Coverage, SIM-only deals and phones

Hot on the heels of EE, Vodafone has officially sent its 5G network live in the UK, and the big draw is that you don’t have to pay any more for a 5G plan than you would for the equivalent 4G deal. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Vodafone’s 5G offering, including prices, data plans and smartphones.

Vodafone 5G coverage

Vodafone switched on its 5G network on 3 July, but only in seven UK cities. These are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London.

The company has, however, confirmed plans to bring 5G to 12 more UK towns and cities by the end of 2019.

Related: 5G phones

Vodafone 5G roaming

Vodafone will be the first UK carrier to offer 5G roaming. This will arrive at an undisclosed point this summer, and Vodafone says customers will be able to use 5G in Italy, Spain and Germany (with more to come), at no extra cost.

At its launch event, Vodafone said that customers will get 5G access in 20 cities across Europe by the end of July.

This is a big differentiator to EE that will likely make its 5G plans more appealing to regular travellers and business users. The only downside is that there are still a very limited number of countries with active 5G networks outside of Korea and the US.

Even in these territories the 5G connectivity is only available in certain cities, like Seoul in Korea and Chicago in the US.

Vodafone 5G speeds

Vodafone hasn’t given any specific details how fast its 5G network will be at launch outside of “it will be 10 times faster than 4G and way quicker than average broadband speeds”.

EE has been more specific, promising customers should expect an increase of 100-150Mbps, in even the busiest areas. It’s even gone so far as to claim that customers will top 1Gbps in certain areas. This would let you download an entire series of Game of Thrones in seconds.

Related: What is 5G?

Vodafone 5G plans and phones

Vodafone is currently only offering its 5G plans on two handsets: the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

This gives you significantly less choice than EE, which launched its network with four mobile phone options, including the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Oppo Reno 5G and LG V50 ThinQ.

However, Vodafone has an ace up its sleeve − it isn’t charging a premium for 5G over 4G. That’s a big deal.

And on July 10, the operator launched three tiers of unlimited data plans over 4G and 5G, which are priced depending on the speeds you need. These are SIM-only deals, so you’ll have to pay for the phone separately – hence the more affordable pricing.

  • Unlimited Lite: Up to 2Mbps, £23 per month
  • Unlimited: Up to 10Mbps, £26 per month
  • Unlimited Max: “Fastest speed”, £30 per month

You can see a breakdown of Vodafone’s 5G data plans for the S10 5G and Mi Mix 3 5G below:

Vodafone Red Entertainment will let customers pick from a choice of Spotify Premium, Sky Sports Mobile TV, NOW TV Entertainment Pass or Amazon Prime Video subscriptions.

And all the plans come with access to Hatch, a cloud-based gaming service bespoke-made for 5G. The service will let Vodafone customers stream “more than 100 premium mobile games” for free over the 5G network.

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