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EE review: Deals on the fastest UK network this Black Friday

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
14
Starting at

High performance comes with a matching price tag, but you get the speeds you pay for

Pros 
The fastest 4G and 5G speeds
Superb 4G and growing 5G coverage
Good scores for customer satisfaction
Cons 
Customer service scores could be higher
Some doubts about value for money
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Get a MASSIVE 150GB of data for £20/mth this Black Friday

You can now get a vast 150GB of data with EE for just £20 a month on the 24-month plan. With unlimited texts and fast 5G where available, it's a great option if you're in need of a no-frills SIM-only plan.

For years, EE has been selling itself as the UK’s most advanced high-speed 4G network, and that message is continuing into the 5G era. 

It’s not just talk, either. The latest data from RootMetrics puts EE head and shoulders ahead of the competition on performance; its average download speed across the UK is over twice as fast as that of its nearest rival, while it gives you median download speeds of over 70Mbits/sec in 14 of the 16 biggest UK cities where RootMetrics runs its more detailed tests. 

There’s stiffer competition on the horizon when it comes to 5G performance, however, with Three and Vodafone beating EE in some cities and catching up elsewhere, but right now EE is still the reigning champ when it comes to connection speeds.

Of course, that kind of premium service comes with higher prices, not to mention higher expectations from EE’s customers. This has left EE struggling in some areas of our 2021 Mobile Network Awards survey, particularly when it comes to value for money. That said, 88% of the EE customers we surveyed would recommend it to a friend; one of the best results for a premium network rather than a low-cost, no-frills virtual operator.

READ NEXT: Vodafone review

EE review: What do you get?

EE isn’t in the business of overcharging for its phones or plans, but don’t come expecting the cheapest deals. Buy an iPhone 12 at the time of writing with 40GB of monthly data and you’re looking at £49 per month over two years plus £50 upfront, making for a total of £1,226. 

That’s a little cheaper than you’ll pay for 30GB with O2 and only £50 more than you’ll pay for 30GB with Three, but iD Mobile is a whole lot cheaper, as is Sky, and even Virgin Mobile has some better deals. Go for Samsung’s mid-range S20 FE 5G and you’re looking at £47 per month with 40GB of data plus £30 upfront, for a total of £1,158. With Three, the monthly price drops to £30 a month, and there are similar deals at iD Mobile and Sky Mobile as well.

If you’re going to buy a phone with EE, head for the higher-capacity plans. These still aren’t cheap – Three’s Unlimited plans come in for less than EE’s 100GB packages – but you generally get better value for money. 

It’s a similar story on the SIM-only front. EE can be horrendously expensive for low-data packages, but the plans get more competitive as you add more data. 200GB for £23 a month on a two-year contract isn’t bad value, and most of us would struggle to push through that data cap without a lot of mobile video streaming or game streaming. However, EE’s Unlimited 5G plans are still more expensive than the competition, though you’re paying for a higher level of performance. You can see EE’s current plans, which support both 4G and 5G connections, below:

Monthly fee 

Data

Texts

Minutes

Term

1GB 5G data

£14

1GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

24 months

120GB 5G data

£20

120GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

24 months

200GB 5G data 

£23

200GB

Unlimited

Unlimited

24 months

200GB 5G data (1 smart benefit)

£28

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

24 months

Unlimited 5G data 

£35

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

24 months

Unlimited 5G data (1 smart benefit)

£40

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

24 months

Unlimited 5G data (full works)

£41

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

24 months

Browse EE phone contracts


EE offers optional Smart Benefits on many of its pay monthly phone and SIM-only contracts, usually costing £5 or so extra for one and a pound or two more for three. These include free Apple Music, Apple TV+, BT Sport Ultimate or the most basic Netflix package, along with EE’s Roam Abroad international roaming package or its data pass, which allows you to watch films and TV shows without hitting your monthly data allowance. Getting these through EE can be less expensive than subscribing directly, which might be enough to push you in EE’s direction if you regularly use these services or spend a lot of time travelling or streaming video.

All the same, EE’s pricing means that customers don’t always feel that they’re getting the best value for money. Where more than two-thirds of Tesco Mobile, Giffgaff and Sky Mobile customers we surveyed said that they were very satisfied with their network on this front, only 37% of EE customers said the same. 33% were satisfied, and 22% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. That’s not a damning indictment of EE’s pricing, but it’s not the response that EE would have hoped for, either.

