Three UK review: Everything you need to know (May 2019)

Three is technically the U.K.’s second-youngest network — formed in 2003 — but many consider it to be the youngest, since industry leader EE was formed from the ashes of T-Mobile and Orange. Three’s age matches its status and its name: other networks boast vast amounts of capacity at all levels of the spectrum, but Three only offers 3G and 4G services.

Don’t miss: Picking the best U.K. carrier | Best Android phones you can buy in the U.K.

Despite being the smallest in the market, Three is owned by one of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates, CK Hutchison, and it’s this backing which is allowing it to shake up the market.

In this Three network review, we’ll analyze the network including its coverage, plans and what lies ahead for the U.K. carrier.

Network technology

Three’s network currently uses the following frequencies:

Frequency Protocol Class
2100MHz UMTS / HSDPA / HSPA+ / DC-HSPA+ 3G
800MHz LTE 4G
1500MHz LTE 4G
1800MHz LTE 4G
2100MHz LTE 4G

Three’s U.K. network has always been data-focused, with the network prioritizing the data-capable 3G standard ahead of the voice-centric GSM 2G standard. Other networks offer 2G services as a backup plan, but Three only offers 3G and 4G services. The carrier covers over 98 percent of the population with 3G, and over 99 percent with 4G.

4G LTE

Three was the last mobile network to offer 4G LTE in the U.K.. It didn’t switch its 4G network on until December 2013 and it then only covered four major cities. It wasn’t until late 2014 that the carrier’s coverage reached another 450 locations. Today, Three offers the lowest level of population coverage out of the big four carriers, but its 97 percent overall coverage is still comprehensive.

Editor’s Pick

Its 4G network was originally planned to operate in the 800MHz spectrum, but Three was also granted license by the regulator in 2012 to operate in part of the 1800MHz obtained through the creation of EE. Although limited in capacity, the 800MHz support means Three’s indoor and long distance 4G coverage holds up well.

While its rival networks all introduced 4G services at a premium to customers before almost dropping 3G contracts in their entirety, Three chose to tease its delayed network with a campaign offering LTE to all customers at no extra premium. The carrier’s early All You Can Eat data proposition drew in millions of customers looking for unlimited data.

4G is standard across all the U.K.’s networks these days, but Three still offers some compelling deals for the data hungry consumer.

Three 5G plans

5G logo

Three will launch its 5G network in the second half of 2019. This puts the network at the back of the pack for its 5G rollout, though all networks are starting slowly to begin with.

The carrier also hasn’t detailed its broader rollout plans. Aside from a couple of vague commitments to stock 5G devices such as the HTC 5G Hub and Huawei Mate X, Three has yet to confirm launch cities, phones, prices, or packages.

Three coverage checker

You can check to see if Three has the best mobile network coverage for you using the Three coverage checker.

VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling

Three supports Wi-Fi Calling on selected Apple, Samsung, LG, Google, Motorola, Alcatel, ZTE, Razer, Sony, and Huawei/Honor phones.

4G Calling (VoLTE) is offered by Three under the moniker “4G Super-Voice.” Selected Samsung, Apple, LG, Huawei, Sony, Lenovo, Microsoft, Razer, Motorola, and ZTE phones are supported.

MVNOs

Three leases its network to 11 mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the U.K.. The most notable of the bunch is iD Mobile — an MVNO network offered by the mobile retail giant Carphone Warehouse.


Three UK plans and devices

Backs of the Huawei P30 Pro, Google Pixel 3, and Samsung Galaxy S10

Pay Monthly Handsets

Three’s Pay Monthly handset (PAYM) plans offer a range of inclusive allowances, up to unlimited minutes and data. However, the actual plans and prices available depends on which handset you go for.

All of Three’s PAYM contracts come with unlimited texts and most come with unlimited calls. All contracts will tie you in to a 24 month contract for your new handset. Packages on leading flagships can start from as little as 1GB of data per month. At the most expensive end, you’ll also find unlimited data packages, complete with no caps on tethering (personal hotspot).

