartphones but it’s worth considering the overall costs of signing up for two years before you head to the checkout…

Phone contracts run for 24 months

4G Data Minutes Texts Monthly cost  
500MB - 50GB 500 - Unlimited Unlimited From £14.99 Buy Now

EE stocks all the latest smartphones

As the UK’s largest network, you can be sure that EE will have the latest devices upon launch.

Currently stocking a good range of iPhones – the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE and iPhone 5s – there’s enough on offer to suit the majority of budgets.

Other premium devices include the Samsung Galaxy S7, the S7 edge and the HTC One M9, but if you’re after a less high-end device, there are handsets from Nokia and Sony too.

Double speed 4G isn’t available everywhere

EE also offers double speed 4G, which as the name suggests, is up to twice as fast as regular 4G. EE says that this is capable of reaching download speeds of up to 60Mbps, but only around 20 cities are currently set up to support it.

Be sure to check your coverage before you sign up just in case you’re not on the double speed 4G list. As the network expands, these faster speeds will become more readily available, but it’s not really worth committing to in the meantime if you’re not going to benefit now.

Share with up to four other people or devices

When signing up for a qualifying pay monthly phone contract you have option to share your monthly allowance with up to four other people or devices. You will be charged to add another device to your plan and cost will depend on what you want to share and how long for.

If you sign up online, you’ll only be presented with a limited number of sharing options; for a comprehensive list you’ll have to visit an EE shop or call them directly.

EE mobile handset deals

EE shared plans

Shared plans are a fairly new addition to the UK’s consumer mobile market and EE is one of the first to offer them. You can share any of EE’s main plans with up to five other people or devices and there’s a collection preconfigured sharer bundles to choose from too.

As there is only one bill, EE’s shared plans may suit individuals with more than one device or families looking to take better control of their collective mobile spend. Here are the options on offer…

Sharer bundles

Devices 4G data to share Upfront cost from Monthly cost from Contract length  
2 2GB - 8GB £0 £13.50 24 months Buy Now

Choose two devices

EE’s sharer bundles come with a choice of two devices to get you started. It comes with a Car WiFi which plugs into your dashboard and an Osprey 2 Mini – a pocket sized wi-fi box that creates its own internet hotspot.

Then share 4GB of data each month between them

Sharer bundles come equipped with up to 8GB of data to share every month. With 8GB of data you could browse the web, email and even stream music and TV content.

EE mobile data SIMs

A mobile data SIM offers just that - there are no included minutes or texts. Data SIMs are designed for use in tablets, internet dongles and personal wi-fi devices and EE’s 4G network offers download speeds that compare well with some of the UK’s home broadband providers.

However, with activities like video streaming demanding more data than casual web browsing, the limits EE places on how much you can download each month will impact how much time you can spend online. Here’s what you can get…

30-day/12-month contracts

Data allowance Data type Monthly cost  
2GB - 32GB 4G £12 - £29 Buy Now

4G internet on your tablet

Tablets have become insanely popular in recent years for their mobility and ease of use. By combining an EE data SIM with a 4G-enabled tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S or the new iPad Air, you can match – and even surpass – the speed of your home broadband on the go.

Fast mobile internet, like that offered by EE’s 4G network, makes browsing, downloading and media streaming quick and easy. Ideal for commuters, students and families on the move.

Up to 32GB of data each month

EE’s allowances on data SIMs range from 2GB to 32GB per month. Lower allowances cost less but paying extra will give you more freedom to browse, download and stream. There is no unlimited option available, but you can use as much of your data for tethering as you like each month.

A SIM that fits your device

As well as stocking nano SIMs for the latest Apple tablets, EE also provides a Combi SIM that combines a standard SIM card and a microSIM for use within wi-fi dongles or tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. If you’re unsure of what SIM you need, check your device’s user manual, search online, or contact the manufacturer.

Data SIMs are available on a 30-day and 12-month plan

EE offers a choice of a 30-day and 12-month contracts. So if you want more flexibility and don't want to be tied into a year-long a contract you can go for a 30-day data SIM.

Compare tablet SIM-only deals

Can I get 4G on EE?

UK coverage

According to EE, its 4G network now covers around 80% of the UK, but individual cover can vary considerably. Use EE’s coverage checker to see if your area is covered by the network and to check the strength of its 4G signal.

4G Extra and 4G Plus

EE also offers what it calls 4G Extra and 4G Plus, which both advance on the speeds of standard 4G. EE claims that 4G Extra can reach download speeds of up to 60Mbps, but is currently only available in around 20 major cities.

Download speeds on 4G Plus are even faster, reaching up to 100Mbps, but availability is again scarce, with only central London currently covered.

As EE’s standard 4G network grows, these faster speeds are likely to become more widely available too. You can use EE’s coverage checker to see what you can access at the moment.