READ NEXT: Sky Mobile review

EE review: Customer service

EE fares better in our awards survey when it comes to customer support, with 41% of EE customers saying they’re very satisfied here, and a further 40% satisfied. That’s not enough to put EE up against Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Giffgaff in contention for an award, but it is enough to put EE comfortably ahead of O2, Vodafone and Three. 

What’s more, EE also did well in Ofcom’s most recent customer service and satisfaction research: 92% of EE users were satisfied with their service overall, and while 9% of EE customers had a reason to complain, more than half (56%) were satisfied with how their complaint was handled, and 50% of complaints were resolved on first contact. EE only had six complaints per 100,000 subscribers, fewer than every major network Ofcom provides figures for bar Sky Mobile (also six) or Tesco Mobile (three).

Browse EE phone contracts


EE review: Coverage, reliability and speed

RootMetrics’ latest research data is unequivocal on EE’s coverage and performance. 4G coverage is excellent, EE leads the way on 5G availability, and its UK-wide median download speed of 58.8Mbits/sec is over double that of its nearest competitor, Vodafone, with 25.2Mbits/sec. EE is ranked number one across every category, except Accessibility, though it shares the position with Vodafone on Reliability and Call and Text performance. It’s the top performer at both the national level and the city-focused metro level, posting high median download speeds in every UK city and an impressive 104.2Mbits/sec in Birmingham, with 5G median download speeds of 162.9Mbits/sec. 

That doesn’t mean EE can rest on its laurels. It’s one of only two networks to post median 5G download speeds of over 100Mbits/sec in all 16 cities where RootMetrics tests (the other being O2), but Three and Vodafone are faster than EE in London, and there are other cities where Three, O2 or Vodafone has the edge, including Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. If you’re after the highest 5G performance in your location, EE isn’t necessarily the best there is.

We were also surprised to see that, in our survey, EE wasn’t the more reliable network when it came to audio or video streaming. 94% of EE users said they had a fast enough connection for general web browsing and social media, but the scores for music streaming and video streaming – 87% and 82% – were lower than those for Tesco Mobile, BT Mobile, Giffgaff, Virgin Mobile and Sky Mobile. Some of this may come down to EE users being more demanding of their network and expecting streaming to work everywhere, but it goes to show that there’s more to the overall experience than the raw speed figures sometimes make out.

READ NEXT: Giffgaff review

EE review: Roaming

EE made headlines earlier this year by being the first major UK network to roll back free inclusive EU roaming. From next year onwards, users will need to pay £2 a day to use their data, calls and texts while in Europe. You can get around this by taking the Roam Abroad benefit or paying £10 for it as a 30-day add-on, and this also gives you roaming in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. EE also has a separate option, the Travel Data Pass, which gives you 150 to 500GB of data while abroad for a daily charge of between £5 and £6.27.

Outside of these programmes, roaming soon gets expensive. Calls are up to £1.88 to make or receive in some regions, while data costs from £5.22 for 50MB. Get one of the add-ons if you want to keep your roaming affordable.

READ NEXT: Three review

EE review: Other services and spending caps

EE also has a handy Wi-Fi calling feature, where you can make calls and send texts over a Wi-Fi connection in places where you might not usually get a signal. This doesn’t actually save you money in the way that using a Voice over IP (VoIP) app like WhatsApp, FaceTime or Facebook Messenger would, as both calls and texts come from your monthly allowance. However, it can be useful if you live in a remote area or work in a basement office. The catch is that it’s only supported on specific iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices bought directly from EE.

EE’s pay monthly customers can also use its Underground Wi-Fi – complete with Wi-Fi calling – on the London Underground. That’s a definite bonus if you’re living and working in the capital.

EE supports data caps, and you can configure them online or by sending a text message. However, the caps don’t include add-on purchases or payments to certain premium numbers or subscriptions, so you’ll still want to keep an eye on how anyone else on a family contract uses (or abuses) their phone.

Browse EE phone contracts


EE review: Verdict

If connection speeds are your priority, then EE is still the best service out there, delivering faster connections in more places than any other service, both for old-school 4G and for 5G. 

The only problem is that EE is a little pricier than some of its rivals, while it’s not necessarily doing more in terms of customer service or providing extra value for your money. On performance alone we’d still recommend it, but be aware that you can spend less and still get a good connection if you go elsewhere.