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Expert Reviews Mobile Network Awards 2023: The results

Expert Reviews reveals the UK’s top mobile networks, as chosen by you

Everybody wants the latest, greatest smartphones but, without the right mobile network to connect to, that must-have gadget is little more than a shiny toy. When you want to use your favourite apps and services, or you simply need information fast, the lack of a good 4G or 5G signal can stop you in your tracks, or even leave you in a pickle.

Yet with such a huge variety in monthly prices, speeds, coverage, features, services and more, finding the right mobile network has never been so tricky. Choose wisely or you might end up with a bargain-basement plan that simply doesn’t meet your requirements, or be saddled with spending over the odds for a fat data bundle that you can’t use thanks to poor performance and that you can’t even complain about due to second-rate customer service. Some of us are just looking for a basic monthly deal that gives us the mobile data we need to stay connected on the move. Others want an all-singing, all-streaming package that gives them Netflix and Spotify on the go. So, how do you make sure that the network will give you great value and that its connectivity and customer service make the grade?

Well, for the third year running we’re publishing our own Mobile Network Awards, and we’ve asked our readers to help us determine the winners. We surveyed over 4,000 of you for feedback on your network providers, asking what you thought of the connection and customer service, and whether your package or plan was good value for money. We also asked how well the network held up for browsing the internet, streaming music and podcasts, and watching video on the go.

What’s more, with 5G now becoming mainstream, we asked you to tell us about your 5G experiences, to find out whether the latest network tech was giving you the performance you were promised by your provider. Almost 60% of those we spoke to are now using 5G services, making this our most in-depth look into 5G connectivity yet.

We used all these responses to work out which networks are exceeding expectations and which aren’t delivering the value, speed or coverage that their users expect – you’ll find the results below. We’ve also picked out the leaders for customer service, value, reliability and 5G, along with choosing a new overall best network with high scores across the board. Read on to discover this year’s champs in the Expert Reviews Mobile Network Awards for 2023.

Expert Reviews Mobile Network Awards 2023

Overall winner: Voxi

Highly Commended: Smarty

No-frills, no-contract services dominate our awards for the second year running, with Voxi and Smarty leading the pack and Giffgaff not far behind. Owned and operated by Vodafone, Voxi had spectacular results in this year’s survey, winning awards for Value and Reliability and placing highly in every category. Most impressively, nearly 59% of users said they were very likely to recommend the network to a friend, while another 33% said they would be fairly likely. Only Smarty posted similar figures.

Voxi isn’t the cheapest of the no-frills networks, but it offers its users fantastic value through its unlimited social networking, music and video streaming features, and its regular double and even triple data deals. If you’re looking to stream music or catch up on your favourite series while out and about, it’s arguably the most cost-effective choice. Its results for customer service are solid and its users are impressed by its reliability and speed.

Yet while Voxi comes away as the overall winner, Smarty is giving it some stiff competition. A budget, no-frills sibling of Three, it’s consistently strong in every awards category, often running neck and neck with the winners. In the final results, it takes away one win and two Highly Commendeds. Close to 93% of the users we surveyed said that they would recommend Smarty to a friend, and its cheap data deals are some of the best in the business.

Read our full Voxi review for more details

Read our full Smarty review for more details

Best Customer Service: Tesco Mobile

Highly Commended: Sky Mobile

Last year’s runner-up for customer service, Tesco Mobile, runs away with this year’s award. Three-quarters (75%) of the users we surveyed said they were satisfied with Tesco Mobile’s service and support. With only 3% dissatisfied, and 42% telling us they were very satisfied, no other network came close.

We saw these results reflected in the latest Ofcom research, where Tesco has the joint highest score for customer satisfaction and one of the lowest scores for the percentage of customers with a reason to complain. Only five customers per 100,000 have complained to Ofcom about the network, whereas the industry average is eight.

Only Sky Mobile and Giffgaff had remotely similar results in Ofcom’s 2023 report, and both of them performed well in our survey too. Yet it’s Sky Mobile that nabs this year’s Highly Commended: nearly 69% of users told us they were satisfied or very satisfied with the network’s customer service, while only 4% were dissatisfied. To hammer the point home, 76% of users told us they would recommend Sky Mobile to a friend.

Read our full Tesco Mobile review for more details

Read our full Sky Mobile review for more details

Best Value: Voxi

Highly Commended: Smarty

Voxi and Smarty battled it out for the win in the Value category, with some incredibly close results. 96.6% of Voxi users told us they were satisfied with the network when it came to value for money, against 95.8% for Smarty, but Smarty nearly edged it by having slightly more very satisfied customers, at 68.5% to 68.1%. We’ve given Voxi the win but, as a consumer, much would depend on your priorities – Smarty gives storming value for money across all its plans, while Voxi gives you more in terms of features as well as double, or even triple, data deals.

These two no-frills networks are head and shoulders above most of their rivals here. Although Giffgaff and Lebara also got high scores from their customers for value, of the more traditional networks, only Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile could even come close.

Read our full Voxi review for more details

Read our full Smarty review for more details

Most Reliable: Voxi

Highly Commended: Talkmobile

Voxi wins again in the Reliability category. Over 86% of its customers told us they were satisfied with the strength of their signal, and nearly 89% said they always or often had a connection that was fast enough to browse the web. A total of 86% said the same for streaming audio, and over 65% told us their connection was always or often fast enough for streaming video – the area where many other networks fall flat. These results were the highest for any network.

Talkmobile and Giffgaff weren’t far behind. Over 81% of Talkmobile users and nearly 80% of Giffgaff customers told us they were satisfied with their signal strength, while both networks scored well above average for web-browsing, audio-streaming and video-streaming performance. In the end, Talkmobile just edged Giffgaff on video streaming to grab the Highly Commended. Nearly 52% of its customers said their connection was always or often fast enough for video streaming, with Giffgaff at just under 50%.

Read our full Voxi review for more details

Read our full Talkmobile review for more details

Best 5G: Smarty

Highly Commended: Giffgaff

This year we asked readers to tell us both how happy they were with their 5G services and their performance, and the reasons why they were satisfied or dissatisfied. We found some users were disappointed with the limited coverage or the reliability of their connection, and some were pleased with their experience streaming videos or their faster upload and download speeds. But while 5G services are improving across the UK, there’s still a way to go before everyone can enjoy the performance benefits that 5G brings.

Many networks did well here, but Smarty and Giffgaff scored particularly highly: 77% of Smarty users with experience of 5G connectivity told us they were satisfied with their 5G service, while only 9% were dissatisfied. The figures for our runner-up, Giffgaff, were 70% and 10%. Sky Mobile nearly made the cut, with 68% of 5G users stating they were satisfied, but Giffgaff picks up its second Highly Commended, and Smarty its only win.

Read our full Smarty review for more details

Read our full Giffgaff review for more details


The total sample size was over 4,214 adults, with fieldwork undertaken during September 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Respondents were asked whether they would recommend their network to others and rate aspects of their connectivity and customer service on a scale from Very Satisfied to Very Dissatisfied. We also looked at complaints data published by the telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, in its annual Comparing Customer Service report. To be the overall winner, a supplier must have received fewer complaints than the average across all suppliers according to the most recent figures.

We also asked how readers rated their mobile network for value for money and whether they felt their network was fast enough when delivering certain core types of mobile activity, particularly web browsing, social networking, audio streaming and video streaming. We also surveyed readers on their experience of 5G services, and the reasons why they were satisfied or dissatisfied.

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