Average 4G speed comparison

  EE O2 Vodafone Three
Average 4G download speed 33Mbps 18Mbps 20Mbps 17Mbps
Average 4G upload speed 17.6Mbps 9Mbps 13.1Mbps 9.4Mbps
  Go Go Go Go
Network Average 4G download speed  
EE
33Mbps
O2
18Mbps
Vodafone
20Mbps
Three
17Mbps

Source: Ofcom

Frequently asked questions

How do I switch to EE mobile?

Tell your current provider you’re leaving

Before signing up to a new network, you first need to break up with your current provider, assuming, of course, you don’t want to be paying for both. A lot of mobile contracts automatically renew at the end of their minimum term, so it’s recommended that you give at least 30 days’ notice of your intention to cancel ahead of the initial contract end date.

If you want to move your current number to EE, ask your existing provider for your PAC (porting authorisation code) number when you call to cancel.

Check that your phone is unlocked

If you’re after one of EE’s SIM-only plans, you’ll need to make sure that your existing phone is unlocked first. A phone that was purchased through a network provider – as part of a contract, for example – will most likely be locked to that network, meaning SIMs from other networks will not work with it.

The easiest way to test if your phone is unlocked is to insert the SIM of a friend who is on another network. If your phone is unlocked, you’ll be able to make and receive calls. If you can’t, don’t worry; the majority of phones can be unlocked, but there is often a small fee to pay for the service. Ask your provider for more information if you’re unsure.

Make sure your device is 4G-ready

If you want to take advantage of EE’s 4G network, you’ll need a 4G-ready device. If your phone is only 3G-enabled, an EE SIM will still work but only on its 3G service. EE’s 3G coverage is also the largest in the UK, but you’ll still be paying for a 4G service without reaping the benefits of faster mobile internet.

Let EE know if you want to keep your existing number

If you’d like to keep your existing mobile number, you will need to give EE your PAC number, which is available from your old provider on request. When you have this you can fill out a transfer form on EE’s website with your details and PAC number.

After submitting the form, you’ll receive a text message confirming that the transfer is underway, with an estimated time of completion. It can take up to two working days to complete the transfer, during which time you may experience some interruptions to your service.

What is EE’s customer service number?

Existing customers can contact EE online or by calling 150 from their EE, Orange, or T-Mobile phone. It’s free to call if you’re a pay monthly customer and 25p on a PAYG phone. To contact EE from a non-EE mobile or from abroad call +44 (0) 7953 966 250.

If you’re not already an EE customer, you can get in touch on 0333 331 4345. Lines are open 8am–10pm Monday to Friday and 8am–8pm Saturday and Sunday.

How good is EE’s customer service?

In the latest customer service satisfaction report from Ofcom, EE scored an overall satisfaction score of 66%.

Here's how EE compared to other providers – O2: 80%, Vodafone: 69% and Three: 69%. The sector average score came to 72%.

How much does EE charge on its pay-as-you-go tariff?

EE’s standard tariff charges

Usage Standard tariff charges
Calls to landlines, EE mobiles and other networks 30p per minute
Calls to Freephone numbers 20p per minute
International calls Standard call rates apply
Texts to UK mobile networks 12p per text
Picture messages 40p per message
Data (Browsing the web) As per Data Add-On or Pack purchased

What happened to Orange and T-Mobile?

In 2010, EE merged Orange and T-Mobile to create the largest mobile network in the UK. Plans for either network are no longer available to new customers.

Upgrading to EE’s 4G network from Orange or T-Mobile

Existing pay monthly Orange and T-Mobile customers on a 12, 18 or 24-month contract can upgrade to EE’s 4G service, providing they have a 4G-ready phone and are at least 60 days into their existing plan. You can upgrade by visiting the EE website>.

What happened to Orange Wednesdays?

After merging with T-Mobile to form EE, Orange’s iconic promotion, Orange Wednesdays, became known as EE 2-for-1. However, in December 2014, EE announced that the popular buy-one-get-one-free cinema ticket offer, which had been running for over a decade, would be discontinued on February 25th 2015.

Does EE allow tethering?

Yes, EE mobile tethering lets customers connect multiple devices to the 4G data on their mobile plan and, unlike some providers, there are no limits on how much of your allowance you can use.

However, with limited data quotas across the EE range, we recommend keeping an eye your remaining allowance as extensive tethering can consume data faster.

Will an EE SIM fit in my phone?

Yes, EE stocks nano SIMs and Combi SIMs. Combi SIMs double as both a micro SIM and the standard-sized SIM card. When you order a SIM from EE, you just need to let them know which one you want. If you’re not sure, check your device manual or ask in store or online.

Visit EE Mobile

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