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 one to roll out. Even with 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.
There’s just one network we’re waiting on to launch its full 5G service. Three technically offers a 5G network as of August 19, 2019, but only for home broadband, and only in parts of London – it will however, expand to phones at some point before the year is out.
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 towns and cities: 50 (70+ by March 2020)
- EE 5G phones: 8
EE 5G launch date
EE was the first to launch its 5G network, 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
EE has rolled out its 5G UK coverage to 50 towns and cities.
EE’s 5G cities so far are: London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, Coventry, Leicester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Sunderland, Wakefield and Wolverhampton.
And the towns with 5G from EE are: Ashton-under-Lyne, Castlereagh, Chatham, Clifton, Dudley, Gillingham, Grays, Guildford, Hamilton, Harlow, Hoddesdon, Huddersfield, Kimberley, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lichfield, Lisburn, Maidstone, Milnrow, Northampton, Oldham, Potters Bar, Rochdale, Romford, Salford, Solihull, Stevenage, Sutton Coldfield, Sydenham, Walsall, Watford and West Bromwich.
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 claims it will have 5G in more than 70 towns and cities by March 2020.
EE 5G devices
There are premium flagship phones which aren’t as eye-wateringly expensive as the Fold, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and LG V50 ThinQ 5G, while the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X 5G sit in the middle of the group.
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: 31
- Vodafone 5G phones: 5
Vodafone 5G launch date
Vodafone was 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 31 locations; Ambleside, Bebington, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bootle, Bristol, Cardiff, Droylsden, Eccles, Glasgow, Horwich, Huyton-with-Roby, Isle of Scilly, Lancaster, Liverpool, Llandudno, London, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Newbury, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Prestwich, Salford, Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent, Stretford, Wallasey, Warrington 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 five 5G smartphones on offer, with the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X 5G 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: August 19, 2019 (broadband only)
- Three 5G launch cities: 1
- Three 5G launch devices: 3
Three UK 5G launch date
Three launched its 5G network on August 19, 2019. However, initially it’s only offering 5G home broadband, with its mobile 5G proposition arriving later.
Three UK 5G locations
Three currently only offers 5G in parts of London, however it says it will launch 5G in 24 additional towns and cities around the UK by the end of year (we’re still waiting, though).
The proposed UK 5G locations are: Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland and Wolverhampton.
Three also claims it aims to provide 5G coverage to 80% of its network traffic in three years.
Three UK 5G devices
Three already sells the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Samsung Galaxy A90 5G despite not having a live 5G mobile network yet.
We’ve been told it will additionally be stocking the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G – although neither are available just yet.
Three UK 5G cost
Three plans to offer 5G at no extra cost. Of course, 5G handsets are expensive in their very nature, with the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, starting at £48 per month at the time of writing.
5G on O2
- O2 5G launch date: October 2019
- O2 5G launch cities: 6
- O2 5G launch devices: 5
O2 5G launch date
O2 launched its UK 5G network on October 17, 2019.
O2 5G locations
O2’s 5G network is live in parts of London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Leeds and Slough, and the carrier has said it plans to have 5G live in 20 cities and towns before the end of the 2019. The additional 14 locations include:
Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Eton, Guildford, Leicester, Lisburn, Norwich, Nottingham, Reading, Stoke and Windsor.
It also said it plans to spread its 5G network to 50 locations by summer 2020, which would include Milton Keynes, Birmingham 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 – though note that this is for a 4G plan (you’ll be able to move to a 5G one once the service is available).
5G on Sky Mobile
- Sky Mobile 5G launch date: TBC
- Sky Mobile 5G launch cities: TBC
- Sky Mobile 5G launch devices: 4
Sky Mobile 5G launch date
We’re still waiting for Sky Mobile to launch its 5G network (after the carrier previously said it would arrive November 2019), with no firm release date available just yet.
Sky Mobile 5G locations
Since Sky Mobile uses O2’s network, it will launch in the same cities – Cardiff, London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Slough, and Leeds. There’s no word on expansion plans for now, though.
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 launch cities: 20
- BT 5G launch devices: 5
BT 5G launch date
BT’s 5G offering launched on October 11, 2019.
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.