EE officially launched 5G on 30 May, the first network in the UK to offer a 5G service. There are a range of handsets available, with a range of deals and offers to get you into the next-gen mobile phone service.
Here’s everything you need to know about EE’s 5G service.
What is 5G?
5G is the name given to the next-gen phone service, following on from 4G. It doesn’t replace 4G or even 3G, the new service is an addition to 4G, offering faster connection speeds and lower latency for those with compatible handsets.
In the short term it will enable instant access to things like video and music, letting you download TV episodes or movies in seconds, better lag-free gaming and less time waiting for things to happen. In the future it will allow enhanced AR services, wider connectivity of things like cars and unlock services we’re yet to think of.
Where will EE 5G be available?
EE 5G is rolling-out across six cities to begin with – Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Manchester – in 2019. This will be followed by Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. The big launch happened on 30 May, after which EE is aiming to update 100 sites a month – with 1500 5G sites the target for the end of 2019. Nearly 6 months later, that’s still happening, with greater coverage in those core areas.
It’s very much targeting urban outdoor spaces and high footfall areas in the initial roll-out, before building out the system to get better indoor penetration. You can see the EE 5G coverage map here.
What EE 5G phones are there?
EE is offering a wide selection of 5G handsets. There’s no 5G iPhone yet, but there are a wide selection of Android devices available.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
Samsung is going to be pushing 5G hard with a version of the S10 designed specifically for it. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G comes with a huge 6.7-inch display, powerful hardware, a massive 4500mAh battery and a quad camera system on the back. It’s now available for customers.
OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
OnePlus’ take on 5G is a version of the 7 Pro equipped with the 5G modem. Again, it’s a pretty big phone with a 6.67-inch 90Hz display and a design that’s similar to the Samsung – but with a cool pop-up front camera, keeping the display nice and clear. It runs powerful Qualcomm hardware with a 4000mAh battery. The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G was the first handset to be available from EE, with claims that it’s the fastest of the bunch.
Oppo Reno 5G
Oppo is fairly new to the UK, but is a huge player in China. The Oppo Reno 5G is again a twist on the 4G handset – rather like the OnePlus – and again it offers a pop-up “wedge” front camera to keep that display free from clutter. There’s a triple camera system and great Qualcomm hardware.
LG V50 ThinQ
The LG V50 ThinQ is a spin on the LG V40 ThinQ, updated with the latest hardware and support for 5G. It has a 6.4-inch display and flagship hardware with a 4000mAh battery. There’s a triple camera system, as well as the option for a second display accessory, which lets you spread your content onto a clip-on 6.2-inch screen.
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
The Mate 20 X is a huge phone and with the addition of 5G, it becomes a hugely fast phone. This brings Huawei’s power to the EE, with a great camera and a massive 7.2-inch display. It’s great for media consumption or for working on the go, but the launch was delayed slightly because of the stand-off between Huawei and the US.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G
Samsung’s latest S Pen-equipped device is available as a 5G handset too, letting you sketch out your thoughts and send them over to friends and colleagues on superfast 5G. A great display, lovely build and good camera make for a compelling phone.
Samsung Galaxy Fold
The Samsung Galaxy Fold – the first folding phone to market – is also available from EE on 5G. This unique device folds in half to slip into your pocket when you’re not using the massive 7.3-inch display. It’s unique and powerful, but not without controversy. The price of being a first adopter is pretty high too.
Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
A much cheaper offering – and cementing Samsung’s dominance in 5G devices – is the Galaxy A90 5G. This is a much more affordable option for those wanting to go 5G, but it doesn’t make too many compromises. It still has a great display and build, triple camera system and plenty of power.
How fast is EE 5G?
Quoting speeds can be a risky business, because there are so many variables across the network, locations and devices. Qualcomm says that its X50 modem (in most handsets at launch) can support up to 5Gbps. It’s expected that networks might see peak rates around 1Gbps, while more realistic expectations are around 100-300Mbps. That’s faster than most home broadband services will offer.
In our first taste of EE 5G, we saw 460Mbps on a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G. Comparing that to a 4G handset tested at the same time, it was 10x faster. But 5G isn’t just about pure speed, it’s about building a more efficient network – so when you experience slower speeds on 5G it’s likely that your 4G phone would be even slower.
Of course, where you are will affect 5G speeds you might get and the networks are brand new – so they are going to be getting more wide-spread with better performance as time passes.
How much will 5G EE cost and what are the best deals?
The most affordable monthly tariff on 5G EE is the Oppo Reno 5G or the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G with 10GB data – although there’s a £30 upfront cost for the handset (from EE directly). It’s difficult to compare the prices of 5G directly with 4G because the hardware in the handsets is different, so you can’t compare like for like. However, in SIM only deals you can compare, for example a 20GB 5G SIM will cost you £32, while a 20GB 4G SIM will cost you £20 – so there’s a £12 premium.
But, the 5G plans are Smart Plans. That means they also come with a number of benefits, which you can swap around. These benefits are bundled up as unlimited data for music, video, BT Sport app in HDR, roaming or gaming. Basically, whichever 5G plan you opt for, you’ll be able to choose two of these bundles.
That means, for example, you can take the 10GB tariff add on the music and video passes and you’ll be able to stream as much Tidal music or Netflix as you want – those don’t then count against your data limit. So, while 5G looks expensive, the contracts are geared towards giving you something for your money.
You can find out all about the deals on offer on EE’s website.