EE Smart and Essential Plans: All You Need to Know
If you’re looking for a new mobile phone contract, then you’ve got plenty of options in the UK market. EE is currently the largest mobile operator in the on our shores and as such offers a wide range of choices for those looking to sign up to a 12 or 24-month deal.
But is EE the right company for you? Read on to find everything you need to know about EE’s Smart and Essential contract phone plans plus the ins and outs of their swappable benefits.
Table of Contents
Wait, Is A Contract For Me?
We’ll be honest, not everyone needs a mobile phone contract. A contract requires passing a credit check. If you pass that check, you’ll be locked into a 12-month (or 24-month) contract. You’ll get a certain amount of minutes, texts and data that you can use each month and you’ll pay a fixed price each month.
A mobile contract can be a good idea for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a contract tends to be cheaper than using pay as you go, and a longer contract is usually cheaper than a shorter one. Plus, you get dependability and you’ll never run out of credit.
On the flip side, not everyone will pass a credit check. And if you’re the kind of person that has irregular usage (using lots of data one month and not much the next, for example), a contract is probably not for you. And you’ll need to commit because breaking a contract (or missing payments) will cost you a hefty fee.
Are you worried about a credit check? Check out our deals and guides on no credit check SIM only plans.
What Are the Options with EE?
EE offers two different kinds of mobile contract. They have basic, less expensive plans, known as “EE Essential” and then more expensive plans known as “EE Smart.” Where these plans differ is mostly in the extras. But let’s take a look at the plan options before we get into added features.
EE Essential Plans
EE offers five Essential plans with differing monthly limits for different budgets. The plans available are:
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 250 MB of data for £13 a month
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 1 GB of data for £16 a month
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 25 GB of data for £20 a month
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 50 GB of data for £24 a month
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 100 GB of data for £27 a month
EE Smart Plans
EE also offers five Smart plans. These include not only minutes, texts and data, but also different numbers of swappable benefits. We’ll get into swappable benefits below! The Smart plans available are:
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 25 GB of data, plus 1 swappable benefit for £25 a month
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 40 GB of data, plus 1 swappable benefit for £32 a month
- Unlimited minutes and texts and 50 GB of data, plus 1 swappable benefit for £29 a month
- Unlimited minutes, texts, and data, plus 2 swappable benefits for £39 a month
- Unlimited minutes, texts, and data, plus 3 swappable benefits for £44 a month
What Are the Extras?
Before we get into swappable benefits, there are some general extras that come with all EE plans that you should know about. Many of these extras are available for both Essential and Smart customers, though a few are reserved for Smart customers only.
Extras for Essential AND Smart Customers
All EE customers can benefit from the following extras, no matter which contract plan you’re signing up for:
- Free roaming inside the EU
- 6 month free trial with Amazon Prime Video
- 3 month free trial with the BT Sport App
- 6 month free trial with MTV Play
- 6 month free trial with Apple Music
- Data gifting, that allows you to transfer data to other SIM cards attached to your account (such as a spouse’s or a child’s)
- Data capping, which allows you to place a limit on the amount of data used on a SIM card
Extras for Smart Customers ONLY
Additionally, there are a couple of benefits and features that are for Smart contract customers only:
- Possibility to access 5G data speeds where available
- Free mobile roaming not just in the EU, but also in: Australia, the USA, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand
What Are Swappable Benefits?
If you’re an EE Smart contract customer you’ll also get access to swappable benefits, the number of which will depend on which contract you choose. Swappable benefits are added extras, and you can choose which benefits you like, and you’re even able to change your benefit or benefits every 30 days, so you won’t be locked in. The available swappable benefits are:
- Amazon Prime Video membership: Letting you watch any video available on Amazon’s video streaming service for as long as the benefit is activated.
- BT Sport App membership: Letting you watch a range of sporting content on your EE phone or tablet for as long as the benefit is activated.
- Roam Further Pass: Letting you use your phone just as you would at home (and for no extra charge) when in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, or New Zealand.
- Video Data Pass: Letting you use unlimited data for video streaming (on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, BT Sport, MTV Play, YouTube, and TV Player) so that data used for video will NOT be deducted from your monthly data limit.
- Music Data Pass: Letting you use unlimited data for music streaming (on Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer, and Tidal) so that data used for music will NOT be deducted from your monthly data limit.
- Gamer Data Pass: Letting you use unlimited data on certain games (Twitch, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Pokemon Go, FIFA Mobile, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes) so that data used on these games will NOT be deducted from your monthly limit.
How Do EE Contracts Compare?
We’ve got to be honest here, EE tends to be the most expensive of the UK’s operators. However, there are a few things that could make EE a good choice despite their relatively high prices.
As a comparison, let’s see how EE ranks against the other big operators for small contracts. EE’s smallest contract gives unlimited minutes and texts and 250 MB of data for £13 a month. In comparison, Vodafone offers unlimited minutes and texts and 1 GB of data for £11 a month, O2 offers unlimited texts, 1000 minutes and 1 GB of data for £10 a month, and Three offers unlimited minutes and texts and 4 GB of data for £13 a month.
What about big contracts? Well, EE’s unlimited minutes, texts and data start at £39 a month. In comparison, Vodafone’s completely unlimited plans start from £23 a month, O2’s go from £35 a month, and Three’s start at £22 a month.
However, do keep in mind that EE does offer plenty of extra benefits, and it could be worth paying a little more to get that unlimited video streaming or an Amazon Prime Video membership. Plus, EE does offer a 5G Smart plan as well, which isn’t always the case with other operators. And if you’re already a member of EE, or if you’re willing to put several SIM cards onto the same account in a family plan with EE, then you’re likely to save time and trouble and maybe even a little money by sticking with the operator.
Download Speeds from EE
The maximum download speeds you’re able to get depend on the type of price plan you choose from EE. They are as follows:
- 5G Smart Plan: Uncapped 4G+ and 5G download speeds
- 4G Smart plans (and Essential Plans with a handset): Uncapped 4G+ download speeds
- Essential Plan SIM Only: 60Mbit/s download speeds
Remember, in order to access 5G coverage, you’ll need to be in a 5G coverage area and will need a handset that supports 5G networks.
In terms of real-world speeds, if you opt for a Smart plan or Essential Plan with a handset included then you can expect to see 4G speeds of up to around 90 Mbps. The maximum achievable speeds on Cat 9 LTE is 450Mbps but this is rarely, if ever, possible.
Coverage and Tethering with EE
EE offer excellent coverage across the UK with about 99% coverage nationwide for 2G, 3G, and 4G. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check your local area just in case you happen to be in a blind spot. You can easily do that by using the coverage checker on EE’s website, or by using the official OFCOM coverage checker.
5G isn’t as widespread. Currently, EE offers some 5G coverage in 47 towns in the UK (London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cardiff, Belfast and Coventry), with expansion to a further 9 towns and cities planned for 2020.
If you want to tether, meaning using your mobile’s data to get another device such as a tablet online, then you can go right ahead with EE. EE allows tethering on all their contract mobile plans.