Tesco Mobile has announced that the coveted iPhone will be available in stores on Monday 14th December. So with Orange, O2, Tesco and Vodafone all offering the iPhone, where can you get the best deal?
Pay Monthly options
The cheapest pay monthly deal you can go for is an iPhone 3G; for £462 for a year – that’s £222 on the 8GB handset, and £20 a month for a year. This includes unlimited web access and £60 worth of calls and texts per month.
Of course, if you want an iPhone 3GS, you’re looking at £560 for the year - £320 on the iPhone itself, then the same deal on calls, web and texts.
The mega-bonus is that you can sign up for just 12 months – so there’s a good chance you’ll be free and clear by the time the next update is out.
Value has always been a key concern for Tesco Mobile, with a Tesco Mobile spokesperson telling us today, “It was important for us not to come out with something that was just a few pence cheaper."
The minimum contract length you can sign up for with Orange is 18-months, so the lowest cost iPhone 3G (8GB) you can opt for sees you paying a total of £624 over the year-and-a-half. That’s £96.50 on the older handset, and £528.48 on your monthly bills (£29.36 per month).
If you’re willing to sign your soul away for the whole two years, you will get the handset for free and just pay the £29.36 monthly for 24 months – which comes in at a total of £704.64.
For the higher-spec iPhone 3GS (16GB), the lowest-priced 18-month option comes in at a total of £712.98 over the life of the contract. You’ll pay £184.50 upfront for the handset, and then £29.36 per month.
But again, if you go for the 24-month deal, the handset will set you back £125.00 (saving you just under £60) but you’ll then pay £29.36 per month for 24 months. The total cost to you over the two years will be £829.64.
O2 offers a variety of 18 and 24-month contracts for iPhone customers, but the lowest outlay you can opt for is their 18-month £29.38 tarrif, which gives you the iPhone 3G (8GB) for just £98.89. Your total 18-month spend will be £625.73.
All the 24-month deals from O2 see you getting a free handset, but the lowest monthly tarrif available is £34.26, so you’ll pay a minimum of £822.24 across two years.
For a 16GB iPhone 3Gs, your cheapest O2 option is an 18-month contract at £29.38 per month – paying £528.84 for your calls, texts and unlimited web plus £184.98 for the iPhone itself. Over 18 months, you’re looking at a total of £713.82.
On a 24 month contract, you can get the handset for just £87.11, but your minimum monthly spend is £34.26 – or £822.24 over two years. The total spend comes in at £909.35.
While Vodafone has been teasing its business customers who have registered an interest in the iPhone, there have been no tidbits released on tariffs, handset costs or release dates yet. We’ll keep you posted…
Update: Vodafone has announced that it will be selling the iPhone from January 14th 2010, with a range of 18- and 24-month contracts available and particular focus on the business customer. For the lower-end 8GB iPhone 3G, the cheapest deal is an 18 month contract; you'll get the handset for free, but will pay £40 per month for eighteen months for the privilege. This works out at £720 across the year-and-a-half contract.
You can also get the iPhone 3G for slightly less per month if you're prepared to be locked in for two years. The lowest monthly fee is £30, and there's a small outlay of £59 for the handset; coming to a total of £779 over the two year contract.
The more desirable, higher-spec iPhone 3GS (16GB) is the one to watch: the monthly fees are the same as the 3G, but watch out for those higher handset fees. On an 18-month contract, you're looking at a minimum of £40 per month and £89 for the handset, totalling £809 altogether.
For a 16GB iPhone 3GS on a 24-month deal, you'll pay £149 for the handset but on a £30/month plan. Over 24-months, you're looking at a total of £869.
Pay as You Go options
For the handset itself, the lowest Tesco will go is £342 for the iPhone 3G 8GB model. If you’re planning on topping up around £15 per month you can enjoy triple credit (pay £15, get £45 worth) and you’ll also get unlimited Web and Wifi throughout.
For an iPhone 3GS 16GB, you’ll need to stump up £440 but you’ll get the same triple-credit deal and a better handset.
Orange offers all kinds of brilliantly-named animal-themed deals for Pay As You Go customers, so you can enjoy the benefits that suit you for low top-up costs. For example, on the Monkey £10 top up deal you’ll get the 300 free texts, free music access and the £10 of credit that you’ve bought. Plus, of course, you’ll get 2 for 1 cinema tickets on Wednesdays.
The outlay for the handset itself on this deal is £343, and you have to top up when you buy – so you’re looking at a minimum initial cost of £353.
For the iPhone 3GS 16GB model, you have to pay £440 for the hardware with the minimum initial top-up amount of £10. So to buy this iPhone, you’ll need £450 in your pocket.
O2 will charge you £342.54 for the iPhone 3G 8GB handset, with a minimum top up of £10.
For the iPhone 3GS 16GB model, you’ll pay £440.40 for the handset and the lowest top up of £10.
There are some great deals on top ups – for example if you top up £10, you’ll enjoy 500 free minutes to O2 mobiles and certain landline numbers.
There are no pay-as-you-go deals from Vodafone yet.
iPhone fans on a budget, you’re in luck. Tesco Mobile’s deals on both the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS offer you the lowest cash outlay of all the options. Offering a 12-month contract means you aren’t tied in for more than one birthday, but we wonder what the upgrade deals will be like. Having said that, though, the £20 a month tariff is the lowest available by around £10.
If you aren’t worried about being tied in for 18 or 24 months though, the handset costs are much lower on Orange, O2 and Vodafone, so you might find its better value for your needs.
When it comes to PAYG, the handset costs don’t vary much due to the control from Apple but there are some great top-up deals available from all the operators. The best advice we can give you is to really think about what you need from your phone and use this to make your decision.