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How to get a cheap Apple iPad

With the Apple iPad 3 to be announced in two days time, you might be thinking about snapping up an Apple iPad 2 on the cheap.

We’ve been thinking along the same lines too which is why we’ve scoured the internet for the best UK deals for the iPad 2 and compiled a guide on the best way to go about getting one on the cheap.


Apple iPad 2 Wi-Fi vs Apple iPad 2 3G and Wi-Fi – which iPad 2 do I need?

You probably already know this but there’s two versions of the iPad 2 you can buy. There’s the Wi-Fi-only versions, where you can only surf the web when connected to a Wi-Fi point.

The 3G and Wi-Fi versions come with a slot for a micro SIM card and let you browse the web wherever there’s adequate 3G coverage. As well as this you can connect to wireless access points as you can do with the non-3G version.

The Wi-Fi editions of the Apple iPad 2 are cheaper to buy up front and as there’s no 3G you don’t have to pay anything per month in order to access the internet, download apps and music, watch YouTube etc.

The downside is of course you’re then limited to where you can use your iPad 2. The 3G and Wi-Fi iPad 2’s mean you’ve got the freedom to use them in more places.

If you’re going to be using your iPad 2 mainly in the home you might not need a 3G iPad 2. Provided you’ve got broadband in the home and a wireless router then this is all you really need.

If you want to check emails or read ebooks on your iPad on the move then you might prefer the freedom that you get with a 3G and Wi-Fi iPad 2.


16GB, 32GB, 64GB. How much storage do I need?

Do you have a lot of music and movies that you’d like to listen to and play on your iPad 2? Will you be downloading apps and games from iTunes App Store? Do you have stacks and stacks of digital photos stored on your PC or Mac that you’d like to be able to flip through on the iPad 2?

We think that for most people the 16GB edition will give enough storage. Bearing in mind that it’s pretty easy to transfer pictures music and media between your iPad 2 and your desktop machines using iTunes, and storing pictures offline thanks to iCloud.

That said, if you’ve got a lot of music the 32GB or 64GB versions might be more suitable, but there’s no point paying for storage you won’t use.


Apple iPad 2 – Apple’s prices

These are the standard prices for the iPad 2 from Apple. As you can see the cheapest version going will set you back £399, for the 16GB Wi-Fi only edition.

At the most expensive, 64GBs with 3G and Wi-Fi the cost of an iPad 2 climbs to £659 – and that’s before you add on the monthly cost of whichever data contract you sign up for.

Given that the data contracts are typically 24-months long, we’ve broken down the costs of the Wi-Fi only iPad 2’s into 24 month chunks, so you can see how much an iPad costs in comparison to a phone.

iPad 2 Wi-Fi only (16GB): Initial cost: £399.00 – Over 24 months: £16.63 per month
iPad 2 Wi-Fi only (32GB): Initial cost: £479.00 – Over 24 months: £19.95 per month
iPad 2 Wi-Fi only (64GB): Initial cost: £559.00 – Over 24 months: £23.30 per month

iPad 2 3G and Wi-Fi (16GB): Initial cost: £499.00 – Over 24 months: £20.79 per month
iPad 2 3G and Wi-Fi (32GB): Initial cost: £599.00 – Over 24 months: £24.12 per month
iPad 2 3G and Wi-Fi (64GB): Initial cost: £559.00 – Over 24 months: £27.45 per month

As you can see the Wi-Fi only iPad 2s are immediately cheaper and that’s even before you add data. If you don’t think you’d be out and about enough to benefit from the extra coverage, it doesn’t make financial sense to get one.

Shop around

When looking for an iPad with Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and 3G, we’d suggest shopping around using price comparison websites. Apple products (especially the iPad) tend to hold their value, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll get £100 off, but if you’re canny you can get significant savings.

For example: Amazon is selling Wi-Fi only iPad 2s for a little less than the going rate. The 16GB version can be bought for £383.49 (£15.51 less) and 32GB versions are going for £450 (£29 less). Currently, there aren’t any Wi-Fi only 64GB editions there.

Play currently has stock of the 16GB 3G and Wi-Fi iPad 2, going for £434.95 with delivery included – that’s a saving of £64.

Buying second hand

If you don’t mind not having a brand-new iPad boxed up neatly, then it’s often cheaper to get second-hand one far cheaper. When the iPad 2 launched in 2011, many people put their original iPads on eBay meaning it was possible to get one very cheap. If you just want an iPad and aren’t bothered which one, this is worth considering.

