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Three vs SMARTY mobile: key differences & similarities between the two networks

SMARTY mobile vs Three

A quick guide to what's different and the same between Three and SMARTY mobile including coverage, 4G speeds, deals, roaming, benefits and more. Last updated: January 17th 2019.

Latest news on offers

Three's 100GB for £20 SIM

Three 100GB for £01 a month

This month, Three have the joint-biggest capped data SIM on the market with their huge 100GB for £20 SIM only deal on a 12-month contract.

See all Three's offers > (opens in new tab)

Free month on any SMARTY plan

A free month on SMARTY

Pay for the first month of your plan, get the second one free - only when you use this exclusive link to SMARTY's hidden offer on their 1GB to 8GB plans.

Or get unlimited data, mins and texts for £25 a month with a free second month too (not exclusive to SIM Sherpa readers). Terms apply to both.

Get your free month > (opens in new tab)

In this guide

What's the same?

4G / 3G network coverage
Download speeds on average
Keeping your number

Skip to: Similarities

What's different?

Roaming - where you can go free
Benefits exclusive to Three
Perks you only get on SMARTY

Skip to: Differences

SIM only plans compared

1-month contracts
Mins, texts and data available
How prices stack up

Skip to: SIM only plans

Making your mind up

How to decide
Pros and cons

Skip to: Deciding

Things that are the same on SMARTY and Three

Coverage: it's identical on Three and SMARTY

Three / SMARTY's mobile network coverage

Use an official map to find reception where you areCheck signal near you

at three.co.uk
(opens in new window)

If you didn't know it SMARTY uses the Three mobile network. In fact, it's actually owned directly by Three themselves (unlike other providers who use Three like iD Mobile and TPO).

As result, you'll get the same reception on SMARTY as you would if you're on Three. So there's no need to make concerns above coverage the deciding factor between SMARTY and Three.

At the moment, Three mobile network covers 98% of the UK population with 3G and 99% with 4G. This means residences, not places. Mobile networks are now working to cover roads, rail and countryside too.

If you've not been on Three or SMARTY before, we'd recommend checking first what their signal is like in your area using their official network maps below:

Useful link: Three's coverage checker | SMARTY's coverage checker

4G speeds should be the same as Three

Three 4G Voice

Three invest constantly in their 4G networkLatest Three 4G news

at three.co.uk
(opens in new window)

In terms of the kind of typical 4G download speeds you can expect, we'd say Three are basically tied in second place with Vodafone (behind EE).

Being on Three directly, we'd expect 4G downloads around the 20 Mbps mark. And there's nothing in the SMARTY terms and conditions that suggests you'll receive an inferior service.

It'd also be against Three's own interest to give their SMARTY customers a poorer experience, given that they own the brand anyway.

Overall, we'd say 4G download speeds needn't be something to split your choice between SMARTY or Three.

Useful link: Read more about Three's 4G network in their own guide.

You can keep your number on Three or SMARTY mobile

Keep your number on SMARTY or Three

Move from any network to SMARTY or Three

Whichever of the two networks you decide is right for your needs, it's easy to switch to Three and SMARTY and keep your number.

Even if you want to move between the two.

Just order your new SIM, call your old provider and ask for a PAC and then give it SMARTY or Three.

Then follow the instructions on SMARTY or Three's website under the links below:

Useful link: Move your number to SMARTY | Move your number to Three

Where to next in this article?

Differences between SMARTY mobile and Three

Roaming is more extensive on Three than SMARTY

Go Roam is the UK's best free roaming schemeSee how it works

at three.co.uk
(opens in new window)

One of the best known benefits on Three is their superb Go Roam scheme (we rate it as the best roaming scheme on the market). In case you don't know here's what you get:

Inclusive roaming in EU countries on every single pay monthly plan in these 48 countries. And a further 23 extra worldwide destinations including the USA, Canada and Australia.

SMARTY don't offer anything as extensive but you will still get inclusive EU roaming with each of their plans. To go anywhere else you'll pay per minute, text and MB data at these rates.

Useful link: Everything you can do with Three's Go Roam on their official website.

Three have some nice benefits you won't get on SMARTY...

Unlimited streaming

Unlimited streaming with selected plans & servicesSee how it works

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in new window)

Apart from free and inclusive roaming, there are some other useful features you get on Three that you won't get with the more no-frills SMARTY mobile network:

Like Three's impressive Go Binge scheme, which offers free unlimited data for streaming Netflix on your phone and other selected services. It's available on these selected plans with SIMs and phones.

You also won't get access to Three's WiFi calling scheme InTouch on the SMARTY network. That said there are some signs SMARTY might add it in future.

And lastly, you won't benefit from Three's new free easyJet upgrades offer if you join SMARTY, as they don't offer anything similar.

Useful link: See how prices compare between Three and SMARTY using our deal finder tool

But SMARTY do have some advantages over Three...

SMARTY advantages over Three

Get a discount of your next bill for unused dataSee the discounts

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in new window)

SMARTY was launched with one unique selling point that you won't currently find at any other mobile network in the UK, including Three.

And that's their scheme that effectively pays you back for data that you haven't used. It's similar to data rollover plans reviewed here but we'd argue it's better.

At the end of each month, SMARTY will calculate how much data from your allowance you've not used up. For every 1GB, they'll give you a discount of £1.25 on your next bill (here's full details on how it works).

There's no such scheme on Three so this is one clear difference between the two networks.

