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UK Prepaid eSIM: The best Providers and Plans in 2024

Discover the top eSIM options for your UK travels in 2024. Find the perfect balance of data, coverage, and price with our comprehensive guide. Learn about EE, Vodafone, O2, and more. Click for the latest in eSIM technology and travel connectivity.

Published: Oct 10, 2022

prepaid esim UK - the best options

For years, the United Kingdom has been one of the most visited countries in the world. Tourists flock here to soak up the stunning scenery, explore energetic London, discover world-class museums and learn about British history on many levels.

What are the best eSIM providers and plans for venturing into the United Kingdom ? Which eSIM would work best?

Last updated February 19th, 2024

In a hurry ? Here is our top pick for UK is: Nomad's 'Local United Kingdom - 30 Days - 20 GB LOCAL' plan, offering 20GB at €0.77/GB, compatible across all 4 networks in the UK.

The best travel eSIM providers for UK in 2024

Here are the best prepaid eSIM providers for the UK.

The best eSIM provider : Nomad

Nomad's "Local United Kingdom - 30 Days - 20 GB LOCAL" eSIM plan offers a generous 20 GB of data for 30 days, priced competitively at €0.77/GB.

Upon activation, it offers 4G/LTE, and potentially 5G speeds, and works with the following networks : Three UK, Vodafone, O2 UK, and EE.

The plan promises no hidden fees, and includes add-on data (top-ups).

With 20GB of data for $17, a month long validity, and the fact it's compatible with all local networks, this plan is our best recommendation.

Data

20 GB

Validity30 day(s)

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Data only

Network(s) : O2 UK (5G, 4G), Three UK (5G, 4G), EE (5G, 4G), Vodafone (5G, 4G)

Special Offer : $1 OFF

$20.00

$21.00

$1.00/GB
Learn more â€ș

O2 : more expensive, but a local +44 phone number

If you prefer to get the reliability and speeds of direct access to a local provider, the O2 10GB - Europe plan is a great option.

It is slightly more expensive than the other options, but it will offer 10 GB of data valid throughout Europe (33 countries)

As a nice bonus, you also get a local phone number free calls on the O2 network throughout Europe, which is great if you're traveling with friends and family and you're all using this plan.

Data

10 GB

Validity30 day(s)

33 countries

Data and Phone number*

$24.90

$2.49/GB
Learn more â€ș

Orange Holiday Europe : the best option for travelling to several countries including UK

For adventurers planning to travel to multiple countries - not just the UK - a great plan is the "30GB Europe Plan". Provided by Orange (a French Telecom operator), this plan offers 30 GB for 14 days. What's good is a 4G data only eSIM.

Under this plan, you will have Internet access in 39 countries, including the United Kingdom, of course, but also France, Belgium, Jersey and many other European Countries.

sold by esims.ioSold by esims.io
Data

30 GB

Validity14 day(s)

39 countries

Data and Phone number*

$32.49

$1.08/GB
Learn more â€ș

Ubigi: the best option for mobile data junkies

Ubigi's "UK 50GB - 30 Days" eSIM plan is an excellent choice for those needing extensive data in the UK.

It works with the EE network in 3G / 4G / 5G.

Priced at $39, it offers a substantial 50GB of data valid for 30 days (only $0.78/GB).

It's not clear whether hotspot is permitted, though.

Data

50 GB

Validity365 day(s)

25 countries

Data only

$100.00

$2.00/GB
Learn more â€ș

Prepaid eSIM UK : consider before your buy

Verify your device is eSIM compatible

Let’s start with the basics: ensuring your smartphone is eSIM compatible. This step is crucial because, without it, the whole idea of using an eSIM falls flat. eSIMs, short for 'embedded SIM', are the newer, digital version of SIM cards. They're built right into your phone, eliminating the need for the physical SIM cards we're all used to.

Now, not all phones include this feature yet. It's mostly the newer models, like the iPhone series starting from the XS generation, and the latest models from Samsung and Google Pixel, that are equipped with eSIM capabilities.

How do you check? A quick look at your phone’s specifications on the manufacturer's website should tell you whether it's eSIM compatible. You can read our article on eSIM compatible devices.

If your phone supports eSIM, fantastic ! You can keep reading ;)

Understand the best mobile networks in the UK

As of 2024, the UK boasts four major mobile networks: EE, Vodafone, O2, and Three.

✅ For an optimal mobile experience in the UK, EE would be our top recommendation. It scores highest across several key metrics, including Live Video Experience, Games Experience, and Download Speed Experience.

Based on the September 2023 Mobile Network Experience Report from Opensignal, here’s a ranking of the four UK mobile network providers across various experience categories.

