For the best mobile internet you can get, you need a plan with 4G. We're talking lickety-split data that loads your web pages and apps in seconds, and a connection stable enough that you can make FaceTime calls and play online games without a hitch.
The good news about 4G is that it's very widely available - and easy-peasy to find a deal. Use the comparison table on this page to find a 4G phone deal on a 4G handset that suits you, or keep reading if you want to know a little more about what 4G gives you and how to get the perfect plan.
What is 4G?
'4G' stands for 'fourth generation' - meaning it's the fourth major version of mobile connectivity. The first gen let us make mobile calls; 2G let us use the network to send information; 3G improved that, and made real mobile internet browsing possible; and finally 4G made it even better.
What a 4G mobile plan means for you is the fastest, most reliable, and generally best mobile internet you can currently get.
Speeds can reach up to 60Mb on some networks, though you can generally expect downloads of around 20Mb-30Mb in areas with good coverage. That's several times faster than the older 3G. Basic fibre optic home broadband usually goes up to 38Mb download speeds, to give you an idea of just how speedy it is.
A 4G connection can also give you much clearer voice calls on your phone, since they can be delivered through the data network like VoIP.
5G is on its way soon too, promising even faster speeds, less lag, and more stable connections. We won't see it for a couple of years though - most sources reckon it will start appearing in 2020.
For now though, 4G deals are pretty darn good. They used to only be available from a handful of major networks, but these days, you can grab a 4G plan from nearly all mobile providers.
How to find the best 4G phone deal
We've made this easy: you can compare 4G phone deals with our tool, and see hundreds of plans from top UK networks. Just select '4G only' from the filters, and you'll only see plans with 4G connectivity on 4G-ready handsets.
Then it's just a case of finding the best deal for you, using the filters and sorting tool. Have a think about:
- Which phone you want - there's loads of choice here, from fancy iPhones and Samsung Galaxies to mid-range and cheaper handsets, all of which are available with 4G
- Which network you prefer - you can select a few to compare their deals
- How much monthly data you need - allowances can range from as little as 200MB up to 50GB+ and even unlimited data
- What contract length you prefer - most are 24 months, though you can also find 12, 18, and 30-month plans
If you want the best 4G you can get, EE offers the fastest by far. The very best can be found on its Max plans, which have higher data allowances and access to the fastest 4G available. You'll find these plans on various phone contracts from the network, including the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S9.
EE also has the widest 4G coverage of all the UK networks… so any provider that piggybacks on EE also has excellent coverage. That includes BT Mobile and Virgin Mobile - take a look at their plans if you want the best but don't want to pay out the nose for it.
Whichever network you're considering, always check coverage in your area before you commit to a plan. 4G is available on all the major networks in most towns and cities, but there will still be a few black spots.
What's the cheapest 4G phone deal?
Nearly all mobile networks offer 4G, even the budget-priced ones, so it's easy to find a cheap deal that will get you connected.
The best way to find a value deal is to use our comparison tool and sort all the deals by 'total cost'. This way, you'll see the cheapest deals based on the cost of the entire phone contract.
Choose things like the phone you want, the minimum allowance you need, and anything else you need in a plan, and we'll show you the cheapest 4G deals based on what you're looking for.
Some networks in particular give you 4G at a lower price than others. Giffgaff, iD Mobile, and Tesco Mobile are known for their value plans, and all offer 4G connectivity as standard. You can also grab a bargain by:
- Going for an older handset - last year's iPhone is cheaper than this year's, and hardly a downgrade at all
- Getting a refurbished phone
- Buying through a reseller, like Carphone Warehouse or DirectMobiles
- Looking out for special offers, limited-time deals, and deals for existing customers
Which networks do 4G phone deals?
Loads and loads of networks offer 4G deals on phones in the UK. Here are just a few - click to take a look at the 4G contract deals you can get from them, or select the ones you like in the comparison grid above.
If you already have a phone, or plan on buying one outright, you may prefer a 4G SIM-only deal. There's plenty of choice here. All the above networks offer SIMs that connect to 4G, and so do various SIM-only networks - including Asda Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, Smarty, The People's Operator, and VOXI.