EE offers two types of Pay Monthly plan: EE Smart and EE Essential. Find out how the plans compare for data, speeds and Swappable Benefits.

EEIf you’re looking for a Pay Monthly handset or SIM card from EE, there are two types of price plan you’re currently able to choose from.

EE’s flagship price plan is known as EE Smart. It gives you a Swappable Benefit that you can change every month such as access to Amazon Prime Video, BritBox or BT Sport, or additional features on your plan like roaming in 5 countries outside Europe and unlimited data for use on selected video streaming services. You’ll also get access to Reserve Data which keeps you connected at speeds of up to 2Mbps even once you’ve used up your entire data allowance.

If you’re looking for a lower cost alternative, EE’s standard price plan is known as EE Essential. You won’t get access to Swappable Benefits or Reserve Data, but you can still access 5G coverage when buying a 5G-ready handset from EE. Customers buying an EE Essential SIM-only plan are restricted to using only 4G coverage with a maximum download speed of 60Mbps.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the EE Smart and EE Essential plans, comparing the features available on each one.

EE Smart VS EE Essential: At A Glance

When choosing a Pay Monthly price plan from EE, you’ll need to choose between EE Smart and EE Essential plans. The following table shows an overview of the key features and differences between the two plans:

EE Smart EE Essential
Monthly Price From £26/month (with handset)
From £22/month (SIM only)
From £15/month (with handset)
From £9/month (SIM only)
Minutes Unlimited Unlimited
Texts Unlimited Unlimited
Data 4GB – Unlimited 500MB – Unlimited
5G Coverage Yes
(up to 2Mbps for Reserve Data)
Handset plans only
(4G coverage only, up to 60Mbps on SIM-only)
Swappable Benefits
Included With Plan 1 benefit (swappable every 30 days) No
Swappable Benefits Choose one of the following:

No
International Roaming
Inclusive EU roaming 48 destinations 48 destinations
Inclusive non-EU roaming 5 countries with Roam Further Pass:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • United States
No
Roaming Data Limit Up to 50GB Up to 50GB
Other Features
Reserve Data Unlimited data at up to 2Mbps
(triggered when you run out of data)
No
Upgrade Anytime When purchased directly from EE No
EE Service Plan When purchased directly from EE When purchased directly from EE

Unlimited data plans are available on EE – both on EE Smart and on EE Essential. For more information, see our full guide to EE’s unlimited data plans.

Compare EE Smart and EE Essential Plans →

In the rest of this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the individual features and benefits when choosing an EE Smart price plan.

Older EE Smart & EE Max Plans:

  • If you purchased your EE price plan between the 1st May 2019 and the 27th May 2020, you may need to pay extra for access to 5G coverage. You also won’t have access to the Reserve Data feature.
  • If you purchased an EE Max price plan before the 1st May 2019, you’ll have received a 24-month subscription to the BT Sport app and inclusive roaming in 5 countries outside Europe (Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA). This is equivalent to having both the BT Sport and Roam Further Pass swappable benefits.
  • If you purchased an EE Essential price plan before the 1st May 2019, you’ll have been limited to a maximum download speed of 60Mbit/s on 4G. Since the 1st May 2019, the 60Mbit/s speed limit only applies to Essential SIM-only plans.

Features

Swappable Benefits

For many people, the main perk of choosing an EE Smart Plan is the Swappable Benefit that you get included in the price.

You can choose from a range of swappable benefits to add to your plan like inclusive access to content from Amazon Prime Video, BritBox or BT Sport, or additional plan features like roaming in 5 non-EU countries and unlimited data for use on selected video services.

You can change your Swappable Benefit once every 30 days through the My EE app or by texting SMART to 150. For instance, you could choose Amazon Prime Video or BT Sport Ultimate as your Swappable Benefit to start with. At a later date, you could then change this to the Roam Further Pass just before you depart on a trip abroad.