The only caveat with some of the less expensive packages is not including the Go Binge perk (more on that below) which only kicks-in on any plans over 4GB.

Overall, Three may not offer the bells and whistles that other networks do but what it does do is offer benefits and features its customers actually use. From no worries about going over data allowances to roaming abroad for free, the U.K.’s smallest network offers one of the best no-nonsense packages on the market.

Phone brands

Three stocks a wide range of phones from a variety of manufacturers on Pay Monthly. Below is the full list of the major brands:

  • Samsung
  • Huawei
  • Apple
  • Google
  • OnePlus
  • Honor
  • Xiaomi
  • Razer
  • Alcatel
  • ZTE

Three is also one of the few carriers to offer premium phones on Pay as you go and these are all unlocked as standard.

Pay Monthly SIM Only

Like every network, Three also offers SIM Only packages for customers who prefer to buy their phones and contracts separately. Three offers four different plans on either 1 month, 12 month, or 24 month contract terms with data ranging from 4GB to unlimited data. The 24 month plans represent some of the best value SIM Only packages from any U.K. network.

Here’s the current range of available Three SIMO plans:

Minutes Texts Monthly data 24-month price 12-month price 1-month price
Unlimited Unlimited 4GB + Go Roam & Hotspot £10.00/m £12.00/m £16.00/m
Unlimited Unlimited 12GB + Go Binge, Go Roam & Hotspot £13.00/m £15.00/m £19.00/m
Unlimited Unlimited 30GB + Go Binge, Go Roam & Hotspot £18.00/m £20.00/m £24.00/m
Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited + Go Binge, Go Roam & Hotspot £20.00/m £22.00/m £26.00/m

Pay as You Go Plans

Like many networks, Three splits its Pay as you go (PAYG) offerings into packs, with different amounts of minutes, texts, and data each month. To simplify its offering and make things easier for customers, Three’s 3-2-1 package offers easy to understand call charges for customers who go over their allowances or choose not to use a pack.

3-2-1 is Three’s way of not overcharging customers and the carrier has a big point: if a single minute costs a fraction of a penny, why do some networks charge 40 pence per minute on PAYG? 3-2-1 means you’ll pay just 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per MB of data if you go over your allowances or don’t have an active pack.

Compared to the competition, 3-2-1 is vastly cheaper and it’s a great reason to buy a Three PAYG plan, especially if you use your handset infrequently. Considering even PAYG customers get access to 4G without charge and your PAYG credit never expires, the case to choose Three on PAYG is certainly strong.

Those who want PAYG bundles can buy an add-on pack with set allowances. This offers up to unlimited data, however, you don’t get the Go Binge perk and other useful add-ons will cost you extra.

Here’s the current range of available Three PAYG plans:

Pack Cost Minutes Texts Data Duration
£10 Unlimited Unlimited 2GB 30 days
£15 Unlimited Unlimited 5GB 30 days
£20 Unlimited Unlimited 12GB 30 days
£27.50 Unlimited Unlimited 36GB 30 days
£35 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 30 days
£90 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 90 days

Three Perks

Go Binge

Go Binge is an initiative that allows users to stream from Netflix, Apple Music, Deezer, Snapchat, and other services without eating into their data allowance. This is available on all contract plans with 12GB of data and above.

Go Roam

Previously known as Feel at Home, Go Roam allows customers to use their call, text, and data allowance in over 70 destinations around the world at no extra cost. You can find a full list of the countries in the scheme here.

Three app

The Three app lets users view bills, PAYG allowances, check upgrade eligibility, and chat with Three’s customer service via live chat.

