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Samba mobile broadband

Samba overview

  • FREE mobile broadband data in return for viewing online adverts
  • PAYG top-ups can also be purchased
  • Dongle package and standard SIM an iPad Micro SIM is also available

Best selling Samba mobile broadband deals

Samba Broadband Genie Road Test results

Samba Mobile Road test
Samba ZTE MF190
rating - 3 stars3 stars
rating - 3 stars3 stars
rating - 2 stars2 stars
Coverage & stability
rating - 3 stars3 stars
Feelgood factor
rating - 4 stars4 stars
Dongle software
rating - 4 stars4 stars
Overall rating
rating - 3 stars
3 / 5

May 2013

As a relative newcomer to the market this is Samba’s first appearance in the Road Trip. They’re another MVNO jumping off Three’s signal, but differentiate themselves by offering free mobile broadband. Watching adverts on the Samba web site racks up data credits at no cost, though you can still purchase data credits if required.

Because it’s running on Three, Samba SIM cards will work in any Three branded dongle, but we were using Samba’s own branded ZTE MF190 dongle. This is a basic device with a maximum speed of 7.2Mb. Nothing fancy here but the software is lightweight and unobtrusive, and there’s an optional browser plugin to keep track of your credit.

Since it’s using Three we had expected a roughly similar performance, but in line with the outcome of other MVNOs tested Samba had a weaker performance than its home network.

In the speed tests it had an average downstream rate of 0.97Mb, and an average upload speed of 0.74. That’s from seven successful speed tests out of the total 13. This isn’t awful, putting it fifth in the speed test rankings, but it was disappointing that the download speed couldn’t get more than 1Mb on average. It did have the occasional strong result though, particularly a peak speed of 3.33Mb.

In the video tasks it did reasonably well, comparatively speaking. Three of the 11 tests was successful (the best performing dongle managed five), with another just a few seconds off finishing and a few more which began playback but weren’t able to buffer in time. In the download and upload tasks it was a similar story, with a middling but not disastrous six of 11 completed, while two of the failed attempts got over 50% of the way through before running out of time.

Samba had an overall result of 17 out of 37 successful tests in the 2013 Road Trip, putting it in the middle of the pack. Despite the oddity of an MVNO falling well behind its home network in performance, in Samba’s case some consideration should be given to its free credit system which for low volume use makes it significantly cheaper than any other provider.

Overall analysis of the Mobile Broadband Genie Road Trip 2013

by Matt Powell May 2013

About Samba

A new name on the mobile broadband scene, Samba Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) which uses the Three network.

Samba's unique selling point is free mobile broadband access: in return for watching video advertisements users are awarded data credits which allow you to surf without purchasing top-up credit.

Ads can be watched through a web browser or an iPad, and earned credit does not expire, so it can be gathered and stored ahead of time.

While not suited to heavy users who will quickly burn through the credit from an ad, Samba's free broadband is perfect for occasional use. In particular the iPad Micro SIM is a brilliant low-cost option for getting an iPad online when away from a Wi-Fi network.

Read our review to find out more about Samba Mobile.

Samba customer reviews

Show all 23 Samba Mobile reviews»

  • unhappy

    by sandy at 22:59 on 19 Feb 2014

    Don't expect to earn credit whilst viewing the ads using the samba sim. You will often use more data than you can earn.You also have more limited access to the ads when using the samba sim to view the ads.

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  • neutral

    by Chris K at 13:23 on 10 Dec 2013 | registered | 167 posts

    Just a correction or query about Samba downloads speeds quoted here.

    Although 3 / Samba don’t have 4G yet they do have DC-HSPA+42 that I on average 12 Mb/s download and best achieved so far 22 Mb/s and all with a Samba sim. Also to add to get these speeds compatible equipment is required.

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  • neutral

    by Chris K at 15:00 on 4 Aug 2013 | registered | 167 posts

    I joined Samba about October/ November last year and have saved an absolute fortune since.

    The big deal is the no expiry time on the data you earn. In the past I have brought countless sims for mobile broadband and they time expire long before I have used up the data that comes with them.

    I use a small amount of data throughout the year and a large amount when on my UK holidays away from home.

    This is where I really score as I saved about 4.5 GB of data through the winter and have loads for my caravan holiday in Dorset with all the kids being happy with their devices connect to my Mifi device with download speeds from Samba via 3 putting the others in the shade.

    You can earn about 1 GB a month on average so if you are a low user this is a brilliant deal.

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  • happy

    by terry taylor at 17:47 on 7 Mar 2013

    i think this is an amazing deal, sure there are times when there aren't many ads, but it is a free service, apart from the cost of the sim or dongle. I love it for my ipad and thinking of getting a dongle for my laptop.

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