The following table shows a list of the Swappable Benefits you can choose from:

Swappable Benefit What is it? Devices Covered by Swappable Benefit
Content Swappable Benefits
Amazon Prime Video Gives you access to the Amazon Prime Video on-demand streaming service. Data usage still counts towards your normal allowance. Your smartphone, tablet, smart TV & other compatible devices
BritBox Gives you access to the BritBox streaming service which has on-demand content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Data usage still counts towards your normal allowance. Your smartphone, tablet, smart TV & other compatible devices
BT Sport Ultimate Gives you access to the BT Sport mobile app with live and on-demand content from BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN. Data usage still counts towards your normal allowance. Your EE smartphone only. TV casting add-on available for £5/month.
Additional Plan Features Swappable Benefits
Roam Further Pass Use the minutes, texts and data from your plan at no extra cost when travelling in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Your EE smartphone only.
Video Data Pass Stream from Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, BritBox, BT Sport, MTV Play, Netflix, TV Player and YouTube without using your data allowance. Subscriptions to individual services are not included. Your EE smartphone only.

If you joined EE before the 27th May 2020, there are two other Swappable Benefits you’re also able to choose from (the Music Data Pass and Gamer’s Data Pass). These benefits are no longer available to new customers as the Reserve Data feature makes them redundant.

International Roaming

All of EE’s Pay Monthly plans come with the ability to use your mobile phone abroad through international roaming.

On both EE Smart and EE Essential, you’ll be able to use your allowances abroad at no extra cost in 48 European destinations. This includes the unlimited minutes and unlimited texts on your plan, as well as your data allowance, subject to fair usage policy of up to 50GB per month. On EE Smart, Reserve Data can also be used when you’re travelling in Europe, subject to the same 2Mbps speed limit that applies in the UK.

For customers choosing an EE Smart plan, it’s possible to have the Roam Further Pass as your Swappable Benefit. This allows you to use your plan allowances abroad at no extra cost in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA. This is subject to the same 50GB per month fair usage limit but it isn’t possible to use Reserve Data in these countries.

For more information, see EE’s web page on international roaming.

Reserve Data

On EE Smart plans taken out since the 27th May 2020, you’ll get something called Reserve Data included in your plan. This allows you to stay connected even when you run out of data. Essentially, once your core data allowance is used up, you’ll receive unlimited data for the rest of the month with a 2Mbps speed limit.

Although a 2Mbps connection is substantially slower than EE’s normal download speeds, it should still suffice for most online activities like browsing the internet, sending messages, using maps and listening to music. It will also allow you to stream online video in standard-definition but may not work for HD-quality video. You may also encounter problems with some online games and when tethering to multiple devices at the same time.

For more information on what you can and can’t do with your Reserve Data allowance, see our in-depth review of Reserve Data on EE.

Anytime Upgrade

When buying an EE Smart Plan directly from EE’s website, you’ll have access to their Anytime Upgrade offer. Providing you’ve had your plan for at least 14 days and are up-to-date with your payments, you’ll be able to upgrade to a new handset. This is subject to you choosing a plan of the same or higher value. You’ll also need to pay an early upgrade fee and will need to return your old handset in full working order.

EE Service Pack

All customers buying a handset direct from EE will also receive the EE Service Pack at no extra cost. This gives you three key features:

  1. A “lifetime guarantee” for your phone. This covers your mobile phone against “manufacturer faults for the lifetime of your contract, until you upgrade or leave”. Except from Apple and Motorola who both offer a 12-month warranty, most other smartphone manufacturers already give you a 24-month warranty. For this reason, this might not actually give you very much added protection.
  2. Annual device and account MOT. This involves an annual appointment at your nearest EE retail store for them to check your device and tariff. According to EE, they’ll give your phone a “full service report” and will also “check for any apps or software that could help you to get more” from the phone.
  3. £10 of credit towards accessories. You’ll get £10 of credit towards an accessory from EE such as a screen protector or case for your phone.

The EE Service Plan is not available if you buy your handset from third-party retailers like the Carphone Warehouse or Mobiles.co.uk.

