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Three 5G Review 2021 – Fastest 5G In the UK

Three offers 5G at no extra cost on all their plans, and their 5G service is the fastest in the UK. Read on to learn why Three 5G trumps the rest.


Three is the leading 5G network in the UK. Three 5G is quite fast; and on top of that their service is available in 194 cities and towns, meaning Three offers the most 5G coverage in the country.

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All four main UK mobile network operators are offering 5G and their MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) are catching up with them slowly. However, Three are objectively the leading network when it comes to 5G. They may have joined the party last, but they’re definitely the fastest improving 5G network at the moment.

The best thing about Three 5G is it’s available to all Three customers at no extra cost. Yes, this includes their traditional PAYG customers too. For comparison, networks like EE and Vodafone make their 5G service available only on selected premium plans. O2 offers 5G at no additional cost, but only to their pay monthly customers. Three’s prices are already super competitive, you pay no additional fees for 5G and it’s the most available 5G service in the UK.

For all we know things may change in the near future, but at the moment Three is objectively the best 5G UK network. Keep in mind that in order to enjoy 5G speeds you’ll need a 5G ready phone and also be in an area with 5G coverage. You can also access Three 5G by using Three’s 5G home broadband service.

In this article, we’ll be covering Three’s 5G coverage and data speeds, price plans and other features that come with their tariffs.

Network Coverage & Data Speeds

Three 5G is live and available in 194 cities and towns across the UK and the number is constantly increasing. The network is also expanding its 5G coverage in each of these locations too. You can check Three’s 5G coverage map to find out if your area has 5G. At this moment, Three has the most 5G coverage in the UK.

5G Download Speeds

According to Opensignal’s 5G download speed analysis performed in April 2021, Three is the third fastest 5G network in the UK. Three’s 5G download speeds are around 116Mbps, and their 5G upload speeds are around 12.7Mbps. This is pretty fast and more than enough to stream 4K videos on multiple devices, while also doing other data heavy activities.

Three has the most usable 5G spectrum with 140Mhz, which is an important factor in providing stable 5G connection as well as fast data speeds, even during prime periods.

We strongly suggest opting for a Three Unlimited Data plan though, if your area has 5G coverage. Faster download speeds usually lead to using a lot more mobile data. Since Three’s 5G network is about 5 times faster than their 4G network on average, you should expect to use a lot more data than you normally do. Alternatively, you can opt for a Three 5G Home Broadband deal and enjoy superfast 5G download speeds as your broadband service.

4G & 3G Coverage

Three is the only UK operator without a 2G network. Under normal circumstances, you should be fine as 4G and 3G are newer and better technologies, but if you’re using a 2G-only handset it won’t work with a Three SIM. 2G is also a fall back option for voice calls on other operators, but it’s not a must have in 2021.

The network provides over 99% population coverage for 4G & 3G, but the same applies for other major operators. Three has the worst 4G availability with 84% in regards to geographical coverage. Three’s indoor coverage is also weaker compared to O2, Vodafone and EE. Having said that, your indoor and outdoor coverage heavily relies on how close you are to a network mast rather than other factors.

Per Opensignal’s April 2021 network speed test results, Three offers the third fastest 4G download speeds in the UK at the moment. Three’s 4G download and upload speeds are around 19Mbps and their upload speeds are around 7Mbps. Their consistency score is only above O2.

For comparison; EE are the fastest 4G network in the UK, they have the most 4G coverage and they have the highest 4G consistency score. EE’s average 4G download speeds are around 39Mbps and their upload speeds average around 9.1Mbps. You can read our detailed Three vs EE article to see how these two networks compare. Alternatively, you can read our EE Review to learn more about the network.

Plans and Pricing

Three covers all contract terms, offering 1-month, 12-month and 24-month contracts. The mobile carrier also offers a traditional PAYG service that requires no credit checks as well as pay as you go packs.

Pay Monthly Plans

These are Three’s contract deals, meaning you’ll have to undergo a credit check first. You have three different options to choose from in terms of contract length. Three’s SIM only deals offer great value, they’re packed with great features as well as 5G at no extra cost as mentioned earlier.

