Three offers eSIM functionality on Pay Monthly plans taken since the 30th January 2023. Find out how to get a Three UK eSIM & compare their best eSIM deals.

In the UK, Three now offers eSIM functionality if you have a Pay Monthly plan taken on or after the 30th January 2023. You can move your plan onto an eSIM to unlock dual-SIM functionality on many devices. It can also save you time when you’re switching SIMs on your device.

In this article, we’ll look at the eSIM service from Three in the UK, including how you’re able to get it and the best eSIM deals from Three. We’ll also compare Three’s eSIM service to what is available from other UK networks.

What is a Three eSIM?

eSIMs are the next generation of SIM card technology. They’re essentially digital versions of the plastic SIM card that we’re all familiar with. However, the main difference is that they’re completely digital so you only need to scan a QR code with your mobile phone to install it onto your device.

In the UK, Three’s eSIMs are compatible with the latest high-end smartphones, including the iPhone 11, Galaxy S20, Pixel 3, and later versions of each device. There are also other eSIM-ready phones that you can use on Three.

At present, the main benefit of getting one of Three’s eSIMs for your phone is just the fact that it’ll enable dual-SIM functionality. This will allow you to have two phone numbers and two different plans on your phone at the same time. Of course, that’s also possible when you use a regular SIM card from Three, so long as your other plan is available on eSIM.

Three eSIM Limitations

As Three’s eSIM product in the UK is still in its infancy, it doesn’t really give you the full benefits of eSIM technology. For instance:

  • eSIMs are supposed to save you time, as there’s no need to wait for a plastic SIM card to arrive in the post. However, unless you’re buying a new Pay Monthly handset directly from Three, you’ll still need to get a plastic SIM card first. Only once you’ve set up and activated that SIM card, will you be able to change it over to an eSIM. This extra step means it’ll take you even longer to get an eSIM from Three.
  • eSIMs are supposed to be better for the environment. That’s because they avoid the need for plastic SIM cards that contribute to electronic waste. However, this is rendered a moot point as you’ll still need to get a plastic SIM card first, before you’re able to change it over for an eSIM.
  • eSIMs can give you cheaper international roaming. Unless you choose a Plus or Premium plan from Three, you’ll need to pay at least £2 per day extra to roam abroad on Three. In fact, you’ll probably be better off having a regular SIM card from Three, and then getting a specialist eSIM for travel (e.g. from Airalo).

Three eSIM Deals

At present, eSIM functionality is available on Three’s Pay Monthly plans that have been taken since the 30th January 2023. This includes Pay Monthly handset, SIM-only and business plans.

If you’d like a Three SIM-only deal that has the ability to be swapped for an eSIM, some of the best value deals currently include 30GB data for £8 and 120GB data for £12.

The following table shows Three’s best SIM-only deals:

TariffMinutesTextsDataMonthly Cost
(may rise during contract)
LiteUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£5.00
Swap needed
12 months
LiteUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£7.00
Swap needed
12 months
LiteUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£8.00
Swap needed
12 months
LiteUnlimitedUnlimited60GB£10.00
Swap needed
12 months
LiteUnlimitedUnlimited120GB£12.00
Swap needed
12 months
LiteUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£21.00
Swap needed
12 months

If you’re choosing an unlimited data plan, this will be cheaper on a 24-month contract, where you’ll pay a reduced price of just £20 per month:

TariffMinutesTextsDataMonthly Cost
(may rise during contract)
LiteUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£20.00
Swap needed
24 months

For more information, see our guide to Three’s best SIM-only deals.

Getting a Three eSIM

Before you can get an eSIM from Three, you’ll need to make sure you have a compatible Pay Monthly plan. Only customers with a ‘Three Your Way’ plan that has been taken on or after the 30th January 2023 will be able to get their plan transferred onto an eSIM. This includes customers with a handset, SIM-only or business plan from Three.

If you’re buying a compatible Pay Monthly phone directly from Three (e.g. a recent iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel phone), you’ll have an option at the checkout to get your plan on an eSIM straight away:

If you’re buying a mobile phone from Three, you can choose the ‘eSIM’ option at checkout.

