o2 vs ee

O2 vs EE: Compare Plans, Pricing, Roaming, And Customer Service 


EE and O2 are separate companies that operate their cellular networks and are independent of anyone else. And when it comes to receptions across the UK, both have their strengths and weaknesses. 

Therefore, most choices are about how and where to use the phone. Both network cards are worth checking out here. 

EE and O2, along with Three and Vodafone, are two of the UK’s four largest mobile operators. EE came in 2012 from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, but O2 has its roots in Cellnet and BT Cellnet and became O2 in 2002. 

O2 Vs EE – Are They Any Good? 

After this history lesson, it’s time to determine which of these 2022 mobile heavyweights is the right network for you. It depends on what matters to you. Is it the data’s speed, coverage, or reliability? Or are you more interested in value for money, customer service, or small discounts? Whatever your priority, we’ve got all the info you need right here. 

Customers looking for affordable SIM deals with many pricing options will find that O2 has a broader selection, including 30-day contracts. 

Yet EE has faster 4G speeds, broader geographic signal coverage, and a more substantial customer support record. 

If the choice is only on price, O2 may be the winner, but the EE network offers more to customers. 

At a glance: 

  O2  EE 
Prices from  £10  £13 
Contract length  30 days to 36 months  12 months to 24 months 
4G speeds  17.3Mbps average  39.0Mbps average 
4G geographical coverage  80%  85% 
4G indoor coverage  95%  93% 
Customer satisfaction  91%  92% 

O2 vs EE – Plans and Pricing 

The two providers offer some of the most competitive deals, speed, and signal coverage features. 

This competitiveness means that the SIM card and phone prices are slightly higher than those of VOXI and Smarty. 

But as we can see, you get what you pay for: 

Sim Only Deals 

On SIM-only deals, both O2 and EE offer 24-month contracts and 12-month contracts, although EE has largely stopped offering mid-range data deals, so it’s minor or lots as far as data is concerned. 

These are some 24-month SIM-only tariffs from the two mobile providers: 

  Package  Minutes  Data  Contract term  Monthly price 
O2  12GB data (4G)  Unlimited  12GB  24 months  £12 
EE  160GB 5G data  Unlimited  160GB  24 months  £20 
O2  Unlimited data  Unlimited  Unlimited  24 months  £25 
EE  Unlimited 5G data  Unlimited  Unlimited  24 months  £37 

There are differences on the surface, but it is important to note that all O2’s plans are compatible with 5G SIMs, so it isn’t about getting 5G plans with EE and not O2. 

Yet EE does include a choice of one Smart Benefit (swappable throughout the contract) compared to the limited 12 months of an O2 Extra. 

When it comes to 12-month deals, EE only offers limited data plans, while O2’s range is much more comprehensive. These are all EE’s current deals alongside some of O2’s: 

  Package  Minutes  Data  Contract term  Monthly price 
O2  1GB data  Unlimited  1GB  12 months  £12 
EE  250MB data (4G)  Unlimited  250MB  12 months  £13 
O2  4GB data  Unlimited  4GB  12 months  £14 
EE  1GB data (4G)  Unlimited  1GB  12 months  £16 
EE  3GB data (4G)  Unlimited  3GB  12 months  £19 
O2  Unlimited data  Unlimited  Unlimited  12 months  £33 

EE aren’t interested in pushing 12-month plans to customers, with O2 offering vastly superior data packages. 

Note that EE’s plans are 4G only, while O2 customers can again opt for 5G if they have a 5G-capable handset. 

Our verdict on SIM-only prices: 

Too close to call 

EE and O2 are always priced very similarly for SIM-only. Realistically, you’re best off comparing deals with texts, data and minutes you want and see which is the best value at the time. 

The EE plan also allows you to get the fastest speed in the UK with a low-cost plan. 

In contrast, EE does not offer a comparable personalized O2 plan. That’s why we call it a tie. 

30-Day SIM-Only Deals

O2 also offers customers the option to take advantage of a SIM-only plan that includes monthly transactions that EE does not provide. 

