3G switch-off: find a replacement phone

Back in January, we shared the news that the process of switching off our 3G network would begin this year, like other networks. As the vast majority of modern phones meet the requirement of being 4G-VoLTE compatible (also known as 4G Calling), we anticipate that most of our customers will not be affected by the 3G switch off and so won’t need to take any action. However, a small number of customers may need to get a replacement device to continue receiving service from SMARTY if their current device is only 3G compatible or is an early iteration of a 4G device that is not capable of 4G calling. If you know your phone is not 4G Calling compatible and are looking for a replacement, we’ve cut out some of the guess work and put together some suggestion to give you the upper hand when searching for your new device.

Finding phones for all budgets

Shop refurbished with reboxed®

We’ve partnered with reboxed®, who offer a wide range of refurbished smartphones for up to 40% less than their new retail price. Better yet, SMARTY customers can get up to a further £30 off, so there are some great savings to be made. This means you can get amazing phones like the iPhone SE 2020 or Samsung A42 for under £200 with an extra SMARTY discount. These lower cost alternatives to the leading brands’ flagship phones have plenty to offer in terms of features and performance, and the savings available through reboxed® provide excellent value for money. If you’re a SMARTY customer then log into your account and click on the reboxed link in your SMARTY dashboard for the discount to be applied automatically at reboxed’s checkout.

Reboxed discounts Dec 2023

SIM free smartphones under £100

If you’re looking for a budget smartphone, we’ve recently taken a look at a number of SIM-free smartphones that you can get for less than £100. Although these obviously aren’t quite as powerful as leading devices from the big name brands, these phones still boast impressive sets of specs, often at a fraction of the price. Read our recommendations here.

MoneySavingExpert cheap phone finder

MoneySavingExpert has a great cheap phone finder that you can use to find SIM-free phones based on your needs and/or budget. Simply answer a few questions about things like what you want from the phone or any specific makes you may want, and the tool will return results from a range of sites to help you find the perfect replacement.

Big button mobile phones

Phone users with big button mobile phones may be more likely to be affected by the switch off of 3G networks, as many big button mobile phones only connect to 2G or 3G networks. If you or a relative use a big button mobile phone that will be affected by the 3G switch off, we recently wrote about a selection of big button mobile phones that are both packed with great features and are 4G-VoLTE compatible, so will be ready for the 3G switch off. You can find out more about these phones here.

Consider what’s important to you in a phone and shop around this

Nowadays, with lots of phones having so many features and selling points, it can be tempting to look for a device packed with outstanding features – but how many of these would you use and are they worth the extra cost they can incur?

While you might expect the top flagship phones to always be the best in every department, this isn’t necessarily true – battery capacity is a good example of this, with many mid-range smartphones actually boasting greater capacity than a lot of the big name flagship phones. So, if you’re not looking to use a phone for more demanding activities like gaming, choosing a mid-range phone could be a more cost-effective option for you that may also allow you to use your phone for longer between charges.

Similarly, if you don’t plan to use a phone for much outside of the basics and don’t think you will be saving many apps or a lot of media on the device, one of the easiest ways to cut costs on a device is to opt for a model with less storage, if available. If you are unsure about settling for less storage, consider looking for a phone with an SD card slot, so that you have the flexibility to expand the storage later down the line if needed.

What-s most important to you in a phone!

Keep costs down by shopping older models

Prices of a phone tend to fall quite sharply when a newer model is released, so if there’s a certain device you’re interested in, it may be worth checking out previous iterations if you’re also being mindful of costs. Although having the latest device may be appealing, you may also find that the differences between models aren’t as significant as first thought and that an older phone may still be more than suitable for your needs. Opting for an older phone may also give you more opportunities to save money by shopping refurbished, given second-hand newer devices may be more difficult to come by.

Hopefully by now you have a good amount of options in mind to be ready for when 3G switches off in your area. It may feel like a load of malarkey, although all networks will go through this at some stage and it will be well worth it in the long run!


The information provided in this blog was accurate at the time of publishing and is subject to potential changes or updates.

Any external pages we have linked to in this blog (i.e. those outside of the SMARTY website) are not owned or managed by SMARTY in any way. Although we may include links for you to visit these pages more easily, we are not responsible for the content and information you may find on these.

  • SMARTY Team
  • July 11th, 2023