In this article we provide a comprehensive review of iD Mobile and SMARTY, two mobile virtual networks that operate using Three’s coverage.
SMARTY is a low-cost mobile virtual network operator powered by Three and they offer multiple great features to their customers, the most outstanding one being “money back on unused data”.
SMARTY offers two types of plans, and they’re both 1-month SIM Only deals that don’t require a credit check or a long term commitment. Regardless of your credit situation, you can simply pay up front for your SMARTY plan and get an active SIM right away. The network also offers a 14-day money back guarantee, so if the service isn’t up to your expectations you can receive a full refund.
Using Three’s network, the carrier also offers some of the best unlimited data deals in the UK. At Half Cooked, we rate SMARTY as one of the top low-cost MVNOs in the UK’s mobile market and a great all-around network. If you’re looking for a well-priced, well rounded SIM Only deal, SMARTY will most likely tick the box.
iD Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator in the UK, using Three as its network provider. The company actually belongs to Dixons Carphone though, so it’s not a Three owned low-cost MVNO.
The carrier launched its services back in May 2015, and has been offering wallet-friendly, 30-day rolling contracts. The network also provides a traditional pay as you go service, as well as PAYG bundles with no credit checks.
You can also find phone contract deals that are priced competitively and the network offers a decent range of handsets to choose from. What makes this network unique compared to most other MVNOs is that iD Mobile’s pay monthly contracts include 4G Calling and Wi-Fi Calling.
Whilst offering these features they also still manage to keep prices competitive. The network also gives you a one-time data boost, which is valid for three years.
Both SMARTY and iD Mobile offer competitive prices. iD Mobile’s low data plans are a bit cheaper than SMARTY’s and they offer somewhat better value. On the other hand SMARTY offers to give money back for your unused data, but the base cost of their data discount plans is £5, so if you’re on a 3GB discount plan, the most you can get back is a little shy of £3.
Things swing in SMARTY’s favour when the amount of data increases though. SMARTY’s unlimited data deal is £5 cheaper than iD Mobile’s. You also get a larger data allowance for 9£, £10 & £15 on SMARTY.
You should also keep in mind, both these networks constantly offer great discounts or more data for their plans so the deals above may change!
We’re giving the win to SMARTY here, but it’s close. For us the tie-breaker here is, anyone can get a SMARTY plan, no credit checks and no contracts. iD Mobile will ask for a credit check.
While both networks are using Three as their provider, only iD Mobile offers a pay as you go service. Technically speaking, since SMARTY’s SIM only plans are all prepaid, we could count them as PAYG deals too, but the network operates more like a SIM Only provider.
You can use iD Mobile as a traditional PAYG service if you wish, or alternatively you can purchase one of the three bundles the carrier offers. You don’t have to undergo a credit check for either option, however iD Mobile requires you to top-up more often than other networks and their PAYG bundles don’t really offer great value.
|All iD Mobile Value Bundles come with unlimited texts.
SMARTY doesn’t offer anything here, meanwhile iD Mobile offers two PAYG alternatives.
There’s almost always a great mobile deal on iD Mobile’s online store, mainly because the company is owned by Dixons Carphone. The network offers flagship phones from Apple to Samsung, as well as mid-tier to low-end devices from manufacturers like Google, Huawei, Honor, Motorola, Oppo, Nokia and many others. The carrier also offers long term phone contracts that offer great value and some of them even come with a 1 year Apple TV+ subscription.
SMARTY doesn’t have any handset contracts at the time of writing.
Unfortunately, iD Mobile doesn’t allow you to split your phone bills and airtime bill, which makes it harder to upgrade your device early. If you want this kind of flexibility we’d recommend checking out O2’s phone deals, and if you want to discover more about the network, our O2 Review is a good read too!
iD Mobile makes good use of its parent company and offers wallet-friendly, high value phone deals. SMARTY doesn’t propose any phone deals though. iD Mobile is the clear winner.
As we stated above, iD Mobile and SMARTY are both running on Three’s network, therefore they offer identical 3G & 4G Coverage. Neither one offers 2G coverage though, as the parent network doesn’t have a 2G infrastructure in the UK.
Three has over 99% population coverage for its 3G & 4G spectrum and the carrier also covers a decent amount of the UK’s geography, however it’s behind both EE and Vodafone. According to Open Signal’s October 2020 speed test results Three’s average 4G download speed is 19Mbps and average upload speed is measured at 6.8Mbps. This means both your download and upload speeds are more than enough to stream 1080p content, listen to music, play video games or just surf the web.
