What’s the cheapest way to get an iPhone 4S legitimately in the UK? That’s the conundrum that’s been confronting me for the past few days.
I’ve been on a £30/month contract with O2 for my old iPhone 3G, but I’m sure I can do better. I’m a medium data user (between 0.5 and 1Gb/month) and make relatively few calls and send few SMS. I travel a lot, so even the cheaper package roaming prices for data offered by some networks are too costly for me (more on the roaming conundrum here), so I have a MiFi and PAYG SIMs for other European countries for that.
So what did I discover? This is the table calculating a price for a 32Gb iPhone over 24 months, with various data and call packages with the main networks. Data for this was compiled 7-9 October 2012 – it’s accurate as far as I can tell. Click the table to enlarge.
The cheapest option – by a full £76 over two years – is to buy an unlocked iPhone 4S from Apple directly, for £599, and put a GiffGaff PAYG SIM in it, and top-up £10/month for unlimited data (although no tethering according to their T&Cs). I’ve survived without tethering for two years in the UK, no big deal, so I don’t think that’s going to stop me…
Now of course GiffGaff could change their prices and my calculations wouldn’t stand. But I would be the owner of an unlocked iPhone and could go elsewhere if I need to (O2 and 3 both offer 500mb for £10/month), and would still be better off financially than I would on a contract. For £15/month I can get an unlimited data SIM from 3, which together with the unlocked iPhone would still be cheaper than 3’s unlimited data option on a contract.
Now all of this strikes me as a rather perverse outcome, and not one I had expected. Your thoughts and comments are most welcome!