Three Mobile SIM only explained
Looking to buy a new SIM card to pop in your smartphone or tablet and curious what 3 Mobile has to offer? Our impartial guide reveals the different options to help you make the right choice.
Why choose Three?
The network was built specifically for the internet and it was the first to launch 3G mobile broadband back in 2003. You’ll notice that Three Mobile’s SIM only plans are really tailored to those that like to spend time online, with good value tariffs and generous data limits.
In fact, 3 Mobile is one of the few providers to offer ‘all-you-can-eat’ internet data on the expansive 3G network, as well as the new superfast 4G network that has recently started its nationwide roll out. A big bonus is that 3 has announced plans to automatically upgrade customers from 3G to 4G at no extra cost when the service arrives in your area – providing you have a 4G-ready device.
You may already know the benefits of SIM only deals, like the ability to use them in any handset and save on the cost of buying a new phone. At 3 Mobile, you can also choose between one month or 12 month terms on SIM only mobile plans so you don’t have to commit long-term if you don’t want to – although you’ll pay a few pound extra each month for the shorter, more flexible option
What are my options?
There’s a wide choice of SIM only plans at 3 Mobile that vary depending on what device you have, how you want to pay and how often you want to chat, text and surf the net.
The smartphone SIMs include different sized bundles of inclusive texts, calls and internet data, while the tablet plans include data alone.
The Pay Monthly plans require you to take a credit check and commit to paying a monthly Direct Debit, whereas the Pay As You Go plans are credit check-free but you will need to actively top-up when your credit runs out or expires (whichever happens first).
Your 3 Mobile SIM only options include:
- Smartphone Pay Monthly (One month or 12 month contracts)
- Smartphone Pay As You Go
- Tablet Pay Monthly (One month contracts only)
- Tablet Pay as You Go
Which package is right for me?
There’s a SIM only plan to suit every level of user at 3 Mobile, so it’s just a case of defining what you need in terms of:
- Your budget
- Your typical usage – light, medium or heavy?
- What device you have – tablet or smartphone?
- How you want to pay – monthly Direct Debit or PAYG top-up?
The all-you-can-eat data plans are available on Pay Monthly and PAYG for mobiles and are great value for those that spend a lot of time online. But if you don’t – there’s no point paying for unlimited usage and you’ll find one of the 500MB or 1GB deals more affordable and suitable.
Tablet customers can choose between 250MB, 1GB or a generous 10GB of internet data on Pay Monthly, while the PAYG plans work a little differently. You can get 1GB for one month; 3GB for three months or 12GB for 12 months.
Six essential questions before you buy
If 3 Mobile sounds like the perfect provider for you, consider these questions before you start comparing deals:
- Is your phone 3G or 4G-ready?
- Do I need all-you-can-eat data or would a capped plan be adequate?
- How many calls and texts do I make each month?
- Do I want to commit for 12 months, or pay a little extra for one month flexibility?
- Does my smartphone need to be unlocked to accept a 3 Mobile SIM?
- What size SIM do I need? (see below)
- Do I need a plan that allows tethering? (see below)
If you need more information to help you make up your mind, here's more detail about what you can expect from 3 Mobile.
The process of using your phone like a modem to connect other devices to internet is known as tethering. In the terms and conditions, 3 Mobile states that ‘all-you-can-eat’ data applies to data consumption on your phone and does not include tethering on any PAYG plan, and a 4GB limit applies.
No fair usage policy
It’s not uncommon for unlimited data to be subject to a fair usage policy buried in the small print, but thankfully this isn’t the case at 3 Mobile. As the network built for the internet, you really can use as much data as you wish without worrying about incurring extra costs or hitting a top limit. However, as mentioned above – not every all-you-can-eat data plan includes tethering.
Select the right SIM size
SIM cards come in three different sizes standard, micro and nano so it’s important to pick the right one for your phone or tablet. All of 3 Mobile’s tariffs are available on all SIM sizes, so you have the pick of the bunch whichever handset you have.
Unlocking your phone
If you’re considering the switch to 3 Mobile from another network, you’ll need to check whether your phone is locked to your previous provider. If not, happy days – you can pop your new SIM from 3 Mobile straight in. Otherwise, your phone will need to be unlocked.
Some phones can be unlocked for free by simply entering a special code from your network provider, while others may need to be unlocked by an expert. While entirely legal, one word of warning is that unlocking is undertaken at your own risk and may invalidate your phone’s warranty.
How do I switch to 3 Mobile?
Before you run with open arms to 3 Mobile, its important check what signal is like in your area. After all, unlimited data is no use if you can’t get online to use it. Pop your postcode in the coverage checker to find out.
Next, make sure your phone is unlocked and compatible. Since 3 Mobile is built for the internet, you’ll need a 3G or 4G ready handset - older phones that only work on 2G networks simply won’t benefit from the network. To test whether your phone’s 3G or 4G: text ‘Mobile’ to 78333.
Now, you can simply buy the SIM you want and wait for it to arrive in the post. To keep your old number, let your old network provider know you’re leaving; request your PAC code and pass this onto 3. It promises to move your number in less than a day.