5G in the UK: everything you need to know
5G in the UK is here! Or, at least, it is in certain places, and we know when it will be in many, many more, which is half the battle.
The 5G networks in the UK are launching in a very staggered manner, as some have been available since May 2019, while we’re still waiting for others to roll out. Even with the networks that have launched, their 5G offerings aren’t available nationwide, and on top of that most phones don’t support 5G yet, so most people can’t take advantage of the new, super-speedy connectivity yet.
Thankfully we’ve got all the information you need to ensure a smooth transition onto the 5G superhighway. So grab your phone, buckle up and prepare to merge into the fast lane.
I want 5G right now
What is 5G?
5G networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections on smartphones and other devices than ever before.
If you’re not interested in the nitty gritty and already have your heart set on a 5G phone and plan, we’ve collected the best 5G deals in the UK for you.
EE was the first network to launch 5G in the UK on May 30, 2019, Vodafone 5G went live on July 3 and O2 followed up with an October 17, 2019 5G launch in the UK.
We’ve also seen 5G launches from BT Mobile on October 11, 2019 and Sky Mobile on January 16, 2020. Then in February, Three was the last of the major networks to bring out its 5G offering.
Whichever network you opt for you will need a new 5G phone and in most cases a new 5G contract to take advantage of it, as well as needing to live or work in an area that has 5G coverage.
5G on EE
- EE 5G launch date: May 30, 2019
- EE 5G UK towns and cities: 80
- EE 5G phones: 12
EE 5G locations
EE has now rolled out its 5G UK coverage to 80 towns and cities.
EE’s 5G cities so far are: London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Chelmsford, Coventry, Leicester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Lichfield, Lisburn, Newcastle, Nottingham, Salford, Sheffield, Stirling Sunderland, Wakefield and Wolverhampton.
And the towns with 5G from EE are: Ashton-under-Lyne, Birkenhead, Borehamwood , Bury, Bransholme, Castlereagh, Chatham, Cheshunt, Chesterfield, Clevedon, Clifton (Notts), Clydebank, Dartford, Dinnington, Dudley, Grays, Gillingham, Guildford, Hamilton, Hoddesdon, Harlow, Huddersfield, Inchinnan, Kimberley, Kingston-upon-Thames, Loughborough, Loughton, Maidstone, Milnrow, Motherwell, Newton-le-Willows, Northampton, North Shields, Oldham, Paisley, Potters Bar, Rochdale, Rochester, Romford, Rotherham, Rugeley (West Midlands), Solihull, Southend-on-Sea, South Shields, Staines-upon-Thames, Stevenage, Sutton Coldfield, Swadlincote , Sydenham, Walsall, Waltham Cross, Watford, West Bromwich, Westhoughton and Weybridge.
However, EE’s 5G coverage does not reach all areas of every city. We’ve tested it out in London, and found that it’s not consistent. In areas where 5G is available though, we’re consistently getting speeds of around 200Mbps (versus around 15-20Mbps on 4G devices).
EE 5G devices
There are premium flagship phones which aren’t as eye-wateringly expensive as the Fold, including the Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 ThinQ 5G.
EE 5G speeds
We got our hands on the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G on launch day and have been testing out the speed of EE’s shiny new network.
While top speeds of over 1Gbps are quoted, in reality we’ve seen speeds more consistently around the 200-400Mbps threshold – still comfortably faster than average 4G speeds.
The fastest 5G speed we’ve managed to achieve in London is 550Mbps, and in that location we downloaded an hour long, 1GB, high quality video from Amazon Prime in 43 seconds.
EE 5G cost
So how much is EE asking for 5G in the UK?
5G on Vodafone
- Vodafone 5G UK launch date: July 3, 2019
- Vodafone 5G UK town and cities: 44
- Vodafone 5G phones: 11
Vodafone 5G locations
Vodafone 5G is now live in 37 locations; Ambleside, Bebington, Belfast, Bishopbriggs, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bootle, Bristol, Bristol and Gatwick Airport, Cardiff, Cheadle and Gately, Droylsden, Eccles, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guildford, Horwich, Huyton-with-Roby, Isle of Scilly, Kingswood, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Llandudno, London, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Newbury, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Prestwich, Reading, Rochdale, Salford, Solihull, Southampton, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent, Stretford, Wallasey, Warrington and Wolverhampton.