Mobile broadband

O2 offers a range of mobile broadband products like USB dongles, Mobile Wi-Fi routers, and data only SIMs. Here are the data-only SIM plans at the time of writing:

Data 24-month cost 12-month cost 30-day cost
1GB n/a £7.50 n/a
2GB £7 £8 £10
5GB £10 £11 £15
10GB £13 £14 n/a
15GB £16 £17 £20
20GB £13 £20 £23
40GB £22 £23 £30

Three’s main mobile broadband products are the Huawei AI Cube and Three HomeFi smart hotspots which connect up to 64 and 32 devices, respectively. These are intended as home broadband alternatives and offer unlimited data tariffs from as low as £22 a month.

Tablets, accessories, and smart home

Three stocks various tablets on contract and Pay as you go deals. This includes high end tablets from Samsung and Apple as well as more budget tablets from Alcatel and Huawei.

Three also has a dedicated store for accessories which sells cases, headphones, screen protectors, chargers, action cameras, and smart speakers.

Broadband, landline phones, and quad-play

Unlike a number of its rivals, Three does not offer any quad-play services to its customers, nor has it mentioned any current plans to offer quad-play services in the near future.

The closest Three has come to offering home internet packages is the aforementioned HomeFi or Huawei AI Cube, both of which run on Three’s 4G network, rather than traditional telephone or fiber lines.

Three HomeFi


Final thoughts

Three’s network has certainly undergone major transformations and improvements over the past few years. At first the company had the worst coverage in the U.K. but that’s changed drastically over the years. Things would have changed even further had the company been allowed to go through with its buyout of O2, but the sale was blocked by the European Commission in mid-2016.

From unlimited data and Go Binge, to Go Roam for free international allowances, Three offers a lot to its customers and almost always undercuts the opposition on pricing. Its network has also become more reliable over the years, and while the company still falls behind O2 and EE in customer service surveys (but ahead of Vodafone), customer satisfaction has been consistently on the up for years.

In short, if you want data and don’t want to break the bank, go to Three!


Are you a Three customer? Let us know your views on Three in the comments and don’t forget to vote in our poll below as well.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

British review finds “significant” security problems with Huawei’s equipment

Huawei P30 Pro logo (52 of 60)

  • A report from British officials found “significant” problems with Huawei’s telecommunications equipment.
  • It was also found that Huawei had “underlying defects” with its security processes.
  • The report didn’t call for a ban on Huawei’s equipment.

Huawei’s had a tough go in recent times as the company continues to push back allegations of security lapses from the U.S. and other countries. Unfortunately for Huawei, a report published earlier today on The New York Times doesn’t help its cause.

According to the report, a U.K. review found “significant” problems with Huawei’s telecommunications equipment. It also found “underlying defects” with Huawei’s software engineering and security processes.

In the review, British officials said that Huawei could not replicate the software it built. That means authorities couldn’t verify the code found in the U.K.’s wireless networks. British officials also said that Huawei had poor oversight of suppliers that made components for its offerings.

Backed by the U.K.’s top cybersecurity agency, the review didn’t call for an outright ban of Huawei’s equipment in the country. Instead, it said that governments and independent hackers could exploit the aforementioned defects.

Editor’s Pick

Even with these issues, the review acknowledges that issuing a ban on Huawei’s telecommunications equipment would be difficult and costly. Huawei is the largest telecommunications equipment provider in the world and has its equipment in use in many countries, including those in Europe.

Banning Huawei’s equipment could prove costly for carriers as they race to introduce their 5G networks. A ban could also prove costly for consumers, who might bear the brunt of the cost it would take to replace Huawei’s equipment with a competitor’s. These findings echo Vodafone CEO Nick Read’s comments that were made during MWC 2019.

The British review doesn’t put Huawei in a great light, but it somewhat derails U.S. initiatives to persuade other countries to block the company. Most recently, Huawei sued the U.S. government and claimed that the U.S. hacked into its servers.

Android Authority reached out to Huawei for comment, but didn’t receive a response at publication time.

