Three vs iD Mobile Review: 5G at no extra cost or Cheap SIM Only Contracts?

Three is the host network of iD Mobile. The network features some of the best unlimited data plans with 5G at no extra cost, while iD Mobile offers cheaper monthly rolling contracts.

three-vs-id-mobile-review-banner

Latest Offer: 6 Months Half Price – Unlimited for £11 a month!

Three Mobile OfferThree is currently offering customers unlimited data with unlimited minutes and texts for only £11 with their 6 months half price deal. This SIM only deal offers great value, being the cheapest unlimited plan available in the UK. On top of this you still get the extra perks of 5G at no extra costs and Go Roam, which lets you roam abroad at destinations such as USA & Australia inclusive in your data plan on top of all EU destinations. This is only a promotional offer so click through to ensure you don’t miss out.

Who is Three overview

three-article-logoIn the UK, Three is one of the four major mobile network operators alongside EE, Vodafone and O2. Three is the youngest network operator out of the four, but this doesn’t mean they’re not competitive. They offer some of the best unlimited data plans in the UK and all their plans -including pay as you go deals- come with 5G at no extra cost.

Three UK launched back in 2003 and they’re mainly known for their competitively priced unlimited data deals. The carrier is also the first mobile network operator to launch a 3G service in the country. Three’s plans come with great perks like Go Roam, 4G Calling, Wi-Fi Calling and 5G at no extra cost, plus the network offers the second best 5G coverage in the UK.

Pro’s

  • Competitively priced large data plans, unlimited data deals.
  • True unlimited plans. No caps or speed restrictions.
  • 5G coverage at no extra cost on all SIM deals.
  • Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling at no extra cost.
  • Best base roaming deal with ‘Go Roam’, 71 destinations.

Con’s

  • Doesn’t offer 2G coverage.
  • Ranked lowest when it comes to 4G coverage among the major networks.
  • No free Wi-Fi hotspots or a decent reward/loyalty programme.

Who is iD Mobile

id-mobile-article-logoiD Mobile is a low-cost mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) powered by Three, but the network belongs to Dixons Carphone. The carrier launched in May 2015 and focuses on 30-day rolling SIM only contract deals. iD Mobile also offers pay as you go deals, which don’t require a credit check, but they offer less value compared to their monthly rolling contracts.

iD Mobile makes a good use of their parent company, Dixons Carphone, by offering wallet-friendly pay monthly phone contracts. They offer decent prices with great extras and gifts. iD Mobile’s contract customers benefit from 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling, but sadly pay as you go customers are excluded. The network also gives a one-off data boost, which is valid for three years, but if you upgrade or downgrade your plan, you lose whatever remains of the boost.

Pro’s

  • Competitively priced, monthly rolling SIM only plans.
  • Monthly data rollover.
  • 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling.
  • One-off data boost, active for three years.

Con’s

  • PAYG deals don’t offer 4G Calling or Wi-Fi Calling.
  • No 5G, at least not yet.
  • No reward programme

Table of Contents

Plans & Pricing

SIM Only Deals

Since iD Mobile piggybacks on Three’s network, and they both offer 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling, we can easily focus on what types of SIM only deals they offer and compare them without having to worry about their coverage and data speeds as they’ll be identical.

Both networks will ask you to undergo a credit check if you want to sign up for their contract offers. In terms of pricing iD Mobile seems like the ideal choice, especially when it comes to low-data plans. You’d have to commit to a 24 month contract with Three to compete with iD Mobile’s 30-day rolling plans, however we think Three’s deals offer way more value. After all you get 5G for free, plus you get the best base international roaming feature in the UK. On top of that Three also has a feature called ‘Go Binge’ which lets you stream content on Netflix, Apple Music and more without burning through your data. Though, it’s only available to contract customers with 12GB of data or more.

Looking at larger data plans, we see that Three takes the lead by a large margin. The host network offers cheaper prices, especially if you choose a long-term contract. Three’s plans are available in 1 month, 12 month or 24 month contracts, and you get better rates if you’re okay with being locked in for a longer period. iD Mobile, as stated above, only offers 30-day contracts.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

three winnerOverall Three is definitely the better choice. However, if you think you won’t need all the extra features Three offers, and you don’t need large amounts of data, we’d recommend iD Mobile.

Pay As You Go

Both Three and iD Mobile offer two types of pay as you go deals to their customers. You can use either network as a classic pay as you go service or pick a PAYG bundle that lasts for 30 days.

