EE 4G UK: Devices, speeds, availability, coverage, prices

Everything Everywhere is now available in the UK, with a new network and a new brand, known simply as EE bringing with it the first 4G service in the  UK. Now that the auction for other 4G spectrum bands has been brought forward in order to stave off possible appeals and gripes by the network's rivals.

The new EE service starts in 11 cities: London,Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield andSouthampton with 2,000 square miles of 4G network promised to be added every month.

4G Coverage

Those wishing to sign up to the new service will be able to get access to 4G speeds in the cities London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow. EE says that parts of Southampton are also covered. By Christmas, 16 cities will have 4G, adding Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham and Newcastle to the list. London will be the first European city fully covered with 4G. 

EE says that by the end of 2013, 70 per cent of the UK population will be covered with 4G, with 98 per cent coverage by the end of 2014. What's more, the announcement gives EE around a 6-month lead on Vodafone and O2 in the 4G stakes who currently have to wait until Ofcom auctions off the available spectrum to make that possible. Both O2 and Vodafone opted to wait for the official sell off before launching 4G, even though some believe both could have scrabbled together a 4G offering out of the bandwidths they already own.

In comparison, Everything Everywhere - which until now has been the umbrella company for T-Mobile and Orange in the UK - re-purposed some of its existing 2G services to be able to launch the new 4G service. 

4GEE monthly contracts

EE has announced the contract prices it will be offering. First things first, all the contracts are 2-year contracts and come with unlimited call and SMS messaging.

After that, EE has five levels of contract on offer and you simply have to pick the amount of data you think you'll be munching through: 500MB (£36), 1GB (£41), 3GB (£46), 5GB (£51) and 8GB (£56), monthly prices given in brackets.

For each of these contracts you'll have to pay a subsidy for the handset you want. The only device you can get for free is the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE, listed below, which is free from the £41 a month or higher contracts. The other handsets all vary in upfront costs.

Tethering is included and you'll be free to use VOiP. EE 4G contracts will be available from 30 October 2012.

EE SIM only deals

If it's only the SIM card you are after, then you can take that route too. EE is launching its SIM only contracts on 9 November. These will be divided as above, but will be £15 less a month, so: 500MB (£21), 1GB (£26), 3GB (£31), 5GB (£36), 8GB (£41).

Again, SIM only deals come with unlimited calling and SMS, but are only subject to a 12-month contract. You will, of course, have to get the compatible LTE handset yourself, but that's perfect for those lucky enough to get an iPhone 5 as a Christmas present.

EE Mobile Broadband 

EE will also be offering mobile broadband on its 4G network. Mobile broadband will be available on 18-month contracts for £15.99 (2GB), £20.99 (3GB) or £25.99 (5GB). 

We're assuming that there's a cost for the hardware too, such as the Huawei devices listed below, but EE has not supplied the information yet.

EE Film

That's right. Not content with offering the UK's first 4G network, but EE is looking to expand it's movie offering too. EE Film will offer two-for-one cinema tickets on Wednesdays (as Orange Wednesdays does), but also offers streaming and film downloads starting at 79p. 

There are 700 titles in the catalogue, with EE offering a free film a week to watch until February 2013, with EE covering the data cost for the movie. You'll be able to access EE Film across all devices, with neat pause and resume functionality.

EE 4G-enabled devices

If you're right at the end of your phone contract, then it's a very lucky time for you. Not only is there the iPhone 5 but there's a whole host of 4G phones that you'll be able to use on EE 4G UK for the fastest mobile internet speeds around. Here are the ones to look out for and we've included some shots showing test speeds we've achieved on the EE network.

iPhone 5

On the announcement of the new iPhone, which includes support for 4G networks, Apple confirmed that the iPhone 5 would be available in the UK with EE. It's the first device to have become available, on sale through Orange and T-Mobile before the EE 4G service has actually publicly launched to customers.

The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter and longer, bringing a larger 4-inch display with a pin sharp 1136 x 640 pixel Retina display. Inside you'll find a more powerful A6 processor and a range of tweaks to bring the latest Apple device up to date. We suspect the iPhone 5 4G will be one of the most popular next-gen devices for the UK. The iPhone 5 is available now.

READ: Apple iPhone 5 review

HTC One XL

Not as much of a braggart as the SGSIII but, for many, the unsung hero of the super phone bunch, the HTC One XL will be getting a 4G speeds on the EE network. On the power front is a fairly standard 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM behind it but it’s that screen that folk love.

