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Tesco Named Best UK Mobile Operator in Which? 2024 Survey

Saturday, Apr 20th, 2024 (6:39 pm) - Score 4,880
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Consumer magazine Which? has published the results of their latest 2024 consumer survey of UK mobile operators, which revealed the best and worst providers. Overall the four primary operators (O2, EE, Vodafone and Three UK) came at or near the bottom of the table, while Tesco Mobile attracted the highest customer score.

The survey itself questioned 3,739 customers during January 2024, which produced an overall customer score based on service satisfaction and the customers’ likelihood to recommend the service to others. The caveat of this is that the scores for some operators – particularly the smallest Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) providers – will inevitably be based on a fairly small sample size, so take with a pinch of salt.

Overall, the highest rated mobile operator was Tesco, which delivered a customer score of 83%. In fact, the top half of the table was dominated by similar MVNO providers, while the primary operators could all be found toward the bottom of the table, with Three being named as the lowest rated provider.

Take note that Which? retains the full results for those who go out and buy their magazine, thus the online release only provides a basic summary of their overall customer scores.

Which? 2024 Mobile Survey
Tesco Mobile 83%
Smarty 82%
Giffgaff 80%
Talkmobile 79%
Voxi 77%
iD Mobile 77%
Lebara Mobile 76%
1p Mobile 72%
EE 69%
O2 68%
Sky Mobile 68%
Vodafone 68%
Asda Mobile 67%
BT Mobile 67%
Lycamobile 65%
Three UK 60% (down from 66% last year)

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
32 Responses
  1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

    Smarty is best yet Tesco scored higher.

    How daft.

    1. Avatar photo Connor says:

      And Smarty being so high but Three going lower

    2. Avatar photo Munehaus says:

      Indeed. Smarty is pretty much the only network that can’t text the NHS blood pressure monitoring number and other shortcodes I would expect Which readers to consider essential.

      How on earth they won this boggles the mind, though it does demonstrate the worthlessness of “Which” surveys that look at perceptions rather than facts.

  2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    And Tesco based off Slo2….

  3. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    These things are only a bit of fun ( See ISPReview’s annual rehash of the best broadband providers for details ) But GiffGaff with no wifi calling in 3rd place, come on.

    1. Avatar photo Munehaus says:

      There are people that actually pay “Which?” for their nonsense.

  4. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Most of these surveys are not worth the paper they are written on

    So Tesco come out high and O2 Low BUT Tesco are using O2 so basically they are the same but one is claimed to b e good and the other poor which makes no real sense

    1. Avatar photo Gul says:

      Whilst I agree the surveys aren’t worth much, I do believe that an MVNO such as Tesco can provide a better overall service to the parent network when considering aspects like customer service in addition to the radio access part provided by O2.

      As an O2 customer I dread having to call their customer service, the call quality is terrible (ironic for a phone company), the accents can be really hard to understand depending on which country answers the call and in almost every instance they’ve got what I asked for wrong.

      I’d rather go into one of their stores than risk a SIM replacement over the phone again!

  5. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Another contradiction. So SMARTY is rated gest BUT they use the 3 Network which is rated as poor

    1. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

      I think this is about customer satisfaction not how good the connection is.

  6. Avatar photo Jazzy says:

    My husband used SMARTY for a while and was quite pleased. The website was easy to use

    We’re not both on GiffGaff which suits us well

    I would never go back to a main provider or a contract

    1. Avatar photo Jazzy says:

      *now

  7. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

    It’s a pity that the number of respondents is not shown. Maybe if you subscribe to Which you get to see the detail. I suspect that the sample size will be small and I further suspect that it was Which subscribers who were polled. Have you ever been asked? No? Me neither.

  8. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    I have been with Smarty for about 3 years now, maybe longer, been fine, it does the job and the price is cheap. I am not a big user. I connect my phone to Wi-fi when I can.

    I hope that 3 don’t combine with Vodafone, if that happens I will have to find another provider, the problem is we will have less choice, not a fan of EE as they belong to Bloated Toad, O2 is Liberty Global and Virgin.
    I prefer 3 not to be Chinese owned, but it does seem better than the others.

    It seems we will have more limited choice, not that the government cares

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      I don’t get why you’d shoot yourself in the foot and remove EE from selection, just because they’re part of BT.

      I never understand why people avoid companies like this. If you’ve had bad experiences fine, but it’s like the people who are like Yay Linux because REE Microsoft.

      Just use what works for you. If it’s the “big bad company” that provides the best service, then they deserve the custom? no?

