How do I check network coverage for my Smartphone or iPhone?

Check mobile coverage on UK networks
Our rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Network Coverage Can Be a Tricky Issue But Find Out First 

Many people find that coverage for their phone is not as is should be after they have subscribed to a cheap deal with a network. Because poor coverage could mean that it is only possible to make a call from your mobile in the upstairs bathroom while standing right next to the window or even standing outside at the bottom of the garden, it is essential but often overlooked to check the coverage with each network.

Often when in a phone shop the sales assistants will tell you that coverage is excellent in your area and they will likely prove this point by showing you how many bars of signal they can get on their phone in the store. But very often that situation changes when it is time to go back to your house.

There are several factors that influence network coverage and not all of them can be controlled by the network operator. Mobile phones and especially smartphones need a good signal to be able to transmit data as well as voice. This means that a data network is required for the phone to connect to connect to.

However, these digital networks are still transmitted wirelessly using what is essentially a radio network that is influenced by analogue factors such as weather, location, altitude, distance from a mobile network transmitter and so on.

Most Mobile Networks Can Offer The Best Coverage In Most Areas

By installing as many mobile transmitters as they can are around the country at regular distances from each other a strong signal is available to most areas. It is not uncommon to see these transmitters, so we know that there are a lot of them. While on the move, your mobile phone will find and connect to the nearest transmitter mast and if ther is none close by then you will see no bars on the phone and get no signal for making calls.

There are a few types of mobile network but we use the terminology for the most common consumer networks that are used with smartphones, 2g, 3g and 4g. These are all digital networks as the old analogue systems were phased out for consumer use in the  UK some time ago.

  • 2g networks operate at slower speeds and are capable of voice and data transmission but it will take you a while to download a large email on a 2g network. They are less common these days but if you have a 3G phone and a poor signal, it may operate at 2g standards until a 3G network is within range
  • 3g was introduced into the UK some ten years ago and is still in normal use as it provides for much faster data speeds and is the most common type for iPhones in the UK. Some iPhone models like the iPhone 4 and 4s can only operate on 3G networks
  • 4g networks are relatively new to the UK and their advantage is that they offer far faster network data transfer speeds than 3g which makes doing anything online with a smartphone much quicker and provides for a better experience.

Most network operators now offer at least a limited coverage 4g service, some cover the entire country and others are still rolling it out. By the end of 2014 however, most of the large operators like 02, Vodafone, EE and Three will have excellent 4g coverage in the UK.

It is still a safe bet to buy a 4g enabled phone or SIM card

If 4g is not available in your exact location then the phone will fall back to 3g which still offers very good data transfer rates

It is worth bearing in mind that some of the cheapest iPhone deals available today offer a free iPhone 4s which is a slightly older phone operating only on the 3g network. However, we find that the iPhone 4s is still a highly capable phone and that the 3G network is still very good indeed.

For example, the iPhone 4s runs Apple's latest phone software iOS 7 without any problem and 3g networks speeds are more than capable of streaming YouTube videos or music without any problem at all. I for one will be sticking with my iPhone 4s for some time to come as an unlimited data plan along with the Wi-Fi function makes it easy to be always connected and have a good experience.

If you need to check a networks coverage, we have collected all the Network operators coverage checker links in one place.

Network coverage checker links:

If you need to contact the Network for any reason then you can find all the contact details on our Networks pages.

All About Mobile Phone Coverage


Leave a comment


Simon Kemp's picture

Rate this!: 
Your rating: 5
All Network providers have made considerable improvements in UK coverage but you may happen to live in a dead spot. It's worth checking the coverage in your area before you sign up to a particular network.

Add new comment