Category

EE

O2

Vodafone

Three

Video Experience

Joint Winner

✅ Winner

Joint Winner

Live Video Experience

✅ Winner

Games Experience

✅ Winner

Voice App Experience

✅ Winner

Download Speed Experience

✅ Winner

Upload Speed Experience

✅ Winner

5G Video Experience

Joint Winner

✅ Winner

Joint Winner

5G Games Experience

Joint Winner

✅ Winner

Joint Winner

5G Voice App Experience

Joint Winner

✅ Winner

Joint Winner

5G Download Speed

✅ Winner

5G Upload Speed

✅ Winner

Availability

✅ Winner

5G Availability

Joint Winner

✅ Winner

Joint Winner

Consistent Quality

✅ Winner

Check local networks compatibility

After you understand what networks are the best, it's important to understand the nuance between and Local Networks.

eSIM-based Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are actors such as Airalo, Holafly.

These companies do not own wireless network infrastructure; instead, they partner with local network operators to provide service. Customers purchase digital eSIM profiles from these MVNOs, which they can download directly to their compatible devices.

Airalo agreements

Airalo has roaming agreements with Both Three UK & O2 UK, meaning you'll be able to connect to both networks through your Airalo eSIM.

Upon activation, the eSIM allows the device to connect to the local network's services, which basically means they are renting access to local operators.

When you purchase an eSIM from an eSIM MVNO, it's therefore really important you compare which local networks eSIM MVNOs. You want to ensure you'll be able to connect to the best networks.

Other aspects to consider before buying a UK eSIM

Compatible network is a thing, but there are other network aspects to consider when choosing an eSIM for the UK.

  1. Internet Routing and Latency: This aspect is particularly important for online activities requiring quick response times, like gaming or video conferencing. Some MVNOs might route internet traffic through distant servers, potentially causing latency issues. It’s beneficial to inquire about the routing practices of the MVNO you're considering.

  2. 5G and 4G/LTE: While 5G is increasingly available, most eSIM plans are still predominantly 4G/LTE. If high-speed internet is crucial for you, check for MVNOs offering 5G coverage.

  3. Phone number, text, calls: eSIM plans are often data only, meaning they don't come with a phone number, texts or calls ideal for apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime. For traditional phone services, check if they're included or if a VOIP app is necessary—some key services may not support VOIP.

  4. Hotspot Functionality: Sharing data with other devices isn't always possible. Verify hotspot support is included with your eSIM plan.

  5. Unlimited Data: "Unlimited" plans may not be what they seem. A Fair Usage Policy could limit data speeds after you reach a specified limit.

Final tip : check whether you actually need to buy a UK eSIM !

Brexit is quite recent and most telecom operators have decided to keep the free roaming agreement which is still valid in the EU despite Brexit. you might want to check that out with your phone line.

European Union travelers: Your current mobile subscription may still offer "free roaming" across the UK.

Mobile subscriptions: do local operators offer eSIM (O2, EE, Vodafone, Three)?

If you're staying long-term (at least several months) in the UK, your best option might be to get an eSIM subscription and sign up directly with one of the local telecom providers. This will probably be the better option price-wise and more affordable than getting a prepaid eSIM.

If you want to get an eSIM on UK mobile networks, you have three options. On EE, you can get one on Pay Monthly, Small Business, and SIM Only plans. But to use one, you will first need a regular SIM card. Then you can order an eSIM and replace your traditional SIM.

On O2, however, you can change your Pay Monthly contract to an eSIM. Three – another UK mobile network – is set to launch its eSIM this year. Vodafone offers perhaps the easiest option. You can simply order an eSIM online and start using it immediately.

Without EE, O2 and Vodafone, it is also possible to buy an eSIM from roaming providers. On esims.io you will find many different plans. You can choose one, according to your needs and desires. Most eSIMs work with the O2 network and Vodafone.

Is there 5G in the UK?

Although 5G was officially introduced in the UK at the end of May 2019, it still only works in certain areas. Currently it is offered by all four major networks - EE, Vodafone, Three and O2. Now it is available in 55 locations including London, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Lancaster, Cardiff, Gatwick, Liverpool, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton.

Conclusion

eSIM is definitely a great option for getting mobile data if you're traveling to the UK. We hope the few options we've suggested will meet your data needs. Otherwise visit esims.io and choose from many other options available for the UK.

BNESIMlogo

Surf 1GB/month in United Kingdom

BNESIM

$0.67

BNESIMlogo

Surf 1GB/month in Europe

BNESIM

$0.68

BNESIMlogo

Surf 20GB/month in Europe

BNESIM

$15.54

BNESIMlogo

Surf 20GB/month in United Kingdom

BNESIM

$15.54

GoMoWorldlogo

Europe (including the UK and Switzerland)

GoMoWorld

$19.49

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