When you sign up for a Three pay monthly plan, you also get 4G Calling, Wi-Fi Calling, Three Go Roam which lets you roam freely in 71 destinations across the world, as well as unlimited UK minutes and texts. Three’s unlimited data plans are the cheapest on the market if you use Half Cooked’s special discount. These are truly unlimited data plans, there are no fair usage limits or speed restrictions. You’ll always get the fastest data speeds available and there are no secret data caps. On top of that, you can tether to as many devices as you want, provided you’re not using your unlimited data plan for commercial purposes. In that case we recommend checking out Three’s business SIM deals.

If you’re an existing Three customer, you can enjoy discounts of up to £2 a month when you grab an additional SIM for a family member or a friend.

1 Month Plans
Three Advanced4GB£16.00
Three Advanced12GB£19.00
Three Advanced30GB£24.00
Three AdvancedUnlimited£26.00
12 Month Plans
Three Advanced1GB£6.00
Three Advanced4GB£10.00
Three Advanced8GB£11.00
Three Advanced12GB£8.00 (Half Cooked Deal)
Three Advanced30GB£15.00
Three AdvancedUnlimited£16.00 (Half Cooked Deal)
24 Month Plans
Three Advanced1GB£5.00
Three Advanced4GB£9.00
Three Advanced8GB£10.00
Three Advanced12GB£12.00
Three Advanced30GB£14.00
Three AdvancedUnlimited£10.00 6 Months - £20 from month 7
All Three pay monthly plans come with unlimited minutes & texts.

Pay As You Go

Three offers two different pay as you go services. You can use your credits without a data pack, in which case you’ll be paying 10p per minute, 10p per text message (SMS), and 5p per every MB you spend. Picture messages (MMS) and video messages are priced at 40p. Calling a special rate number will cost you 45p/minute + the service charge from the company you’re calling.

To keep your Three SIM card active, you must top-up at least once every six months. The minimum acceptable top-up amount is £5 through Three’s official website or via their app. We don’t recommend Three’s old school pay as you go service with 5G though, as it’s not really wallet-friendly and definitely not suited for light mobile data users.

Three Data Packs

There are four different Three Data Packs to choose from and they all come with unlimited UK minutes & texts, as well as 5G at no extra cost. There is even an unlimited data pack priced at £30 a month.

You can purchase a Three Data Pack using credit you’ve topped up. Each data pack lasts for 30 calendar days. Three doesn’t have a data rollover scheme, so your unused data will just expire.

Three's Data Packs
Minutes & TextsDataPrice

Pay Monthly Phones

If you don’t own a 5G ready handset, or looking for a brand new 5G smartphone Three’s got you covered. The network is offering 5G ready devices and you can bundle them with a Three pay monthly SIM tariff. Plus you can separate your airtime bill and phone bill, which makes things a little easier.

Three offers mobile phone contracts on flagship iPhones and Samsung devices with 5G. Their phone contracts are generally cheaper than the other major networks, those being EE, Vodafone and O2.

We recommend checking out these 5G devices on Three: iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S10. Devices listed below can be purchased through Three and support 5G.

  • Apple iPhone 12
  • Apple iPhone 12 mini
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Huawei Mate Xs
  • Huawei P40 Lite 5G
  • Huawei P40 Pro
  • OnePlus 8
  • OnePlus 8 Pro/li>
  • OnePlus Nord
  • Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G
  • TCL 10 5G
  • Xiaomi Mi 10 5G
  • Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

Three are objectively the best 5G network in the UK. They have the most spectrum, the most coverage, the fastest download and upload speeds and they make 5G available to all their customers at no extra cost. On top of that, their SIM only deals are much cheaper than their competitors. If that’s not enough you get many premium features bundled with their SIMs.

Their unlimited data plans are also truly unlimited and there are no speed restrictions or tethering limitations either.


Does Three Super-Voice (VoLTE) work with 5G?

No, Three Super-Voice only works with 4G for the time being. It may change in the future.

Does Three PAYG have 5G?

Yes, all Three plans have 5G, even their traditional pay as you go service comes with 5G at no extra cost.

Is Three the fastest 5G network?

Yes, Three is the fastest 5G network in the UK. They also have the most 5G coverage and have the most 5G spectrum.

Do I need a 5G phone to get 5G download speeds?

Yes, you’ll always need a 5G ready handset in order to enjoy super-fast 5G data speeds. There’s no other way around it, unless you pick a 5G hub from Three. Even then, you’ll need a device that can make use of 5G.

Do I have to pay for Three 5G?

No, Three 5G is available to all Three customers at no additional cost.