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Buying iPhone 12 in the UK? Here's where you can use 5G

Apple Event 5G
(Image credit: Apple)

5G first hit the UK back at the end of May 2019, with the launch of EE 5G services in six cities. Nearly 18 months later and eight different networks offer 5G connectivity — even if the rollout has been slow to expand to new areas. 

5G phones are not new by any means, but the upcoming release of the iPhone 12 is also set to put 5G handsets into the hands of even more people. iPhones are popular, after all, and everyone who buys the devices are going to want to take full advantage of its capabilities — including the high speed, low latency connection of 5G.

The issue is 5G isn’t everywhere, so we’ve compiled a list of locations that do offer 5G services — plus the networks that are running them.

Which UK networks have 5G?

A lot of the major networks are now offering some sort of 5G coverage, whether they’re the major networks that have their own mobile infrastructure or the virtual operators that rely on the bigger networks’ phone masts. All four major networks offer 5G coverage, which means EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone customers can sign onto a 5G contract and connect to 5G signals — assuming they’re in range. 

Only a few virtual operators offer 5G right now, but so far we have BT (using EE signal), Voxi (using Vodafone’s), Sky Mobile, and Tesco (both connecting via O2). Of course only Sky Mobile and Tesco are actually independent networks, since VOXI is part of Vodafone and BT naturally owns EE.

Which areas of the UK have 5G?

UK 5G Coverage by Location
LocationEEO2ThreeVodafone
AberdeenYesYesYes
Abingdon-on-ThamesYes
AldershotYesYes
AltrinchamYes
AmblesideYes
AshfordYesYes
Ashton-under-LyneYes
BallochYes
BarrheadYes
Barrow-in-FurnessYes
BansteadYes
BathYesYes
BasildonYesYes
BebingtonYes
BedfordYes
BelfastYesYesYes
BelshillYes
BirkenheadYes2020YesYes
BirminghamYesYesYesYes
BishopbriggsYes
BlackpoolYes2020Yes2020
BlaydonYes
BootleYes
BorehamwoodYes
BoltonYes
Bournemouth20202020
BradfordYesYes
BransholmeYes
BrentwoodYes
Bridge of DonYes
Brookmans ParkYes
BrightonYesYes
BristolYesYesYes
BuryYes
CardiffYesYesYesYes
Cambridge 20202020Yes
CannockYes
CastlefordYes
CastlereaghYes
ChathamYesYes
CheadleYes
ChelmsfordYes
CheltenhamYes
CheshuntYes
ChesterfieldYesYes
Chester-le-StreetYes
ChorleyYes
Clayton-le-WoodsYes
ClevedonYes
Clifton (Notts)Yes
ClydebankYes
CrawleyYes
CrosbyYes
CoventryYesYes
CullingworthYes
CumbernauldYes
DartfordYesYes
Derby2020YesYes
DewsburyYes
DinningtonYes
DoncasterYesYes
DroylsdenYes
DudleyYes
DunbartonYes
DundeeYesYes
DyceYes
EastbourneYes
EcclesYes
EdinburghYesYesYes
EpsomYes
EsherYes
Eton2020
GatesheadYes
GatwickYes
GillinghamYesYes
GlasgowYesYesYesYes
Gloucester2020
GorebridgeYes
GraysYesYes
Great ShelfordYes
GrimsbyYes
GuildfordYes2020YesYes
HamiltonYes
HarlowYes
HeanorYes
Hedge EndYes
Hemel HempstedYesYes
Hoddesdon
HorwichYes
Hove2020
Huyton-with-RobyYes
HuddersfieldYesYesYes
HullYesYes
IlkestonYes
IpswichYes
InchinnanYesYes
Isle of ScillyYes
JarrowYesYes
KimberleyYes
Kingston Upon ThamesYes2020
Kingswood (Bristol)Yes
LancasterYes
LeedsYesYesYesYes
LeicesterYesYesYes
LeylandYes
LichfieldYes
LincolnYes
LisburnYesYes
LiverpoolYesYesYesYes
LlandudnoYes
LoughboroughYes
LoughtonYes
LondonYesYesYesYes
Lower StondonYes
LutonYesYes
MaidstoneYesYes
ManchesterYesYesYesYes
MangotsfieldYes
MansfieldYes
MiddlesbroughYes
MilnrowYes
Milton Keynes20202020
MinsterYes
MirfieldYes
MorleyYes
MotherwellYesYes
NestonYes
Newbury2020Yes
NewcastleYesYes
NewtownabbeyYes
Newton-le-WillowsYes
NorthamptonYesYes
North ShieldsYesYes
NorwichYes
NottinghamYesYesYes
NuneatonYes
Oldbury/SmethwickYes
OldhamYes
OrpingtonYes
OxfordYesYes
PaisleyYesYes
PenarthYes
Peterborough2020YesYes
PlymouthYesYesYesYes
PontefractYes
Portsmouth20202020Yes
PorthcawlYes
Potters BarYes
PrestonYes
PrestwishYes
RainhamYes
Reading2020YesYes
RedcarYes
RedhillYes
RochdaleYesYes
RochesterYes
RomfordYes
RotherhamYesYes2020
RoystonYes
Rugeley (West Mids)Yes
SalfordYesYes
SheffieldYesYesYes
Shelly GreenYes
ShipleyYes
SloughYesYes
SolihullYesYes
Southampton202020202020Yes
Southend on SeaYes
South ShieldsYesYes
St. AlbansYes
Staines-upon-ThamesYesYes
StaffordYes
StevenageYesYes
StirlingYes
StockportYes
Stoke-on-TrentYesYes
StranraerYes
StretfordYes
SunburyYes
SunderlandYesYesYes
Sutton CoaldieldYesYes
SwanseaYesYes
SwadlincoteYesYes
SwindonYes
Swinton and PendleburyUrmstonYes
SydenhamYes
ThundersleyYes
TynemouthYes
WakefieldYes
WallaseyYes
WalsallYes
Waltham AbbeyYes
Waltham CrossYes
Walton-on-ThamesYes
WarwickYes
WashingtonYesYes
WarringtonYesYes
WatfordYes
West BromwichYes
WesthoughtonYesYes
Weston-Super-MareYes
WeybridgeYesYes
WickfordYesYes
WiganYes
WindsorYes
WolverhamptonYes20202020Yes
Worcester2020
WorthingYes
YorkYes

As you can see it’s quite the mishmash of locations, ranging from big cities to small towns you probably won’t have heard of if you don’t live nearby. EE is clearly winning in terms of number of locations, though it’s also facing some stiff competition from O2 and Three. 

So if you’re looking for the most comprehensive 5G coverage, EE (or BT) is clearly the way to go. Of course O2 has quite the reach too, and its availability on Sky and Tesco gives you more choice on contracts and data plans.

Of course 5G coverage isn’t universal, even in places where the network is available. It can change from one end of town to the other, street to street, or even depending on whether you’re inside or not. So make sure to check out coverage maps before you commit to a network. 

EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone all have their own maps, but if you’d rather not have to keep switching between different network websites check out nperf’s map. That map doesn’t let you toggle off 2G, 3G, or 4G, but it does let you swap between networks at the click of a button — which could prove very useful.

What about iPhone 12 and 700MHz?

Thankfully buying the iPhone 12 shouldn’t be an issue. There had been some pre-launch rumours that the phone wouldn’t support the 700Mhz 5G band, which while not in use in the UK just yet is still expected to play a key role in expanding 5G coverage — on account of its long range. Fortunately Apple’s specs tell a different story, and promise that all four iPhone 12 models will support 700Mhz (along with several other layers of the 5G spectrum) in the U.K.