Mobile Coverage on Unlocked Phone

Hi. I have a Plusnet SIM only deal (which will come to an end soon) and will have to change.

This is on an Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S20 5G which was previously on 3 Mobile network.

I went on holiday recently to Scotland and had absolutely NO coverage on my mobile. It was emergency calls only. However on checking coverage when I got home I 'should' have had at least calls and texts and some data too. I checked the 3 mobile coverage and it was sparse/non existant in the area.

So my question is - Is coverage/reception based on the original config of the phone OR the SIM in the phone? My wife on O2 and daughter on EE both had great signal whereas I had none. I thought the PN signal piggybacked on EE?

When looking for a new deal should I look at 3 mobile network coverage or should it not matter?

Many thanks

Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.


  • morstar
    morstar Posts: 6,190
    It does indeed say that Plus net use EE so you should have had the same coverage as your daughter.

    EE do have some different speeds which Plusnet will be on the lower end of but your strength should have been the same as an EE sim.

    It ‘could’ be a hardware issue but the way to check that would have been to swap sims around whilst there.

    I generally find EE better than O2 but it’s never a given.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,533
    edited August 2023
    Vodaphone used to have the best coverage in the outer reaches of Scotland but I am going back at least 10 years with this info. Things will probably have changed.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Network coverage is relative to the active SIM within the phone at that time, and not any previous or original SIMS that may have been installed.

    If you set up a new eSIM or insert a new SIM card into a handset, you may need to download the network provider settings (Access point etc) for your new network provider. This would impact data service but not actual radio signal level. The network providers website will have the settings info.

    Even with phones on same network, you need to ensure you are comparing like for like with 3G, 4G and now 5G. Differing handsets may show different signal levels but it should not be a significant delta for the major handset manufacturers.
  • photonic69
    photonic69 Posts: 2,622
    Thanks for the replies. Found out although Plusnet piggybacks onto the EE carrier signals it doesn't have access to the 800Mhz Band 20 4g signal so it can suffer badly in some locations where EE is usually strong.
    It seems that a lot of these low cost carriers that use one of the Big 4 suffer at the expense of signal strength and frequencies. As they say, you don't get something for nothing.
    I'll probably stick to EE or O2 at this rate.

    Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.

  • Of the low cost options, Giff Gaff seems to have comparable service to O2, but then it is also owned by them.
  • orraloon
    orraloon Posts: 13,005
    I had GiffGaff at one point, 'kin useless in blocking spam / high cost 'requested' texts / etc. Despite my account settings saying 'eh no ta' to that sort of keerap.

    There's an Ofcom website thing showing coverage by postcode for the major providers.
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 18,872
    If you do change, just consider if you need EU roaming... I think it's only O2/Giffgaff that do it free now. Used to be O2, but it was very expensive for what they offered, and they wouldn't budge, even when I said I was going to Giffgaff if they didn't budge.
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,577
    (I've had giffgaff for a few years and it's been fine... YMMV)
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • kingstongraham
    kingstongraham Posts: 27,353

    If you do change, just consider if you need EU roaming... I think it's only O2/Giffgaff that do it free now. Used to be O2, but it was very expensive for what they offered, and they wouldn't budge, even when I said I was going to Giffgaff if they didn't budge.

    If you have Virgin Media and O2, you get roaming to the USA included as well if that's useful (and 26 other countries).
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 42,372
    I use a Lebara sim in an unlocked phone for my work number. I don't use it out and about much but when I have there hasn't been a noticeable difference from Vodafone that it piggybacks on in my experience. At home I have to use wifi calling but I do with all mobile phones (my personal EE network phone is slightly better than Vodafone but still not reliable).

    I'm tempted to get a Lebara sim only when my current contract expires as their deals are ridiculously cheap but I'm not a fan of the Vodafone network in my area. I did use GiffGaff briefly previously and didn't notice any obvious difference to EE / BT Mobile / Orange but unless things have changed a bit their deals weren't has tempting as Lebara.
  • mully79
    mully79 Posts: 904
    Currently using Voxi on a 30 day rolling sim which is Vodaphone. Historically has been quite reliable out of town in Wales/Scotland but since they started sending messages about shutting down 3G masts it seems to have got worse.
  • thistle_
    thistle_ Posts: 7,217
    I've found iD and Lebara both pretty poor for data coverage in rural areas around here, iD was slightly better for voice coverage.

    EE (work phone) has been much better.

    Haven't managed to get a 5G signal on either yet, even in an area supposedly covered by 5G.
  • photonic69
    photonic69 Posts: 2,622
    I think I can get a 5GB Sim only deal for £6 a month from the Plusnet/EE switch over. I don't use a lot of data as I'm usually on wifi. I think the most I used was 2GB in a month which seems like my 27GB package for £10 was rather wasted!

    Sometimes. Maybe. Possibly.