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SMARTY review 2024: faster speeds & better 4G/5G coverage

SMARTY logo with a mobile SIM cardVisit SMARTY.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 use the latest testing data and our experience as a real-life SMARTY customer to run the rule on whether SMARTY are any good. Last updated: 15th September 2023.

Overall rating

SIM Sherpa rates SMARTY's overall package as excellent
 (4/5, excellent)

“We’ve tested SMARTY a couple of times in the last few years and this most recent test has seen a big improvement in their 4G coverage and we’ve found their 5G in the right places can be unbeatably fast.

Add in the fact you’ve got WiFi calling and 4G calling to help boost call signal and we’re starting to wonder why you’d join their parent company Three instead. There’s certainly no speed disadvantage on SMARTY.

And SMARTY aren’t even that no-frills. You get EU roaming included as standard and families/friends can pocket discounts on already cheap plans with SMARTY’s excellent Group Plans.

It’s not perfect. Rural coverage can be lacking. Customer service is all online. But the flexibility, the low prices, the lack of a credit credit check make SMARTY incredibly popular. We’re still using them ourselves!”

The 3 best bits

1) 4G & 5G have both got better
2) WiFi calling and VoLTE
3) Cheap prices and flexibility

The 3 worst bits

1) Patchy rural coverage
2) No phone-based customer service
3) Roaming pain to set up

Which network is SMARTY on?

SMARTY uses the Three network for 3G, 4G and 5G.

Is SMARTY owned by Three?

Yes but they're run as a separate sub-brand.

Can I keep my number on SMARTY?

Yes. Text the word PAC to your old provider using your old SIM to 65075 and give the PAC code to SMARTY in your online account.

Does SMARTY allow WiFi calling?

Yes. SMARTY now offer WiFi calling on all their plans. Most modern phones are supported.

Does SMARTY offer 5G?

Yes. All SMARTY plans are sold with 5G at no extra cost. It also works for all existing customers.

How do I cancel my SMARTY plan?

Simply set your plan not to renew in your online account, at any time up to the day before it normally renews.

Can I use a SMARTY SIM in a MiFi broadband device?

Yes. There are no restrictions on putting SMARTY SIMs in mobile broadband dongles, WiFi devices, tablets or iPads.

Does SMARTY allow tethering?

Yes. You can use anything up to your entire data allowance in the UK for tethering.

Does SMARTY support eSIM?

No, you can only get a traditional paper SIM card from SMARTY.

Can I use a SMARTY SIM in a Three phone?

Yes you can.

How long does it take to activate a SMARTY SIM?

In our experience it took literally a couple of minutes. But every network cautiously say it can take up to 24 hours.s

Does SMARTY have a fair usage policy?

In the UK, SMARTY's only fair usage policy is that you're using the SIM for personal (not commercial usage). While roaming, there are monthly caps on how much data you can use.

Is SMARTY owned by EE?

No. SMARTY are owned by Three.

Can you cancel SMARTY anytime?

Yes. If you've previously set your plan to auto-renew, turn that off and you're free to leave for another network.

What happens if you run out of data on SMARTY?

You will no longer be able to connect to data and you will not be charged extra. You can then manually buy a data add-on to re-activate internet on your SIM.

Information symbol We're a professional reviews website but we bought our SMARTY SIM card as a regular consumer, to test what it's actually like for real life paying customers. The contents of this review are a combination of our expert industry knowledge and what we experienced during our test.

SMARTY's mobile network

Coverage on SMARTY has got noticeably better

Screenshot of SMARTY's coverage checker map

We found their map honest and accurateCheck in your area

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

SMARTY were set up as a sub-brand of Three, so they share their parent company’s 4G/5G network. You get identical coverage between the two. We’ve found no disadvantage for being on SMARTY vs Three.

4G data coverage (see 5G below) has historically been a weakness in rural areas for SMARTY but we’re pleased our latest tests have found much-improved signal, thanks to Three’s massive network investments.

It’s impossible to test signal in every inch of the UK, but we did some spot checks in different locations near us. We tested to see if their signal lines up with their coverage map and if it’s the same as Three’s.

We loaded a Three SIM in one and a SMARTY SIM into two separate but identical test phones and went out to test coverage.

In every place we tested we got almost identical signal bars between the two networks. There was a little fluctuation but never in either’s favour. We got 5G and 4G in the same areas on SMARTY and Three.

What we found lined up well with what their coverage map showed. And they’re also totally honest with the location of blackspots which is good considering there are a fair few out in the countryside.

If you’ve previously ruled out joining a network on Three, now’s the time to re-check their coverage in your area. You can still find patchy areas in the countryside but they’ve come on leaps and bounds elsewhere.

