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SMARTY Mobile Review

17th June 2024

Smarty Mobile

SMARTY is an immediately eye-catching network, which is owned and run by Three. It was awarded "Best SIM only Network" and “Best SIM Only Value for Money” at the Uswitch Telecoms Awards 2024, so if you want a SIM Only plan and care about value for money then it’s definitely worth a look.

SMARTY offers a number of low-cost and short-term SIM Only plans covering a range of data allowances, so while it’s limited to SIM Only, there are a variety of plans within that, and there are plenty of other things to like about SMARTY too, including 5G and an unlimited data plan. Below we’ve looked at the network in full.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Affordable and flexible plans

Limited plan types

No credit checks

 

No annual price rises

 

Our Rating

Table of Contents

Plans

SMARTY has a range of plans for SIM Only and data only, more details of which can be seen in the table below. There is no contract or credit check to worry about.

Smarty Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only SIM

Plans Available

x

Max Data

x

Unlimited

Unlimited

Contract lengths

x

1 month

1 month

Value for money

SMARTY Mobile offers a range of competitively priced plans, topping out at unlimited data. But it also offers all sorts of other allowances, and its prices are lower than many rival networks.

SIM Only Deals
Smarty

40 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

1 Month Contract

£5.00 a month

View Deal

Smarty

50 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

1 Month Contract

£8.00 a month

View Deal

Smarty

Unlimited data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

1 Month Contract

£15.00 a month

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Smarty

5 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

1 Month Contract

£5.00 a month

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Smarty

8 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

1 Month Contract

£7.00 a month

View Deal

View All Smarty Sim Only Deals

All plans are also just 1-month long, meaning you can change or cancel your plan almost whenever you want. The network notes that this means there essentially aren’t any annual price rises. That doesn’t mean prices will never go up, but it does mean that you’ll be free to cancel if you’re ever unhappy with price changes.

That makes it more flexible than some networks, though the fact that it just offers SIM Only plans makes it more limiting in some ways.

Plus, SMARTY has a few Data Discount plans which refund your unused data each month. You get £1 back per unused gigabyte, which is the same as the data costs in the first place. However, these plans are limited to low allowances, topping out at 3GB.

Extras and benefits

SMARTY has a number of extra benefits on its plans. Standouts include free roaming in the EU, no credit checks, no annual price rises, and select plans offering money back for unused data. More details of some of these features and others can be found below.

SMARTY perks and policies

 

SIM Only

5G

Free Roaming

(EU only)

Tethering

Wi-Fi Calling

VoLTE

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

Unlimited Data

Family Plans

Credit Check

5G

SMARTY offers 5G at no extra cost on every single one of its plans, whether you’re a new or existing customer.

Roaming

SMARTY 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, up to 12GB. You can also roam outside the EU but that will cost you extra and prices can be steep depending on your destination.

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 there's an unlimited data option this is potentially a great network for tethering.

Wi-Fi 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, and it’s offered by SMARTY, though only on select devices, the full list of which can be found here.

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, and it’s offered by SMARTY on a number of handsets.

Data rollover

SMARTY doesn’t offer data rollover, so you have to use all of your data each month or lose it. That said, the network does offer a few plans where it will refund you for unused data, though these plans top out at low allowances, so aren’t good for heavy users.

Spending caps

SMARTY doesn’t offer spending caps, however most charges outside your plan are restricted unless you purchase an out of plan add-on, so you shouldn’t get hit with surprise bills.

Unlimited data

SMARTY offers plans with unlimited data, so you don’t need to worry about running out. There are no fair usage limits in the UK either, though abroad in the EU you’re limited to 12GB per month.

Family plans

SMARTY offers what it calls Group Plans, which allow you to add up to eight SIMs to your account, with a 10% discount on each of them. So it’s not a huge saving, but it’s still a nice way to keep costs down if you want multiple devices or people on your account.

Credit checks

There are no credit checks on any of SMARTY’s plans, making them ideal if you have a poor credit rating, as there’s no worry of not being accepted.

Unique perks

The main unique perk on SMARTY is its ‘data discount’ plans, which refund you for any unused data at the end of the month. You get back the same amount of money as the data cost in the first place, so you’ll never pay for more than you use.

