Smarty is a new SIM-only mobile network offering 1-month plans with a discount for unused data.

In the UK, Three is about to launch a new low-cost sub-brand called Smarty. Operating under a separate brand that promises “simple, honest mobile”, the new mobile network will offer 1-month plans on a pre-paid basis. Uniquely, customers will receive a “discount for unused data”. This will bring down the cost of their plan in the following month.

The Smarty service is still yet to launch to the public so some of the finer details are still yet to be confirmed. However, in this first look, we’ll review what we already know about the Smarty service. We’ll also compare Smarty to alternative mobile networks and will look at the level of coverage you can expect when using the service.

Pricing & Tariffs

SIM-Only Plans

At launch, Smarty will offer a choice of three tariffs on a prepaid basis. All of their tariffs will include unlimited minutes and unlimited texts, plus a data allowance of between 2GB and 8GB per month.

Pricing for the plans are as follows:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£7.50
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£15.00

The plans are named Small, Medium and Large:

  • Small – Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB data, unused data discount.
  • Medium – Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 4GB data, unused data discount.
  • Large – Unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 8GB data, unused data discount.

All three plans are offered on a 1-month rolling basis. Being a Pay As You Go deal, there’s no long-term commitment and no need to undergo a credit check before signing up to the service.

Unused Data Discount

Customers on Smarty are able to benefit from a “discount on unused data” of £1.25 per GB.

The way this works is a discount is calculated at the end of each month based on the amount of unused data remaining on your plan from the previous month. The discount is then applied to your following month’s payment, so you’ll pay less for the same amount of data.

Example: Discount for Unused Data (8GB Large Plan)

The following is a worked-out example based on a customer paying £15/month for the Large plan with 8GB of data:

  • The first £5 per month is assigned to line rental (including unlimited calls & unlimited texts).
  • This leaves £10 per month to cover the 8GB of data (average cost of £1.25 per GB).
  • A customer with 5GB of data leftover at the end of the month would receive a discount of £6.25 on their next month’s bill.

International Calls

At the moment, you can’t make international calls using the Smarty service. Instead, Smarty recommends the use of voice-over-IP applications for international calling. According to their website:

Calling abroad or premium numbers
We think there are smarter ways to call costly services. Apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Skype make more sense to us.”

Comparison to Alternatives

Smarty’s £10 Medium plan comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 4GB of internet and £1.25/GB discount for unused data.

This compares as follows against rival mobile networks:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Plusnet Mobile1,500Unlimited5GB£10.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
SmartyUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
iD Mobile5005,0003GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited3GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited2GB£10.00
Vodafone500Unlimited500MB£10.50
O2250Unlimited250MB£10.50
EE250Unlimited250MB£10.99

In general, Smarty compares fairly favourably against rival mobile networks, especially when you also consider the £1.25/GB discount for unused data. However, it’s worth noting that they’re missing some key features (e.g. international roaming and the ability to make international phone calls).

Handsets

Smarty will be a SIM-only mobile network so you’ll need to provide your own handset to use with the service. You can use any 3G or 4G smartphone providing it’s unlocked (this could either be an existing smartphone or it could be a new SIM-free smartphone).

If you’re currently using your smartphone on another mobile network, it’s possible you may need to unlock it before you can use it on Smarty. For more information, see our guides on unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

If you’re buying a new unlocked smartphone, there are a number of retailers where you can buy a SIM-free and unlocked smartphone. Our current recommendation is to buy a Moto G (this is a fantastic mid-range handset available from around £150).

Network & Coverage

3G & 4G Coverage from Three

Smarty offers 97% population coverage using the Three network for 3G and 4G.

Smarty is a low-cost sub-brand of Three. As Three provides the underlying coverage for Smarty, customers on Smarty will get the exact same coverage as customers on Three.

At the time of writing, Smarty offers 97% population coverage across the UK using 3G and 4G technologies. You can check the coverage in your area by entering your postcode on Smarty’s online coverage map:

Check Smarty Coverage Map (smarty.co.uk) →

Like Three, Smarty also doesn’t provide any 2G coverage. For this reason, if you have a 2G-only handset, it won’t be possible to use the Smarty service. You’ll need a handset that supports at least 3G or 4G coverage before you’re able to use a Smarty SIM card.