For calls, it’s a similar story. We can’t fault them in most places, though indoor signal can be an issue if you’ve not got 4G calling on your phone. There are more rural call blackspots than other networks too.

Useful link: Check SMARTY coverage near you now

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

4th place
(out of 4 network operators)

Not as good as:
EE, O2, Vodafone
(and providers that use them)

Same as:
Three, iD Mobile

4G data speeds are reliably fast in our experience

Maximum data speed lettering

They estimate max speeds for 3G/4G/5GSee latest speeds

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

We have never found any built-in speed differences when testing out a Three vs a SMARTY SIM side-by-side. So, you get all the benefits of Three’s £2 billion network investment on SMARTY.

The results of this network improvement are plain to see when looking at 4G speed results from independent network testers Opensignal. They measured typical 4G speeds of 35.4 Mbps (see 5G here).

Just like we can’t test every inch of the UK for coverage, we can’t do speed tests everywhere. But, we checked speeds on SMARTY vs Three directly in the same urban and rural locations.

We found no built-in speed differences in our tests. Speeds weren’t always exactly the same between them, but that’s to be expected when testing two SIMs of the same network against each other.

In the suburbs we got our lowest result of 7 Mbps, while we got as high as 40 Mbps over 4G in a rural area where there was no signal congestion. In the city centre we got speeds as high as 70 Mbps.

SMARTY’s 3G speeds are also pretty decent. We got up to 12 Mbps over 3G, which is faster than their slowest 4G speeds. But for the most part we got around 4 Mbps over 3G.

That's like decent fibre-to-the-cabinet home broadband and easily lets you stream HD videos. The result puts SMARTY in second place (alongside Three) for data speeds in the UK.

In our tests we tended to stay around the 25 - 30 Mbps mark more consistently on SMARTY than on other networks. Speeds can be faster or slower than that, but rarely do you go hugely above or below that.

Useful link: SMARTY's promise not to slow you down

Our 4G speed rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)

Joint 2nd

Not as good as:
(and providers that use them)

Better than:
O2, Vodafone
(and providers that use them)

5G speeds on SMARTY can be really impressive


Superfast 5G included on every dealWhat to expect...

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

5G is probably the area where SMARTY benefit most from being on Three’s network. Speed results from Speedtest and Opensignal show that other networks can’t even touch them for 5G.

Both testers’ latest reports show typical 5G speeds between 237.7 Mbps - 286.27 Mbps on SMARTY’s host network. And peak speeds can get up to 696.73 Mbps, which is over twice as fast as the next fastest network.

Like on all networks, our real-life testing of SMARTY’s 5G produces varying results. Sometimes, you’ll be on 5G and see absolutely no advantage over 4G. Other times, the 5G speed advantage is staggering.

SMARTY have 5G live in 484+ UK towns and cities. It’s not the biggest number of locations, but it’s still huge and it means you’re likely to get 5G near you. And coverage in those locations tends to be strong.

Useful link: Our rankings of the best 5G networks

Our speed rating:
★★★★★ (Joint best choice)

Joint 1st

Same as:
Three, EE
(and providers that use them)

Better than:
All others

WiFi calling is excellent and works really well

SMARTY WiFi calling banner

Comes on all plans at no added costRead blog entry

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

SMARTY’s 3G call signal is broadcast on high-range frequencies that aren’t great at getting into buildings, so indoor blackspots can be an issue. However, SMARTY have a way around this:

They now provide both WiFi calling and 4G calling on every plan. These features let your phone connect to calls and texts over WiFi or 4G signal where regular 3G call signal is weak.

We tested SMARTY’s WiFi calling and found it works identical to Three’s. Some users have claimed their devices weren’t compatible, so look at SMARTY’s list of supported phones here to make sure.

The test phone we used wasn’t listed but worked just fine. We think WiFi calling is basically a must-have on mobile networks nowadays (see all that do have it here), so it’s fantastic that SMARTY offer it.

Useful link: SMARTY's WiFi calling help section

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)


Not as good as:
Three, 1pMobile, EE

Better than:
All others

WiFi hotspots are handy but not many other network features

SMARTY logo and tethering symbol

No limits on tethering to other devicesRead what's allowed

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

We’ll now go over all the extra network features you get on SMARTY. They have a nice WiFi hotspot scheme that lets you stay connected to WiFi on the Underground. It’s the same as Three’s great scheme.

You can tether other devices to your data signal on SMARTY (essentially turning your phone into a personal hotspot). And SMARTY don’t limit how much of your allowance you can use for tethering in the UK.

