Smarty SIM only explained
In this guide
- Why choose Smarty SIM only?
- Smarty network
- Data and calling features
- Frequently asked questions
Smarty doesn’t offer handsets and it doesn’t tie its customers into long contracts. What it does offer is a straightforward collection of SIM only plans, all of which come with unlimited texts and calls.
If you’re going to sign up to a Smarty SIM only deal you’ll need your own handset. Then you just need to choose which of Smarty’s 30-day plans gives you the amount of data you need to get you through the month, although you shouldn’t worry too much – you’ll be able to change to another one if you’ve gone for too much data or not enough.
Why choose a Smarty SIM only deal?
Smarty’s SIM only offering is a relatively simple one – it doesn’t chop and change its data plans from month to month and there’s no cashback or free gift to factor into the equation. But it’s reasonably-priced and there are a few features that help the provider stand out.
- Discount on unused data – At the end of every month Smarty effectively ‘buys back’ any data you haven’t used on its Data Discount Plans, at a rate of £1.25 per gigabyte (GB) of data. This is applied as a discount on your next bill, so if you have 3GB of unused data, that’s a £3.75 off the following month.
- Refer a friend scheme – When you sign up to Smarty you’ll get a unique sharing link that you can use to invite as many friends as you like. For every friend that signs up using your link you get a free month, so refer 12 and that’s a free year. Friends you refer also get a free month and a £10 Amazon voucher.
- Flexible plans – Because Smarty’s plans last for 30 days, you can choose a different one each month if you like, picking the amount of data that suits your usage. And you can cancel pretty much whenever you like.
- Data add-ons – If you run out of data during the month you can buy more at the price of £1.25 per GB of data. That’s the same as each GB costs in each of Smarty’s Data Discount Plans. The great thing here is that add-ons don’t expire as long as you have a live plan.
- Unlimited calls and texts as standard – Smarty isn’t alone in offering this but the inclusion of unlimited texts and unlimited UK standard calls with all plans does help to keep things ‘simple and honest’, which is what Smarty always says it’s aiming for.
- Use your SIM in other devices – Smarty SIMs can be used in tablets, dongles, laptops, wifi routers and games consoles, or just in your phone.
Is Smarty a good network?
Smarty doesn’t have its own network, it is what is known as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), which means it uses someone else’s. As Smarty is owned by Three, it’s no surprise that it uses Three’s network to deliver its services.
Three’s voice coverage reaches 85% of the UK’s landmass, according to a December 2018 Ofcom report, while the provider says its 4G network covers 99.8% of the UK population.
The Three network handles 36% of all UK mobile data traffic and makes use of a technology Three calls 4G Super Voice, which uses low frequency signals to eliminate indoor blackspots.
Data and calling features
There are certain features that we’ve come to expect as part of a mobile phone or SIM only contract and they are mostly to do with how we use mobile data and whether we can share it. Let’s have a look at Smarty’s policy on these features.
- 4G data speed – An Opensignal report from October says the average download speed recorded on Three’s 4G network was 18.8Mbps. That’s a couple of Mbps slower than EE and Vodafone but still fast enough to do almost anything you’ll want to do on your phone.
- Data rollover – Some mobile providers let you keep your unused data and carry it over to the following month. Smarty instead gives you a discount based on that unused data at a rate of £1.25 per GB.
- Tethering – Smarty allows you to tether and hotspot all of your data to use on other devices, if that’s what you want to do with it. And there are no speed restrictions.
- Wifi calling – Smarty doesn’t currently offer wifi calling, a technology that allows you to make voice calls over a wifi connection when you have no 4G or 3G signal.
- Data gifting – There is no facility on the Smarty network to gift your data to another Smarty customer. Tethering is your best bet if you want to share your data with friends and family.
- Data caps – You don’t need to set up a traditional data cap with Smarty as it’s not possible to go over your allowance. You can only ever use as much data as you’ve paid for in advance and if you need more than your monthly allowance you can buy an add-on.
Roaming on Smarty
Traditionally it used to be very expensive to use your phone abroad. But thanks to the combination of an EU cap on roaming charges and a commitment by providers to drive down costs and be more open, things have improved.
Smarty customers travelling in the EU can use their plan exactly like they can in the UK – data comes out of your monthly allowance, calls and texts are unlimited and there are no hidden charges.
The places where you can use your Smarty plan like at home are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Outside of the EU it’s a bit different. You’ll need to top up your cash balance and then pay as you go. If there’s any money left in your account when you get back, you can knock that off your next bill.