We can’t really recommend iD Mobile’s PAYG bundles, because we believe they’re a little overpriced and neither comes with unlimited UK minutes. It could be justified if the network provided 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling to their PAYG customers too, but they’re excluded.

Three’s pay as you go service comes with 5G at no extra cost, 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling, and if you choose a bundle you get unlimited UK calls and texts. Plus the host network offers cheaper prices. You simply get more for paying less.

If you wish to learn more about the network’s PAYG service, we’d recommend reading our Three PAYG Review. If you’re thinking about other alternatives you can also read our best PAYG deals in the UK guide. We like giffgaff’s flexible goodybags and the MVNO also offers a traditional PAYG service. Read our giffgaff Review to learn more!

Half Cooked’s Verdict

three winnerBetter PAYG bundles, better PAYG service, better perks and better prices… Three is the clear winner here.

Pay Monthly Phones

Pay monthly phone deals is where iD Mobile outshines Three. Like we said before, iD Mobile makes sure they offer competitive phone deals thanks to their parent company Dixons Carphone. iD Mobile has a wider range of mobile devices and the network offers significantly better deals than Three. Worst case scenario you’ll get a better SIM plan on iD Mobile, and you’ll pay less per month for the same duration (24 months). Your upfront costs are less too, and some deals don’t even require you to pay an upfront fee.

You can also check out O2’s store, as they offer great flexibility by splitting your airtime bill and phone bill. Read our extensive O2 Review to find out more!

Half Cooked’s Verdict

iD Mobile winnerUnless you need 5G or some of the other extras Three offers, iD Mobile will be the better choice.

Network Coverage & Speeds

3G & 4G Coverage

4G network coverageiD Mobile uses Three as its network provider, this means both mobile operators are offering identical network coverage and data speeds.

In the UK, Three has over 99% population coverage for its 3G & 4G spectrum. The network also covers a decent amount of the UK’s geography, but it’s behind the likes of EE and Vodafone. Three is the only major network without a 2G service, and obviously all the networks tied to Three lack 2G as well.

When we look at the Open Signal’s latest speed test results, we see that Three’s average 4G download speed is measured at 19Mbps and average upload speed seems to be around 6 to 7Mbps. The network’s average download and upload speeds are more than enough to stream full HD videos, listen to music or just surf the web. The network’s latency test results are decent enough to play competitive games. iD Mobile itself wasn’t tested but the network would have identical results.

Make sure to check Three’s coverage map before you make your final decision. Also, if you want to learn more about the best 4G network in the UK, you can always read our extensive EE Review and learn more about what they offer.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

You can’t go wrong with either network, since both Three and iD Mobile offer identical 3G & 4G coverage and there’s nothing differentiating them.

5G Coverage

5gThree offers 5G to all their customers and the service comes at no extra cost. The network also claims to have the fastest 5G data speeds, but this is yet to be proven. However, Three has 140MHz of usable 5G spectrum, while second best in the UK, Vodafone has 50MHz. Currently Three are using 100MHz of it to provide super-fast 5G coverage in the UK and it’s live in 68 cities and towns. But this alone won’t make a network the fastest and there are other key factors that come into play. Regardless, the service is available to all and for free, so a big thumbs up from us.

iD Mobile doesn’t offer any 5G coverage yet, and we don’t know much about their plans. We think the network will provide 5G data speeds to their customers in the near future, but we doubt it will come at no extra cost like Three’s. Given how their pay as you go customers don’t benefit from the network’s special features, we assume they will miss out on 5G too.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

three winnerThree’s 5G is live in 68 cities and towns, second most locations covered in the UK after EE. iD Mobile doesn’t offer 5G yet. Right now, it’s an easy win for Three, but we’ll come back and update this section when iD Mobile offers 5G coverage as well.

Voice Call Quality

id-mobile-voice-call-qualityAt Half Cooked, we rely on independent testing bodies such as Open Signal, umlaut and OOKLA. They have the means to perform extensive tests in the whole country and they produce objective, reliable test results open to the public.

Looking at Open Signal’s latest voice call quality test results we see that Three comes in fourth place among the major operators. The network scored “sufficient” and it’s behind the others mainly because the call setup times were taking significantly longer than those of EE and Vodafone. O2 also seems to outrank Three but only slightly.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

Sharing the same infrastructure, Three and iD Mobile offer identical quality when it comes to voice calls. So, no winner here.

Wi-Fi Calling & 4G Calling

three-4g-wifi-calling4G Calling or Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is a feature that allows voice calls over a carrier’s 4G network using compatible devices. It lets you stay connected to the 4G network during your phone calls, allowing you to continue using 4G data, while making & receiving calls.

