The One Plan from Three: Review & Comparison
January 25th, 2013
Three’s One Plan offers 2000 minutes, 5000 Three-to-Three minutes and 5000 texts. All-you-can-eat internet and tethering from £25/month.
The One Plan is the flagship Pay Monthly tariff of Three UK. Best known for its generous allowance of calls, texts and internet, the tariff starts at £20/month for 2000 cross-network minutes, 5000 Three-to-Three minutes, 5000 texts and 2GB of internet.
For customers who are paying £25/month or more, internet becomes unlimited (“all-you-can-eat” in Three’s lingo) and a free mobile broadband service is also provided through the tethering feature of your smartphone.
The One Plan is available in three different variations:
- £20/month – 12 month SIM-only contract (with 2GB internet)
- £25/month – 30 day rolling SIM-only contract (with all-you-can-eat internet and tethering)
- From £28/month – 24 month contract with a new handset (with all-you-can-eat internet and tethering)
The first two options (£20/month and £25/month) are designed for consumers who want to save money by keeping their current handset. You’ll be bringing your own device so you’ll need a 3G-capable smartphone that works on Three (you may need to unlock it first if it came from another network).
The third option (starting from £28/month) is for consumers who want a brand new handset. You’ll be able to pick up a new device such as the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S3, perhaps with a small upfront cost.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at The One Plan. We’ll compare the different tariff options as well as seeing how The One Plan compares to rival offerings from O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone. We’ll also look at handset compatibility, download speeds and how to keep your current phone number when moving to The One Plan.
- 1 What is “The One Plan” from Three?
- 2 How much does The One Plan cost?
- 3 Which handsets are available on The One Plan?
- 4 Which phones are compatible with The One Plan SIM?
- 5 How does The One Plan compare to rival offerings from O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone?
- 6 How does The One Plan compare to Three’s other tariff offerings?
- 7 Does Three offer 4G connectivity? What download speeds can I expect?
- 8 Can I tether on The One Plan?
- 9 Can I really use The One Plan as an alternative to a mobile broadband service?
- 10 Is it possible to get The One Plan on an 18 month contract?
- 11 Are there any fair usage policies for all-you-can-eat data?
- 12 What’s the coverage like on Three?
- 13 I’m switching to The One Plan. Can I keep my existing phone number?
- 14 Where can I get this deal?
What is “The One Plan” from Three?
The One Plan is Three’s flagship Pay Monthly tariff for smartphones. The tariff is essentially a high-end “worry-free tariff”: you’ll get a generous allowance of calls, texts and internet for a flat fee each month. Unlike on other tariffs with more restrictive airtime allowances, it’s unlikely that you’ll run out of minutes, texts or data on The One Plan. This allows you to use your phone without worrying about extra charges.
All variations of The One Plan include the following:
- 2,000 cross-network minutes
- 5,000 Three-to-Three minutes
- 5,000 texts
- Free voicemail
Smartphone owners can also benefit from the generous data allowances of The One Plan. The £20/month tariff comes with an allowance of 2GB internet (this is 4 times the industry standard of 500MB/month). 2GB is enough for browsing 6,000 web pages or for sending 4,000 rich e-mails including attachments.
For tariffs of £25/month and above, things get even better as data allowances increase. You’ll get:
- All-you-can-eat internet. Unlimited internet with no download limits and no fair usage policies. This allows you to use your smartphone to the maximum: you can download to your heart’s content – listen to as much music and watch as many videos as you like without the worry of additional data charges.
- Tethering & wi-fi hotspot. This is a mobile broadband service that can be accessed from any wi-fi enabled device. Supported devices includes laptops, tablets, e-book readers such as the Kindle, games consoles and MP3 players such as the iPod Touch. Your smartphone acts as the hub through which all of these other devices will connect.
It’s worth noting that calls and texts on The One Plan aren’t unlimited. Calls are limited to 2,000 minutes per month (plus an additional 5,000 Three-to-Three minutes). Texts are also limited to 5,000 per month. These limits are equivalent to making 67 minutes of outgoing phone calls and sending 167 text messages every day. As most people will never come close to this limit, we consider The One Plan as “essentially unlimited” for calls and texts.
Internet is limited to 2GB on the £20/month plan but is truly unlimited on plans of £25/month and above.
How much does The One Plan cost?
There are three variations of The One Plan, each at different price points:
|Type||Monthly Price||Upfront Price||Minutes||Texts||Internet||Tethering|
|12 month SIM Only||£20/month||None||2,000
& 5,000 Three-to-Three
|1 month SIM Only||£25/month||None||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|24 month with phone||From £28/month||On some handsets|
Whilst it’s possible to get a free handset for £28/month on a 24 month contact (see the cheapest handsets available on The One Plan), you should expect to pay a bit more if you want the latest high-end handsets. The Samsung Galaxy S3 costs £31/month plus £29 upfront on The One Plan whereas the Apple iPhone 5 costs £36/month plus £99 upfront. A complete price guide can be found on Three’s website.
Which handsets are available on The One Plan?
Three offers a large range of devices on The One Plan. Popular options include:
- Apple iPhone 5 with no download limits - £36/month on The One Plan (£49 upfront charge)
- Samsung Galaxy S3 with no download limits - £31/month on The One Plan (£29 upfront charge)
- Apple iPhone 4S with no download limits - £34/month on The One Plan (£29 upfront charge)
- £25/month SIM Card with no download limits
- £20/month SIM Card with 2GB download limit
The full list of available handsets can be found on the Three website.
Which phones are compatible with The One Plan SIM?
The SIM Only version of The One Plan is designed for consumers who already have a 3G-enabled smartphone. Any unlocked handsets or SIM-free handsets should work right away but if you purchased your phone from another network, it might be necessary to unlock it first. If you need help with unlocking, you may find our guides on how to unlock your iPhone, how to unlock your Galaxy S2 and how to unlock your BlackBerry useful.
