flame Compare Deals and save hundreds of pounds Sim Only Deals Phone Deals

Virgin Mobile Review

10th July 2023

Virgin Mobile Network Coverage

Virgin Mobile is in an odd position, because while it offers a selection of plans with perks such as data rollover and other benefits, it’s in the process of moving customers over to O2 plans, which have a different selection of perks, such as O2 Priority.

Soon, all Virgin Mobile customers will be on O2 plans, so we’ll focus on those in this article – with a nod to Virgin Mobile’s own offerings too.

Still, the switch to O2 plans isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because O2 is a major network with a lot of selling points. Below, we’ll look at those selling points, and at Virgin Mobile itself.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Access to O2 Priority with O2 plans

No Pay As You Go plans

Free EU roaming

 

Unlimited data plans

 

Our Verdict 

Table of Contents

Plans

Virgin Mobile offers a range of Pay Monthly phone and SIM Only plans with 5G offered as standard, along with other perks, discussed below.

Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only

Plans Available

x

Max Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

N/A

Contract lengths

24 or 36 months

1 or 12 months

N/A

 

View deals

View deals

 

Virgin Mobile has a number of Pay Monthly plans with different allowances. They top out at unlimited data and can last 24 months, however interestingly you can also opt for a 36-month plan, which isn't something many networks offer.

Virgin Mobile also has a number of SIM Only plans, lasting either one month or 12 months, so they’re shorter term. They’re also cheaper than its Pay Monthly plans as there’s no phone included, and they also top out at unlimited data.

Virgin Mobile’s SIM Only plans come with 5G as standard, and you’ll also get 5G if you opt for a 5G phone.

Note though that its 12-month SIM Only plans are classed as O2 ones while its 30-day ones are classed as Virgin Mobile plans. They all come with 5G, but with the O2 ones you get additional extras like access to O2 Priority.

The upshot of all this is that Virgin Mobile’s plans are good if you want lots of data or lots of flexibility in terms of plan length.

Value for money

Virgin Mobile isn’t one of the cheapest MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators). In fact, some of its handset plans can be more expensive than O2’s own plans, though it does tend to undercut O2 on SIM Only. Overall though we’d say it’s not among the best value for money – though as with any network, its specific selection of plans and extras will make it appealing to some users.

Extras and benefits

As you can see in the table below, there are a number of perks available on Virgin Mobile – along with a few other details you should be aware of. We’ve explained these more fully below.

Virgin Mobile Perks and Policies

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

5G

Free Roaming

(EU only)

(EU only)

Tethering

Wi-Fi Calling

VoLTE

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

Unlimited Data

Family Plans

Credit Check

Unique Perks

5G

Virgin Mobile offers 5G as standard, so you won’t have to pay extra for it, and you can get it whether you choose a SIM Only plan or a contract with a handset – just make sure you’re also getting or have a 5G phone, or you won’t be able to take advantage of it.

Roaming Destinations

Virgin Mobile lets you use your minutes, texts, and data at no extra cost across the EU, but not beyond.

There doesn’t appear to be a fair usage limit on Virgin Mobile plans at the time of writing, but customers will sooner or later be moved to O2 plans, which also offer free EU roaming, as well as roaming in additional destinations, but with a 25GB roaming limit.

You can also roam at 5G speeds in most of the EU on Virgin Mobile (where 5G coverage is available). The following locations advertise 5G on Virgin Mobile: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

Tethering

Although Virgin Mobile didn’t used to allow tethering it now does, however, the network doesn’t appear to have published whether there’s any cap to how much data you can use while tethering – presumably, that means there are no restrictions other than your data allowance.

That said, the network is in the process of switching to O2 plans, and these don’t allow you to tether 12 or more devices regularly, so the same will presumably apply for Virgin Mobile customers switched to an O2 plan.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling lets you make and receive calls and get SMS messages over a Wi-Fi network. You still use your normal phone number, it just means you can essentially get a signal in places where there’s no 2G, 3G or 4G coverage. This comes as standard on Virgin Mobile, but is only supported by select handsets, including many recent Samsung and Apple phones. Head here for full, up to date details.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE and is sometimes called 4G Calling. It refers to making and receiving calls over 4G and is notable as typically a 2G or 3G signal is required. The main benefit to VoLTE is that it lets you call in places where you wouldn’t be able to otherwise, as they only have a 4G signal. VoLTE is supported on Virgin Mobile on a range of devices, primarily Samsung and Apple ones. You can find a full list of supported devices here.

Data rollover

Virgin Mobile offers data rollover of one month on every plan (aside from unlimited data ones). That means if you don’t use all of your data in a month then you’ll get a second month to use the rest of it, so it helps make sure you’re not wasting it or paying for more data than you need.

It’s a handy perk which some other networks offer too, but which the majority don’t, so this is one advantage of choosing Virgin Mobile.

That said, all Virgin Mobile plans will be switched to O2 plans sooner or later, and it’s unclear whether data rollover will still be included then. We’d assume not, since it’s not something O2 offers.

Spending caps

Virgin Mobile lets you set a spending cap of between £0 and £100 – meaning that you won’t be able to spend more than you set on things outside your plan, such as on premium numbers.

It’s a handy way to take control of your mobile spend, and avoid unexpected charges, though you don’t have to have a spending cap if you don’t want one.

Unlimited data

Virgin Mobile has unlimited data options whether you choose to get a new smartphone on Pay Monthly, or just go SIM Only. Unlike some networks, this data is truly unlimited too.

