Solid, reliable and reasonably competitive: that’s Three. It’s not the cheapest mobile network, but then the major providers rarely are. You can get unlimited mobile data on selected plans and there are some nice extras around streaming video and audio and roaming abroad benefits.
Find out more about what separates Three from other mobile networks. From pros and cons and customer service to network coverage and pricing, we shine a light on Three and help you decide whether it’s the network for you.
What’s good about Three?
- Excellent range of plans
- One of the few mobile networks to offer unlimited data
- Low up-front costs on handsets
- Go Binge - Gets you unlimited data for music and video streaming
- easyJet travel upgrades for pay monthly customers
- Go Roam - Extensive roaming options across its plans
What’s bad about Three?
- Three’s top speeds are not as high as EE
- Global roaming and tethering are not included on all plans
No cap on data costs
- No data rollover from month to month
Three SIM-only deals
Three is one of the few mobile providers to offer a SIM deal with unlimited data, so pay attention if you’re worried about running out after devouring your mobile data each month.
While there isn’t a huge variety of SIM plans to choose from, Three’s plans are reasonably priced and include unlimited calls and texts - and the higher data allowances come with Go Binge.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to sign up for at least 12 months for one of Three’s SIM plans - there are no one-month deals available.
We love the Go Binge feature, though note that this isn’t available on the smaller data plans. And should you absolutely need unlimited mobile data, then Three is one of the few networks to offer it - giffgaff also does.
Three phone contract plans
Three offers a huge range of mobile contract deals including some reasonably-priced plans - you should easily find one that suits your needs.
Plans include unlimited calls and texts and are packaged as either Essential or Advanced plans, which come with different benefits. Advanced plans come with Go Binge (unlimited data for music and video streaming) and extensive roaming benefits.
Data allowances range from 1GB to unlimited - though unlimited data will obviously cost you a chunk of money each month, so it’s worth estimating your monthly data needs, as a lower data allowance may work for you.
Three contracts tend to be 24 months for the more popular phones. If you're not sure you're ready for that level of commitment, you may be better off buying a cheap phone and SIM-only plan or looking at another network.
Generally, the variety of Three’s mobile plans is very good. If you have specific needs - such as unlimited data requirements - Three can offer you this, but if you must have the very latest flagship phone other networks can offer you better value deals.
The Three mobile network covers 99% of the population and is constantly improving. 4G coverage isn’t quite as high as rival networks such as EE, but you shouldn’t experience connection problems in towns and cities.
Before you order it’s important to check you can get a signal in your home area using Three’s coverage checker - as well as areas you are likely to frequent, such as your place of work and route to work.
Three coverage checker
Three’s network coverage isn’t quite up with the likes of EE (who generally come out on top against all mobile networks), but it’s still pretty decent.
As with all the mobile big hitters Three offers a variety of plans across a wide range of handsets - and are good on low upfront costs.
Three’s plans are generally competitively-priced on mid-range and older handsets including Samsung phones and older iPhones with data allowances between 1-4GB, but contracts on the latest flagship phones will cost you.
Like the other big mobile networks, Three’s value for money depends on your needs and the type of phone you want. If you opt for an Advanced plan, you get Go Binge unlimited data for music and video streaming which is great.
Also, if you absolutely need unlimited mobile data, Three is one of the few networks to offer it - though on premium iPhones and Samsung Galaxy models, networks such as EE will get you a better monthly deal on big (if not quite unlimited) data allowances.
Remember mobile deals change often, and networks and resellers regularly launch special offers, so make sure you compare plans get the best deal possible.
If your prime driver is price when hunting for a mobile contract, we suggest looking elsewhere- particularly at smaller networks such as giffgaff. The best thing about Three is its extras, such as data streaming and roaming abroad benefits.
Three customer service
According to Ofcom's most recent customer service report (2017), Three received a below-average level of complaints. So while it isn’t quite up there with Tesco Mobile’s squeaky clean image, Three performs a lot better than the worst offenders, BT and Vodafone.
Three’s customer service could be better but it’s not the worst in the mobile market. It’s certainly not enough of an issue to swing your decision either way. It's average in other words - if you need it, it'll probably get the job done.
Three extras and benefits
One important distinction between mobile networks is what else they throw your way when you sign up. While some of the smaller networks focus on price, the bigger mobile networks will try and pull you in with perks and extra benefits:
- Go Binge - On Advanced plans, any streaming you do from selected apps doesn't come out of your data allowance - currently available on Netflix, SoundCloud, Deezer, Dave on demand, and more.
- Go Roam - Depending on which Three plan you’re on, Go Roam lets you use your normal call, text and data allowances in Europe and around the world.
- easyJet Hands Free - Three’s pay monthly customers will get a free travel upgrade when they fly with easyJet, which means they can drop their cabin bags off before going through security and receive priority boarding too.
- Wi-Fi on the London Underground - Three customers can connect to Virgin Media Wi-Fi hotspots on the London Underground for free.
Thumbs up for Go Binge which helps with all the data-hungry apps we use on our smartphones. We also like the range of Go Roam benefits across Three’s Essential and Advanced plans. Extras such as easyJet Hands Free is also a welcome bonus.
Three is something of a mixed bag. With some reasonably-priced plans available for cheaper and mid-range handsets, plans for premium phones - flagship iPhones and the latest Samsung Galaxy phones - can be expensive.
If you want unlimited data, Three is one of the few networks to offer it. But do you really need unlimited data? Other networks - such as EE - offer cheaper plans with high data allowances which may work better for you.
Three’s customer service isn’t really one to shout about and network coverage doesn’t rate as the best, but there are some handy perks on both its Essential and Advanced plans, such as roaming benefits, travel upgrades and free streaming on selected apps.