However, at the time of writing you can only get up to 3GB of data on these plans, so they’re only good for light users.

Network

Which network does SMARTY Mobile use?

SMARTY uses Three’s network – in fact, it’s run by Three, so it has coverage in all the same places, whether you’re connecting to 5G, 4G or 3G.

Coverage

Three’s coverage (and particularly its 5G coverage) is regularly improving, so SMARTY’s will improve with it. You can see an overview of how much coverage of each kind there is in the chart below.

Smarty Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

5G

Now available in over 650 locations

4G 

99.8%

3G

98.7% (but will be switched off by 2025)

2G

N/A

smarty coverage checker

Network Speeds

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, September 2023, and April 2020

Network

Download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

40.0/9.3Mbps

36.0ms

Smarty (Three)

34.5/6.3Mbps

48.3ms

Vodafone

27.9/8.0Mbps

39.0ms

O2

20.9/5.0Mbps

38.1ms

SMARTY’s use of Three’s infrastructure is seemingly middling when it comes to speeds, as in an OpenSignal report from September 2023, Three was found to have an average download speed of 34.5Mbps, and an average upload speed of 6.3Mbps. You can see how that compares to other networks in the chart above. Those results factor in a combination of 5G, 4G and 3G.

However, being on Three is seemingly worse when it comes to latency (the amount of time it takes for the network to respond to a request), as in an April 2020 report Three’s 4G latency came out slowest at 48.3ms. We’re using an older report here because latency wasn’t included in the later ones.

For 5G, Three’s average download speed is 205.5Mbps according to Opensignal data from September 2023. That’s higher than any other network achieved. Its median meanwhile was found to be 165.7Mbps in RootMetrics data from the second half of 2023, which also sees it beat the other networks in that test.

That same report put Three’s 95th percentile 5G download speed (in other words what you can expect in the fastest 5% of instances) at 853.4Mbps, which is a higher speed than all rivals too.

And a Speedtest report from 2023 put Three’s median 5G download speed at 226.27Mbps, rating it the UK's fastest 5G network. This same report also put Three’s median 5G upload speed at 13.14Mbps, and its median 5G latency at 31ms.

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.

Frequencies

Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

700MHz

n29 5G

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1400MHz

Band 32 4G

1800MHz

Band 3

4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G

3400MHz

n78 5G

3600-4000MHz

n77 5G

SMARTY uses Three’s spectrum, which means it has access to the 800MHz, 1400MHz 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 band helps meet data demands in congested areas, and the 1400MHz band fills the middle ground.

For 5G, SMARTY presumably uses the 3.4GHz and 3.6-4GHz bands, as Three has access to spectrum in those bands and it’s well-suited to 5G. Three also has 700MHz spectrum which could be used to bolster 5G, and might therefore also benefit SMARTY’s network. Though SMARTY hasn’t revealed which bands it uses for 5G at the time of writing.

You can find in depth details of all these bands in our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

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 4.0/5 Trustpilot rating. That's from 36,504 reviews at the time of writing and is what Trustpilot calls a 'great' rating.

Stores

Smarty does not currently have any physical stores in the UK.

Conclusion

SMARTY is a good value network that's got even better with the introduction of 5G and an unlimited data plan. Its other major strengths come from the low cost of its plans, its support for Wi-Fi Calling, and its 30-day plan durations.

This isn't a network for those who want to Pay As You Go or to get a phone on contract, but for everyone happy with SIM-only it's a simple, fair, and affordable option.

Alternatives

Since SMARTY uses Three’s coverage (and is owned by Three), Three itself is an obvious alternative. Three offers a wider range of plans, including smartphones on contract, but it charges for roaming, and it doesn’t have any plans that refund you for unused data.

iD Mobile is another option – this uses Three’s coverage too, and includes data rollover, which is a somewhat similar idea to refunding you for unused data. It’s typically good value as well.

Of course, if having the same coverage isn’t important to you then there are any number of alternatives, and you can find full reviews of most of them here.

VOXI is notable among those, because it’s a similar proposition in a lot of ways. It’s run by Vodafone and has the same coverage as that network, but is designed to be cheaper. Many of its plans also let you use select social media services and video streaming platforms without the data coming out of your allowance.

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