    2. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Sometimes you have to make a stand. I did stay with plusnet for 9 years, even if it was owned by BT, i joined as it was the only provider to give me internet quickly, my idea was to leave as soon as I could, but Plusnet was run separately to BT, so I stayed for 9 years. EE is BT under a different name, the same awful customer service, the same stupid high prices. Look we are BT we will charge what we like as people trust us. 🙂
      That is what my next door neighbour said a few years, I don’t mind paying the higher prices as it is BT. Changed to Sky 3 years ago or so, only because their daughter got them to do it. They do the same with British Gas, because they have been with them for so long and trust them 🙂

    3. Avatar photo Craig says:

      I left BT FTTC and EE Mobile a year ago when they both put there prices up by 14.4%, inflation +3.9%. I’m now with new providers, paying less and no in contract price increases.

  9. Avatar photo Paul Rose says:

    I switched from virgin media to smarty in march 2024 and never been happier no contract never had a issue so far.
    I’m using a sim router i bought and the data unlimited price of £20
    All in all which I done this earlier

  10. Avatar photo Ben says:

    Three is a good network but depends where you are. I don’t believe there is such a thing as overall best network. EE may have the best 4g coverage but it’s not all that great indoors. Networks needs to be looked at on a city by city basis until such time that coverage and capacity evens out between networks.

    Most of these tests do not consider indoor coverage which is most important. This is where three and EE may suffer due to reliance on higher frequencies that don’t travel as much info builders. Having more masts doesn’t compensate either that’s my experience.

    Your best bet it to test what works best in the places you travel and then sort by features and price.

    London is easier as all the networks provide decent coverage indoors and out including 5G. What I have found is small cells a matter a lot in London for indoor coverage as it’s so built up. As such I use O2 for main SIM and three for backup and and extra data. O2 likely best for indoor call coverage in the UK and three best for data speed.

    1. Avatar photo Mark says:

      This, it is ridiculous but in 2024 it is still the same scenario, in different areas you have different strongest providers. For me it’s EE, but 12 miles down the road it is Three. Crazy we still have this in the 2020’s across the country. And even in cities it can be just as bad if not worst in some areas.

    2. Avatar photo Jason says:

      Agreed. In Leeds, three’s a good network. Probably not if I’d travel around the countryside all the time… Ultimately, service, support and the coverage in the areas you stay the most is important.

  11. Avatar photo Ben says:

    I forgot to mention that being on a MVNO like smarty is never smart as you’ll get second priority against three users.

    In times of network congestion, users on Tesco, lebara, Lyca, gif gaf, ID and smarty are most prone to slow data and inability to call and missed calls. That’s why the main networks are worth paying a little more especially if you are a business user. However, you may not feel the difference often but will do in very busy areas such as city centres. So comparing EE with Lyca is worthless. They don’t even use EE to the core so calls often fail as with my wife’s Lyca

    1. Avatar photo Peter says:

      Highly doubt Smarty and ID get slower speeds than 3.

    2. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      I have never noticed it on Smarty when I have used their data.

    3. Avatar photo Karen. H says:

      Same. Have three SIMs with Smarty, never had any issues with them be it reception or slow speeds. Maybe if you live in the big cities it’s slow…but I live in NE Scotland, never had any issues. Smarty has been brilliant and great VfM.

  12. Avatar photo Bill watch says:

    EE is the bestest 4G in the UK but slow on 5G speeds. Three uk 4G is so slow but fast 5G.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Depends on where you live, 5G is awful on any network around here by all accounts, certainly once you go indoors. I found Vodafone 4G useless, 3 is good.

      I don;lt have a 5G phone, so I don’t know what it is like myself, just from hearsay and I doubt I will know for a long time as long as my phone keeps working.

  13. Avatar photo Bill says:

    5G coverage is not available in my postcode so EE 4G+ I get over 400 mbps on my Huawei 5G router cpe pro2.

  14. Avatar photo Robert says:

    I’m a big fan of Smarty…
    – £10 a month for more Data than most people would need (60Gb when I renewed).
    – Unlimited Texts and Calls
    – 30 day contract, cancel whenever you like
    – Very responsive and helpful customer support when I’ve had to use them

    But the best bit is it INCLUDES EU Roaming! You can literally buy a 30-day Smarty SIM for less than the cost of a ‘2 week Roaming Pass’ from most other operators! I don’t know how they can offer it so cheap, but I’m making the most of it until VF destroy them.

  15. Avatar photo DaveP says:

    Which surveys are ‘in house’ members only and thus not representative of wider demographic, that should be regarded with caution.
    Tesco coming top is probably due to the age of Which members loving a face-to-face CS, more important to them rather than O2 network Tesco uses.

  16. Avatar photo Wylie says:

    I just wanna know which has the best network in Bristol. Customer service is important, but if its hardware and software do their job, why CS?

  17. Avatar photo Jo says:

    Unfortunately Smarty doesn’t support eSIM. Moved from them to Spusu with 40GB for £7.90 and EU roaming (10GB), but just because i needed a eSIM. Brilliant customer service and great prices.

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