5G in the UK: everything you need to know

by admin July 25, 2019 at 8:59 am

5G in the UK is here! Almost. Yes. Sort of. Depending on your network, location and choice of device.

The UK’s 5G networks are not launching at the same time, and the fifth generation of network isn’t currently available nationwide, plus you’ll need a smartphone which supports 5G to take advantage of the new, super-speedy connectivity.

Update: O2 has finally revealed details on its 5G plans, including a release date.

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.

Read more about 5G

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, and it’s since been joined by Vodafone, which turned on its service on July 3. For now, these are your only two options for 5G in the UK.

We’re still waiting for Three and O2 to roll out their 5G offerings, but both will have their networks live before the end of the year. Meanwhile, BT (which will use EE’s network) has confirmed it will launch 5G this autumn.

You will need a new 5G phone and 5G contract to take advantage of it, and live in one of the six cities that have the connection to make use of the fifth generation of network. 

5G on EE

Image Credit: EE

  • EE 5G launch date: May 30, 2019
  • EE 5G towns and cities: 6 (16 by end of year)
  • EE 5G phones: 4

EE 5G launch date

EE was the first to launch its 5G network, with it landing in the UK on May 30, 2019 – beating the rest of the pack to the punch, as it did with 4G.

EE 5G locations

Initially you can get EE 5G in six cities in the UK, with London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester the lucky recipients, but the network has committed to rolling out 5G to 10 more cities before the end of the year.

EE customers can expect 5G to hit the following areas in 2019: Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

However, at launch 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

EE has four 5G smartphones for you to choose. The cheapest is the Oppo Reno 5G, the priciest are the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 ThinQ 5G, while the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G sits in the middle of the group.

Previously, EE had confirmed that it would also stock the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, however it has since been temporarily pulled from the line-up due to the recent Huawei ban.

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 way 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 the first taste of 5G in the UK?

5G on Vodafone

Image Credit: Vodafone

  • Vodafone 5G launch date: July 3, 2019
  • Vodafone 5G town and cities: 15 (22 by end of year)
  • Vodafone 5G phones: 2

Vodafone 5G launch date

Vodafone is the second carrier to launch its 5G network in the UK, which went live on July 3, 2019.

Vodafone 5G locations

Vodafone 5G is now live in 15 locations, which includes the 7 launch cites of London, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol, which have now been joined by another eight in Birkenhead, Bolton, Gatwick, Lancaster, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton.

It’s not done there though, as Vodafone has also promised to bring 5G to a further seven locations before the year is out. The lucky locations are: Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton and Warrington.

Vodafone 5G devices

So far, Vodafone has two 5G smartphones on offer, with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G both available to buy now.

Vodafone 5G cost

So how much is Vodafone asking for its 5G services?

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