When choosing a mobile phone, it’s a difficult enough choice when you have to consider different manufacturers, contract lengths, whether to buy a phone outright or not, and many more considerations about the phone itself. That’s without even looking into mobile networks, and on the surface many of them seem to offer the same deals. How can you possibly choose? Fortunately (or unfortunately for some providers), there are answers. We’ve awarded each of the main networks with a particular certification to make the process easier for you.
Worst Network: Vodafone
This is a rather unfortunate title to begin with, but it has to be said. Vodaphone is having a bad year, and in summer 2016 they became the centre of a large scale controversy due to Ofcom’s involvement with their customer service issues. After upgrading their billing system in 2015, no end of problems have ensued for a large proportion of their customers, giving them a dire reputation for handling complaints and making them one to avoid altogether until further notice.
Best Performance: EE
Having merged with so many different networks over time and changed hands so many times, EE remains a bit of a mystery despite its broad reach. Despite the confusion over its name and ownership, however, being in the business for many years has seemingly helped its infrastructure. EE has built up a reputation for the best and most consistent service when it comes to calls, texts, data, signal coverage and overall reliability. No other major network can match it in tests, as of late last year.
Best Concept: giffgaff
Giffgaff is something of a breath of fresh air for the mobile phone industry, although it has been around for some years now. The simple payment schedule system is much better than a contract for the majority of users, as the monthly “goodybag” renewal system makes it extremely easy to change your plan on a monthly basis and you’re never tied into any contract. Online account management is the best we’ve tried, and the customer service is also pretty good. For some reason it hasn’t quite grown to the scale of its rivals, but we’re rooting for giffgaff.
Most Overrated: O2
O2 sadly wins the award for the most overrated mobile phone network. It’s still a major provider and it does offer a few unique benefits, but overall the service has failed against its cheaper rivals in most tests. O2 customers pay a hefty premium, as their contracts tend to be the most expensive on almost any phone you look for, but we’re at a loss as to why the prices are so high.
Award for Effort: Three
Currently an overall runner up behind EE in terms of performance, Three also has one of the highest general rates of satisfaction with its customer service, although it’s not perfect. The majority of Three’s customers report being generally pleased with the service, and they are certainly above the likes of O2 and Vodafone in most areas. Three just doesn’t quite have the competitive edge in any area as of 2016.