You can now pre-order the Sony Xperia 1 in the UK

Even though the Sony Xperia 10 and 10 Plus are up for pre-order, the same couldn’t be said of the flagship Xperia 1. That changes today, at least in the U.K. — residents can now pre-order the Xperia 1 through Clove Technology for 849 pounds (~$1,104).

The Xperia 1 is available in black, purple, gray, and white. U.K. residents will have to wait a bit to play around with the phone — pre-orders will start shipping at the end of May. That said, you can import the Xperia 1 through Clove, so those in other countries aren’t left in the cold.

Editor’s Pick

Announced during MWC 2019, the Xperia 1 features a 6.5-inch OLED display with 4K (3,840 x 1,644) resolution and an incredibly tall 21:9 aspect ratio. The display also supports HDR, which should make movie-watching a treat when also taking the stereo speakers into account.

Elsewhere, the Xperia 1 sports three rear 12-megapixel cameras with varying focal lengths — one standard lens, a second telephoto lens, and a third super wide-angle lens. The phone also features a front-facing 8MP sensor, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage, a 3,330mAh battery, and Android 9 Pie out of the box.

If the Xperia 1 is too rich for your blood, the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus are stylistically similar and cost almost half as much. You can find out more about the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus’ pricing here.

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Oppo is making its way to the UK with the RX17 Pro, RX17 Neo, and Find X

Xiaomi made a big splash in the U.K. late last year, when it finally brought its mobile wares to the country. Now, Oppo is bringing its rival Chinese brand to the market, starting with three phones — the Oppo RX17 Pro, RX17 Neo, and its experimental flagship, the Oppo Find X.

The BBK company confirmed the news at a launch event in London on Jan. 29. It follows previous launches in France, Italy, Spain, and other Western European regions, with Oppo seemingly looking to gain a foothold in the wider European market.

Oppo RX17 Pro

The RX17 Pro features an in-display fingerprint sensor, a triple-lens camera (which includes a 3D Time of Flight sensor), and two batteries. The latter enables Oppo’s patented SuperVOOC charging technology which is capable of providing 40 percent battery in 10 minutes. Check out our Oppo R17 review for more details.

The RX17 Neo keeps the in-display fingerprint sensor, but loses a bit of processing power. Instead of the RX17 Pro’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 SoC, the Neo switches to the Snapdragon 670. It also drops from 8GB RAM on the Pro to 4GB RAM and only features a dual-lens camera (16MP + 2MP).

Both RX17 series phones offer up 25MP selfie cameras, as well as Oppo’s much vaunted AI camera features. In addition, both phones feature “waterdrop” notches which should be familiar to U.K. buyers thanks to the OnePlus 6T from Oppo’s BBK stablemate.

The main attraction, however, is the Oppo Find X and its mechanized “periscope” camera. In a novel solution to the notch problem plaguing near bezel-less phones, Oppo hides the front camera and the sensors used for 3D face unlocking in a mechanized panel that slides out the top of the handset.

The Find X also features Qualcomm’s (currently) top-tier Snapdragon 845 SoC, 8GB of RAM a 6.42-inch AMOLED display with a screen-to-body ratio of 93.8 percent, VOOC fast-charging, and a dual-lens rear camera (16MP + 20MP).

Related: Oppo Find X specs: Is this the most stacked phone of 2018?

The Oppo RX17 Neo will go for 319 GBP, the RX17 Pro will cost 549 GBP, and the Find X will unsurprisingly cost a premium at 799 GBP. You can pre-order all three devices from the Carphone Warehouse website (links below), with the devices official going on sale February 13. 

Oppo will face tough competition in the U.K. market, including from other Chinese brands like Huawei, Honor, and Xiaomi. While Oppo’s main market share comes from more affordable devices, the U.K., like most of Europe, is dominated by big-money flagships.

Editor’s Pick

The Find X should guarantee some attention in the short term at least. While Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3, which recently hit shelves in the U.K., technically snagged the spotlight for slider phones, the Find X is the only rival with a mechanized pop-up as the Vivo Nex never made it to U.K. shore.