How much it costs to use make calls, send texts and use data varies from country to country. For example getting online will cost you 10p per MB in the US, but £1 per MB in Algeria. Have a look on Smarty’s website to check whether you can use your Smarty SIM in a particular destination, and if so to see how much it costs.
Wherever you’re going, you will need to make a one-off change to your phone settings in order to use your Smarty SIM abroad. Smarty has the details of exactly what to do.
Calling abroad from the UK on Smarty
You can make phone calls and send texts to other countries from the UK using your Smarty phone. But first you’ll need to top-up your cash balance, which you can do by logging in to your Smarty account. The cost of a phone call varies depending on the country you are phoning.
Which providers offer good alternatives?
If you’ve read this far down the page and aren’t fully sold on the idea of Smarty, then maybe it’s worth considering one of its rival mobile providers in the competitive UK marketplace. Let’s take a quick look at how their offers match up to Smarty.
- ASDA Mobile – Like Smarty, Asda only offers 30-day SIM only deals with no long-term contracts. You can top-up and use your credit like a classic pay as you go, or buy bundles to get the best value. Asda uses the EE network.
- BT Mobile – BT, which uses the EE network, is rarely the cheapest on the market but offers reward cards with its SIM only deals as well as free BT Sport and access to millions of wifi hotspots.
- EE – EE has a range of 12-month and 30-day SIM only plans although it charges a premium for the shorter contracts. It offers six months of free Apple Music and three months of free BT Sport with all plans.
- giffgaff – giffgaff, which runs on the O2 network, offers a range of flexible SIM only deals its calls goodybags. There’s no data rollover but you can choose to start the following month’s plan early if you run out of data.
- O2 – O2’s SIM only deals come with membership of O2 Priority, which gives you daily deals and offers. And with certain tariffs you can roam at no extra cost in 75 destinations including the USA.
- iD Mobile – iD Mobile, running on Three’s network, offers some of the cheapest SIM only deals on the market. You can choose to limit on the amount you can spend out-of-plan, and unused data is automatically rolled over to the following month.
- Plusnet Mobile – Plusnet uses EE’s network and offers some reasonably-priced 30-day and 12-month SIM deals. You can set a ‘smart cap’ to ensure you don’t overspend and add bolt-ons if you need extra data, minutes or texts.
- Sky Mobile – Sky Mobile’s SIM only plans automatically roll your unused data into a virtual piggybank, so you can use it whenever you want or share with family or friends on the same Sky Mobile account. Sky uses O2’s network.
- Tesco Mobile – Tesco, which uses O2’s network, has a range of 12-month SIM deals and no-contract 30-day bundles it calls Rocket Packs. You get Clubcard points for topping up.
- Three – Three specialises in data-heavy SIMS and some plans come with Go Binge, which gives you unlimited streaming on selected apps without eating into your mobile data.
- Virgin Mobile – Virgin’s SIM deals automatically roll your data into the next month. You can set a spending cap and you’ll get access to Virgin’s 3.5 million wifi hotspots. Virgin Mobile runs on the EE network.
- Vodafone – Vodafone has a wide range of SIM plans, from pay as you go and basic ‘essentials’ plans to big data plans that come with a choice of entertainment subscription.
Frequently asked questions
Does Smarty run credit checks?
No, Smarty doesn’t run credit checks. You pay for everything upfront, so there’s no need for them to know your credit history.
Can I keep my old number with Smarty?
Yes you can keep your old number. You’ll need to get a PAC number from your old provider and then as soon as your Smarty SIM is activated you can port your old number across.
Does Smarty give you free streaming or social media?
How do I contact Smarty?
Web chat is available via the Smarty website between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week. Or can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are Smarty’s pay as you go rates?
You can only use the data included in your monthly plan or add-on, so there are no out-of-plan charges. Calls to 01, 02 and 03 landlines, 07 mobiles and freephone 080 numbers are free, as are texts. To call a service number starting 084 or 087 you’ll need to apply a cash add-on to your Smarty account in advance. You can’t call premium numbers (starting 09 or 070) or 118 numbers from Smarty phones.
Does Smarty offer handset deals?
No, Smarty only offers SIM only deals.
Does Smarty come with free entertainment subscriptions?
Want to learn more about mobile?
Our mobile guides contain a wealth of information on just about every aspect of current mobile packages.