As always, we strongly suggest checking the networks’ coverage maps before signing up. We also recommend checking our EE Review to learn more about the largest mobile network provider in the UK and why they offer the best coverage and fastest download speeds.
Both iD Mobile and SMARTY are running on Three’s network, offering identical coverage.
The host network Three offers a decent 5G service at no extra cost with arguably the best infrastructure in the UK, iD Mobile and SMARTY just don’t offer it yet. SMARTY announced that they will offer 5G soon, but no date was set in stone so we’re still waiting. As for iD Mobile, we’re sure they’ll also follow their host network eventually, but just like in SMARTY’s case, the real question is when?
In the meantime, if you want to enjoy 5G coverage, we recommend checking out our Three Review. The network includes 5G coverage in all their plans for free, and it’s live in 194 cities and towns in the UK at the moment. Three 5G download speeds average around 116Mbps.
Three’s 5G spectrum is the largest in the UK with 140Mhz, this is twice more than Vodafone’s 5G spectrum, while EE and O2 currently offer 40Mhz. However, this alone doesn’t make it the fastest 5G network, but the potential is there once it rolls out across the whole of the UK.
Neither iD Mobile, nor SMARTY offer any 5G service right now. We’ll come back to this section when they launch their 5G services.
When it comes to voice call quality, we don’t have the means to do proper testing that covers the whole UK, but thankfully independent testing bodies like Open Signal, umlaut and OOKLA do. We rely on their test results in terms of voice call quality.
Looking at Open Signal’s latest test results, we see that Three scored ‘sufficient’ and the carrier is in the last place among the four major network operators. The call setup times were significantly longer than those of EE and Vodafone, and not as good as O2’s. Open Signal also states that Three’s voice calls are less clear, especially compared to EE and Vodafone. iD Mobile and SMARTY weren’t specifically tested, but their results would be identical to Three’s.
Since they’re both running on Three’s network, the voice call quality for iD Mobile and SMARTY are identical. This is of course without including 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling.
These two features are quite important and they significantly improve your overall voice call quality. In fact, they’re so important that we have a whole section for them.
4G Calling (also known as VoLTE or Super-Voice to Three customers) is a service, which eliminates indoor blackspots, allowing you to make higher definition voice calls over a 4G network.
Wi-Fi Calling keeps your smartphone connected by utilising an available Wi-Fi connection. Thanks to Wi-Fi Calling you can stay connected, even when you don’t get any regular phone signal. The catch is your device must be compatible with these features, and your plan must include them.
iD Mobile’s pay monthly contract customers can enjoy the benefits of both 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling at no extra cost. SMARTY doesn’t offer 4G Calling, but the network now has Wi-Fi Calling at no extra cost. We expect SMARTY to offer 4G Calling soon and when they do we’ll update this section.
If you want a flexible 30-day rolling deal with 4G Calling you can also check out To The Moon Mobile’s deals. They’re a new MVNO using EE as their network provider. Read our To The Moon Mobile Review to learn everything you need to know about their offers.
Since SMARTY doesn’t support 4G Calling yet, we’re giving the win to iD Mobile. iD Mobile is one of the very few MVNOs to offer both these two features.
This is yet another area where both iD Mobile and SMARTY don’t offer much. Neither network provides a specific free Wi-Fi deal. You can use O2’s free Wi-Fi hotspots or Sky Mobile’s The Cloud for free, but then again they’re free to all.
We can recommend BT Mobile & Virgin Mobile for those of you looking for free Wi-Fi across the UK. Both networks are offering millions of hotspots exclusive to their customers. You can also read our BT Mobile Review and Virgin Mobile Review to discover more.
We have another tie on our hands. Neither network offers free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Tethering or using your mobile device as a personal hotspot refers to sharing your mobile internet connection with other compatible devices such as other smartphones, laptops, video gaming consoles etc.
Both iD Mobile and SMARTY allow you to tether freely, although SMARTY’s unlimited data plan has a fair usage limit of 1000GB. iD Mobile doesn’t set a limit or restriction, but they’re not too keen on their customers tethering and they’re right. Tethering can use up a lot of data in a short amount of time and it might end up costly. You should be careful when tethering and always check how much data you have left and don’t forget to turn tethering off once you’re done.
