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SMARTY Mobile Coverage and Network Review

15th November 2018

SMARTY is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses Three’s network. It offers a range of low-cost SIM Only plans with a discount for those who don't use up all their monthly data.

SMARTY's 3G coverage reaches roughly 98.3% of the UK population, while 4G coverage reaches 99.8% of the UK population. All plans come with 4G at no extra cost and there are plenty of other things to like about SMARTY too.

But no network is perfect so read on to see what’s good about SMARTY, what’s not, and whether it’s the right fit for you.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Affordable and flexible plans

Maximum 8GB data allowance

Discount for unused data

Just has SIM Only plans

Tethering and roaming at no extra cost

No VoLTE or Wi-Fi Calling

Our Rating

Coverage

As SMARTY uses Three’s network it has the same coverage as Three.

Smarty Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

99.8%

3G

98.3%

2G

N/A

smarty coverage checker

That means SMARTY has around 99.8% UK population coverage with 4G and around 98.3% with 3G. Three is also continuing to improve its 4G population coverage, so SMARTY's coverage will be improving all the time too. 

Use SMARTY's coverage checker above to find out more about SMARTY coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Towns and cities with partial or full coverage include but are not limited to: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Gloucester, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton, Southend On Sea, Stoke On Trent, Swindon, Watford and York.

Network Speeds

OpenSignal – Mobile Networks Update, October 2018

Network

4G download speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

28.9Mbps

39.77ms

Smarty (Three)

18.78Mbps

48.15ms

Vodafone

21.92Mbps

40.78ms

O2

14.61Mbps

42.38ms

SMARTY’s use of Three’s infrastructure is seemingly middling when it comes to 4G speeds, as in an OpenSignal report from October 2018, Three was found to have 4G download speeds of 18.78Mbps on average, beaten by EE and Vodafone. SMARTY’s therefore are likely to be similar.

However, being on Three is worse when it comes to latency (the amount of time it takes for the network to respond to a request), as in the same report Three’s came out slowest at 48.15ms. The good news is that both results are better than in a previous report, so Three is improving, and by extension SMARTY likely is too.

Speedtest – Mobile Speedtest Data, Q3-Q4 2017

Network

Download/upload speeds

EE

28.80/9.29Mbps

Vodafone

17.26/8.16Mbps

Smarty (Three)

14.58/7.35Mbps

O2

14.11/7.13Mbps

In a Speedtest report from late 2017, Three’s (and by extension likely SMARTY’s) results show an average download speed of 14.58Mbps and an average upload speed of 7.35Mbps, however, this factors in both 4G and 3G speeds.

Frequencies

Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1800MHz

Band 3

4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G

SMARTY uses 800MHz and 1800MHz bands for 4G, as well as the 2100MHz band for 3G. The 800MHz band helps with indoor and rural coverage, while the 1800MHz helps meet data demands in congested areas. You can find in depth details of those bands in our 4G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

SMARTY’s improvements will be largely dependent on Three, but the good news there is that Three is improving its network all the time, especially when it comes to increasing its 4G coverage.

As an example, the network recently announced that it’s spending over £2 billion on improvements ahead of its 5G launch.

Traffic management

SMARTY’s traffic management policy is simpler than most, as it simply says that it doesn't enforce any data shaping or network throttling, which is to say that your speeds and bandwidth shouldn’t be intentionally slowed under any circumstances.

SMARTY Plans

SMARTY has a range of plans for SIM Only which are shown below. There is no contract or credit check to worry about.

Smarty Plans

Plan Type Plan Price
Small

2GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£7.50 per month

View deal

Medium

4GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£10 per month

View deal

Large

8GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£15 per month

View deal

Plan Features

Discount for unused data

Spending Caps

Roaming

Tethering

4G

VoLTE

WiFi Calling

Max Data

8GB

Contract

No contract or credit check

The key feature of SMARTY's plans is that it will pay you back for any unused data. You're paid £1.25 per gigabyte, which is the same amount as you pay in the first place, and this amount is refunded against the cost of your allowances for the following month. You don't need to have a full gigabyte left over to get a refund though, as SMARTY will refund unused megabytes too, with 8MB amounting to 1p.

You can also buy data add-ons of 1GB, 2GB or 4GB if you ever need more and these also cost £1.25 per gigabyte, keeping things simple and fair. All plans are also just 1 month long, meaning you can change or cancel your plan almost whenever you want.

That makes it more flexible than many networks, though the fact that there are only three plans to choose from makes it more limiting in some ways, as does its low data limits.

SMARTY Mobile also doesn't have any credit checks, so you can join even if you have bad credit or just don't want a check on your record.

Data Only Plans

SMARTY doesn't currently offer any data only plans.

Pay As You Go

SMARTY doesn't currently offer a Pay As You Go service.

Tethering

SMARTY allows unrestricted tethering, which means you can share your mobile connection with other devices such as laptops and tablets. The only limit is your overall monthly data allowance, and as these top out at 8GB on SMARTY that’s quite low.

WiFi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling refers to making and receiving calls over Wi-Fi, while continuing to use your normal number (as opposed to a separate service such as WhatsApp). It’s a seamless way to keep communicating when there’s no mobile signal, but it’s not currently offered by SMARTY. However, the network claims that it hopes to offer this service in the near future.

VoLTE

VoLTE refers to calling and texting over 4G, rather than 2G or 3G. It means you can call in more places, as some places will only have a 4G signal, but it’s not currently offered by SMARTY. That said, as with Wi-Fi Calling, the network claims that it hopes to offer VoLTE before too long.

Roaming

SMARTY now lets you roam at no extra cost across the EU. That means you can use unlimited minutes and texts and as much data as your plan generally offers. You can also roam outside the EU but that will cost you extra and prices can be steep depending on your destination, with prices ranging from 10p to £5 per megabyte.

Customer service

It’s difficult to get a measure of how good SMARTY’s customer service is, especially as it’s not been included in any major customer service surveys or reports.

However, given that the network positions itself as fair and honest it’s likely that it also puts a focus on delivering good customer service. That seems to be the case based on its 8.9/10 Trustpilot rating. That's from 1,456 reviews at the time of writing and is what Trustpilot calls a 'great' rating.

Conclusion

SMARTY is a good value 4G network. Its major strengths come from the low-cost plans and a discount for those who don't use up all their data.

This isn't a network for those who want a lot of data, but for everyone else it's a simple, fair and affordable option.

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