Oppo is going beyond just a few product launches in the region too. The company confirmed a collaboration with London’s Royal College of Arts on a “product-designing project,” and reaffirmed plans to build a design center in the capital — making it the only Oppo design center outside of China.

Up next: Best Chinese Android phones

UK Deals of the Week: £50 off Pocophone F1 (128GB), 2 Google Home Minis for £59

Android deals Pocophone F1

Welcome to your weekly round-up of the best Android phone deals and offers on Android accessories, Android tablets, smartwatches, general tech, and a little of whatever else is on offer in the world of mobile for buyers in the U.K.!

Editor’s Pick

This week’s deals include a killer sale on the Pocophone F1, big discounts on a Samsung wireless charging stand, two Google Home Minis for less than £60, and much more.

Below are the most enticing offers we’ve seen this week hand-picked with a little help from the folks over at HotUKDeals – the U.K.’s biggest deal-sharing community.

Best Android deals Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite

Best Android Deals: Phones

Pocophone F1 (SIM free, 64GB) – £279 (was £329) @ Carphone Warehouse

Pocophone F1 (SIM free, 128GB) – £299 (was £349) @ Carphone Warehouse

Moto G6 (SIM free, 32GB) – £169 (was £219) @ Amazon

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro (SIM free, 64GB) – £230 (was £249) @ Amazon

Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite (SIM free, 64GB) – £209 (was £259) @ Amazon

Nokia 3310 3G (2017) (SIM free) – £19 (was £39) @ O2

Best Android Deals: Accessories

SanDisk 64GB MicroSDHC Memory Card – £9 w/ Prime (was £19, £10 non-Prime) @ Amazon

Logitech Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard – £17 (was £28) @ Amazon

Philips SHB4205WT Flite Hyprlite Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones – £14 (was £59) @ Amazon

Aukey Quick Charge 3.0 USB Wall Charger 18W – £9 w/ Prime (was £13) @ Amazon

Samsung Wireless Charging Desk Stand – £14 (was £59) @ eBay (Samsung UK Store)

Best Android deals Google Home Mini

Best Android Deals: Tech

2 x Google Home Mini – £59 w/ code GOGM2 (was £98) @ Currys PC World

BT Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 3 Discs – £148 (was £199) @ Amazon

Samsung Original Level Box Slim Wireless Portable Bluetooth Speaker – £42 (was £99) @ Amazon

Philips Hue Smart Personal Lighting Wireless Bulbs Starter Dimming Kit – £20 (was £29) @ Wickes

More UK content:

Have you seen any amazing Android deals this week? Be sure to share your finds in the comments.

UK Deals of the Week: Save £120 on Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, 40% off Lenovo Smart Display

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

Welcome to your weekly round-up of the best U.K. deals of the week for Android phones, network plans, accessories, smart home tech, and a little of whatever else is on offer in the world of mobile!

Editor’s Pick

This week’s deals include a bunch of discounts on Xiaomi phones, a huge saving on some Sennheiser over-ear wireless headphones, offers on the Lenovo Smart Display, and much more.

Below are the most enticing deals we’ve seen this week hand-picked with a little help from the folks over at HotUKDeals – the U.K.’s biggest deal-sharing community.

Honor 8x

Phones

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro (SIM free, 128GB) – £429 (was £549) @ Amazon

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro (SIM free, 64GB) – £179 (was £249) @ Amazon

Xiaomi Redmi S2 (SIM free, 32GB) – £129 (was £179) @ Amazon

Nokia 6.1 (SIM free, 32GB) – £149 (was £199) @ Carphone Warehouse

Moto G6 Play (SIM free, 32GB) – £127 (was £169) @ Amazon

Honor 8X (SIM free, 64GB) – £195 (was £229) @ Amazon

Accessories

SanDisk Ultra 128 GB Dual Type-C USB 3.0 Flash Drive – £31 (was £56) @ Amazon

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Over-Ear Wireless Headphones – £169 (was £379) @ Amazon