That said, customers plans are going to be migrated to O2 plans, and on O2 there’s a UK fair usage limit that states you shouldn’t use 650GB of data or more twice in a six month period, so presumably that limit will apply here too once the migration is complete.

Family plans

Virgin Mobile offers family plans, but you have to be a Virgin TV or broadband customer to access them.

If you are, then you can save £2 per month on each additional SIM on your account, up to five SIMs total, which would save you £96 per year. So that can make for a fairly hefty saving if you add a number of people to your account.

Credit checks

Like most networks, Virgin Mobile will credit check you, and as it doesn’t offer Pay As You Go options, there aren’t any plans that don’t include a credit check, so this network likely isn’t suitable for those with bad credit.

Unique perks

Virgin Mobile offers a couple of perks that you won’t get on other networks. One of these is data-free messaging on WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook, so you can use them for messaging without it coming out of your data allowance.

Virgin Mobile also gives you access to free Wi-Fi at over 3.5 million hotspots, so you can stay connected even when there’s no signal. Plus, it lets you change your plan up or down every month, making it quite flexible.

However, these perks are tied specifically to Virgin Mobile plans – and customers will soon be migrated to O2 plans, presumably meaning they’ll lose access to these perks.

But in their place they’ll gain access to O2 Priority, which is packed full of discounts, freebies, priority tickets, and other offers for O2 customers.

Network

Which network does Virgin Mobile use?

Virgin Mobile uses O2’s infrastructure and spectrum, so the two networks have the same coverage, meaning 5G is available in a large number of locations on Virgin Mobile.

Coverage

Virgin Mobile Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

5G

Now available in over 2,100 locations

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

Check Virgin Mobile Coverage

Network Speeds

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, April 2023, and April 2020

Network

Download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

47.7/9.8Mbps

36.0ms

Three

35.4/6.2Mbps

48.3ms

Vodafone

25.9/8.2Mbps

39.0ms

Virgin Mobile (O2)

19.3/5.1Mbps

38.1ms

As noted above, Virgin Mobile uses O2’s coverage, and you can see speed data for that network above.

So then, according to an April 2023 report from Opensignal, O2 has an average download speed of 19.3Mbps and an average upload speed of 5.1Mbps.

Those are the lowest averages in the report, as you can see above. Those speeds are for a combination of 5G, 4G, and 3G, so Virgin Mobile customers with access to its 5G service can probably expect similar speeds.

As for latency, that wasn’t included in the April 2023 report, but an April 2020 Opensignal report found that O2’s averages 38.1ms. Lower is better here, so only EE’s is better.

For 5G, O2’s average download speed is 75.0Mbps according to the same April 2023 Opensignal data, so Virgin Mobile’s speeds are likely to be similar. There’s also a RootMetrics report from the second half of 2022, which puts O2’s median 5G download speed at 71.0Mbps. In both cases these speeds are lower than those recorded on Three, EE, or Vodafone.

Traffic management

Virgin Mobile states that 4G plans are not subjected to any traffic management policies, meaning your upload and download speeds won’t be limited other than by the overall speed caps of the network, which stand at 85Mbps for downloads and 35Mbps for upload – of course, your actual speeds may vary, but that will be due to things like your distance from the nearest mast, rather than any policy in place.

Virgin Mobile doesn’t appear to have published a traffic management policy for 5G plans at the time of writing, but we’ll update this section if that changes.

Frequencies

Virgin Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

700MHz

N29 4G & 5G

800MHz

Band 20 4G

900MHz

Band 8 2G & 3G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2300MHz

Band 40

4G

3400MHz

n78 5G

3600MHz

n77 5G

As Virgin Mobile is an O2 MVNO it uses all the same 4G spectrum bands as O2. That means it should have access to all the bands in the chart above. Between them, Virgin Mobile is equipped to deliver reliable 4G signals both in urban and rural locations, over long distances and through walls, while still being able to deliver the capacity needed in busy areas.

It's also equipped to deliver 5G signals via the 700MHz, 3400MHz and 3600MHz frequencies.

Find out more in our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

Customer service

While customer service can be hard to judge, based on the available evidence Virgin Mobile’s doesn’t look all that strong.

In an Ofcom report from 2023 the network was found to have received 12 Ofcom complaints for every 100,000 customers. This might not sound like much, but Virgin Mobile's is the second highest and therefore second worst of those networks reported on.

The report also found that 54% of customers were satisfied with the way complaints were handled – that’s middling compared to other tested networks. On top of which 81% of customers were satisfied with customer service overall, which is the lowest level on test.

Conclusion

Virgin Mobile is in many ways transforming into O2, but that’s no bad thing, as it means access to O2 Priority and other handy features like Wi-Fi Calling, plus free roaming in the EU.

It does mean the future of the network is uncertain, and the selection of extras will change as customers are moved from Virgin Mobile plans (which has its own perks like data rollover and free WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger messaging) to O2 ones, but for now, it seems like a solid network choice.

Alternatives

One obvious alternative to Virgin Mobile is O2 since they have the same coverage and since Virgin Mobile customers are even going to be moved to O2 plans.

Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Giffgaff and Lyca Mobile are all alternatives too, since they also have the same coverage.

However, if O2’s coverage isn’t a factor for you then there’s no end of choice – check out our network reviews for full details on all of your main options.

Mobile Networks

Sim Deals

SIM Card Triple SIM
5 GB Data Unlimited Minutes Unlimited Texts £1.00 a month View Deal
SIM Card Triple SIM
5 GB Data 1000 Minutes 1000 Texts £2.25 a month
100 International mins
View Deal
View More
Sign up for our newsletter.