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Smarty review: The new king of the no-frills networks

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
Starting cost per Month

Good, fast, flexible services at incredibly low prices

Cheap deals with plenty of data
No annual contracts or speed caps
High scores for customer service
Not the fastest 4G option
No rollover features or extras

Get DOUBLE your data with this 60GB for £10/mth Smarty deal

Who doesn't love free data? Currently, Smarty is doubling the amount of 5G data available with their 30GB rolling monthly SIM-only package for absolutely nothing. That's a huge 60GB of data for just £10/mth; pretty outstanding if you ask us.
Was £10/mth for 30GB
Now £10/mth for 60GB

If you haven’t heard of Smarty, there are at least two good reasons why you should have. First, it’s a no-contract, SIM-only provider that happens to have some incredible deals – it makes regular appearances on our Best SIM-only deals page.

Second, and more important, it’s the biggest winner in our 2022 Mobile Network Awards, winning Highly Commended awards in the Reliability and Value categories, and taking home the overall Best Mobile Network award. This reflects consistently good results in this year’s Mobile Network Awards reader survey (conducted in partnership with YouGov) and the fact that more than 92% of Smarty users would recommend it to a friend.

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Smarty review: What do you get?

Smarty is owned and operated by Hutchison 3G, which you might recognise as the company behind Three, and Smarty runs across Three’s network, effectively as a no-frills, no-contract arm. That means you don’t get all the extras you might get with a Three contract, and Smarty doesn’t offer traditional monthly phone contract plans.

On the other hand, the pricing is incredibly competitive, starting at £6 for 4GB of data with unlimited calls and texts, and rising to 200GB and Unlimited data packages at £17 and £20 respectively. In between you can find some fantastic limited time offers. At the time of writing, for instance, the £10/30GB plan gives you an extra 20GB of data per month free for the first 12 months.

All SIMs are offered on a one-month rolling contract that you can cancel at any time. Both 4G and 5G connections are available and there are no speed caps or tethering restrictions. There aren’t any data rollover or family features, but you can save 10% per SIM if you have multiple SIMs on one group plan, up to a total of eight.

Smarty also has some data-only plans for laptops and tablets, although you might want to check that these make sense, as you sometimes get more for not a lot more money on the standard plans. You can see a summary of Smarty’s current plans below, although these are liable to change and new deals will come and go.

PackageMonthly feeTextsMinutes
30GB (50GB for 12 months)£10UnlimitedUnlimited

As we mentioned, Smarty doesn’t sell handsets, but customers can get a discount on refurbished phones through Reboxed. There isn’t a huge choice, but the savings can make it worth your while.

Smarty review: Customer service

Smarty did well for customer service in our 2022 Mobile Network Awards, even if it didn’t come away with any of the prizes. Some 45% of users told us they were very satisfied with the company’s customer service, while an additional 36% were satisfied. Of the remainder, only 1% of users were “not at all satisfied”. That’s an impressive result for Smarty and significantly better than its parent company, Three.

Ofcom doesn’t currently cover Smarty within its annual customer service report.

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Smarty review: Coverage, reliability and speed

Smarty runs its services over Three’s 4G and 5G network. The good news is that this has shown big improvements over the past year. Looking at RootMetrics’ results for the first half of 2022, Three now has a median UK download speed of 29.9Mbits/sec, putting it behind EE at 66.2Mbits/sec, but ahead of third-placed Vodafone with 23.8Mbits/sec. The biggest improvements have been in UK cities. Of the 16 in which RootMetrics conducts its tests, Three’s median download speed was faster than 20Mbits/sec in all of them, and faster than 40Mbits/sec in eight.

RootMetrics no longer provides coverage maps, but Three's 4G coverage reaches around 99.8% of the UK population, while 5G services are available to approximately 56%, with plans to grow further during the next few years. That’s good news, as Three is beginning to pull ahead of the normal high-performance king, EE, on 5G median download speeds, reaching nearly 200Mbits/sec, with maximum speeds approaching 500Mbits/sec in some locations.

From our own survey data, Smarty users seem impressed with the network’s performance. An impressive 94% of those we surveyed said that it was fast enough for web browsing most or all of the time, while nearly 60% said the same about video streaming. Here, only Giffgaff, Voxi, Sky Mobile and Three scored any higher.

We didn’t see enough responses from Smarty’s 5G customers to work out levels of satisfaction, but we can make some assumptions from the data for Smarty’s host network, Three. Three had the third-best results here of any network, coming just behind EE and Sky Mobile; over half of Three’s 5G customers (51.5%) were either satisfied or very satisfied. That still leaves nearly half of Three’s 5G users dissatisfied, with the major issues being patchy 5G coverage (for nearly 65%) and a lack of noticeable speed improvements (for 44%).

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Smarty review: Roaming

Where Three now charges a daily fee for EU roaming, Smarty still offers it for free within your usual allowance as long as you don’t use more than 12GB while you’re travelling. Beyond that, roaming charges aren’t exorbitant. You have to buy an out-of-plan add-on to put some extra credit on your phone, but within that calls are 50p per minute to make and 5p to receive in many territories, while texts are 20p to send and data costs just 10p per MB. That makes Smarty one of the cheaper options for occasional usage outside the UK or EU, and you’re protected by a £45 world roaming data cost limit (reset on the first of each month) while you’re away from home.

Smarty review: Other services and spending caps

Smarty doesn’t offer much in the way of extra features. There are no spending caps, for instance, although you can’t use more than your paid-for allowance without buying an add-on for extra credit, and eSIMS are also off the menu. One feature you do get is Wi-Fi calling, with the phone using a local network for calls if a mobile signal isn’t steady or available.

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Smarty review: Verdict

Smarty exhibits all the strengths of a great no-frills option: it’s cheap, you get lots of data for your money, and the plans are straightforward, so you know what you’re getting and how much it’s going to cost. Customers seem to love the customer service and feel they’re getting decent, reliable connectivity. What more can you ask for without splashing out on a more expensive and inflexible monthly contract?

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