Coverage

2G, 3G & 4G Coverage

Customers joining on both EE Smart and EE Essential will have access to EE’s 2G, 3G and 4G mobile networks in the UK. This offers 99% population coverage, with roughly 84% geographical coverage for 4G. The average download speed on EE’s 4G network is 43Mbps.

Before signing up to a new contract from EE, we’d strongly recommend double-checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on EE’s online coverage map:

Check EE Coverage (ee.co.uk) →

You’ll also have access to 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling with a compatible handset on EE.

For more information, see our in-depth guide to the coverage on EE.

5G Coverage

If you’re using a compatible 5G-ready smartphone, you can access EE’s 5G network on any EE Smart plan or on an EE Essential handset plan. The 5G coverage offers greater network capacity, faster download speeds and reduced amount of latency.

According to EE, the average download speed on their 5G network is 205Mbps. This is about fives times faster than 4G, which has an average download speed of 43Mbps.

EE’s 5G network is currently available in the following UK towns and cities:

Now Live80 towns and cities are live on EE 5G (July 2020)
Ashton-under-Lyne, Bath, Belfast, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Borehamwood, Bransholme, Bristol, Bury, Cardiff, Castlereagh, Chatham, Chelmsford, Cheshunt, Chesterfield, Clevedon, Clifton, Clydebank, Coventry, Dartford, Dinnington, Dudley, Edinburgh, Gillingham, Glasgow, Grays, Guildford, Hamilton, Harlow, Hoddesdon, Huddersfield, Hull, Inchinnan, Kimberley, Kingston-upon-Thames, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Loughborough, Loughton, Maidstone, Manchester, Milnrow, Motherwell, Newcastle, Newton-le-Willows, North Shields, Northampton, Nottingham, Oldham, Paisley, Potters Bar, Rochdale, Rochester, Romford, Rotherham, Rugeley, Salford, Sheffield, Solihull, South Shields, Southend-on-Sea, Staines-upon-Thames, Stevenage, Stirling, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Swadlincote, Sydenham, Wakefield, Walsall, Waltham Cross, Watford, West Bromwich, Westhoughton, Weybridge, Wolverhampton
Planned &
Announced
9 towns and cities planned
Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester (2020)

Check 5G Coverage on EE →

For more information, see our guide to 5G mobile coverage in the UK.

Tethering & Personal Hotspot

You can use the tethering or personal hotspot feature on your smartphone to share your EE mobile data allowance with another device (e.g. with your laptop or tablet). This allows you to get a mobile broadband connection on other devices, without needing to paying for a separate plan.

When using the tethering or personal hotspot feature on an EE unlimited data plan, tethering is limited to a maximum of 12 devices at one time.

In addition, if you’re using Reserve Data on your EE Smart plan, the 2Mbps speed limit applies to your tethered devices as a whole. For instance, you might be able to watch a 0.5Mbps video stream on your smartphone and on up to 3 other devices that are tethered to it.

For more information, see our full guide to tethering and personal hotspot usage in the UK.

Keeping Your Phone Number

If you’re joining EE from another mobile network, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.

You should start by ordering your new phone or SIM card from the EE website. Once you’ve done that, you can get a PAC Code from your old mobile network. You can normally get one through your mobile network’s website or app, or by texting PAC to 65075.

After your new mobile phone or SIM card arrives from EE, use this online form to submit your PAC. Once you’ve done this, your phone number transfer will normally be scheduled by EE for the next working day.

For a step-by-step guide on moving your phone number to EE, please select your current mobile network from the drop down menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to EE

Select your current mobile network:

  More Options

Frequently Asked Questions

How does EE Smart differ from EE Essential?
An EE Smart plan will normally be more expensive than an EE Essential plan. It will give you the following additional features that are not available on EE Essential:
  • Swappable Benefits: Inclusive access to content (e.g. Amazon Prime Video, BritBox or BT Sport) or additional plan features (roaming outside the EU or unlimited video data).
  • Reserve Data: Stay connected when you run out of data. Use as much data as you like for the rest of the month at a 2Mbps speed limit.
  • International Roaming: Use your plan allowances at no extra cost in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand when you choose the Roam Further Pass.
  • Anytime Upgrade: Upgrade your mobile phone at any time once you’ve had your plan for 14 days. Only available when you buy your mobile phone from EE.