Here are the two extremes of O2’s 1-month deals: 

  Package  Minutes  Data  Contract term  Monthly price 
O2  1GB data  1000 minutes Unlimited texts  1GB  1 month  £15 
O2  Unlimited data  Unlimited  Unlimited  1 month  £36 

The price is significantly higher than long-term deals, but the flexibility may suit some customers in O2 but not EE. 

Pay As You Go

Neither O2 nor EE offers traditional pay-as-you-go plans anymore, but they allow customers to pay for fixed amounts of data, minutes, and texts every month. 

O2 call these Big Bundles. For EE, they’re Jam-packed PAYG data packs. These are the cheapest and most expensive on each network: 

  Package  Minutes  Data  Contract term  Monthly price 
O2  6GB data Big Bundle  Unlimited  6GB  PAYG  £10 
EE  £10 Jam-packed PAYG  100 minutes Unlimited texts  4GB  PAYG  £10 
O2  100GB data Big Bundle  Unlimited  100GB  PAYG  £30 
EE  £30 Jam-packed PAYG  Unlimited  60GB  PAYG  £30 

The prices may be the same, but EE offers data rollover while )2 doesn’t, but O2 offers PAYG customers more than EE does. 

Phone Plans 

O2 and EE offer a vast range of handsets on monthly pay deals, with everything from primary 4G devices to the latest flagship phones from Samsung and Apple available. 

We’d highly recommend using a search function to compare mobile handset deals by narrowing down manufacturer, model and data requirements, but here are two examples of device plans offered by O2 and EE. 

Here’s the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G: 

  Handset  Minutes  Data  Initial price  Monthly price 
EE  Samsung Galaxy A52 5G  Unlimited  4GB  £50  £31 24-month term 
O2  Samsung Galaxy A52 5G  Unlimited  5GB  £10  £33.48
24-month term 
EE  Samsung Galaxy A52 5G  Unlimited  Unlimited  Free  £44
24-month term 
O2  Samsung Galaxy A52 5G  Unlimited  Unlimited  £10  £46.48
24-month term 

And this is the OPPO Find X3 Neo: 

  Handset  Minutes  Data  Initial price  Monthly price 
EE  OPPO Find X3 Neo  Unlimited  4GB  £100  £33
24-month term 
O2  OPPO Find X3 Neo  Unlimited  3GB  £20  £41
24-month term 
EE  OPPO Find X3 Neo  Unlimited  Unlimited  £10  £52
24-month term 
O2  OPPO Find X3 Neo  Unlimited  Unlimited  £20  £57
24-month term 

For simplicity’s sake, we’re comparing the 24-month standard EE deals with 24-month options from O2, although it’s worth noting O2 customers can sign up to 36-month terms for lower monthly prices. 

The pattern emerging here is that EE is slightly cheaper on monthly pay mobile phones. 

While this won’t be the case for every device out there, it’s clear EE are far more competitive on device plans than they are for SIM-only deals. 


The cheapest mobile provider between O2 and EE will often come down to which has the better deal on the amount of data a customer wants or the device that suits them. 

As such, it’s tricky to choose between them, especially as O2 shine on SIM-only deals while EE seems to be slightly ahead when it comes to handset plans. 

One central point in O2’s favour is the rate of their annual price increases: while EE’s annual increases are 3.9% + CPI, O2 peg their increases to the (usually much lower) rate of RPI. 

So, EE customers saw increases of 4.5% in April 2021 compared to O2’s gains of 1.4%. 

If customers have difficulty choosing between providers, this annual price increase rate may be the deciding factor. 

Winner: Draw – O2’s SIM-only deals are cheaper, but EE are competitive on device deals. 

O2 vs EE – Network Coverage 


EE remains the overall leader in geographical 4G coverage, with 85% of the UK landmass able to get a 4G signal from EE, yet there’s a split between urban and rural coverage across both networks: 

Ofcom says the increase in O2 rural network signal coverage may be more related to modelling than building new masts. However, it’s worth remembering that all networks are trying to improve their rural coverage anyway. 

All have signed the Shared Rural Network (SRN) agreement, and O2 has joined forces with Vodafone and Three to share over 200 new masts by 2024. 