SMARTY also include call forwarding. This is a feature that diverts incoming calls to another UK phone number. They have a handy guide for setting it up which you can read here.

But visual voicemail is not supported on SMARTY, which usually lets you sort through your voicemails one by one. And you can’t take an eSIM on SMARTY either, which is something you can do on Three.

Useful link: SMARTY's network feature FAQs

SMARTY’s added benefits

EU roaming is a brilliant benefit people will appreciate

SMARTY no roaming

You have to manually turn it onHow to activate it

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

Unlike the many other UK networks that have removed inclusive EU roaming from their plans, SMARTY still let you use your unlimited calls and texts to UK and EU numbers in these EU destinations.

You can use up to 12GB of your allowance each month while abroad. If you hit that limit you’ll have to pay for extra data. Thankfully, SMARTY’s extra data add-ons are the cheapest of all networks.

We ran into issues very quickly with SMARTY’s roaming, as we landed in the EU only to realise that roaming has to be turned on manually on SMARTY. To do so you’ll have to follow their guide here.

Our SMARTY SIM connected right away to 4G while abroad, but you can’t connect to 5G abroad. We don’t see it as a huge loss, but you won’t be able to get the fastest speeds possible while roaming.

We rarely lost 4G while abroad, so we were able to read maps, online reviews and social media without much slow down. In all, SMARTY offer a great inclusive roaming scheme with good signal while you’re there.

SMARTY don’t offer inclusive roaming beyond the EU and we wouldn’t expect them to. But you will have to pay at these rates. Calls can work out at decent value, but data gets to around £100 per GB in the USA!

It’s important to remember you have to turn on roaming manually before taking your SMARTY SIM abroad. Use their guide here to do it. It’s an annoying downside to an overall good EU roaming scheme.

Useful link: SMARTY's guide to roaming on their network

Our rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

Joint 3rd
(out of 18 providers)

Worse than:
Lebara, O2

Better than:
All others

Families and groups can make some really nice savings

SMARTY Group plans banner

10% off up to 7 additional plansSee Group Plans

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

If you want to take out a SIM only plan for your kids or other family members, SMARTY are an excellent choice. In our eyes they have the best family plan scheme of all networks in terms of sheer value.

With SMARTY’s group plans you can add up to 7 extra SIMs onto your existing SMARTY account, with each added SIM getting 10% off the original cost. That’s 10% off already great value deals.

Each user can choose their own plan and you can add new plans whenever. And there’s the added convenience of managing your SIMs in one place, making it easier to set parental controls and manage extra spending.

The main potential downside is that you pay for each deal on the day you took it out, instead of all your plans being paid on the same date. But other than that, SMARTY’s family plan scheme is genuinely fantastic.

Useful link: Full details on SMARTY's Group Plans

Our rating:
★★★★☆ (excellent)


Not as good as:

Better than:
All others

You also get a few other handy benefits on SMARTY

No annual price rise on SMARTY banner

No price increases while you’re on themSee their guide

from SMARTY's help section
(opens in new window)

We’ll now go over the rest of the benefits of joining SMARTY. The first is that they won’t increase your plan’s cost while you’re with them. Lots of networks increase your bill with RPI (inflation), but not SMARTY.

SMARTY’s deals naturally have spending caps on them. If you want to use any features that would cost extra, you must first to top up with credit or buy an add-on. If you don’t, you can’t accidentally overspend.

You also don’t have to pass a credit check on SMARTY as you pay for your allowance up front rather than joining on a contract. That also means you’re free to leave without giving notice by not renewing your plan.

A few of SMARTY’s plans have a special data discount benefit, giving you back the value of your unused data as a discount off your next month’s deal. But these are worse value than SMARTY’s other plans anyway.

Useful link: Why are SMARTY so cheap?

Our data rollover rating:
★★★☆☆ (good)

(out of 14 providers)

Other networks do have some stuff that SMARTY don’t

VOXI Endless Video banner

Unlimited streaming data on VOXIRead full details

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

It’s important to know what you don’t get with SMARTY as well, as that’s the only way you can know if they’re right for you. SMARTY don’t offer any free streaming data unlike VOXI’s Unlimited Video and Social Media.

As we said above, SMARTY don’t offer any inclusive worldwide roaming. And while they do have those data discounted plans we spoke about, they don’t have a true data rollover scheme where you hold onto unused data.

They don’t have a rewards app like O2’s Priority, Vodafone’s VeryMe or the Three+ app. And there’s no free trials or subscriptions to any entertainment services or other apps.