If you’re choosing a SIM-only plan, upgrading to EE Smart will also give you access to 5G.

What are Swappable Benefits?
You can choose one of the following Swappable Benefits on your EE Smart plan, which can be changed every 30 days:

Most people will be best off choosing a content swappable benefit (either Amazon Prime Video, BritBox or BT Sport). It’s possible to change this at a later date for the Roam Further Pass or the Video Data Pass should you find you need it.

What is Reserve Data on EE?
If you run out of data on your EE Smart plan, Reserve Data will kick in and will allow you to stay connected. You’ll get unlimited data for the rest of the month, at download speeds of up to 2Mbps. This is still fast enough for most things including browsing the web, messaging friends and family, listening to music online and watching SD-quality video.
Will I get access to 5G on EE Smart and EE Essential?
From the 27th May 2020 onwards, you’ll get access to 5G coverage on all EE Smart plans and on EE Essential handset plans. This is subject to you having a 5G-ready handset and living in an EE 5G coverage area. Use the online coverage map to see whether 5G is available where you live.
What international roaming will I get with EE Smart and EE Essential?
Both EE Smart and EE Essential will allow you to use your UK allowances at no extra cost in 48 European destinations. This is subject to a 50GB fair usage limit each month. Reserve Data can also be used in Europe, subject to the normal 2Mbps speed limit.

If you choose the Roam Further Pass as your Swappable Benefit on an EE Smart plan, you’ll also be able to use your allowances at no extra cost in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA.

What coverage will I get on EE Smart and EE Essential?
In the UK, you’ll get 99% population coverage on EE’s 2G, 3G and 4G mobile networks. You’ll also get access to 5G coverage in selected UK towns and cities providing you have a 5G-ready device and plan. You can check the coverage in your area by entering your postcode on EE’s online coverage map.
Can I keep my existing phone number?
Yes. It’s easy to keep your current phone number. Simply ask your current mobile network to provide you with a PAC Code. This can be obtained through your mobile network’s website or app, or by texting PAC to 65075. You should then provide EE with the PAC Code after ordering your new plan.

More Information

For more information about EE Smart and EE Essential plans, please see the official EE website. You can also read our in-depth guides to coverage on EE, on EE’s Swappable Benefits and on EE Reserve Data.

Your Comments 24 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 24 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • It’s a great comparison you have done, bravo! However when you read the terms and conditions from EE it still says the essential plans getting “up to 60mbps” instead of the fastest, only Smart plans do.

    • Hi Charlie,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe the speed restrictions have been removed for new EE Essential plans? At least, this is what I understand from the EE website – I’m not sure if they’ve updated all of their terms and conditions to reflect this. Let me know if I’m mistaken!
      Ken

  • Companies like Buymobiles.net etc used to sell EE’s Essential and Max plans – but now they only offer the Essential plan and not EE’s new Smart plans. Does anybody know if EE are keeping the Smart plans just for themselves to sell, and all other companies can only sell the Essential plan?

  • shahrukh khan said:

    EE has launched smart plan, customers will get multiple benefits, however earlier they can use roam further and BT sport now they can use only one of them what if someone is in abroad like in USA and wants to use roam furthrer plus Video data pass….

    My second question is why Smart plan starts from £50 per month that is bit costly it means only people with good money can use this benefit there should be something that every people can use. I know we have Essential plan but that will not give us service plan benefit nor swappable benefit.

    • Hi Shahrukh,
      Yes, agreed – it is a shame that only one of these benefits can now be held at a given time, whereas previously you could have both on EE Max. On the flip side, the good thing is you can easily swap your benefits at any time. For instance, you could enable “Roam Further” just before your trip abroad, and then swap back to a different benefit once you get home. There’s a bit of extra faff to do this, but it means the Roam Further add-on doesn’t need to permanently occupy your choice of a Swappable Benefit.
      Ken

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