Over 1 in 10 festival goers report smartphone lost, damaged or stolen

music, Smartphones

Smartphones top the list of at-risk items at UK festivals, with over one in ten festival goers (2.15 million) having lost, damaged or had a device stolen

Over half (52%) of festival goers still complain of unreliable phone reception at UK festivals, with EE, Vodafone and O2 networks offering the strongest signal across top UK festivals

Close to £1 billion (£944m) of personal items have been lost at UK festivals 

3.7m Brits would consider packing a durable, low-cost ‘festival phone’ while portable battery packs top the list of essential accessories

Over one-in-ten (11%) unlucky festivalgoers said their smartphone had fallen victim to festival season over the years, according to new research from Uswitch.com, the comparison and switching service.

That’s a staggering two million (2.15m) devices pinched, damaged or lost to the mud.

As millions of music lovers get ready to head to their favourite festivals this summer, smartphones have topped the list of items most at risk of getting lost, damaged or stolen. However, there are some simple steps to stop phone issues hampering the festival fun.
From smartphones slipping out of pockets to handbags left by the bar, Brits have lost an estimated £944m of personal items at music festivals – enough to buy everyone at Glastonbury a free ticket for the next 13 years!

Poor signal

Messaging mates continues to be a real challenge at festivals. Over half of festivalgoers (52%) said that mobile phone reception and reliability was still not up to scratch and a quarter (24%) said that they were worried about losing their friends due to poor signal. 

Analysis from Uswitch suggests there is relatively good 4G coverage at the biggest UK festival sites throughout the year. However, with an influx of hundreds of thousands of people, network infrastructure can be tested to its absolute limits, even when bolstered.

According to official network coverage checkers, EE is the network of choice for Glastonbury and Isle of Wight, Vodafone topped the bill at Reading and O2 at Leeds. Meanwhile, honours were shared between Vodafone and O2 at Download Festival’s Donington Park site in Leicestershire. 



Top network 




Great 5G and 4G coverage outdoors and good coverage indoors


Vodafone & O2

Good 4G indoors and outdoors



Good 4G and 5G indoors and outdoors 



Good 4G indoors and outdoors

Isle of Wight 


Excellent coverage indoors and outdoors for 5G and 4G devices


A low-cost 30-day SIM, on a network that performs particularly well at your destination of choice could make a big difference to your festival experience. With a strong and reliable signal, you can stay in touch with friends by voice, SMS or messaging apps. 0-day SIMs are available from as little as £4.50 for 3GB with Lyca Mobile (which uses the O2 network), or £4.95 for 5GB of data with Lebara (which uses Vodafone’s network), all including unlimited calls and texts. 

A third of those who have attended a festival said that getting a phone stolen (33%), lost or damaged (32%) was a concern. However, running out of battery (39%) was the biggest worry. As a result, 18% (3.7m) are thinking about taking a ‘festival phone’ – either an old, spare handset or investing in a durable, low-cost phone with basic features but an extra long battery life that you could keep using year after year.

Portable batteries topped the list of key accessories (51%), highlighting the essential role of smartphone connectivity at festivals nowadays, whether staying in touch with friends or capturing amazing memories. 

Says Catherine Hiley, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com: 

“Festivalgoers will know the familiar feeling when you look around and can’t see your mates anywhere. Then you’re frantically checking your smartphone is still tucked safely in your pocket, before crossing your fingers and hoping you have enough battery to make a call and that your network provider is going to deliver a decent signal. 

“There are a few simple steps to help ensure that people’s smartphone experience goes without a hitch this summer. It’s worth checking which networks perform particularly well at your chosen festival and selecting a corresponding 30-day SIM deal to give you the best chance of staying connected.

“You may also have an old phone tucked away in a drawer that enables you to leave your shiny new device at home. Alternatively, if you’re a regular festival-goer, investing in a cheaper, durable handset will deliver longer battery life than a premium smartphone. Just make sure you don’t lose it so you can use it again next summer.” 

USwitch’s top tips to take care of your tech at festivals this summer:

Getting packed:

Dust off an old favourite: If you don’t want to risk taking your shiny, new iPhone 14 Pro to a muddy festival, check your drawers in case you have an older device lying around that can do the job without you having to worry. 

Summer substitute: There are also a host of low-cost 4G devices that can be purchased SIM-free, including the likes of the Nokia 110 (£39.99) and Alcatel 1 (£59.99). What these phones lack in camera performance and raw processing power, they make up for with outstanding battery life. 

A great reception: A 30-day SIM is the ideal accompaniment to a ‘festival phone’. And you can choose a network with particularly good performance in the destination you’re heading to. Simply check the mobile network operators’ coverage checker and choose from the likes of:

Lyca Mobile (£4.50) – 3GB of data, plus unlimited texts and minutes (O2)

Lebara (£4.95) – 5GB of data. Plus unlimited texts and minutes (Vodafone)

Virgin Media (£5.95) – 5GB of data, plus unlimited texts and minutes (O2)

Talkmobile (£6.95) – 15GB,  plus unlimited texts and minutes (Vodafone)

Extra juice – A battery pack is a great addition when packing for a festival. For around £20, you can get your hands on a 20,000mAh power bank with more than enough juice to charge a smartphone multiple times. For context, the iPhone 14 Pro battery is approximately 3,200mAh  

Chris Price

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