Staying connected while traveling internationally is important, but figuring out local cellular plans can be tricky. If you’ll be visiting the UK soon and need a UK SIM for your mobile device, O2 is one of the major carriers to consider. Let’s get started exploring your O2 UK SIM card options.

O2 SIM Card and eSIM

I. Quick Facts About O2

O2 SIM Card and eSIM

O2 has established itself as a trusted mobile network provider in the UK through consistent innovation, nationwide coverage and a customer-centric approach to service. Let’s check some quick facts about this brand before choosing:

  • Founded: 1985 as Cellnet, rebranded to O2 in 2002 after merger with AirTouch International.
  • Number of subscribers: Over 33 million customers across the UK as of 2021, making it one of the largest mobile networks.
  • Coverage: O2 operates 2G, 3G, and 4G networks covering over 99% of the UK population indoors and outdoors.
  • Retail stores: Operates over 250 O2 stores across the UK and Ireland for purchases, support and repairs.
  • Customer service: Provides phone support and live chat through the O2 website and app for billing, technical issues and more.
  • Awards/Recognition: Regularly receives awards for network performance and customer service from groups like RootMetrics and Opensignal. Named Uswitch’s Best Network Provider multiple times.

II. O2 Coverage and Speed in the UK

1. O2 Coverage in the UK

O2 - Coverage maps
O2 – Coverage maps. Source:

O2 provides extensive cellular coverage across the entire United Kingdom. Through years of investment in its network infrastructure, O2 currently operates 2G, 3G and 4G networks that cover over 99% of the UK population both indoors and outdoors. This includes major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, as well as smaller towns and more rural areas of the country.

he network reaches people at home, at work and on the go through urban centers, motorways and remote regions alike. Independent network testing firms regularly rate O2 among the top mobile providers in the UK for breadth of coverage and data speeds.

2. O2 Speeds in the UK

O2 provides very competitive mobile internet speeds across its network in the UK. According to the latest data from independent testing company Opensignal, average download speeds is around 20.9 Mbps. These speeds allow customers to browse websites, stream videos, download apps and share large files quickly and easily from their mobile devices.

As 5G networks continue expanding nationwide, early tests show O2 5G download speeds averaging around 150Mbps in areas with high 5G coverage already. With ongoing network upgrades and optimization, O2 aims to deliver fast, reliable mobile connectivity that keeps users connected and productive regardless of location.

III. O2 Connectivity Options for Travelers

Travelers visiting the UK have a few options from O2 to stay connected during their trip, you have three main options to connect to the O2 network, including: O2 SIM card, Pocket Wifi device, and Roaming onto O2 UK. Here is a comparison of the pros and cons of each option:

Get an O2 SIM cardUnlimited data, calls & textsRequires SIM change
Fully on O2 coverageLocked to O2 plans/rates
Direct customer support
Use a pocket wi-fi deviceNo SIM change neededRelies on mobile data
Can share WiFi with othersCan be less reliable
Additional rental costs
Roam onto O2 with other SIMSimple to enableVery expensive rates
Use existing SIM & numberFor occasional use only
Not viable as main connection

Overall, a prepaid SIM card from O2 empowers tourists with self-sufficient cellular service during their entire visit to the UK in a cost effective and straightforward way. With an O2 SIM, you can explore independently without problems.

IV. Best O2 UK SIM Card for Tourists & Prices

O2 offers both pre-paid and post-paid SIM cards for tourists. Pay-as-you-go SIMs are the most convenient option as they don’t require any contracts. Here are some of the best SIM deals for tourists on O2:

PlanDataMinutesTextsCredit (USD)
8GB8GB (includes data rollover up to 8GB)UnlimitedUnlimited$12.30
25GB25GB (includes data rollover up to 25GB)UnlimitedUnlimited$18.40
40GB40GB (includes data rollover up to 40GB)UnlimitedUnlimited$24.50
125GB125GB (includes data rollover up to 125GB)UnlimitedUnlimited$36.75

All plans also include unlimited minutes and texts to use as desired. O2’s reliable network coverage and additional perks like O2 Rewards make it a great overall provider whether you need a cheap basic plan or an unlimited data plan.

V. Does O2 UK Offer eSIM?

Yes, O2 UK does offer eSIM support for compatible devices. eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM profile that can be downloaded directly to supported smartphones and tablets, removing the need for a physical nano-SIM card.

