Vodafone and O2 have finally announced their 4G services, and they will both be launching by the end of the month. Vodafone and O2 have both gone in with the exact same price plans, although O2 has not yet announced what its plans entail.
Round 1: Price — SIM Only
We can now compare O2, Vodafone and EE to see who offers the most bang for your buck.
Initially you would think that the £26 starting price for Vodafone’s 4G services are expensive compared to that of EE’s £21, but when you delve into what you’re getting for that price, you’ll soon understand why Vodafone is offering the better deal.
|Vodafone||£26||2 GB (unlimited for 3 months)||Sky Sports 1&2 OR Spotify Premium (for 6 months)|
|O2||£26||1 GB||O2 Tracks for 12 months; Priority Sports; Exclusive online gaming|
|Vodafone||£31||4 GB (unlimited for 3 months)||Sky Sports 1&2 OR Spotify Premium|
|O2||£31||3 GB (5 GB for 12 months if sign up before 31.10.13)||O2 Tracks for 12 months; Priority Sports; Exclusive online gaming|
|Vodafone||£36||8 GB (unlimited for 3 months)||Sky Sports 1&2 OR Spotify Premium|
|O2||£36||5 GB (8 GB for 12 months if sign up before 31.10.13)||O2 Tracks for 12 months; Priority Sports; Exclusive online gaming|
On all of Vodafone’s plans you are getting much more bang for your buck, witha whole extra GB on the £26 and £31 plan, whilst an extra 3GB on the £36 plan. That’s on top of all the extras that Vodafone is offering, with Sky Sports Mobile and Spotify Premium all up for grabs. Let’s also not forget that for the first three months of your contract you’re getting unlimited data.
O2’s prices are very similar to that of Vodafone’s and EE’s, but come with significantly less data than the red network. In fact O2 has pretty much price matched EE without offering any differences.
This round has to be a win for Vodafone, with EE’s only redeeming quality being that it has more expensive data plans available for even more data.
Round 2: 4G-enabled phones
What’s the point in launching a 4G network without an array of 4G phones? Well there isn’t much of one to be honest, but thankfully all the networks already have a plethora of devices available to customers (bare in mind we took colour choices as a separate offering for all networks.)
Vodafone currently has 26 4G-ready phones available on its network, with prices ranging from £29 upwards on a Vodafone Red plan. Of course if you already own that phone you’ll be paying just £5 extra if you want to access that 4G service.
O2 on-the-other hand is slightly more handicapped than the Red Network, with only 20 devices on offer — including a Z10 Refurb. O2 hasn’t yet said how much extra existing customers will have to pay if they want to access 4G services, or if they have to take out a new contract — so it’s hard to speculate how much it would cost you.
EE may have the largest 4G network, and the only one to carry the iPhone 5 — but the rest of its lineup is looking pretty small with just 21 devices available (including one that has yet to be released). Prices start at a rather reasonable £26 per month on a 24 month contract, making it the cheapest way to get a phone with 4G services.
This round was a lot more of a closer call, if we were to go on line-up alone, Vodafone would win — although EE’s prices are cheaper and the iPhone 5 is available.
Round 3: Coverage
Whilst we don’t know how reliable the coverage for Vodafone or O2’s 4G networks is going to be, we do know which cities it plans to launch in.
EE currently covers 60% of the UK population with 95 UK towns and cities covered, meaning it is hands-down the winner — but it did have a massive lead.
Vodafone plan on only launching in one city on day one — London, whilst coverage will be extended to 13 more cities towards the end of the year.
O2 is also planning 13 cities this year, but is starting with three cities instead, with Leeds, London and Bradford all getting switched on on August 29.
This round was clearly going to be a win for EE, as it has had a massive head start, but O2 has got a better rollout plan than Vodafone.
Round 4: Extras
Some people care less about the speeds they are going to receive from the network, than they do about what extras they are going to receive for being a loyal customer.
A lot of the extras you receive from EE and O2 will be available to all customers, not just those who have signed up to 4G plans.
O2 customers will still be getting O2 Priority Moments for all those local deals, but 4G customers will also get a 30 day Happiness Guarantee. What this essentially means is that if you’re not happy with 4G services, then if you cancel before the 30 day period is over, you’ll be switched back to 3G at no cost. O2 4G customers will also get 12 months access to O2 tracks, Priority Sports and “exclusive gaming”.
EE customers get access to 2 for 1 cinema tickets as well as a plethora of other extras. If you’re on a plan costing £41 or more each month, then you’ll be given the choice of add-ons — which include unlimited streaming from Deezer, free games each month and even live telly streaming.
Vodafone customers on a 4G Red Plan will also have lots of entertainment options, much like EE, with free Spotify or Sky Sports Mobile on offer. If you want these extras then they will cost you less on Vodafone than on EE, as you can get a Red Plan for as little as £26 per month on a SIM only plan.
Whilst EE and Vodafone has gone the entertainment route, O2 is offering customers money off vouchers, entertainment and a happiness guarantee — really these extras will be subjective, and everyone will have different needs.
So there you have it, the three biggest networks in the UK have had their 4G networks compared — although we’ll have a more in-depth comparison when they both launch.
If you expected a massive price drop, then that’s sadly not happened, with all the networks announcing similar pricing and it looks like we might have to wait on Three’s 4G network to launch before we see any difference in price — with the network already promising not to charge its existing customers anymore.
Updated 14/08/2013 to reflect the announcement of O2’s pricing.