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Why is SMARTY so cheap? How the network keeps prices down

SMARTY logo and a wallet iconVisit

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SMARTY often have the lowest prices on the market. But does that mean you get a worse mobile service? We investigate. Last updated: 9th December 2021.

How SMARTY do and don't keep their prices down

Their parent company Three set them up as a cheaper network

SMARTY powered by Three lettering banner

SMARTY are a separate brand of ThreeWhat this means

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What’s the point of having virtual mobile operators that piggyback off larger networks? It’s to appeal to customers that the main networks can’t, through different ways of working.

Three set SMARTY up to appeal to those customers who don’t want the commitment of long mobile deals and don’t mind getting a low-frills experience in exchange for lower prices.

There’s only 20 people working for the SMARTY brand. Compare this to the hundreds working for Three. Having a smaller staff base helps SMARTY keep their prices down.

SMARTY use their parent’s network instead of their own. Three have invested billions into building their mobile network and they use SMARTY to bring in those customers who would otherwise steer clear of major networks.

Useful link: Read about how SMARTY were set up

They don’t have customer service call centres or stores

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You can only get help onlineHow you get help

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In order to provide a cheaper product, SMARTY have had to trim the fat. This has left their customer service limited to being online only. So what does this mean in real terms?

Your first port of call for any issue is their help section here. You can also talk to their customer service agents via their website’s chat feature or social media. They don’t pay for call centres, so there’s no way to call them.

Their online chat agents work with multiple customers at a time which is more efficient. But in our experience it meant our issue was resolved more slowly than on some networks (read our full review here).

But their customer service doesn’t have to be fantastic as there’s little that can go wrong. Their deals are easy to understand, there’s no extra features and billing is made simple. And if you’re not happy, you’re free to leave.

Useful link: How to leave SMARTY if you're unhappy

Your network experience is no worse on SMARTY

SMARTY coverage map

No coverage difference with ThreeCheck your local signal

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In our SMARTY vs Three guide, we tested a SMARTY SIM against a Three SIM directly in different locations to see if we could spot any differences in network coverage or data speeds between them.

We found no evidence of a speed cap on SMARTY (in fact they actively say they don’t slow you down). And wherever we went we got the same number of signal bars.

You now even get 5G on SMARTY, so the only difference between them is the lack of WiFi hotspots on SMARTY where Three offer them on the Underground. But you still get WiFi calling and 4G calling (VoLTE) on SMARTY.

Since the network experience is now largely the same on both, and with Three getting rid of many of their best benefits there are fewer and fewer reasons to join Three over SMARTY these days.

Useful link: Read SMARTY's mission statement

Special offers on SMARTY

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