For travelers to the UK, eSIM provides several advantages over a traditional plastic SIM. Their plans can often be purchased, activated and switched remotely online before arriving in the UK. This ensures connectivity from the moment travelers land. So, for short business trips or holidays, eSIM on O2 provides flexibility and convenience that makes staying connected in the UK much simpler for international visitors.

If you’re travelling to the UK soon and want an affordable, hassle-free way to stay connected, then consider prepaid UK eSIM plans on the O2 network. Their range of flexible data packages from as little as 3 days up to a month provides the perfect option no matter your trip length. Prices start at just $3.50 per day, making much more cost-effective.

Say goodbye to expensive roaming fees - get connected right away with a UK eSIM on the fast and reliable O2 network

VI. Where To Buy An O2 UK SIM Card & eSIM

1. Where to buy O2 UK SIM card

Buy O2 SIM Card at Airport
Buy O2 SIM Card at Airport
  • Upon Arrival: O2 SIM cards are available at airport arrival halls, tourist shops and kiosks in London airports like Heathrow, Gatwick etc. But prices may be higher.
  • O2 Stores: For best rates, visit official O2 stores available in most cities. You’ll need to show passport as ID. Store staff can help set up the SIM card.

2. Where to buy O2 eSIM

If you need an eSIM to use the O2 network in the UK, the most convenient option is to purchase one online before your trip.

Rather than worrying about visiting an O2 store or reseller once you arrive, you can complete the entire purchase from Just choose the data plan that suits your travel duration, pay securely online, and the eSIM profile will be delivered straight to your email. Once you land in the UK, you can get connected to 4G on O2’s network right away versus wasting time looking for a SIM purchase location.

UK eSIM 10 Days
UK eSIM 10 Days
From $3.82
UK eSIM 14 Days (Data & Voice)
UK eSIM 14 Days (Data & Voice)
From $21.90

VII. Activating Your O2 UK SIM Card or eSIM

Activating and using an O2 SIM card or eSIM is very straightforward:

Activate O2 UK SIM Card

  1. Insert the SIM card: Locate the SIM card slot on your device
  2. Power on your device: Turn on your device and wait for it to recognize the SIM card
  3. Activate the SIM card
  4. Set up APN settings if you can not use the eSIM.
  5. Check your services.

Activate O2 UK eSIM

Follow these steps to activate your O2 eSIM:

  1. Install eSIM profile on phone
  2. Accept T&Cs
  3. Verify identity
  4. Activate eSIM plan
  5. Start using eSIM

VIII. O2 Call & SMS Rates

When using an O2 pay-as-you-go SIM, here are the current call and SMS rates:

TypeCost per minute of UK call or per message to EU CountriesCost per minute of UK call or per message to non EU Countries
Landline$0.22 per min$1.81 per min
Mobile$0.22 per min$1.81 per min
Text message (SMS)$0.07 per text message$0.65 per text message
Picture message (MMS)$0.66 per picture message$0.66 per picture message

It’s worth bearing these rates in mind if you need to call home often during your UK trip. Using apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime or Skype could potentially help cut costs for international calling. Just be aware that roaming charges may still apply for data usage on such apps.

IX. FAQs about O2 UK

Does O2 have good coverage in London and other major cities?

Yes, O2 has excellent coverage across major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham etc. Both 4G and 5G networks are available.

Can I switch my O2 number to a different provider?

Yes, O2 supports number portability. Contact your new provider to initiate the change while keeping your existing phone number.

Can I use my O2 UK SIM card across Europe?

Yes, O2 SIMs come with inclusive roaming across Europe so you can use them when traveling to Europe too.

How do I contact O2 customer support?

You can call 333 (free from an O2 phone) or access online customer support via live chat for any issues.

Does my unlocked phone work with O2?

O2 is on the GSM network supporting unlocked phones. Simply insert the SIM and it will work seamlessly.

X. Final Words

As one of the major carriers in Britain, the O2 network provides excellent nationwide coverage – even in remote rural areas where roaming fees on your home data plan could be expensive. Best of all, offers affordable prepaid eSIM plans on the O2 network with flexible data and validity options to suit both short city breaks or longer UK holidays.