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EE plans compared – Essential vs Smart

12th November 2019

EE Smart vs Essential Plans

Whether you want to Pay Monthly (aka get a new phone on contract) or go SIM Only, EE currently offers two different plan types for you to choose from, namely Essential Plans and Smart Plans.

In this article we’ll talk you through all the differences between the two plan types, so you can decide which is the best choice for your needs.

What are Essential Plans?

  • Up to unlimited data
  • Up to the UK’s fastest 4G
  • Unlimited minutes and texts
  • Free European roaming in 48 destinations
  • Service Pack included

Essential Plans are the most basic of EE’s current plans. That said, they’re not what we’d usually consider basic, as they can still come with unlimited data.

They also come with unlimited minutes and texts and on a Pay Monthly plan they’ll come with “the fastest 4G in the UK.” You have to be a bit careful if choosing a SIM Only plan though, as while some Essential Plans on SIM Only also have the UK’s fastest 4G data, others are capped at 60Mbps - though that’s still a decent speed.

These plans also include free roaming in 48 European destinations. Additionally, at the time of writing you can get £60 of content for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite if you take out an Essential Plan on Pay Monthly.

Less excitingly, you’ll also get an EE Service Pack included. This includes an EE Lifetime Guarantee on your device until you either upgrade or leave, as well as an annual device and account MOT, designed to make sure your device stays in the best possible condition.

What are Smart Plans?

  • Up to unlimited data
  • The UK’s fastest 4G
  • Optionally 5G
  • Unlimited minutes and texts
  • Free European roaming in 48 destinations
  • Swappable Benefits
  • Upgrade your phone any time
  • Service Pack included

Smart Plans come with unlimited minutes and texts, and up to unlimited data. Speaking of data, you’ll get EE’s fastest 4G speeds, and there are also 5G Smart Plans.

Plus, you get free roaming in 48 European destinations, a Service Pack included (explained above), and £120 worth of content for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Smart Plans additionally give you between one and three Swappable Benefits. These are perks such as a subsection to Amazon Prime Video, or access to Roam Further (which lets you roam for free in locations outside Europe). You can pick which benefits you want (from a selection of six), and swap them out for alternative benefits whenever you want (as long as they’ve been active for at least 30 days).

Finally, Smart Plans with a handset let you upgrade your phone at any time – though you may need to pay an upgrade fee to do so.

How do Essential Plans and Smart Plans compare?

  Essential Plans Smart Plans
Max data Unlimited Unlimited
Max minutes and texts Unlimited Unlimited
Max speed 4G 5G
Free EU roaming? Yes Yes
Free roaming beyond EU? No Yes, with Roam Further benefit
Other perks Service Pack, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite content Swappable Benefits, Upgrade any time, Service Pack, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite content

The main reason to pick a Smart Plan over an Essential Plan is if you either want 5G, or you want access to Swappable Benefits. Beyond that, the core plans are very similar (though as noted above you should be aware that not all Essential Plans come with max speed 4G data).

Whether it’s worth picking a Smart Plan for those extras is subjective. If you have 5G in your area and are getting a 5G phone then that’s an obvious reason to opt for a Smart Plan, but if you don’t have 5G near you – and especially if you live somewhere rural that might not get it for a while – then that’s less of a selling point.

The Swappable Benefits are a more universal perk, but you might find that none appeal to you, or that you don’t think they present good value. In that case, you can’t go wrong with an Essential Plan. But if you’re happy to pay then a Smart Plan is one of the most full-featured and flexible options available in the UK.

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