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Smarty Named the Best UK Mobile Operator in Which? Survey

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022 (7:56 am) - Score 4,872
mobile mast uk in circle

Consumer magazine Which? has just published the results of its latest survey, which claims to reveal the best and worst UK mobile operators. Overall the four primary operators – O2 (VMO2), EE (BT), Vodafone and Three UK – were “outperformed” by smaller virtual networks, such as Smarty, Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile etc.

The survey itself, which was conducted online by Deltapoll during January and February 2022, questioned 3,305 UK mobile customers (data weighted to be representative of mobile phone network customers aged 18+). The caveat of this is that the scores for some operators – the smallest Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) providers – will be based on a fairly small sample size, so bear that in mind.

NOTE: Ofcom states that O2 (VMO2), EE (BT), Vodafone and Three UK – combined – serve 76% of customers in the UK.

A total of 16 mobile operators were ranked by Which? and not one of the four major providers appeared in the top half of that table, which was topped by Smarty. The highest scoring of the big four, O2, still only managed joint 8th place and just 20% of their customers rated them as being excellent value for money. By comparison, Three UK scored the lowest of the big four (13th), due to poor results for network reliability, technical support and incentives offered (e.g. 45% of Three users experienced problems in the past year).

However, not all virtual operators did better than the primary players, with Talk Mobile being relegated to the bottom of the table due to poor ratings for customer service and reliability. Likewise, ASDA Mobile found itself only one place above Talk Mobile, for similar reasons. Sadly, we don’t get a detailed breakdown of the results from Which? (you’d need to buy their magazine for that), but you can find the ranking and data sample sizes listed below.

Best-UK-Mobile-Operators-2022 by Which?

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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22 Responses
  1. James Tibley says:

    I was on GiffGaff for about 4 years until about two years ago when I decided to give Smarty a go after GiffGaff started jacking up the PAYG call rates. Was pleasantly surprised with Smarty and won’t be leaving them as a result. VoWiFi and 5G just make Smarty a good choice. The data quotas are a lot bigger as well.

    Three network coverage has improved immensely over the past two years which certainly helps.

  2. Richard Branston says:

    Smarty is good but for some reason won’t issue a receipt. I’ve just left them to go to ID mobile because of that as I can’t reclaim my expenses without a receipt.

    1. Smythe says:

      Giffgaff pay payback for posting in their forums, not Smarty.

    2. Bruce Flogtotter says:

      I pay through PayPal. Receipt every time.

  3. Dave says:

    SMARTY is just Three operating under a different brand, so whenever Three’s network goes down with technical problems, which seems to happen on an almost weekly basis, it takes SMARTY down with it. So it’s rather odd that SMARTY came top and Three almost bottom.

    Giffgaff still don’t support Wi-Fi calling or VoLTE so I don’t see how they somehow still manage to score so highly in these surveys. O2 and Vodafone used to have excellent performance indoors in our house, following their mast replacements for 5G there is now no coverage at all, therefore Giffgaff is now useless here.

  4. Sep says:

    Well I moved away from Smarty just a few weeks ago, 4G stopped working and they blamed everything apart from my account/ SIM. They sent me a new SIM but cancelled my old one / number without telling me so I ported out to Asda (Vodafone) and not been happier. Also in Smarty 4G speeds were dire despite trying different APNs.

    1. Peza says:

      Is your 4G faster on Asda though? And do they offer 5G for no extra cost?

    2. Sepi says:

      Of course my 4G is considerably faster, Smarty used to give me 8Mbos and now I get over 40Mbos on Asda/Voda.

      Quote “ 5G is available on Asda mobiles network, and is included as standard with any bundles over £10.”

    3. John says:

      Oddly enough, that same thing has happend to me – the part about 4G has just stopped working.

    4. Sep says:

      Mbps (typo)

    5. Peza says:

      Probably your area, but weird how it stopped working? When I tried Voxi I had mixed performance, was good and bad.

    6. Mark says:

      I used to be on Smarty, the 4G worked but my god it made Dial-Up look fast! Not sure how they came out on top if the comments on their Facebook ads are anything to go by!!

  5. MilesT says:

    It is interesting that the wholly owned budget brands of the MNO (I.e. smarty, voxi, gifgaff, plusnet) score so much better than the MNO directly.

    The MNO seem to be relying on switching inertia, business customers, retention deals, device finance schemes, and bogus loyalty schemes (which are also available to many business customers) to maintain size. Retention sim only deals on Three (with acceptable reliability for our simple needs) is working for our household for now but otherwise I would be off.

  6. Dan says:

    One thing I particularly liked when I was on Smarty was that, when you contact them online about an issue, you deal with the same person until the issue is resolved. So if you’ve got an issue (e.g. a delayed number port) where it’s necessary to wait some time to see if it resolves itself, you can then come back to the chat and resume it with the person you were dealing with before. I actually preferred this to dealing with a more expensive provider over the phone, where you’re almost never going to get through to the same person twice, and may well have to explain the issue again.

  7. Peza says:

    I’m still a happy Smarty user, I have tried Voxi and tested the rest but went back to Smarty, great value, LTE and WiFi calling, 5G. And an app. Can’t complain about that. The support is pretty good and friendly too, just have to message back and forth but if you want voice or fade to fade support you have to pay more for it.

  8. John says:

    I want to pay the least possible since there’s wifi everywhere, so been a happy Smarty customer for years

    1. Mark says:

      “WIFI Everywhere” that’s a sweeping statement!

  9. brgmsq says:

    They’re great as long as you’re not a pixel 6 owner, which bafflingly isn’t supported on their network…

    1. brgmsq says:

      For 5g that is.

  10. Badem says:

    I switched from O2 as the prices kept going up and the allowance was not great (1Gb of data for 15 a month…)

    Switched to Smarty after my wife did, initiated the group discount and now on less than £8 a month for 8GB of data and a rolling monthly contract, can’t see myself leaving to be honest, no issues with coverage for my needs.

  11. 6GForAll says:

    After finishing my Vodafone contract, 2yrs or so ago I switched over my Sim to Smarty. Never had any issues, it just works plus with the group discount on two packages one being the 30GB deal and the other being 10GB (i think, need to check data allowance) both have 4G/5G data. Both Smarty SIM’s come in under £20 pcm incl group discount. The 4G is a bit slow in certain parts of my area. Not tested 5G performance yet! All-in-all Cant complain, great price works as advertised

  12. Nick says:

    i was amazed howpolite the Smarty people are.

    it reminds of the old advertsing jingle. “Smarty people are happy people, they smile all the time because they’re feeling fine. It’s Smarty time.”

    Showing my age a bit there. Smarties were tiny chocolates.

    Why are SIM sellers nice, but not condescention service providers?

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