Smartphones and connectivity are an essential part of our daily lives, with 84% of adults in the UK owning a smartphone in 2021, and data consumption increasing as we use our smartphones for more activities.
In 2021, a typical UK household spent £38.22 a month on mobile phone packages. But mobile contracts can be complex and its hard to unpick the real value of incentives included from your provider, leading to many people overpaying for services they may not need. Meanwhile, the cost of data has reduced and we’ve been holding onto our phones for longer, leading to a huge growth in SIM-only contracts.
This page provides an overview of the main UK mobile providers, summarises recent industry news, and gives some advice and tips, as well as sources for further support.
Contents of this page
There are only four UK mobile networks (EE, O2, Vodafone, and Three). All other providers, called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), are either owned by one of the big four or are operated by companies using one of the networks.
See a list of providers by network
<aside> ☎️ Ofcom, the sector regulator, published a report in May 2022 on Broadband and Mobile customer service levels
<aside> 🛠️ For the most up-to-date practical advice, read our guide to Saving money on mobile.
<aside> <img src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/9ae4fcda-a6c4-4f18-83fd-b67c9dc3e0b5/arch-yellow.png" alt="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/9ae4fcda-a6c4-4f18-83fd-b67c9dc3e0b5/arch-yellow.png" width="40px" /> Millions of people are out of contract for their mobile phone and overpaying by not switching their deal.
Your provider must contact you before your contract ends to tell you the end date and highlight their best deals, including those available to new customers. It can be easy to miss these notifications though, so if you think you’re out of contract, it’s a good idea to speak to your provider and ask what deal they can offer you.
If you’re happy to keep your handset, switching to a SIM-only deal either with your current or a new provider could save you hundreds of pounds a year.