Wi-Fi Calling lets you make calls and send text messages over an available Wi-Fi network rather than using the 3G or 4G mobile internet. Wi-Fi calling keeps your device connected, even when you’re not getting any regular phone signals.

To benefit from 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling you’ll need a handset that’s compatible with the features, and be on an eligible plan.

Both Three and iD Mobile offer these two voice call quality improving features. All Three customers can benefit from VoLTE (dubbed as Super-Voice) and Wi-Fi Calling, but it’s not the same on the latter network. Only contract customers are eligible on iD Mobile.

If you’re looking for an alternative MVNO that comes with 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling, you can check out our To The Moon Mobile Review. TTM Mobile offers some other great features too and they’re powered by EE.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

Both Three and iD Mobile offer the same 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling services. We have no tie-breakers here.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

id-mobile-wifi-hotspotsIf you’re looking for exclusive Wi-Fi hotspots, neither Three nor iD Mobile are the right choice for you. Their customers can use O2 WiFi and Sky Mobile’s The Cloud for free, but they won’t get the full benefits. These two services are free for everyone though, so you’re not getting a special deal for being a Three or iD Mobile customer. Having said that, Three customers get free Wi-Fi on the London Underground at over 250 stations thanks to Virgin Mobile.

We know that free Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t the first thing most customers are looking for in a network, but we’d still like to recommend checking out our BT Mobile Review and Virgin Mobile Review. These two networks offer millions of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK. Out of the two, arguably BT Mobile’s free Wi-Fi service is a bit better.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

three winnerThree gets the win here, but not because they offer a great free Wi-Fi deal. Their customers benefit from Virgin’s free Wi-Fi on the London Underground service, while iD Mobile’s don’t.

Tethering

tetheringTethering or more commonly known as using your mobile device as a personal hotspot refers to sharing your mobile internet connection with other compatible devices.

You can tether freely on both Three and iD Mobile. In fact, both networks offer truly unlimited data plans with no fair usage limits or speed restrictions so they’re ideal for tethering. Just be extra careful when you’re tethering as you’ll be going through your data allowance at a much faster rate. If you’re planning to tether on a regular basis, we strongly suggest you to choose a large data tariff or an unlimited data plan.

You can find great unlimited data plans on SMARTY and Superdrug Mobile too. Both networks are powered by Three and they offer some of the cheapest unlimited data plans with great value. Make sure to read our SMARTY Review and Superdrug Mobile Review too!

Half Cooked’s Verdict

Three is famous for its true unlimited data plans. iD Mobile didn’t allow tethering till the end of 2018, but they removed the restriction in 2019. You can’t go wrong with either network and we think it’s a tie, but just keep in mind that Three offers a wider range of price plans.

International Roaming

international roamingThree offers 71 inclusive roaming destinations around the world. The feature is called ‘Go Roam’ and it comes at no extra cost, even available to PAYG customers. Go Roam is the best base roaming deal in the UK by a long shot.

iD Mobile’s inclusive roaming package covers the basic EU zone, and then adds four more destinations to it: Belarus, Macedonia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

The best international roaming deal in the UK comes from Vodafone though, that is of course if you’re willing to pay for their premium service. Vodafone’s Global Roaming feature allows you to use your UK allowances in 81 destinations, but it’s a bit costly. If you want to learn more about this service, make sure to read our Vodafone Review.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

three winnerGo Roam is an amazing international roaming deal. It’s better than what most other networks offer as a premium roaming offer. iD Mobile allows you to use your allowances in 4 more extra destinations, but it can’t compete with Three’s Go Roam.

Features

Three’s Features

Go Roam

three-go-roamThree’s Go Roam allows you to use your UK allowances in 71 destinations across the world. The feature is available to both pay monthly and pay as you go customers and you’re allowed to tether while roaming.

Go Binge

three-go-bingeThree’s pay monthly contracts with 12GB and above data will have unlimited data use on Netflix, Apple Music, Snapchat, Soundcloud, Deezer and TV Player. Just remember, Three isn’t giving you a free subscription. When using these applications you won’t burn through your regular data. Still a great offer.

Unlimited Data Plans

Three’s unlimited data plans come in 1 month, 12 months and 24 months contracts. The network also offers an unlimited data bundle for their PAYG customers. Three’s unlimited plans are great, because there are no speed restrictions or fair usage limits.

