(Pocket-lint) - Three UK launched its initial 5G network in the UK in August 2019, with a broadband plan for London-based homes. Now its full mobile service is available in many more locations around the country.
Customers in 66 towns and cities across the UK can now access 5G services, as long as they own a 5G-enabled handset - such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 series.
Here then is everything you need to know about Three's 5G network, including the phones, rollout locations, prices and much more.
What is 5G?
5G is the name given to the next-generation mobile service that promises faster speeds, lower latency and more stable signals than ever before.
It runs concurrently with 4G and 3G services, so those shouldn't be affected if you don't want to switch right now.
5G requires new hardware, either specific, supported smartphones or mobile broadband routers that can access the bandwidths it uses. The possibilities are great, however, with 5G services set to improve mobile and even home gaming, offer incredible upload and download speeds, plus provide seamless, always-on internet connections for smart home appliances and, even, cars.
Is Three 5G available now?
Three launched the first phase of its 5G network in mid-August 2019. It offers an alternative to high-speed internet through fibre optic cabling.
Now it has expanded its network to cover mobile 5G services in 66 locations across the UK.
London, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry and Nottingham are among the headline locations that were "switched-on" in February 2020, but there's a full list below.
Where is Three 5G available?
Three 5G is currently available in the following UK towns and cities:
- Brookmans Park
- Cardiff / Caerdydd
- Hedge End
- Hemel Hempstead
- Lower Stondon
- Shelly Green
- St. Albans
- Swansea / Abertawe
What phones and devices are available on Three 5G?
Three offers a selection of 5G Android handsets and we've listed all of those here.
Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, S20+ 5G, S20 Ultra
Three is offering all three of Samsung's new Galaxy S20 5G handsets. That's the best-value 6.2-inch Galaxy S20, the larger 6.7-inch S20+ and the spec-leader - the Galaxy S20 Ultra which has a 6.9-inch display.
The big difference between these devices comes down to the cameras. While the Galaxy S20 and the S20+ are broadly the same, the setup of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is completely different - with a whopping 108-megapixel sensor for the main camera.
Huawei Mate 20 X 5G
Some of its rivals are yet to decide whether to include the Huawei phone in their line-ups, but political uncertainty hasn't stopped Three. This phone also has access to the full gamut of Google services unlike the newer Huawei phones such as the Mate 30 Pro and upcoming P40 series. It comes with a mammoth 7.2-inch display.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G is one of the best value 5G phones around and sports a 6.39-inch 2340 x 1080 FHD+ Samsung AMOLED display. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor ensures it runs like the clappers, too.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20, What3Words CEO, and Withings Sleep Analyzer reviewed - Pocket-lint podcast ep. 65
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
Last year's Samsung flagship will be an increasingly cheaper 5G option. The S10 5G comes with a 6.7-inch display, 4,500mAh battery and a quad-camera system. It's also available across the other major providers.
Samsung Galaxy A90 5G
Designed as a mid-range option but still packing a punch, the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G is a next-generation device that won't break the bank. It offers a glorious screen and a fabulous, solid design.
Three 5G broadband devices
Three is offering the below Huawei router at present, but will reportedly offer a different HTC option in future. Huawei makes many of the consumer 4G and 5G broadband routers in use in the UK.
Huawei 5G CPE Pro Router
Three is using the Huawei 5G CPE Pro Router for its 5G home broadband service. If you sign up to a plan - from £22 per month - this is the device you will get. Vodafone is also offering this same router - it appears it's the best option for static 5G for now.
HTC 5G Hub
Three has also confirmed to Pocket-lint in the past that it will be offering the HTC 5G Hub in future - an Android-powered router with a screen and media playback capabilities. However, there's no sign of this as yet.
How fast can Three 5G be?
We are yet to see the Three network in action fully, so cannot give you any real-world speeds at present. We will bring you more when we've tested the network ourselves when it expands to a wider set of regions.
However, Three itself claims that its network has the potential to be the fastest of all the big providers, including EE, Vodafone and O2, citing average speeds of 232 Mbps generally with peak speeds in excess of 1Gbps possible.
That's because it holds spectrum in the 140MHz block, including access to a 100MHz contiguous black that is potentially capable of delivering faster 5G speeds. Other operators hold 40MHz and 50MHz blocks. That situation is set to change a little when Ofcom holds another spectrum auction this year.
Indeed, the other networks aren't that happy about the current situation because they believe it may give Three a competitive advantage. Ofcom wants a 37 per cent cap on the spectrum that one network can hold following the auction.
How much does Three 5G cost and what are the best deals?
The best news about Three's 5G mobile offering is that it is offered at no extra cost to customers. Yes, it's a free upgrade to all Three customers on contract, SIM-only or PAYG plans.
Of course, you need a 5G phone to access the superfast network but the main thing is you won't need to upgrade your existing tariff.
SIM-only unlimited 5G plans will start at £20 per month. Prices for Three's 5G home broadband service start at £22 per month.