Three’s refreshed its smartphone and SIM Only plans, replacing its old one-size-fits-all model with two different types of plan – Essential ones and Advanced ones.
There are a lot of similarities between the two, but there are also a number of differences, so we’ve created this guide to get to the heart of them and help you decide which plan is right for you.
We’ll get into what differs between the two plan types below, but there are a few things that are the same on both.
For example, both plans give you access to 4G data and you can also use 4G Super-Voice on both Essential and Advanced Plans, plus both offer free Wi-Fi on the London Underground, so despite the name Essential Plans offer more than just the essentials.
Advanced Plans are ideal for anyone who travels a lot, be it on holiday or for work, as they include Feel At Home – Three’s service which lets you use your minutes, texts and data in 18 international destinations. Many of these are in Europe, but the likes of the US and Australia are also included.
Essential Plans don’t offer Feel At Home, so you’ll have to pay Three’s standard roaming rates to use your phone abroad. Though bear in mind that for now Feel At Home is only available in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Sweden and the US.
It’s an impressive list, but if your travels aren’t likely to take you to those places then an Essential Plan might be a better choice.
Advanced Plans also allow you to use your data allowance as a personal hotspot, meaning you can tether other devices like laptops and tablets to your phone, getting them online when there’s no Wi-Fi available.
If this is a feature that you rely on then an Advanced Plan is the obvious choice.
While Essential Plans lack certain extras they’re cheaper as a result. Exact prices will depend on the allowances you choose and your handset choice (if opting for a Pay Monthly contract).
But as an example, at the bottom end you can get a SIM Only 12-month contract with 200 minutes and 500MB of data for just £6 on an Essential Plan, while it will cost £8 on an Advanced Plan.
Similarly, at the upper end you’ll pay £28 for 30GB of data, unlimited minutes and unlimited texts for a one month rolling SIM Only Essential Plan, but you’ll pay £33 for the same allowances on an Advanced Plan.
Every single phone on Three’s store is available on Advanced Plans, but only a subset of them are available on Essential Plans.
However, that subset includes both high-end and affordable handsets, so it’s still a decent selection. Right now it includes the: iPhone 6s 16GB, iPhone 6s 64GB, Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32GB, Apple iPhone SE 16GB, Apple iPhone SE 64GB, iPhone 5S 16G, iPhone 6 16GB, iPhone 6 64GB, Samsung Galaxy S6 32GB, Honor 7, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 32GB, iPhone 6s Plus 16GB, iPhone 6s Plus 64GB, Honor 5X, Microsoft Lumia 550, Sony Xperia M4, LG G4, Huawei Y3, Samsung J3, Sony Xperia X, LG Leon, LG G5, Huawei P9, LG G4C, and Samsung Galaxy A3 2016.
This isn’t likely to be an issue for too many people, but if you want truly unlimited data you’ll want an Advanced Plan, as Essential Plans don’t offer that much. However, you can get up to 30GB of data on an Essential Plan, which we’d wager is far more than most people use anyway.
Sure, Essential Plans lack some of the features of an Advanced Plan, but one of those features, namely tethering, can be added whenever you want, giving you the freedom to add or remove it as and when you need it and not pay for it when you don’t.
You can buy a 30-day add-on with 1GB of tethering allowance for £5, 3GB for £7 or 6GB for £8. Also, while you can’t get unlimited data on Essential Plans you can top your data up if you run low.
Advanced Plans are ideal if you go abroad a lot to locations covered by Feel At Home or like to tether other devices to your phone. Using your phone abroad on an Essential Plan is likely to cost more than you’re saving on your contract price and although you can buy a tethering add-on that too is going to end up pricier than an Advanced Plan if you tether regularly.
Unless you’re a really heavy user data limits aren’t likely to be a factor, since you can still get loads on Essential Plans, but if your phone of choice isn’t available on one that’s a good reason to go Advanced.
But if none of these are issues then there’s little to lose by opting for an Essential Plan and a lot to save.
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