Three mobile phone deals are available on a range of top handsets from major manufacturers and smaller players. They offer 24-month contracts as standard and strive to be one of the cheapest mobile phone networks in the UK.
No extras are provided with Three mobile and they have lower levels of coverage than their rivals. However, they rank fairly well when it comes to speed and all their mobile phones come with unlimited calls and texts.
Three mobile phones operate on the Three mobile network. This is not the fastest mobile network in the UK, although it can come second or third depending on which research data we look at.
Data from Opensignal published in September 2021 shows Three second fastest with average download speeds of 25.2 Mbps. However, city-speed data from RootMetrics covering the first half of 2021 put Three in third place with 19.1 Mbps. Local speeds will vary depending on the infrastructure Three has in the area, so these results should only be taken as a guide.
Three are usually behind their rivals when it comes to mobile coverage. According to Ofcom data for 2020, they had 79% of coverage across the UK landmass and 90% of indoor 4G coverage, with both of these figures lower than their competitors.
They are joint top for urban geographical coverage (99%) but again lag when it comes to urban indoor coverage (93%). Performance in rural areas is patchy, with the industry lowest rates of 4G landmass and 4G indoor coverage.
All Three mobile phone contracts are 24 months long. This covers both the cost of paying off the handset and the monthly calls, texts and data usage. The two elements of the contract are not split as some other networks do, and customers cannot choose to pay more upfront for their handset or spread it over a shorter or longer contract period.
Three mobile phones are available for all major manufacturers including Apple, Samsung and Oppo. They also stock ranges from other manufacturers such as entry-level TCL and Nokia devices alongside more expensive options. However, like all mobile networks, Three may not stock all the latest devices from all manufacturers, so it's worth shopping around if you're set on a particular handset.
All Three mobile phones come with unlimited calls and texts as standard. Whereas mobile networks used to limit calls and texts, most now include unlimited options and focus on competition around the amount of data included in their plans. Premium rate numbers, service numbers and international calls are not included in Three's plans, so customers should expect to pay extra for those.
Customers with Three mobile phones and plans do not pay more for 5G compared to 4G. Since they first began their 5G rollout in 2019, they have pledged that their prices for customers would be the same no matter which technology they used. All Three mobile phone deals now come with 5G-ready SIMs, although customers will need a 5G-ready handset to take advantage of the faster speeds.
Three mobile phones do not usually come with extra services as Three instead focus on being one of the cheapest mobile networks around. Customers may occasionally see extras related to specific smartphones such as free earbuds or other accessories. However, these are rare and should not be relied upon for extra value.
Three's mobile complaint figures are often higher than the industry average with their figures for Q2 2021 generating 3 complaints per 100,000 customers, just above the industry average of 2. Three's levels have been decreasing in recent quarters after reaching a high of 7 complaints per 100,000 customers in mid-2020.
Three are often the poorest performer in analyses of mobile customer service. Ofcom research data for 2020 found them to have the poorest satisfaction of all major mobile providers with 86% overall satisfaction compared to the 90% average. They also had 13% of customers with a reason to complain and only 42% of complaints were resolved on first customer contact. On the other hand, their customer service team answered the phone in just over a minute, making them one of the fastest.
Three have changed their roaming policy so customers signing up to new deals will need to pay a flat rate of £2 per day to roam within the EU and £5 per day to roam outside the EU from May 2022. These charges have replaced Three's previously popular Go Roam policy that allowed inclusive roaming in the EU and globally.
Three's bi-annual results released in 2021 show they had 7.7 million active mobile contract subscribers as of H1 2021. This was an increase of 6% compared to the previous year and represented the highest level of customer growth in several years. Three is the smallest of the four major mobile networks in the UK.