Useful link: How SMARTY's unused data discount works from their help guide.

No credit check to pass on SMARTY and you can't overspend

No credit check on SMARTY

You'll need a debit / credit card to join SMARTYHow billing works

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in new window)

One other advantage on SMARTY compared to Three's pay monthly plans is that you won't have to pass a credit check to be accepted for one of their deals, as they're not paid by direct debit.

It's worth saying that if you're above 18, have never skipped on a telecoms / utilities bill before and have a UK bank account, there's a high chance you'd be accepted on a Three SIM only deal anyway.

But if you've found you've been declined by other networks or are new to the UK, SMARTY is a way to still get a deal. It's also good for people who may not have a credit history or have a bad one.

And as you buy a chunk of minutes, texts and data at the beginning of each month up front, you can't over run up extra costs on your bill unexpectedly. Instead you'll buy a another batch of allowances (see costs here).

Useful link: Full details on requirements to join SMARTY

Where to next in this article?

SIM only deals: SMARTY mobile vs Three

SMARTY offers only 30-day SIM only plans. On Three, there's a choice of contract length

SIM cards

Although SMARTY has been set up a simple, low-cost network, it might not always work out as cheap as joining Three directly themselves.

Use our deal finder to select the minutes, texts and data you're after, and see whether SMARTY or Three are cheaper for your needs.

Choose what you want in your deal:

Deal options >
Choose mins, texts and data >
Choose data speed (3G or 4G) >
Choose max contract length >

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How unlimited data compares on SMARTY and Three

Are both their deals truly unlimited?

SMARTY's unlimited plan is on a short 1-month contract

See the full deal

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in new window)

The main advantage of SMARTY's unlimited data plan (ignoring price) over Three's is that it's on a flexible 1-month contract. It means you're free to change plan or leave at short notice if you decide it's not for you.

You're also allowed to use the SIM directly in a tablet or iPad for unlimited mobile broadband. Although, if you want to tether, you can "only" use 19GB data a month for it (on Three it's unlimited too).

The other limitation is on roaming. If you're within the EU, you can only use 19GB a month while you're out of the country. This is currently the same on Three too.

Otherwise the principle is essentially the same: even if you used your phone for every minute of the whole month, there'd still be no charges for going over any data limits.

Useful link: Compare current prices

Three's plans are slightly more unlimited with added benefits

Three unlimited data SIM only plan

See Three's plans

at three.co.uk
(opens in new window)

On Three you can choose between a 1-month contract that will normally work out more expensive than SMARTY, or a longer 12-month deal, which is more similar in price.

The main advantage other than any price variations of Three's deals over SMARTY is that you get a few extras like inclusive roaming in 71 countries (not just EU one), where you can use 19GB data.

There's also no limit on how much you can tether in the UK. On SMARTY you can only use 19GB for hotspot. On Three, there's no limits.

Unlike SMARTY though, you can't put Three's phone unlimited data SIMs in a tablet (the network detects it and blocks it). You have to buy a specific tablet SIM to do this.

Useful link: Compare latest prices

Where to next in this article?

Making your mind up

How to decide between Three and SMARTY mobile

SMARTY vs Three

Decide what you value most

For us, the key is working out what is important to you. Have a look at our summary a bit further down.

Use our deal finder above to look for deals with the number of mins, texts and data you want. Then see how the prices compare. It won't always be the case SMARTY are cheaper.

If Three are cheaper and you're happy with the contract length, you'll get a lot more extras with most their plans. But if the SMARTY benefits are more important then that's who to go with.

SMARTY are generally better for...

If you want ties no longer than 30 days

You're not 100% sure how much data you need

You want a plan where you can't overspend

You've failed credit checks before (there are none)

Jump to SMARTY.co.uk

Three are generally better for...

Inclusive roaming

Extras like unlimited streaming or WiFi calling

Plans with larger data allowances

More flexible 30-day SIM only contracts

Jump to Three.co.uk

Where to next in this article?

Don't miss the current offers

Three's 100GB for £20 SIM

Three 100GB for £01 a month

This month, Three have the joint-biggest capped data SIM on the market with their huge 100GB for £20 SIM only deal on a 12-month contract.

See all Three's offers > (opens in new tab)

Free month on any SMARTY plan

A free month on SMARTY

Pay for the first month of your plan, get the second one free - only when you use this exclusive link to SMARTY's hidden offer on their 1GB to 8GB plans.

Or get unlimited data, mins and texts for £25 a month with a free second month too (not exclusive to SIM Sherpa readers). Terms apply to both.

Get your free month > (opens in new tab)

Compare Three with other networks

Comparing Three and EE

Three vs EE

Read Three vs EE guide

Comparing Three and O2

Three vs O2

Read Three vs O2 guide

Comparing Three and Vodafone

Three vs Vodafone

Read our Three vs Vodafone guide

Comparing Three and BT Mobile

Three vs BT Mobile

Read Three vs BT Mobile

Comparing Three and giffgaff

Three vs giffgaff

Read Three vs giffgaff guide

Comparing Three and Virgin Mobile

Three vs Virgin Mobile

Read our Three vs Virgin Mobile guide

Compare SMARTY with other networks

Comparing SMARTY and giffgaff

Three vs EE

Read SMARTY vs giffgaff guide

Comparing SMARTY and Plusnet Mobile

SMARTY vs Plusnet Mobile

Read SMARTY vs Plusnet guide

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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