When ordering your new SIM, Three asks you to select a SIM card type. You should ensure that the correct SIM card type is chosen for your handset. Some popular devices include:
- Micro-SIM: Many high-end handsets since 2012. This includes Apple iPhone 4/4S, BlackBerry 10 devices, Google Nexus 4, HTC One X/S, Nokia Lumia devices, Samsung Galaxy S3/Note 2, Sony Xperia S. You can check your phone’s SIM type here.
- Nano-SIM: Apple iPhone 5 only.
- Standard SIM: Other handsets.
You can make your SIM card selection online for both the £20/month plan (12 months) and for the £25/month plan (30 days). It is not necessary to the type of SIM card if you’re also ordering a phone at the same time.
If you upgrade your phone in the future or if you order the wrong type of SIM card, it’s possible to change your SIM card type at a Three retail store. This is no charge for this service.
How does The One Plan compare to rival offerings from O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone?
Since The One Plan originally launched in 2010, it has become Three’s most popular tariff. This has led rival companies such as O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone to offer their own alternatives to The One Plan. Tariffs which are comparable to The One Plan include O2′s On and On, T-Mobile’s The Full Monty and Vodafone’s Vodafone Red.
|The One Plan (Three)||On and On (O2)||The Full Monty (T-Mobile)||Vodafone Red|
|Plan Length with Handset||24 months||24 months||24 months||24 months|
|Price with Handset||From £28/month||From £26/month||From £36/month||From £28/month|
|SIM-Only Plan Length||12 months (£20/month)
1 month (£25/month)
|12 months||12 months||12 months|
|SIM-Only Price||From £20/month||£20/month||£21/month||£20.50/month|
|Minutes||2,000||Unlimited||2,000 OR unlimited||Unlimited|
|1GB as standard
2GB (extra charge)
|Unlimited||1GB as standard
2GB (extra charge)
|Tethering||Yes, included||Yes, included||No, not permitted||Yes, included|
|Voicemail||Free||Free||Part of minutes allowance||35p/minute|
|Speed Restrictions||No restrictions||No restrictions||4Mbit/s maximum download
1Mbit/s maximum upload
For a detailed comparison of Three and T-Mobile’s respective offerings, we’ve got a detailed comparison of The Full Monty & The One Plan.
How does The One Plan compare to Three’s other tariff offerings?
As well as The One Plan, Three also offers two ranges of Pay Monthly tariffs: Essential Internet and Ultimate Internet tariffs. We’ve got a detailed review and comparison of these tariffs here.
Essential Internet tariffs come with a 250MB monthly download allowance whereas Ultimate Internet tariffs come with all-you-can-eat data. Neither of these tariffs support tethering – this is permitted only for customers on The One Plan.
If you’re unlikely to make many phone calls and if you don’t tether, you may find that the Ultimate Internet plans provide better value. We recommend staying away from Essential Internet plans as the 250MB limit is fairly restrictive.
More information on the Essential Internet and Ultimate Internet tariffs can be found on the Three website.
Does Three offer 4G connectivity? What download speeds can I expect?
No. Three doesn’t currently offer 4G connectivity, although they are planning to do so later this year. 4G will offer typical download speeds of around 15Mbit/s.
With the latest 3G handset on Three’s network, you’ll currently experience download speeds of around 8Mbit/s. To achieve this, you’ll need a phone with DC-HSPA+ support (e.g. Apple iPhone 5). DC-HSPA+ will be available on 80% of Three’s network by April 2013. If you’ve got an older handset, download speeds may be slower (between 1.5Mbit/s and 4Mbit/s).
Our view is that 3G download speeds are more than enough for most consumers and 4G is unlikely to give many substantial benefits.
See our guide to 3G and 4G for more on download speeds and how they compare between 3G and 4G technologies.
Can I tether on The One Plan?
Yes. The One Plan comes with free tethering. This means you can share your high-speed 3G data connection with other devices such as a laptop, tablet (including wi-fi only iPad tablets), an iPod Touch, e-book reader or games console. Using this feature, all of your electronic devices can make use of “The One Plan” to access online content whilst you’re on the move – all they need to do is to be able to connect to a wi-fi hotspot produced by your smartphone.
In order to use this feature, you’ll need a phone which supports the mobile wi-fi hotspot feature. Most modern smartphones including the Apple iPhone and most Android devices now support wi-fi hotspot. For details of how to get it up and running, we’ve got a detailed guide on tethering.
Can I really use The One Plan as an alternative to a mobile broadband service?
Yes – in fact this is one of the primary benefits of The One Plan. We think that with all-you-can-eat data (on plans of £25/month and above) and free tethering, The One Plan is a great alternative to mobile broadband. Using your smartphone as a mobile wi-fi hub allows you to get up to 5 devices online: wherever you are.
Is it possible to get The One Plan on an 18 month contract?
Are there any fair usage policies for all-you-can-eat data?
According to Three, there is no fair usage limit for all-you-can-eat data. Since The One Plan launched in 2010, we have not received any reports of customers encountering hidden download limits.
What’s the coverage like on Three?
You should use the coverage checker on the Three website to ensure you can receive a signal from Three where you live.
I’m switching to The One Plan. Can I keep my existing phone number?
Yes. You’ll need to ask your existing mobile network for a PAC Code. This should be given to Three Customer Services once your new phone or SIM card arrives. Three will then handle the transfer of your phone number. It takes no more than 24 hours to transfer a phone number and you should experience no or minimal loss of service. Our PAC Code Finder tool can take you through the entire process of switching networks step-by-step.
Where can I get this deal?
I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.
Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.