Three have 99.8% 4G coverage with data speeds second only to EE. With inclusive roaming in more destinations worldwide than any other network and unlimited streaming on popular apps such as Netflix and Apple Music, Three not only gets the basics right but also leads the way with a number of unique perks in the market. The Three network is the smallest out of the big 4 operators in terms of the number of customers they have but they rank among the top in terms of their product offerings and with their incredibly competitive price point half cooked gives Three a ranking of 4.5/5.
- Inclusive Roaming of 71 destinations worldwide
- Unlimited streaming data on apps such as Netflix and unlimited Snapchat use
- Easy to use Wi-Fi calling 99% 4G coverage and fast speeds
- No data rollover is available
- Limited Wi-Fi hotspots
- No free subscription services
- Money off your bill for any unused data
- No credit check SIM product
- Free month for referring customers
- Competitive prices
- Data plans limited to 8GB.
- Webchat only customer service.
- No free entertainment packages or Wi-Fi Calling.
Network Coverage & SpeedsSimilar to iD Mobile, SMARTY runs on the three network. However, SMARTY is owned by Three itself. This is similar in the way giffgaff is owned by O2. As a result, whether you are using the 3G or 4G network you will get identical coverage with a SMARTY or Three SIM. Three’s has rolled out its networks across the majority of the UK with population coverage of 99.8% and 98% for 4G and 3G respectively. The same can be said of data speeds. Per P3 comms data Three’s average download speed on 4G is 23 MB/s, second only to EE who has an average download speed of around 30MB/s. As a SMARTY customer, you will get identical data speeds on a SMARTY SIM.
Voice Call QualityThree’s 3G & 4G coverage reaches around 99% of the UK population. Three is also constantly rolling out additional spectrum, working to cover the entire population. Although Three doesn’t have a 2G network, this isn’t a problem due to the extent of their roll out of both 3G & 4G. You can expect excellent voice call quality with their 4G Super-Voice (VoLTE) that reaches rural areas and which also ensures clarity when inside. With SMARTY you get unlimited voice minutes on all your plans & running on the Three network you get good voice call quality. If we look at P3 Communications 2018 testing, Three was marginally behind Vodafone & EE due to slightly longer call set up times. Regardless, you won’t have a problem making a call on either Three or SMARTY’s network.
TetheringThree allows tethering on its pay monthly & SIM only Advanced Plans which represent the majority of its SIM & Phone contracts. But for customers looking for the best value plans (Three’s Essential Plans), benefiting from certain discounts means a few less perks, one being no tethering. PAYG customers can enjoy the service if they have an add-on plan or make a cash to credit conversion which costs around 1p/MB. Three also allows tethering abroad on the Advanced Pay Monthly plan for Go Roam destinations but it is only available to unlimited data plan customers & is subject to a fair usage limit. Keeping to their promise, SMARTY is about simplicity and honesty when it comes to their data policy, including the way customers can tether on the network. SMARTY allows you to use your data whichever way you want to, and don’t impose any restrictions on tethering. However, if you’re on a Large SMARTY SIM & exceed 8GB you will have to purchase an add on for additional usage. The good thing is the additional charge will be the same as your standard plan charges and you won’t have any bill shocks as your data will be capped unless you purchase an add on. Tethering abroad however is currently not an option.
International RoamingWith Three’s ‘Go Roam’ proposition, every customer on Three’s Advanced Pay Monthly or SIM Only plans enjoys free roaming internationally. Covering 71 different countries, the Go Roam proposition is available in all 48 EU destinations and a number of worldwide destinations. Customers roaming in the EU have a max data allowance of 19GB depending on their data plan. Customers visiting other worldwide destinations have up to a 12GB data allowance depending on their data plan. This is also available to PAYG customers when they purchase specific add ons. With SMARTY, customers get roaming inclusive in 48 EU destinations per EU regulations. But unlike Three, you do not get an inclusive roaming scheme across worldwide destinations. To get roaming across these platforms, you will be billed per minute, per text, and per MB in non-EU countries.
Wi-Fi Calling & Wi-Fi HotspotsThree’s Wi-Fi calling scheme ‘In-Touch’ is the best in the market. Available for customers on Pay Monthly, SIM only & PAYG plans, it is supported across most devices and automatically connects when connected to Wi-Fi. Given the compatibility with older version of iOS & Android makes it one of the most flexible schemes in the market. In terms of Wi-Fi hotspots Three offers hotspots on the London Underground at over 250 stations to keep you connected while travelling. SMARTY despite being owned by Three, doesn’t offer customers Wi-Fi calling or any inclusive Wi-Fi hotspots. As is common amongst a lot of the operators, providing the value that SMARTY does means that some additional perks such as Wi-Fi Calling & Wi-Fi hotspots won’t be available.
Data RolloverDespite the fact that data rollover is one perk networks are starting to offer to up their game, this is not something offered on any of Three’s plans. Some networks such as EE offer it only on PAYG but unfortunately this isn’t the case with Three With SMARTY, data rollover cannot get better. SMARTY offers incredible value on their data rollover plan by calculating the amount of data you used in the previous month, and then deducting it from your next bill! This proposition is unique to SMARTY & is what drives the great value that SMARTY offer.
Multi Buy Discounts/ Family PlansThree don’t have any actual family plans but do offer discounts on any additional plans added to your account. As long as you’re on a 1-month, 12-month SIM only plan or 24-month phone contract with Three you can get a saving of up to £2 a month on plans with upfront fees waived too. You can sign up for these additional plans at any time. SMARTY currently don’t offer any family plans but you may end up spending less with SMARTY due to the great value offered by their low cost plans.
Customer RewardsSome networks are offering customer rewards applications which offer discounts with popular high street retailers & restaurants. Some of these rewards such as Priority with O2 offer early access to purchase tickets for gigs. Three’s customer reward app is called Wuntu. Wuntu offers free rewards and exclusive competitions to all Three customers. Each week, new offers and discounts are updated on the app including travel upgrades, free coffees, snacks & the opportunity to win vouchers. Unfortunately, similar to a lot of the other smaller virtual operators SMARTY does not offer a reward app.
Other PerksThe Three Go Binge offers free data streaming on several popular apps. As a Three customer, you get to stream without limit on Netflix, Snapchat & a number of other apps. This is available to all Advanced plan customers with 12GB or more data. SMARTY doesn’t offer any customer rewards, unfortunately. However, their SIM pricing is incredibly competitive.
Half Cooked’s Overall Winner
Looking at both network it becomes clear that as a Three customer you will get several great perks alongside good network coverage and fast data speeds. SMARTY on the other hand offers some of the best value in the market & is great for customers after the basics. But when comparing the two networks it becomes clear that Three wins out & is considered one of the best networks in the UK.