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5G SIM only deals - what are they and what are the best plans in October 2021

5G SIM only deals
(Image credit: Future)

The 5G revolution is here and for those wanting to get a jump start on the hyper speeds of 5G, we've tracked down all of the best 5G SIM only deals on the market and gathered them here.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves, what actually is 5G? Well, 5G is what it sounds like, it's the next step up from 4G and it is incredibly fast. Since its announcement, we've seen 5G phones released, 5G broadband plans announced and a few networks release their 5G SIM only deals.

You might be sat there wondering what this all means for you. Well, for all of the major tech fans out there, 5G is promising speeds roughly 20x faster than 4G and some far better latency, meaning less loading.

Since the announcement of these new speeds, a number of brands have released a range of 5G phone deals including Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus and most recently, Apple. But, they tend to carry some massive monthly bills - that's where 5G SIM only plans come in.

We've so far seen EE, Three, Vodafone, O2 and a few MVNOs launch their 5G networks. But you're probably just wondering how much all of this costs, you can find all of the information on 5G SIM only deals down below and answers to all of the biggest questions around these new SIMs.

  • Learn more about 5G with our dedicated guide

Who offers 5G SIM only deals?

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Three 5G SIM only deals
Just like Vodafone and O2, Three doesn't charge extra for its 5G SIMs. In fact, all of Three's SIM plans are both 4G and 5G compatible meaning as long as you have a 5G device, you can get use any Three SIM with it. Our top choice would be Three's unlimited data SIM for £16 a month.

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Vodafone 5G SIM only deals
Like Three, all Vodafone SIMs are 5G enabled so you simply need to choose the SIM that best suits you. Unlike Three, Vodafone brings the benefits of having free gifts and prizes thanks to its VeryMe platform and has a wider variety of 5G locations currently available.

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O2 5G SIM only deals
When you invest in a SIM plan from O2, it will ask you whether or not you have a 5G enabled device. If you do, tick yes and you'll be getting a 5G SIM card - easy! O2 has got some of the best prices for SIM plans and often offers free subscriptions or benefits like access to Disney Plus.

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EE 5G SIM only deals
It might be the most popular network but it is also one of the few to charge more when it comes to 5G! EE has specific deals for its 5G SIM only deals and will charge more for them. However, EE also adds in special benefits with its 5G plans allowing you to get discounts on subscription services and switch the service randomly throughout your contract.

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Sky 5G SIM only deals
Sky was a bit of a surprise launch for 5G considering it was just the main networks offering it until very recently. But despite this, Sky is looking like a great 5G option for those on a budget. It does Ask you to sign up to 'Sky VIP' to get 5G for free but this doesn't cost you anything. Don't want to sign up? You can pay a couple of quid a month for Sky's 5G.

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GiffGaff 5G SIM only deals
GiffGaff is pretty limited in its collection of 5G SIM only deals. So far it can only provide two plans that use 5G - it's Golden Goodybags. These include a 9GB plan and an unlimited data plan. If you don't need much data, the 9GB option is actually incredible affordable considering the 5G enabled side of things. The unlimited plan is quite a bit more expensive.

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Virgin 5G SIM only deals
Virgin is a very recent introduction to the world of 5G and has some of the best value 5G SIMs right now. Not only does it offer 5G across all of its plans but considering it piggybacks off EE, you are also getting excellent speeds and coverage. It offers 12 month and 24 month options depending on which better fits your needs.

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Voxi 5G SIM only deals
Voxi is another relatively recent addition to the world of 5G and it's another with a select list of 5G options. Currently most of its offers come 5G ready at prices are pretty affordable. Voxi offers other benefits including endless social media, endless use of streaming apps and more.

How fast are 5G SIM only plans?

The obvious answer is that they're faster than 4G, the more scientific answer is that 5G will be topping out at roughly 20x faster than 4G.

While testing 5G devices we were seeing speeds well into the ranges of 500Mb, a speed quite a bit faster than Virgin's fastest broadband deals - a company notorious for its blisteringly fast broadband.

It's not just speeds you should be excited about either. With significantly reduced latency, load times will be far faster and we will see much better response rates on our devices.

What happens when I'm not in a 5G enabled area?

You've invested in a 5G phone, you've paired it with a suitably 5G enabled SIM only deal and yet, you're getting 4G speeds. Why? Well, unfortunately, 5G is not available everywhere yet and offers blips of coverage.

That means you will only be able to access 5G in specific spots, mainly in the centre of cities like London and Bristol. When you leave these areas your phone will revert back to 4G or even 3G depending on what coverage is available.

It is well worth checking what coverage is available before investing in a 5G SIM only deal.  

Where is 5G available?

EE:
EE launched its 5G networks back on May 30, making it the first to do so. Despite this, it does hold some of the higher prices for 5G connectivity.

For those looking to EE for their 5G the range of cities has become quite vast. EE 5G is up and running in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, London, Manchester, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Sunderland. There has also been boosts to the 5G in a number of cities including London, Glasgow and Belfast.

Vodafone:
While Vodafone launched slightly later than EE, it came to more cities. The full list of cities Vodafone 5G will launch initially in is Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Guildford, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.

Three:
Three Mobile was the third network to launch hitting London, Bolton, Birmingham, Bristol, Bradford, Reading, Liverpool, Rotherham, Glasgow, Slough, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leeds, Brighton, Manchester, Coventry, Cardiff, Derby, Hull, Middlesbrough, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Nottingham.

O2:
The final of the four main networks to launch 5G, you can get O2 5G connections in: Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Eastbourne, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Sheffield, Slough and Stoke-on-Trent.

Sky Mobile:
Sky Mobile was the first network outside the big four - EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 - to launch 5G coming to London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Leeds, Slough, Leicester, Lisburn, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bradford, Sheffield, Coventry, Nottingham, Norwich, Bristol, Derby and Stoke.

SIM only deals

(Image credit: Passakorn Leelawat / EyeEm)

Do 5G SIM only deals cost more than 4G?

If you decide that you want your 5G SIM only deal from EE then yes, you will be paying more. However, with Three, Vodafone, O3 and Sky, there is no extra charge to go for a 5G SIM.

Can 5G SIMs be used in 4G mobiles?

Yes and no. With the majority of 5G SIM only packages being 4G and 5G enabled (With the exclusion of EE) you can use them in either kind of phone. However, when used in a 4G phone they won't be able to access 5G speeds.

To get onto 5G networks you have to use a 5G enabled phone.

Which phones support 5G SIMs?

As the name suggests, only '5G' phones can support these SIMs. While the technology is quite new, there are already a few 5G enabled devices available. 

Some examples are:

Does Apple have a 5G enabled phone?

Yes, Apple finally has a 5G iPhone. In fact, Apple now has four 5G devices - the iPhone 12 Mini, 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. This means it is highly likely that all of Apple's iPhones devices of the future will be 5G enabled as well.

Amongst Apple's collection of 5G iPhones is also the smallest 5G-enabled device - the iPhone 12 Mini.

Alex Hughes

As the editor of all things broadband, SIMs and phone contracts, Alex is constantly scouring the internet to land you the best prices. Whether that be with the latest iPhones, breaking down how broadband works or revealing the cheapest SIM plans, he's got the know.