Their 2020 annual results released in February 2021 explained they had also boosted 4G services in 180,000 postcodes. 

Meanwhile, EE is upgrading 4G services at over 500 sites by the end of 2022 to improve their 4G network’s reach. 

Legal targets are in place for network operators to reach 88% of the UK by 2024 and then 90% by 2026, but EE is the closest to those results so far. Indeed, Opensignal’s research published in April 2021 puts them ahead of their rivals for coverage and network availability. 

Yet Ofcom’s data shows the differences between the four nations when it comes to 4G geographic coverage: 

England and Northern Ireland have much better signal coverage overall, with O2 on par with EE in England and Northern Ireland. You’ll feel the difference while connecting to data or during calls. Check the country code for Ireland if you’re looking to call someone there from another country.

However, EE’s coverage in Wales and Scotland is superior to O2’s, mainly due to the differences in rural coverage we discussed above. 

Finally, we have Ofcom data on indoor 4G coverage. This shows O2 is slightly ahead compared to EE: 

Mobile coverage is usually a local issue, and EE has more comprehensive geographical coverage that may be pointless if they don’t offer decent indoor coverage for a customer’s home. That’s why we’d always recommend running postcode checks on providers’ websites before signing up. 

The good news is that 4G coverage from both O2 and EE will continue to increase in the years ahead. But what about 5G? 


5G coverage from O2 and EE has been multiplying since 2019. 

The two networks have switched on services in the same number of towns and cities (between 150 and 160 at the time of writing), but coverage within those areas is patchy. 

We can go into a bit more depth on 5G coverage thanks to RootMetrics’ bi-annual reports, which look at 16 locations across the UK. 

Their report for H2 2020 shows EE coverage within cities is much higher than O2’s: 

  O2  EE 
Glasgow  Not enough data  19.7% 
Edinburgh  Not enough data  19.6% 
Belfast  4.0%  35.3% 
Newcastle  10.9%  26.4% 
Leeds and Bradford  12.3%  24.4% 
Hull  17.1%  56.8% 
Liverpool  13.3%  33.5% 
Manchester  Not enough data  38.0% 
Sheffield  10.4%  41.9% 
Nottingham  11.8%  57.0% 
Leicester  12.7%  44.8% 
Birmingham  1.1%  54.9% 
Coventry  9.0%  24.8% 
Cardiff  Not enough data  38.7% 
Bristol  Not enough data  28.1% 
London  6.6%  39.9% 

So, these results look as if customers in EE’s 5G locations are more likely to receive coverage than those in O2’s 5G areas. 

5G coverage is increasing all the time, so customers hoping to spend a lot of time using 5G on a 5G-capable device should check their local coverage on operators’ websites. 

Winner: EE’s coverage within local areas is more extensive. 

O2 vs EE- Internet speed 


EE is the undisputed champion of 4G mobile speeds, with the most recent report from Opensignal covering the first months of 2021 showing their average speeds are double those offered by O2. 

Their Download Speed Experience metric showed average EE speeds of 39.0Mbps compared to O2’s 17.3Mbps. 

According to RootMetrics, the average speeds of each network (combining results of both 4G and 5G) support this data. 

Their fastest median download speed was recorded in Hull with 82.8Mbps, while their slowest was in Leeds with 37.7Mbps. 

The results for O2 were markedly different. Their fastest was 32.0Mbps in Leicester, with Bristol recording their lowest median download speed of 7.5Mbps. 

To put it in stark terms: O2’s best median download speeds in RootMetrics’ test cities were still slower than EE’s slowest. 


On 5G, we can again refer to RootMetrics’ 5G specific report for the second half of 2020, and we find that O2 are consistently fast on 5G services, beating EE’s fastest median download speed by over 30Mbps (with 178.9Mbps in Belfast). 

Yet RootMetrics noted EE were the only provider to post average speeds of 100Mbps in all test cities. 

Overall, EE is in the lead on 4G speeds and shows excellent signs on 5G speeds. With the two combined, it isn’t easy to look past them. 

O2 vs EE – WiFi calling 

EE provides more flexible WiFi calling than O2. 