This will save you the need to get a physical SIM card first. However, it doesn’t really save you very much time as you’ll still need to wait for your mobile phone to arrive in the post before you’re able to use it. The eSIM option isn’t available if you’re buying from a third-party retailer, such as Affordable Mobiles, Fonehouse or Mobile Phones Direct.

If you’re joining Three on a SIM-only plan, the ‘eSIM’ option won’t be available to you at checkout. Instead, you’ll need to get a physical SIM card first. You can then exchange it for an eSIM at a later date once your physical SIM card has been activated.

To get a replacement eSIM from Three, you’ll need to contact their customer services team on 333 (or 0333 338 1001 if you’re calling from another mobile network). It’s also possible to get one from your nearest Three retail store.

According to Three, they’re currently working on rolling out eSIM functionality more widely, including to other Pay Monthly contracts and onto Pay As You Go plans. However, they’ve yet to announce a date for when this will happen.

Using A Three eSIM

Once you’ve managed to get your eSIM from Three in the UK, you’ll need to follow the instructions on this page to activate it and to install it onto your phone. This typically involves scanning a QR code on your mobile phone, in order to set up the eSIM.

According to Three, your eSIM will normally work straight away once you install it onto your device. However, it can take up to 7 hours for it to go live in certain situations.

If you need to replace your eSIM in the future (e.g. because you’re switching to another device), you’ll need to get a brand new eSIM. That’s because your eSIM QR code can only be scanned once. To get a replacement eSIM code, you’ll need to contact Three’s customer services team.

If you need to manually set up an eSIM on your device, the SM-DP+ address to use for Three is huk.prod.ondemandconnectivity.com. Both the activation code and the confirmation code will then be unique to your eSIM.

Three eSIM Alternatives

If you’re looking to get an eSIM in the UK with the least amount of hassle, consider getting an eSIM plan from Vodafone or Lyca Mobile instead. Both of them will give you an eSIM with instant online delivery, so there’s no need to get a plastic SIM card first.

On Vodafone, you can get one of the following eSIM plans from just £7/month. In particular, some of their cheaper Vodafone Basics plans provide pretty good value and can be comparable in price to the SIM-only deals from Three. However, you won’t get access to Vodafone’s 5G network if you choose one of the cheaper ‘Basics’ plans.

TariffMinutesTextsDataMonthly Cost
(may rise during contract)
Basics
UnlimitedUnlimited6GB£7.00
Instant eSIM
12 months
Basics
UnlimitedUnlimited30GB£8.00
Instant eSIM
12 months
Basics
UnlimitedUnlimited50GB£10.00
Instant eSIM
12 months
Red
UnlimitedUnlimited150GB£25.00
Instant eSIM
24 months
Red
UnlimitedUnlimited200GB£28.00
Instant eSIM
24 months
Unlimited
UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
10Mbps max
£30.00
6 months half price
Instant eSIM
24 months

If you’re looking to get an Pay As You Go eSIM with no contract and no credit check, you could consider getting a Lyca Mobile eSIM instead. On Lyca Mobile, the eSIM plans start from just £1.29/month, giving you access to 4G & 5G coverage on EE:

NetworkMinutesTextsDataMonthly Cost
Lycamobile
5GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited5GB£1.29
for 3 months, then £5.90/month
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
10GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited10GB£1.49
for 3 months, then £5.90/month
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
15GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited15GB£1.80
for 3 months, then £8.50/month
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
20GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited20GB£2.39
for 3 months, then £7.90/month
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
30GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited30GB£5.99
for 6 months, then £12/month
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
88GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited88GB£8.00
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
Unlimited Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
UnlimitedUnlimited£9.99
for 6 months, then £25/month
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
200GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited200GB£9.99
for 12 months, then £25/month
Instant eSIM
Lycamobile
100GB Data
Unlimited
+100 intl.
Unlimited100GB£10.00
for 6 months, then £20/month
Instant eSIM

For more information, see our guide to the best eSIM deals in the UK.

More Information

For more information about eSIM on Three UK, please see Three’s official website. You can also read our overview of eSIM on UK mobile networks.

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