It’s just not how SMARTY are set up. They’re a cheap, low-frills option and are able to offer such low costs by keeping premium benefits out of their plans.

Useful link: SMARTY vs VOXI guide

SMARTY Mobile deals and plans

What type of deal are you interested in?

Choose an option to skip to the right section:

Special offers running on SMARTY

Here are the latest promotions available with SMARTY today.

SIM only plans from SMARTY

Use our price comparison tool further below to find the right deal

Key facts about SMARTY's SIM only plans

Find a SIM only plan

We've pre-filtered these results for SMARTY's deals



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Sort arrows Sort by lowest: Monthly cost | Upfront costTotal contract cost

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Phone contracts

Refurbished devices with a third partyHow it works

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

SMARTY only sell SIM only deals. They don’t offer any phone contracts directly. They did say they were going to introduce some, but that was way back in 2019. So we imagine that’s not going to change any time soon.

But, as an existing SMARTY SIM only customer you can get £50 off the cost of a refurbished phone via a third party called reboxed. But these aren’t on contracts, you have to pay the whole cost of the phone outright.

If you want a phone contract while on Three’s network you can either join on iD’s range of low-cost phone deals here or join Three themselves.

You can compare phone deals on all networks using our comparison tool here. This lets you find the best deal on the phone model you want. Follow the link below to try it out:

Useful link: Use our phone contract comparison tool

Pay As You Go: SMARTY aren’t a good choice for this

1pMobile logo1p Mobile tariff banner

1pMobile have the lowest UK tariffsGet a SIM card

at 1pMobile
(opens in new window)

Few networks still let you top up a SIM with credit and pay as you go for your mins, texts and data. But you can’t do this on SMARTY. Instead you take a new bundle each month to keep your SIM active with them.

If you only use your phone for a few calls or texts now and again, SMARTY aren’t a great choice. Instead, we’d look at 1pMobile who offer rates of 1p per min, text and MB data (read full details here).

Three’s rates are now 35p per min, 15p per text and 10p per MB, so they’re really not worth joining on Pay As You Go. But there aren’t any better options if you want to pay as you go on Three’s network.

But if you’re a frequent phone user, then you might find you’d spend less on a SMARTY SIM only deal than constantly topping up and paying for your usage. But infrequent users will be better on these networks.

Useful link: Read our 1p Mobile review

Mobile broadband: SMARTY’s regular SIMs are best for this

SMARTY's data SIM banner

Better value on their regular dealsCompare current plans

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

If you want a SIM to use in a mobile WiFi device / dongle or a tablet, it’s good to know that you can use any of SMARTY’s regular phone SIMs for this. They don’t restrict which devices you can use their SIMs with.

SMARTY have some of the best value data-only SIMs (entirely separate from their regular range) when you compare them to similar products on other networks.

But considering SMARTY already offer such great prices on their phone SIMs and you can use these in other devices, it’s worth comparing their regular SIMs to their data-only SIMs on price.

That’s because SMARTY tend to offer better promotions on their regular SIMs than their data-only ones. If you keep looking you’ll find a regular SIM that’s cheaper per GB, even if you’ll never use the mins or texts.

Useful link: See SMARTY's full range of mobile broadband SIMs

SMARTY Mobile customer service

Online chat is good but everything else is lacking

Screenshot of conversation with a SMARTY customer service representative

Get help from real people onlineHow to get help

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

SMARTY have to cut back on a lot of things in order to offer their low prices, and over-the-phone service is one such thing. You’ll need to use their online chat to get help, but it’s not always very responsive.

When we’ve recently tried to get help we were put through to an agent quite quickly. However, this will depend on the time of day and we’ve also had experiences where they didn’t get back to us for a long time.

SMARTY seem to have improved their online chat customer service since our last experience. You do have to go through an automated options menu, but if you can’t get help this way you’ll be put through to a real person.

We were put in touch with an agent within a few minutes. Once you get through there is a bit of back and forth before they actually answer your question, which can take a while. But they did help resolve our issue.

In all, we’d say their chat agent isn’t quite as slick as some other networks. But it’s usually a good enough way of getting your issue resolved.

You can get in touch with their chat agent using SMARTY’s app too. Or if you’re tech savvy you can use your online account and their self-help resources here to get to the bottom of your issue yourself.

While SMARTY’s customer service is reliable, they don’t offer as many ways to get help as other networks do. In all, you are getting an overall inferior customer service experience in exchange for lower costs.

Useful link: Best networks for customer service

Our customer service rating:
★★☆☆☆ (average)

(out of 19 providers)

Better than:
giffgaff, VOXI

Other SMARTY guides

Best network rankings by feature