TariffData, Minutes & TextsPRICE
Three AdvancedUnlimited £26.00 - 1 month
Three AdvancedUnlimited £24.00 - 12 months
Three AdvancedUnlimited £22.00 - 24 months
Three PAYGUnlimited £30.00

5G at No Extra Cost

three-5gAll Three plans, including pay as you go deals come with 5G coverage at no extra cost. Three also has the most spectrum available for 5G, but we’re yet to see their 5G speed test results.

Existing Customer Offers

Three doesn’t really offer a family/group discount, but you can find discounts here and there when purchasing additional SIMs. However, given how competitive Three’s prices, we’d say keep your expectations low. These offers will save you about £2 a month. On the other hand, given how competitive Three’s prices are, these plans may still work out cheaper at standard pricing than other networks under a family discount. Three also offers student discounts, if you’re a student or soon to become one make sure to check them out too.

iD Mobile’s Features

Data Boost

iD Mobile gives a one-off data boost that’s valid for three years. The data boost can be between 10GB to 100GB, depending on the very first plan you purchase from the network. However, if you upgrade or downgrade your plan, you’ll lose whatever remains of your boost.

Data Rollover

Another great feature iD Mobile offers is the data rollover scheme. The network gives you a second chance to use whatever data you have left from the month before. You’ll always use your rolled over data first.

Unlimited Data Plan

iD Mobile offers a competitively priced unlimited data plan and it comes with 4G Calling & Wi-Fi Calling. There are no speed restrictions or fair usage limits either.

Bill Capping

iD Mobile lets you set a spending limit between £1 and £25 above your monthly allowance and you can change it anytime you want.

Half Cooked’s Verdict

three winneriD Mobile covers the basics well and offers data based features, but the network can’t compare with Three when it comes to extra features. Plus, most features that would be a premium deal on other networks are available to all customers on Three.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

three winnerWe think iD mobile is a great alternative to Three. Specifically, if you’re looking for a pay monthly phone deal with Three’s coverage or 30-day rolling low data plans. However, Three is the better choice in pretty much every other aspect. Great features, wider range of price plans, cheaper deals with long-term contracts and so on!

three-vs-id-mobile-review-banner

Frequently Asked Questions

What network is iD Mobile using?

iD Mobile is powered by the Three Network. The carrier currently offers 3G and 4G coverage using Three’s infrastructure.

Does Three have 5G?

Yes, Three has 5G and it’s available to all their customers at no extra cost. In fact Three has the largest usable 5G spectrum among the mobile network operators in the UK. The network has 140MHz and it’s using 100MHz of it to provide 5G coverage.

Is Three’s 5G the fastest?

Unfortunately, we just don’t have the answer to this question yet. Three claims they offer the fastest 5G data speeds, but we can’t call it the fastest based on their claims alone. We’re eagerly waiting for speed test results from independent testing bodies like Open Signal, OOKLA and umlaut.

Does Three have VoLTE? Does Three have 4G Calling?

Yes, all Three deals including PAYG ones come with 4G Calling (a.k.a. VoLTE).

Are Super-Voice and VoLTE/4G Calling the same?

Yes they are. Three dubbed their 4G Calling service as Super-Voice, but it’s the same service as VoLTE/4G Calling.

Do you get Wi-Fi Calling with Three?

Yes, Three also offers Wi-Fi Calling to all their customers. All you need is a compatible device.

Does iD Mobile have 4G Calling?

Yes, iD Mobile offers 4G calling, but only to their customers who are on a contract.

Does iD Mobile have Wi-Fi Calling?

Yes, however, just like 4G Calling, you need to undergo a credit check and get a contract deal with iD Mobile to benefit from Wi-Fi Calling.

Do I have to go through a credit check to join iD Mobile?

If you want the most wallet-friendly iD Mobile deals, then yes. However, the network also has a pay as you go service and there are no credit checks if you wish to get a payg bundle or a traditional PAYG service.

Does iD Mobile have 5G?

Sadly, no. Currently, iD Mobile doesn’t offer a 5G service.

Does Three have data rollover?

No, Three is the only major network without a data rollover feature.

Is there a mobile app for Three?

Yes and we think it improves the customer experience with the network drastically. We definitely recommend downloading the app and actively using it.

Can I keep my phone number if I switch to iD Mobile or Three?

Yes you can! It’s a simple process. All you have to do is get in contact with your current mobile provider, and get your PAC code from them. Once you receive it, pass it on to your new mobile network operator and they’ll do the rest. Under normal circumstances this process shouldn’t take longer than a day, maximum two. If it takes longer, please contact the customer support.

Who owns iD Mobile?

iD Mobile is a wholly owned subsidiary by Dixons Carphone.

Compare with