Lenovo Smart Display Speaker

Tech

Lenovo Smart Display – £99 (was £169) @ John Lewis

Huawei MediaPad T3 10 tablet (16GB) – £99 (was £129) @ John Lewis

Ultimate Ears Boom 2 – £59 (was £119) @ Amazon

Google Home Mini – £29 (was £34) @ Carphone Warehouse

More UK content:

Have you seen any amazing deals this week? Be sure to share your finds in the comments.

UK Deals of the Week: Google Pixel 3 with free Home Mini, Samsung Galaxy Watch mega bundle

Google Pixel 3 XL sale deal

Welcome to your weekly round-up of the best U.K. deals of the week for Android phones, network plans, accessories, smart home tech, and a little of whatever else is on offer in the world of mobile!

Editor’s Pick

This week’s deals include a big saving on the Google Pixel 3 with a free Google Home Mini thrown in extra, a great deal on the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact, a deliciously cheap Samsung Galaxy Watch/smart speaker/charging pad bundle, and much more.

Below are the most enticing deals we’ve seen this week hand-picked with a little help from the folks over at HotUKDeals – the U.K.’s biggest deal-sharing community.

Phone deals

Google Pixel 3 (SIM-Free, 64GB) w/ free Google Home Mini – £589 (was £739) @ John Lewis

Google Pixel 3 XL (SIM-Free, 64GB) w/ free Google Home Mini – £719 (was £869) @ John Lewis

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact (SIM-free, 64GB) – £319 w/ minimum £10 top-up (was £399) @ GiffGaff

Honor 10 (SIM-free, 128GB) – £319 (was £399) @ Carphone Warehouse

Huawei P20 (SIM-free, 128G) – £392 (was £599) @ Amazon

Motorola Moto G6 Play (SIM-free, 32GB) – £119 w/ minimum £10 top-up (was £169) @ GiffGaff

The Samsung Galaxy Watch.

Tech deals

Samsung Galaxy Watch w/ Amazon Echo Dot & Duo Qi Wireless Charging Pad Bundle – £299 (was £419) @ Currys PC World

Samsung Galaxy Watch w/ Google Home Mini & Duo Qi Wireless Charging Pad Bundle – £299 (was £418) @ Currys PC World

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – £29 (was £49) @ Amazon

Audio Pro “Addon T3” Bluetooth Stereo Wireless Speaker – £121 (was £199) @ Amazon

More UK content:

Have you seen any amazing deals this week? Be sure to share your finds in the comments.

UK Deals of the Week: Samsung Galaxy phones on sale, half price Amazon Echo Dot

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 deals

Welcome to your weekly round-up of the best U.K. deals of the week for Android phones, network plans, accessories, smart home tech, and a little of whatever else is on offer in the world of mobile!

U.S. Deals:

This week’s deals include a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for just £599, a Samsung Fast Wireless Charger for half price, a big saving on the Fitbit Versa smartwatch, and much more.

Below are the most enticing deals we’ve seen this week hand-picked with a little help from the folks over at HotUKDeals – the U.K.’s biggest deal-sharing community.

Huawei P20 deals

Phone deals

Huawei P20 (SIM-free, 128G) – £399 (was £599) @ Amazon

Motorola Moto G6 (SIM-free, 32GB, single SIM) – £169 (was £219) @ Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S8 (SIM-free, 64GB) – £362 (was £609) @ Amazon

Nokia 7 Plus (SIM-free, 64GB) – £269 (was £349) @ Amazon

Refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (SIM-free, 128GB) – £599 (was £799) @ Appliances Direct