This is yet another very close race, but iD Mobile deserves the win. iD Mobile doesn’t have a fair usage policy, while SMARTY does. Like we said, it’s a very close race, you can’t go wrong with either.
Both iD Mobile and SMARTY allow you to use your UK allowances in the EU at no extra cost. Having said that, SMARTY tariffs with more than 20GB of data are subject to fair usage. EU roaming is capped at a maximum of 20GB/month for SMARTY customers.
iD Mobile allows you to roam in four more destinations outside the EU: Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
iD Mobile’s fair usage policy works in a different way. If you’re roaming more than you use your phone in the UK over a 4-month period, the carrier might think you’re misusing their inclusive EU roaming feature. First they’ll send a warning message and they’ll ask for any proof of you having strong ties to the UK and if you continue to use your plan in the EU more than you do in the UK, surcharges will apply.
Both networks are offering the basic inclusive EU roaming, but iD Mobile also adds four more destinations to the list. Also, their fair usage policy is more customer-friendly.
One of the best things about signing up for an iD Mobile contract is the data boost feature. It’s a one-off perk that’s valid for three years. The amount of extra data you get depends on which plan you initially purchased. It can be between 10GB to 100GB. Unfortunately, if you upgrade or downgrade your plan, you’ll lose whatever remains of your boost.
iD Mobile gives you a second chance to use your leftover data, provided you continue using their service of course. Not many networks offer a data rollover feature, and it’s rare for a network to offer data rollover for their monthly rolling plans.
iD Mobile offers one of the most competitively priced unlimited data deals in the UK and quite often there’s a significant discount for this plan. You can tether freely, there are no fair usage limits nor any speed restrictions. It’s a true unlimited plan.
The network allows you to limit your monthly spend to a specific amount. You’re given the option to choose between £1 and £25 above your monthly allowance, but you can change it anytime you want.
SMARTY’s data rollover feature is quite unique and we love it. All data discount plans come with a “money back” feature. The carrier calculates your usage out of your current plan and then deducts it from your very next bill.
Anyone can get a SMARTY SIM and start using it right away. The carrier works on a prepaid basis, therefore all you have to do is purchase the plan you fancy, that’s all. No credit checks, no contracts with SMARTY.
SMARTY offers one of the cheapest unlimited data plans in the UK, plus there are no speed restrictions so you always get the fastest available download speeds. However, SMARTY has a fair usage limit, capped at 1000GB/month.
SMARTY allows you to set a spending cap. This way there won’t be any nasty bills waiting for you at the end of a month. Thanks to this feature SMARTY customers have full control over their phone bills.
When it comes to family mobile plans SMARTY’s group plans let you and your loved ones save 10% on your bill. Each member can pick their own unique plan and you can have up to a total of 8 SIMs under one account and you’ll all be saving 10% on every SIM!
If you bring a friend to SMARTY via your unique referral link you’ll get a free month of your regular plan and so will your friend. Plus there’s no limit for this feature, so if you refer 12 friends, then you get a whole year free on SMARTY.
We can’t deny that iD Mobile offers some awesome features, but SMARTY definitely tops this category as a whole. The network offers more extras and features and every single one of them adds great value to their price plans.
Both carriers are running on Three’s network. iD Mobile’s network coverage is a bit better thanks to 4G Calling, but overall we rate SMARTY a bit higher. No credit checks, great prices, many extra features with the money back feature tipping the scale in SMARTY’s favor.
iD Mobile is using Three’s network. At the moment, the carrier only offers 3G & 4G Coverage though.
SMARTY is powered by Three. It’s Three’s low-cost mobile virtual network with super competitive prices.
iD Mobile is owned by Dixons Carphone. The network is a wholly owned subsidiary. iD Mobile launched on 12 May 2015 and it’s been operating since.
At the moment no, but SMARTY might offer 5G before 2020 ends. The network announced that 5G is coming and they’re aiming to launch it this year.
No, currently iD Mobile doesn’t offer any 5G services. The network will provide 5G coverage in the future, but we can’t estimate when.
SMARTY offers Wi-Fi Calling as of November 2020.
According to SMARTY’s website no, but a lot of people on the internet seem to be able to utilize VolTE on their SMARTY SIMs. We’ll update this part, when the network makes an official announcement about the service.
Yes, these two voice call quality improving features have been a key selling point for iD Mobile for a while now. The network offers them both.