Coming out one of the top in our sunlight test, it has a 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 pixel LCD2 display which delivers really true and bright colours in all conditions, ensuring you can read what’s on your mobile wherever you are. Throw in the HTC Sense UI and 32GB of space and that’s many people’s ideas of the perfect Android phone - if only one currently stuck on Ice Cream Sandwich. The HTC One XL is available now.

Samsung Galaxy S III LTE

The Samsung Galaxy S III already exists in 4G form in the USA under the LTE standard. The downside over there is that it’s had to drop two of the processor cores in order for that to be possible, making it just a dual-core handset. Fortunately, that’s not a sacrifice we’ll be having to make in the UK. It seems the LTE radio is happy to play nice and what you’ll get is a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, making the SGS III LTE the only one of the 4G first flush to have that much CPU potential. One could argue that it’s the most-powerful 4G handset in the UK.

The SGS III LTE comes with a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, the impressive 1280 x 720 pixel resolution and resulting pixel density of 305ppi. Interestingly enough, it also comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean - another reason it stands out from this crowd. With 16GB of storage plus 50GB of Dropbox space free and a microSD slot, it looks rather hard to say no. The Samsung Galaxy S III LTE is available today.

READ: Samsung Galaxy S III review

Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE

The Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE will be coming to the EE UK network, so you'll be able to get super fast data on your impressively large phablet. Samsung also has the Galaxy S III phone in EE's line-up, so there's something for everyone at the high-end.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 lands with a 5.55-inch display with a 1280 x 720 pixels resolution, it picks up the best of the SGS3 and gives it to you bigger and bolder. It also comes with the S Pen, designed to let you not only scribble notes, but perform a wide range of actions to make your device more dynamic. It's powerful, it's large and now it's fast. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will be available from 15 October.

READ: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 pictures and hands-on

Huawei Ascend P1 LTE

Huawei has been moving up to the mobile phone peloton over the last two years and reaching the leaders just in time for the historic 4G UK launch might be just enough to win a stage all of its own. The Huawei Ascend P1 LTE is the 4G phone to look out for and this is what it does.

There’s a standard-sounding 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and 8-megapixel rear camera with front-facer to back it up. There’s even an impressive-sounding 4.3-inch qHD display. The only area to beware of is the rather limited 4GB of internal storage. Just make sure you’ve got a decent microSD card to plump it up. The Huawei Ascend P1 LTE is available today.

Nokia Lumia 920

EE 4G UK is just another reason for the Nokia Lumia 920 to make some waves. If its PureView low light photography, Pure Motion HD+ anti-flicker and wobble knowhow, and Windows Phone 8 credentials weren’t enough to get the juices flowing, then the fact that you’ll be able to use it to browse at maximum UK mobile data speeds should have most knees a-tremble.

There’s also the 4.5-inch 1280 x 768 pixel LCD screen, 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and 7GB free in SkyDrive for cloud capacity too. As with all top smartphones, you also get NFC for contactless payments and such, and even wireless charging with the Qi system. Very nice indeed.

READ: Nokia Lumia 920 hands-on

Nokia Lumia 820

What the bigger brother can do, it seems so can the not too diminutive sibling: 4G EE UK is coming to the Nokia Lumia 820 as well. The screen on the phone is a touch smaller and the technology not as as good in sunlight in the shape of the 4.3-inch 800 x 480 pixel OLED display. None the less, there’s still 1GB of RAM and the same 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor to keep things ticking over.

NFC is, again, present and correct and the battery is smaller at 1650mAh compared to 2000mAH on the 920. The other loss worth noting is that there’s only 8GB of internal storage and no microSD slot to back it up. The 7GB of SkyDrive does come as some relief then. No PureView branding to play with in the 820 but the camera is still an 8MP unit with dual LED flash and Zeiss optics.

READ: Nokia Lumia 820 hands-on

Huawei E589 Mobile Wi-Fi device

While we’re taking Huawei, the Chinese company has two other ways to get you into 4G UK on EE, and without shelling out on a mobile phone. The first is a Mi-Fi device known as the Huawei E589.

It supports all the computer and mobile device OSs that you can need which means you can use it to turn your 4G mobile broadband speeds into a personal Wi-Fi signal that all your other gadgets can hook up to. With a possible five devices at once, that’s a very useful machine.

Huawei E392 mobile broadband dongle

Of course, you might not have any friends to connect to your Mi-Fi or just might not want to share your speeds and capacity. We don’t blame you. Your other option from Huawei then is a standard USB-based mobile broadband dongle - the Huawei E392 Mobile Broadband USB stick

It’s pretty straight forward: plug it into your USB-toting device and get some 4G mobile broadband. The real key is going to be how much the packages are going to cost you.

What is 4G?