Computer Exchange/We Buy

CeX aka Computer Exchange has some interesting offers going, with reconditioned 16GB iPad 2’s going for as little as £370 (£29 less) and they come with a 12-month warranty.

We’ve also spotted 32GB Wi-Fi only iPad 2’s going for £420 (£59 less) and a 64GB-er going for a very low £360 (£199 less), but deals change all the time, so keep checking.

The thing with Computer Exchange is you’ll be able to trade in your own items in order to earn credit. So if you’ve got some mint condition gadgets lying around you could drive these prices down even further. As is the case with pre-owned goods you’ve got to take into account the fact that they’ve been used before and might not be in box fresh, store bought condition.


We’ve seen a few lower-than-normal prices of 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad 2s including one going for £320 (plus £7 postage) at the time of writing, and another starting at £310 (plus £5 postage).

Bear in mind that prices on eBay fluctuate and be prepared to set yourself a limit. A bargain’s not a bargain if you end up paying £10 less than the standard Apple price for a second-hand iPad 2, without a receipt Also, keep an eye on merchants stock levels if you’re going down the Buy It Now route.

Apple iPad 2 3G and Wi-Fi

To use an iPad out and about with 3G, you’ll need to get a micro SIM. You can either sign up to a contract when you buy an iPad or opt for a SIM-only deal.

Carphone Warhouse sells iPad’s combined with data packages, where you pay a flat rate for the iPad and a montly data charge. This is often useful because the cost of the iPad is subsidised up front.

At the time of writing this most of the stock has been cleared. But if you can get a 64GB 3G and Wi-Fi iPad 2 for £349 – £210 less than the standard price – plus £25 a month for data provided by Three, Orange or T-Mobile. Including the initial cost of the iPad 2 plus 24 month’s worth of £25, this works out at:

iPad 2 3G and Wi-Fi (64GB): Initial cost: £379.00 and £25 for data – Over 24 months: £39.54 per month

Of these data providers mentioned above, we’d suggest going for the Three deal, £25 a month gets you 15GB instead of 1GB – or fifteen times the amount of data – that you get with the Orange and T-Mobile contracts.

Apple iPad 2 best SIM-only deals

If you’re buying a 3G and Wi-Fi iPad 2 straight from Apple or elsewhere and you’re not signing up for a data contract, at some point need to think about your micro SIM options.

In the following tablet we’ve broken down the monthly cost of a 30-day rolling SIM-only plan. A rolling plan is automatically renewed every 30 days.

Looking at this it’s clear that for 1GB data, giffgaff and Three are the most competitive

If you’re 3G use is more sporadic – for example you’ll only need data when you go away on business, then it might be worth considering a daily or weekly plan.

O2 offers £2.04 will give you 200MB of data to use within a 24 hour period, which you can activate on a top-up pay-as-you-go basis as and when you need it.

Orange offers pay-as-you-go type offering where the pricing is worked out at 5.1p per single MB. This roughly works out at 20MB per £1. The service is capped at £40 a month – or 800MB – so it’s not great value for intensive use.

T-Mobile charges £2 a day for 250MB or £7 a week for 500MB.

Three charges £10.49 for 1GB use over 30 days on pay-as-you-go.

Points to consider

  • Don’t get a 3G and Wi-Fi iPad 2 unless you really need to. You’ll save a considerable amount of money if you go for a Wi-Fi only iPad 2.
  • The 16GB editions are by far the cheapest options – if you don’t need 32GB or 64GB of storage, then don’t waste your money.
  • If you are buying a 3G and Wi-Fi iPad 2, weigh up the cost of buying one with a data contract or going for a rolling SIM. It’s possible to shop around, get a cheaper second-hand iPad 2 upfront and then sign up for a rolling SIM-only plan
  • When buying a second-hand or refurbished iPad 2, consider that it won’t be shop-bought quality. Unless you get a warranty included with a second-hand purchase, you might not be able to get any free servicing or money back if anything goes wrong.
  • When buying second-hand, be suspicious of any pages on eBay that don’t come with an image. If someone is selling a 64GB iPad 2 at a bargain price, but there’s no image, ask to see some shots before parting with your cash.
  • Think about how much data you’ll actually use. 1GB of data will let you browse around 10,000 web pages or download 200 songs. If you think you’ll use more it’s often cheaper to buy a bigger package.
  • Finally, a point to consider is the inevitable launch of the next iPad – the iPad 2 will undoubtedly see a price drop. So unless you really need an iPad 2 right now we’d advise waiting a month or so to see what happens.


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