Vodafone has also promised to bring 5G to a further locations including Blackpool and Bournemouth. It had previously said 5G would be available in these places by the end of 2019, but we’re still waiting for confirmation it has been deployed.
Vodafone 5G devices
So far, Vodafone has 11 5G smartphones on offer, with the Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus, Galaxy S20 Ultra, Galaxy Fold, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G and Huawei P40 Pro all available to buy now.
Vodafone 5G cost
So how much is Vodafone asking for its 5G services?
5G on Three UK
- Three 5G launch date: February 2020
- Three 5G UK towns and cities: 65
- Three 5G launch devices: 11
Three UK 5G locations
Three’s 5G network is now live in; Aberdeen, Abingdon-on-Thames, Aldershot, Aldridge, Balloch, Barrow-in-Furness, Basildon, Bath, Bedford, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackpool, Borehamwood, Bradford, Brighton, Brookmans Park, Cannock, Cardiff / Caerdydd, Chatham, Clayton-le-Woods, Coventry, Crawley, Cullingworth, Derby, Doncaster, Dundee, Glasgow, Gorebridge, Grays, Grimsby, Guildford, Heanor, Hedge End, Hemel Hempstead, Huddersfield, Inchinnan, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Leyland, Liverpool, London, Lower Stondon, Luton, Maidstone, Manchester, Mansfield, Motherwell, Neston, Newquay, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Peterborough, Plymouth, Preston, Reading, Redcar, Royston, Sheffield, Slough, St Albans, Stevenage, Swadlincote, Swindon, Telford, Westhoughton, Wickford and Wigan.
There are a few notable locations missing from the map, like Edinburgh or Norwich, but it’s likely Three will continue to roll out its 5G coverage over the course of 2020 and beyond. Three also claims it aims to provide 5G coverage to 80% of its network traffic in three years.
Three UK 5G devices
Three’s 5G collection includes the OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro, Huawei Mate Xs, Huawei P40 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.
Three UK 5G cost
Three plans offer 5G at no extra cost. Of course, 5G handsets are expensive in their very nature, with the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, starting at £53 per month at the time of writing.
5G on O2
- O2 5G launch date: October 17, 2019
- O2 5G UK towns and cities 26
- O2 5G launch devices: 12
O2 5G locations
O2’s 5G network is live in Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Chatham, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Northampton, North Shields, Norwich, Nottingham, Sheffield, Slough, South Shields and Stoke.
It also said it plans to spread its 5G network to 50 locations by summer 2020, which would include Milton Keynes and Brighton.
O2 5G devices
O2 currently offers the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, Galaxy A90 5G, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and the Oppo Reno 5G in its 5G handset lineup.
O2 5G cost
Wondering what a 5G phone on O2 will cost you? You can see current offers below.
5G on Sky Mobile
- Sky Mobile 5G launch date: January 16, 2020
- Sky Mobile 5G UK towns and cities: 21
- Sky Mobile 5G launch devices: 4
Sky Mobile 5G locations
Sky Mobile initially launched its 5G service (which piggybacks on the O2 network) in 21 locations.
The Sky Mobile 5G locations are; London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Leeds, Slough, Leicester, Lisburn, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bradford, Sheffield, Coventry, Nottingham, Norwich, Bristol, Derby, Stoke.
Sky Mobile 5G devices
Sky Mobile currently ranges the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G and the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G.
5G on BT
- BT 5G launch date: October 11, 2019
- BT 5G UK towns and cities: 20
- BT 5G launch devices: 5
BT 5G locations
BT 5G is using EE’s network, so it will be available where EE’s 5G coverage is. Currently BT’s site says it offers 5G in 20 towns and cities, but with EE 5G now available in 50 we’d expect BT to be the same.
BT 5G devices
BT’s 5G phone lineup includes the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Huawei Mate 20 X 5G and Oppo Reno 5G.