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Honest Mobile review: is the Carbon Neutral network any good?

Honest Mobile logo with a SIM cardVisit honestmobile.co.uk

The retailers featured on this page may compensate us when our readers follow links to their websites and make a purchase. More

We look at the overall benefits you get when you join Honest Mobile, who are carbon neutral and let you float between networks. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 24th September 2020.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates Honest Mobile as good ★★★☆☆ (3/5, good)

"If we were solely reviewing Honest Mobile as an ethical mobile network, they'd get an excellent rating. But we do have to look at what they're like overall to anyone in the UK, not just environmentally-conscious consumers.

Their carbon neutral status, tree-planting and clever network swapping technology does come with a price tag that will put Honest out of consideration for lots of regular people in the market for 1-month SIMs.

But the basics people want are there. Good 4G speeds and coverage, a WiFi calling app as a backup and a loyalty discount scheme will all go down well. It's just whether you're willing to spend that extra to do good."

The 3 best bits

1) Decent coverage and speeds
2) Environmentally sound
3) Discounts the longer you stay

The 3 worst bits

1) More expensive than competitors
2) No proper WiFi calling feature
3) Rural coverage needs boosting

Honest Mobile's network

Coverage: Honest Mobile use the Three network

Preview of Honest Mobile's Smart Signal app

Switch to other networks when there's no signalHow it works

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

Honest Mobile have taken the interesting step of partnering with multiple networks to bring their customers. But the main provider your phone will use the majority of the time is Three.

You’ll get access to Three’s 3G and 4G signal, which currently both cover over 97% of UK premises outdoors. Where they’re not so strong is in rural locations and when you’re moving about the country on road and rail.

Honest Mobile seem to be aware of this, because they’ve also partnered with EE and O2 to take over signal on your phone if you get caught somewhere the Three network doesn’t reach (this is a premium add-on though).

Overall, if you mainly use your phone in towns and cities, you shouldn’t have any problems on Honesty’s basic Three service. And you’ll probably be happy without paying for the extra access.

Useful link: More details on Honest's network technology

Data speeds: Honest Mobile’s 4G is in the mid-range

Screenshot of FAQs about Honest's data speeds

Speeds up to 50 MbpsFAQs about speed

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

For 4G download speeds, Honest Mobile have made a solid choice in partnering with Three for the majority of the mobile phone service you’ll receive (remember they can get you access to other networks too).

The latest speed testing from independent testers Opensignal and Speedtest by Ookla put Three’s speeds firmly in the mid-range of UK providers with typical downloads around 21.60 Mbps.

There’s nothing in Honest Mobile’s network FAQs to suggest there is any speed cap vs being on Three directly (or other providers that use them). So you should get healthy speeds tol support things like video streaming.

If you take up the option to use EE and O2 too, Honest do seem to hint that there could be a speed cap vs joining directly. Currently, Honest Mobile don’t offer any 5G data service on any network.

Useful link: List of UK mobile networks with 5G

Extra network features: WiFi calling through an app

Screenshot of Honest Mobile's app

A separate WiFi calling app to their main oneMain app features

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

There’s no native WiFi calling yet on Honest Mobile. That means when your phone can just use WiFi instead of conventional mobile signal, without you having to do anything differently on your mobile.

Instead, you have to download a separate WiFi calling app. That means you’d have to manually realise when you’ve not got signal and select the app. It also means your call history will be kept separately.

It’s not ideal but Honesty do say that they will be moving to what we’d call proper WiFi calling soon. Until then, it’s a bit of a compromise, so we can’t really give them a good rating.

We like networks that have WiFi calling, because it helps you overcome the natural indoor blackspots you get with any provider. Here’s our list of the best networks with it.

Useful link: How to get round poor indoor signal

Honest Mobile's benefits

They’re carbon neutral and they plant trees for you!

Mobile phone with a count of trees planted displayed on screen

Set up to make mobile more sustainableWhat it means

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

Honest Mobile have been set up with sustainability in mind. They say that the mobile communications industry creates huge CO2 emissions through the electricity needed to run a mobile network’s infrastructure.

They’re the only network we know of that will offset the carbon emissions from providing the network service, powering their offices, shipping and even the charging of your phone (read how this all works here).

On top of that, Honest work to plant trees on your behalf too. And they’ll even keep you up-to-date with how many have been planted thanks to your custom with them, via their app.

We think ethical consumers are going to love all this. And it’s definitely a unique selling point for Honesty Mobile over others. We do wonder if the general consumer will be willing to swallow higher prices for it though.

Useful link: Honest Mobile's blog

Your plan gets cheaper the longer you’re with them

Watch your monthly bill drop banner with loyal dog

Your bill gets progressively lowerRead full terms

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

It's quite often the case on mobile networks that you get the best price when you're a new customer and then you end up paying more later because of mid-contract RPI price increases or an introductory offer runs out.

Honest Mobile have flipped that around. Your plan will actually get cheaper after your second month up until a maximum of 30% off the original price.

The precise monthly discounts are a little hard to calculate but they'll keep you up to date with what your current discount is within the app, so you always know what you're paying.

We'd argue you need the discounts, because Honest aren't the cheapest provider among their competitors. But if you buy into their environmental values and where the extra is going, you won't mind as much - and the discount's a nice reward.

Useful link: Honest Mobile's full features and benefits page

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