Nokia 1 (SIM-free, 8GB) – £54 (was £79) @ Amazon

Fitbit Versa deals

Accessories

Fitbit Versa smartwatch – £139 (was £199) @ Amazon

SanDisk Ultra 64GB MicroSDXC – £9.49 (was £34.99) @ PicStop

SanDisk Extreme Pro 128 GB MicroSDXC – £26.99 (was £56.99) @ Amazon

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones – £279 (was £329) @ Amazon

Samsung Fast Wireless Charger – £19.99 (was £39.99) @ Carphone Warehouse

Amazon Echo deals

Tech deals

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – £24.99 (was £49.99) @ Amazon

Kano Computer Kit – £79.99 (was £99.99) @ Argos

More UK content:

Have you seen any amazing deals this week? Be sure to share your finds in the comments.

Xiaomi’s UK Mi Store is like a crazier Apple Store where you can actually afford stuff

Xiaomi logo Mi Store UK

Xiaomi’s recent U.K. launch was something of a mixed bag, but between the arrival of mega-affordable flagship phones, electric scooters you can’t ride in public, and a ‘Flash Sale’ that went terribly wrong, there was one intriguing announcement that went a little under the radar.

Editor’s Pick

Unlike other Android OEMs — including other Chinese imports in the U.K. like Huawei, Honor, and OnePlus — Xiaomi didn’t just go through the usual motions of signing deals with carriers and opening a regional e-store.

Instead, the Beijing firm announced plans to open a brick-and-mortar Mi Store in the U.K on November 18.

Less than a week after a successful opening day where hundreds of Mi fans rocked up to grab themselves a bargain, Xiaomi brought me along to see the Mi Store in all its sparkly new glory and browse the company’s first wave of products for the U.K. — here’s what I saw.

Xiaomi Mi 8

Apples and oranges

Xiaomi’s new store is located in London’s Westfield shopping center in Shepard’s Bush — a gargantuan palace of shops and restaurants that stretches out over 1.6 million square feet and houses U.K. high street mainstays like Marks & Spencers, Boots, and Next, as well as luxury brands like De Beers, Mulberry, and Versace.

The Mi Store, which proudly stands out among the rest thanks to Xiaomi’s bright orange logo, sits on level one of the main interior, just a few shops down and across from another enormous store occupied by a certain tech industry giant from Cupertino, California.

Funnily enough, after strolling into the Mi Store and taking a quick glance at the layout and color palette, you can’t help but think of Apple either.

Xiaomi wireless earphones

The light beige tones punctuated by lit-up landscape advertisements with simple product renders adoring the walls. The adjacent wooden tables with multiple demo products to play with at your leisure. The checkout counter at the rear sandwiched between two wall racks of accessories. It all reeks of Apple Store.

As if product design similarities weren’t enough (just check out those AirPods-esque earphones pictured above), it seems Xiaomi can’t help but mimic the iPhone maker in its stores too… bar a few significant caveats.

Pocophone F1

Bargain hunting

Xiaomi has built a solid reputation for delivering phones with insanely high price-performance ratios, culminating in the uber cheap, Snapdragon 845-powered Pocophone F1, which just so happens to dominate the entire front table of London’s Mi Store.

Editor’s Pick

This ethos extends far beyond the company’s phones, however — a fact that becomes immediately clear when you look at the sheer scope and diversity of products on sale, particularly those without any touchscreens.

You could as easily walk out of the Mi Store with a new phone as you could a new bit of smart tech to play with like a sonic toothbrush, a self-dimming desk lamp, a 60 pound Android TV box, or a torch (that’s also a portable charger), or even a set of bathroom towels, precision screwdrivers, a pair of UV protected glasses, or an umbrella. That’s without even mentioning those eye-catching electric scooters that greet you as you first enter the door.


Perusing any aisle that isn’t covered in smartphones is like being dragged on a dizzying journey through the scattershot minds of Xiaomi’s product team. Think of a mini Ikea (or almost any other scandinavian-style design) and you’re about there.

