Having a SIM card in Germany, or any country for that matter, is very important in daily life. This is despite the availability of public Wi-Fi in the nation. There are three major mobile operators in Germany, i.e., Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone Germany, and O2. Germany has a whopping 135 MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). According to the latest nationwide in-depth study, Deutsche Telekom is the best wireless carrier in Germany, followed by Vodafone and O2 in terms of reliability, good performance, and network availability.
Although Deutsche Telekom has won the analysis since 2012, that shouldn’t matter to you. The decision on which SIM card to buy should depend mostly on where you live in Germany. Though the country has developed infrastructure and high standards of living, the mobile network is underdeveloped, especially in rural areas. To learn what kind of services and benefits several wireless carriers in Germany provide, let’s study the top 8 telecommunications companies in the country.
Deutsche Telekom, also known as Telekom and internationally recognized as T-Mobile, is the largest telecom company in Europe. As mentioned, the majority consider its network the best in the country, and the carrier offers a variety of plans to its subscribers. Because of the premium quality it offers, Telekom charges higher prices than its competitors. It offers a plan named Premium, which offers a new phone to its users every 12 months.
The company also offers special prices for users below the age of 28. The lowest plan comes with 6 GB of data and starts at €39.95/month. Deutsche Telekom offers 5G connectivity and its average download and upload speed is 300 Mbps and 50 Mbps respectively. The contract length for its SIM card is 2 years and permits free roaming within the European Union (EU).
Vodafone Germany has headquarters in Düsseldorf and was the country’s largest wireless SIM card provider in 2019. It offers a variety of plans for different use cases, such as plans for subscribers under the age of 28 or large data consumption. With its special feature plan called Vodafone Passes, you can choose the apps you use the most — Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Netflix, or Spotify. You then receive a flat rate for the package you use, so it won’t deduct data from your data plan. The cheapest plan it offers is 4 GB of data, starting at just €29.99/month.
The company has a 5G network and the average download and upload speed it offers is 500 Mbps and 100 Mbps respectively. Unfortunately, subscribers must get tied to a 2 years contract to get the SIM card. Vodafone Germany offers free EU roaming, excluding Switzerland.
Telefonica Germany operates O2 since 2005 and built it to the level of being a major competitor to Telekom and Vodafone. Its headquarters are in Munich, and it offers the lowest degree of network coverage, especially in the rural areas of the country. The smallest plan it offers is 3 GB of data at a mere €19.99/month. There are several specialized plans on its list as well, including plans for young people.
The company’s 5G network permits the average download and upload speed of 300 Mbps and 50 Mbps respectively. Its users don’t sign a contract as the mobile network provides flexible terms, which is a major advantage. As a 02 user, you can utilize free roaming everywhere except in Switzerland and the UK.
1&1 is the most popular MVNO in Germany and uses Telefonica O2’s network. Reminder: MVNOs don’t own mobile infrastructure and pay/rent to use that of major carriers. The least expensive plan it offers is 3 GB of data starting at just €9.99/month for the first 6 months and then charging €19.99/month afterward. Recently, the company started bundling 5G network connectivity with the costlier plans they offer.
The average download and upload speeds on its 5G network match O2 at 300 Mbps and 50 Mbps respectively. The examples below show that isn’t always the case. 1&1 SIM cards are only available at a 2-year contract length, but you can use roaming for free in all EU countries except Switzerland, and, after 31st December 2021, the United Kingdom.
Mobilcom Debitel is another well-known MVNO within Germany. It operates on the networks of all three major telecommunications giants in the country: Telekom, Vodafone, and O2. The company provides plans/contracts from all three carriers, too. Their smallest plan with Telekom is 1 GB of data, starting at €9.99/month. Telefonica O2’s low-end plan is 3 GB of data and starts at only €7.99 per month.
The carrier doesn’t provide 5G connectivity yet its average download and upload speeds are outstanding in theory. The average download and upload speeds are 255 Mbps and 50 Mbps, respectively. You don’t need to be tied to a contract as the carrier provides a flexible agreement. Moreover, EU roaming is free everywhere but in Switzerland.
6. Lidl Connect
Lidl Connect is a Vodafone MVNO and offers 4G LTE data speed. It has various plans, but its Smart S Plan soars above the rest. It was awarded the “Best Prepaid Tariff” by the famous CHIP and Connect magazine recently. This plan offers unlimited SMS and calls along with 3 GB of LTE data for a mere €7.99/4 weeks. Smart XL plan, simultaneously its biggest, offers 7 GB of data at €17.99. Its SIM card costs €9.99, but comes with a balance of €10 as well.
Once you activate your Lidl SIM card, you can choose the data plan you would like to have online with your Lidl account. You have the option to change the tariff whenever you like, plus add data packages of your choice. The average download and upload speed Lidl Connect offers is 25 Mbps and 10 Mbps. Free EU roaming is included by default but doesn’t include UK and Switzerland.
7. Aldi Talk
Aldi Talk is an O2 MVNO, but most of its plans are very similar to Lidl. Its Paket S Plan is comparable to the Smart S Plan of Lidl as it also offers unlimited SMS and calls along with 3 GB of data at €7.99/4 weeks. Paket L is its biggest plan, extending an offer of 7 GB of data for €17.99. Likewise, its features are mostly identical to Lidl in pretty much everything.
As if that didn’t look like a carbon copy, wait to hear about the 5G connectivity it offers on the O2 network. The average download and upload speed provided by the company is, you guessed it, 25 Mbps and 10 Mbps. This is staggeringly low for 5G but comes with Free EU roaming, albeit not in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Lebara is a Deutsche Telekom MVNO. It offers both prepaid and postpaid SIM cards (for free) with free minutes to call 50 countries. Because it uses a Telekom network, its prices are on the higher side. Its prepaid Komplett M plan gives unlimited calls with 250 minutes to 50 countries abroad along with 5 GB of data for €19.99/4 weeks. The biggest Lebara prepaid plan is Komplett XL which offers unlimited calls, 1000 free voice minutes to 50 countries, and 12 GB of data for 4 weeks at €29.99.
As if the price wasn’t an issue, Lebara doesn’t reap the benefits of using Telekom’s network. Despite allowing 5G connectivity, the average speed is only 18 Mbps for downloading and 2.5 Mbps for uploading. Finally, free EU roaming is included but doesn’t apply to Switzerland.