Which are the best mobile phone networks?

In our biggest ever mobile phone satisfaction survey, we asked 8,001 members of the  public to rate their network and to tell us what they thought about the cost, range of available handsets, customer service and the accuracy of their bills.

The best mobile phone networks for contract customers

We found that customer satisfaction scores varied dramatically, with a gap of 25% between the highest rated contract provider – Tesco Mobile (74%) – and the worst – 3 (49%).

We also found that you don’t have to compromise on customer service in order to get a good deal. Tesco Mobile – the only contract provider to gain Which? Recommended Provider status – achieved a 5 star rating for cost and 4 stars for customer service.

O2 were the next best network operator with a score of 61% , while 3 (49%) and Orange (53%) brought up the rear. See the table below for the full results (click on the image to enlarge).

The best mobile phone contract providers

For an in-depth look at the satisfaction survey, including sample sizes, visit our advice guide on the best mobile phone networks.

Contract customer service

The best mobile phone network customer service for contract deals

The best mobile phone pay-as-you-go networks

With pay-as-you-go, the networks performed a little better and three networks have the honour of being named Recommended Providers.

Asda Mobile comes top with an impressive 78%, while Tesco and O2 come in next with 66% and 65% respectively.

The big focus for pay-as-you-go customers was price with the best scores going to those networks that scored 4 or 5 stars for cost.

T-Mobile (51%) came bottom of the pile along with Virgin Mobile (52%). The rest of the scores can be seen in the table below (click on the image to enlarge).

The best pay-as-you-go mobile phone networks

Pay-as-you go cost

The cheapest mobile phone network for pay-as-you-go

As well as looking at mobile phone networks, our biggest ever mobile phone satisfaction survey has also revealed what we think about Britain’s mobile phone shops. Read who were rated as Britain’s best mobile phone retailers.

24 replies

  1. I usually prefer pay as you go phones after trying different . That is because the pricing is relatively strong however, I do not mind to give a try for O2 as networking wise I got good feedback for this. Thanks for the post!

  2. Asda top PAYG eh? Maybe not for long. They are putting up their call costs by 25%, SMS 50% and data 150% in June! These are out-of-bundle charges. I’m primarily interested in data, so will be moving on – maybe Giff-Gaff?

  3. I have had very poor service from Virgin Mobile. Their coverage is patchy and if you want technical help you always have to ring customer services at 10p a time. I would prefer to be able to speak to a human being “in the flesh” at one of their shops. I will not be renewing my contract when it finishes nor will I recommend them to any of my friends.

  4. Have been a regular customer of O2 for a number of years, but i now find that my phone regularly drops at the most inconvenient times when speaking to my partner a distance of 110 miles away, contact in doncaster morrisons is non existant and nobody can tell me why !!!!
    I will at some point change to a different network when i find a suitable one, O2 i am not impressed

    1. Just found this message. June 2 2012. I think Morrisons must have some kind of blocker on mobiles. Can not connect in Morrisons Knottingley, Both stores in Wakefield, and also problems in Garforth store. I think they must not want people using bar code scanners on their mobiles to look at the competition prices.

  5. How have Tesco managed to do so well in your survey? I took out a 12 month contract on 5 Nov 2010 but didn’t object when they started billing me on the 2nd of the month. Towards the end of the contract I was informed that I could either pay £20 to have my phone unlocked before my contract finished on 5th Nov 2011 or I could pay an extra month’s rental for the billing period 2 – 5 Nov. In spite of my explicit instruction that they were not to take a 13th months rental they took it by direct debit and are now failing to respond to my complaints.
    I’m thinking of destroying my Tesco loyalty card and shopping elsewhere!

    1. There’s your problem right there dude, you’re expecting a simple request to be carried out in the same efficient way you would have dealt with it!
      In situations like this I would’ve urged you to do what I always do with things like this, irrespective of what you are paying for: when you’ve made your final obligatory payment as per your contract, immediately cancel your direct debit mandate. It is the work of a moment to set one up again if you change your mind whilst ensuring that the company you are buying from cannot take any more money off you. If you still owe them money to fully discharge what you owe they will invoice you separately anyway.

  6. This survey is rubbish!

    I’m with O2 and they are atrocious. Can never get a good 3G signal and the customer service is so awful. yesterday I was on the phone for 35 minutes in a queue, then when it hit 9pm someone answered a few quick hello’s , heard me reply yet put the phone down. I tried to go after him the next day to complain and they blatantly weren’t interested in listening. To hell with O2, this survey must have took a bribe off them, its false.

  7. 3 network are the worst company bar none, reception in the area I live is absolutely atrocious they are in Mumbai India so when the problem is eventually heard having at first had to trawl through all their trouble shooting guides you get friendly Indian staff with a quite remarkable command of the English language, but they do not grasp dialect and after a long and protracted conversation you are asked to return the phone to their Scottish address in Glasgow. All this done you are then told it is not a technical problem and you cannot be using the phone right.. Yeh of course not, however it would have nothing to do with the fact that their hard sell had not lived up to their boasts about their service being second to none.

    I went to the office of the Telecommunications ombudsman [OTELO] I won my case, but after three months writing and answering letters I tend to think this organization sides with the providers of mobile phone contracts as they tried to fob me off umpteen times, undaunted I provided the proof they asked for and 3 network had to agree that I could not make a phone call. I furnished all my bills to OTELO and got them eventually to comprehend that I could not make phone calls, Why? no reception like I first told them at first 3 months before..

  8. I was with Orange, O2 and T-mobile, they all absolute CRAP! I have been with Vodafone for couple of years now; they are expensive but my phone works everywhere night and day, the coverage is excellent in UK, Europe and USA.

  9. Never had so much BS, tried to top up from ireland on line. You need to join the 21st century. Tesco, if you know how I can do this let me know

    1. Hi Marc,

      It should work fine as long as the handset is either unlocked, or locked to the O2 network (as this is the network Tesco Mobile works over).

  10. I have been with Orang for a number of Years.Mobile phone on PAYG and laptop on contract.Every thing good coverage not bad for a number of Years.Then i had trouble with connection on laptop.Then I discovered when you are in trouble with Orange you are in trouble..Either wait in a queue for twenty minutes or directed to solve problem on line.Information in there shops is rubbish.The latest howler I phoned on my Orange mobile and was given a number to phone from the person on the other end.Looking this up on my desktop it was the number to use with a none orange phone.I.E. a landline.It leaves you wondering

  11. Today is the second time I’ve had to throw away a phone and moove from a provider.
    For three days I’ve been directed around in circles by o2 both at home and in Carphone Warehouse, Balham – the simple request – activate software and handset to Send Text Out.
    I can receive text none stop from o2 as to the need for me to top up, I can receive text from anyone else, but it’s Impossible to text out.
    I’m going elswhere for the cheepest servicable handset and PAYG – then I can stamp the phone to death at anytime.

  12. i had a contract with 02, it was for 16.99 a month. good ole 02 kept taking 29.99 a month out of my bank. wow go pay as u go everytime,you know where u stand.

  13. My Husband and I are with Vodafone.
    We went into the shop asking to cancel his contact.
    NO ” he has to phone up and do it was the response ”
    But he has a Young onset Dementia affecting his speech and can’t use the phone , I replied .
    Answer” he has to phone the company ”
    Needless to say my contract has ended so I will change providers , he however is stuck until Power of Attorney is resorted

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