EE and O2 have long used WiFi and 4G calls. With these technologies, you can make and receive calls using WiFi / 4G signals on your phone when regular 2G / 3G cannot reach your location. 

EA turned out to be probably the easiest to use of the two. O2 hesitates to “break in” (perhaps because the internal signal is generally better) and does not work with SMS (EE does). 

The list of EE-compatible devices is even longer than O2. We also found that EE is a bit better if you buy the phone from another network or individually, especially if it’s pretty old. 

EE and O2 only include WiFi calls in their monthly charges. No EE Flex plan consists of the pay-as-you-go plan. 

O2 has a better network of free WiFi hotspots. 

If you want to reduce the amount of data on your cable regularly, it may be helpful to connect your phone to a free WiFi access point to store your data. All of these networks offer partially free WiFi. 

EE offers free WiFi (for a monthly fee) on the London TFL network. This feature is convenient, and O2 also provides it. 

O2 WiFi is free for everyone, but usually, you need to sign up at least. However, if you are using O2, more than half of the access points will automatically detect your phone, and you will be able to use WiFi for free. 

We tested it ourselves for the O2 test, but it works. Hotspots are also conveniently located at restaurants, shops and train stations. BT owns EE, but EE has no such thing. 

Our verdict on extra network features: 

A minor win for EE. 

EE WiFi calls are better than O2 because they support multiple phones. Probably more important than WiFi on O2. WiFi on O2 is excellent but not as superb. 

O2 vs EE – Customer service 

Both O2 and EE could have a good record of customer service, further buoyed by the fact that overall customer satisfaction for the mobile sector is at 90% (it’s only 80% for broadband and 77% for landline). 

See how O2 and EE stack up against each other in the most recent Ofcom Comparing Service Quality Report published in May 2021: 

  O2  EE 
Satisfaction with overall service  91%  92% 
Satisfaction with value for money  79%  80% 
Number of customers with a complaint  7%  9% 
Overall satisfaction with complaint handling  62%  57% 
Complaints entirely resolved on first contact  47%  50% 
Complaints per 100,000 customers in 2020  8  6 
Average call waiting time  2 minutes 17 seconds  2 minutes 9 seconds 

As we can see, both providers have customer service strengths, with O2 having fewer customers with a reason to complain and more satisfied customers when it comes to handling those complaints. 

Yet EE has a marginal lead on two of the most important metrics (overall satisfaction and satisfaction with value for money), plus they have slightly lower complaint levels. 

It’s enough to help them edge ahead of O2, but they’re both solid performers in customer service, so either would be a good choice on this basis. 

One final point: O2 were fined £10.5m by Ofcom in February 2021 for overcharging 250,000 customers on their final bills over eight years. 

O2 vs EE – International Roaming 

EE offers international roaming in 48 locations with Smart plans and cheaper Essential plans. 

However, Smart Plan customers can expand it to locations outside of Europe by selecting it as a redeemable benefit. 

Customers with an Essential plan looking to expand their roaming range can sign up for add-ons for an additional fee. 

O2 offers roaming at 48 locations across Europe on all floors. O2’s most expensive plan lets you take advantage of the UK allotment to 75 travel destinations, including the US. 

Conclusion: The cheapest tariffs for both networks offer roaming at the same number of locations. 

And their more distant destinations are very similar and at comparable prices. 

It’s another draw, then. 


O2 and EE both have strengths as mobile operators, and the choice for customers may come down to which provider has better coverage in the areas where they spend a lot of time – and whether they have switched on 5G services there yet. 

However, EE has a few key things going for them: 

  • 4G speeds are much faster than O2’s 
  • Best 4G geographical coverage of all operators 
  • Handset tariffs can be cheaper 
  • Excellent customer service record 

It’s believable that customers looking for cheaper (and more flexible) SIM-only deals may favour O2, along with those happy to sign up for a 36-month contract for lower monthly fees. 

But EE’s sheer speed wins out for now, and they’re our pick out of these two. 

Overall winner: EE is faster, has a broader coverage and has a strong customer service record to back it all up. 

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