Confusing or not, it’s a nice change of pace from the rigid phones-computers-watches-accessories tech store blueprint popularized by Apple, and it’s quite easy to find something you probably don’t need but find yourself incredibly tempted to buy — a feeling that’s even harder to deny when you see the price tags.


Most reading this article here on Android Authority will be acutely aware of the corners Xiaomi has necessarily (and understandably) had to cut to offer iPhone-lookalikes at less than half the price.

Almost every single one of Xiaomi’s products is carries a price tag that belies its stylish design and solid build quality.

However, for anyone walking in cold, unaware of those caveats, the allure of a phone that looks, mostly feels, and undoubtedly performs like an elite, 800+ pound flagship may be hard to deny. In fact, almost every single one of Xiaomi’s smorgasbord of products is accompanied by a price tag that belies its stylish design and generally solid build quality.

Accessories like USB-C cables and dongles are less than half the price of their identical equivalents at other major electronics stores. Likewise, if you don’t care about sound quality and just want the cheapest way to listen to podcasts on the go, you can grab a mega-cheap pair of earbuds for only five pounds.

Related: Best earbuds you can buy

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro

Mixing it up

The downside of Xiaomi’s bit-of-everything approach to its Mi Stores is that the phones almost get lost among the many fun distractions. What chance does another rectangular slab with a display on it have against a swanky smart kettle that can keep water fully boiled for up to 12 hours?

It’s a shame, because as well as the Pocophone F1 and the Mi 8 series — which includes the newly released Mi 8 Pro — Xiaomi has an impressive selection of Android handsets on display.

Be it the Redmi Note 6 Pro, the Android One-powered Mi A2 Lite, or the aforementioned Pocophone F1, these are phones Xiaomi neglected to mention on its U.K. launch livestream, but thankfully get their time to shine face-to-face with the public.

The Mi Mix 3, Black Shark gaming phone, and Xiaomi’s Mi Notebook laptops should all arrive in 2019.

There are some notable absentees, however. The most obvious is the Mi Mix 3 bezel-less slider phone, which Xiaomi hasn’t confirmed for a U.K. release, but seems likely to make its way over early next year.

There’s also the Black Shark gaming phone and Xiaomi’s Mi Notebook Air and Mi Notebook Pro laptops. The former I was told will launch sometime in 2019, while the Mi Notebook family (which I can’t wait to get my hands on) will apparently start making its way to the U.K. in Q1/Q2 2019.

Xiaomi Mi Store headphones

Despite these omissions and the store’s unashamed Apple knock-off aesthetic, I came away fairly impressed by Xiaomi’s new store.

It’ll certainly surprise those who only see Xiaomi as a smartphone maker, which is an image the company seems far more keen on retaining for its online business than it does in the physical retail space.

I initially had my doubts about this approach, but the store staff say on a good day they can shift up to 20 of those hilariously impractical electric scooters. As for the best seller overall, that goes to the automatic folding umbrellas.

I have to say, after giving one a feel… those are some damn fine umbrellas.

Black Friday 2018: Best UK tech deals and promos

Black Friday 2018 has officially kicked off in the U.K. and bargain hunters can get their hands on a bunch of killer savings.

Below are some of our favorite Black Friday U.K. deals that are available so far and we’ll be updating all the deals throughout the day.

To make life easier, we’ve gathered up all the major retailers into this one master post, and from there you can dive even deeper into the deals.  We also listed all retailers below alphabetically to make it easier to spot them.

For all the U.S. Black Friday, be sure to check out our round-up here.

Amazon

Electronics

Gaming

Smart Home

Phones

Argos logo on mug next to Google Home smart speaker Argos

Argos

Currys PC World store Currys PC World

Currys PC World

Google Store

November 14 – November 26

November 16 – December 26

November 16 – December 4

November 22 – November 26

John Lewis store logo Steve F / Wikicommons

John Lewis

Microsoft

Flickr/Mike Mozart

Samsung

The Samsung logo.

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