For more information about the coverage on different mobile networks in the UK, please see our in-depth guide about this topic.

Tethering

Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with a laptop or tablet). It’s useful for getting your other devices connected on-the-go: perhaps sending some e-mails from your laptop or watching YouTube videos on your tablet.

Smarty allows the use of tethering and portable hotspot on their mobile. This is confirmed in the Smarty help centre:

You’re entitled to use your data however you like, no matter which of the 3 SMARTY plans you’re on. So you can tether and use your phone as a mobile hotspot with your full allowance if you want to.

For more information, see our guide to tethering on UK mobile networks to find out which mobile networks will allow you to tether.

International Roaming

Smarty doesn’t support international roaming.

Unfortunately, Smarty will not offer any international roaming on their service at launch. This means customers will not be able to use their handset when travelling outside the UK.

In our opinion, the lack of international roaming is a major limitation of Smarty. As of June 2017, customers of other UK mobile networks have generally been able to use their phone across Europe at no extra charge. Furthermore, customers on Three’s own-brand Pay As You Go mobile network get access to Feel At Home Around The World (free roaming in 60 destinations including the USA, Australia, Brazil, Singapore and others).

If you regularly travel abroad and would like to continue using your smartphone when you’re there, we’d recommend choosing another mobile network for the time being.

Keeping Your Phone Number

It takes one working day to move your phone number to Smarty.

Customers wanting to keep their existing phone number will easily be able to move it to Smarty once the mobile network launches.

To do so, you’ll need to request a PAC Code from your old mobile network. This should then be provided to Smarty, who’ll transfer your phone number to their network normally on the next working day.

For step-by-step instructions on how to move your phone number to Smarty, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Smarty

Your current network provider:

  More Options

For more information on transferring your phone number between networks, see our guide to using a PAC Code.

More Information

For more information, please see the official Smarty website.

Your Comments 15 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 15 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • I would strongly recommend avoiding this network. They have zero customer service in the weekends, and take ages to rectify anything. I recently ordered, received and attempted to reactivate a replacement sim. The website didn’t work and I requested aid with this. They activated my original simcard, and started my billing. To top it off, they didn’t tell me this had occured, and I ALSO DO NOT HAVE THE ORIGINAL SIMCARD. I am in the opinion that Smarty is a scam. Strongly avoid.

  • Why did three feel the need to start a whole new brand instead of starting this under their own network? Not that I’m bothered. I’m just curious. I signed up this week. So far, I cannot fault it.

    • Hi David,
      Thanks a lot for the feedback on the Smarty! I think Three have decided to set this up as a separate brand so they don’t cannibalise the revenues on their core brand. It also targets a slightly different demographic and has a different level of service (e.g. you won’t have access to in-store or telephone support with Smarty and also features like international roaming and Wuntu are missing on this tariff). It’s a similar strategy to what O2 has done with giffgaff, though obviously much earlier days for Smarty!
      Ken

      • Troy Cooper replied:

        Yes, this is pretty much correct. From my contact with them, I have understood that they are owned by Three, but still act as a standalone company with their own budget, strategies and so on (Quoted from support – “We are owned by Three but we operate separately from them with different brand strategies etc” and “We had to make our company from the ground up with Three’s UK network as our backbone”). This is a great network, especially for youth, but it does have its flaws. The biggest one for me is Roaming. I believe their main issue is that they cannot use Three’s roaming infrastructure, and are still working out their own deals with International Partners. There is no time-scale, but I was given an educated guess of 6 months, bringing us to April 2018. However, this is a guess and no guarantee. I was told you can email team@smarty.co.uk for updates.

        In conclusion, I highly recommend this operator, especially for the youth down to their buy-back-data scheme and good value plans.
        Hope this helped someone 🙂

        • Hi Troy,
          Thanks for the feedback and update, especially around international roaming on Smarty. It’s interesting that they aren’t able to leverage Three’s roaming infrastructure – now you mention it, there are also a number of other Three MVNOs that lack roaming (e.g. FreedomPop, ROK Mobile, Tello, etc) so this makes a lot of sense. I had never previously put this down to Three’s network limitations (I guess iD Mobile & TPO Mobile, two other MVNOs on Three, have negotiated their own roaming partner agreements).
          Thanks again!
          Ken

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