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

SMARTY logo and a wallet iconVisit SMARTY.co.uk

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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: 11th June 2024.

How SMARTY do and don't keep their prices down

They were set up by Three to be a cheap network

SMARTY powered by Three lettering banner

SMARTY are a sub-brand of ThreeWhat this means

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

Most of the big networks now have set up their own sub-brands to appeal to different customers that their main brand can’t reach. That could be on low prices, flexibility or other added benefits.

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.

The number of staff members working for SMARTY’s has grown over time to around 50 employees, but that’s still a lot less than the hundreds upon hundreds working for Three. This helps keep SMARTY’s prices down.

SMARTY use their parent’s network instead of their own. Three have invested billions into 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

SMARTY don’t pay for stores or customer call centres

Screenshot of online chat agent conversation

Online customer service onlyHow you get help

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

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?

Well, SMARTY don’t pay to run call centres, so you can’t phone them up to get help. Instead you can either look for your issue in their help section here or contact their chat agents online or in the app.

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

To be fair, there’s less that can go wrong on SMARTY. Their plans and billing systems are very simple. So you are less likely to need help from a real person. If you find you’re not happy, it’s easy to leave too.

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

The network experience hasn’t been made worse

SMARTY coverage map

Signal is identical to ThreeCheck your local signal

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

When we compared SMARTY vs Three for our guide here, we tested a Three SIM and a SMARTY SIM against each other directly in various locations to see if there were any signal or data speed differences 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. If you’re worried SMARTY’s cheap because it’s worse, don’t be.

SMARTY also get full access to Three’s 5G. And you now get access to Three’s WiFi hotspots on the Underground. And you also get WiFi calling and 4G calling (VoLTE).

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

Useful link: Read SMARTY's mission statement

Special offers on SMARTY

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