The ultimate iPhone 4 price plan chart

With Pocket-lint breaking the news of the final set of iPhone 4 price plans courtesy of T-Mobile and our tipster, shoppers finally have the chance to take a grand look at every deal and decide which is the best one for them.

The trouble is, of course, that there's 94 different contracts you can sign up to in the UK, which include either the 32GB or 16GB Apple iPhone 4, and behind all the monthly payments, handset costs and the lengths of the agreements, it's very easy to lose the most important piece of information there is - how much is it all going to come to?

But don't worry, there's no need to get the calculator out because we've been busy with the abacus this afternoon and done all the leg work. So, here are all the UK pay monthly iPhone 4 deals starting with the very cheapest at the top, ending in the wallet-bashers at the bottom.

Tesco Mobile's deals are in white, Vodafone's in red, O2's in mid-blue, Three's in light blue, T-Mobile in pink and Orange in, er, you can probably work that one out.

The Table

 

The Analysis

The first thing any sensible person will notice from looking at this table is that iPhones cost a lot of money. The average customer will probably end up shelling out around £900 over the course of their agreement. Quite a chunk of cheese.

The second thing a sensible person will notice is that the best way to reduce this is by going with Tesco Mobile who stand head and shoulders cheaper than any of the competition. Granted, the £589 package doesn't give you the world of minutes to play with but the 250 on offer is certainly a lot healthier than the odd 75 and 100 chucked in by a few other operators at their lowest prices. What's more, you're also getting 1GB of data.

Now, naturally, this all comes out of two things. The first is that you have to pay a lot up front for the handsets and the second, and more telling, is that the contracts only last 12 months. That may sound useful because you won't be tied in for as long, but then you don't get any of the service for the following 6-12 months that you will with the others. All the same, even if you add in the cost of a SIM-only monthly charge on top of that, it's hard to see that Tesco isn't offering pretty much the best around.

The other two networks that are hard to ignore, for all the right reasons, look to be both Vodafone and Three. It only takes a glance at the table to see some good patches of red right from the top and very quickly with the kinds of price plans that a medium to heavy user would want to consider. Vodafone is also the first network to get a 32GB iPhone 4 on the board with an 18 month and 24 month agreement - and that's with a 1GB data plan as well.

O2 isn't so much behind with its deals as more to the side, offering competitive price plans here and there but definitely watch out around the £900 price point. Lots of choice from the same network there with some very different value packages at surprisingly similar cost.

Three doesn't offer many deals but when it comes in on the table it tends to blow the others out the way with the amount of minutes, texts and data involved and the network certainly makes a good case if you are happy to sign up for 24 months.

Despite Orange featuring a little too heavily at the bottom of the table there is the odd tariff that stands out as good value such as the 18 month, 16GB model at £889, but you might find more joy elsewhere.

The only network that seems to have brought a knife to a gun fight on every single occasion is T-Mobile. It's simply done for minutes and texts by the others at every turn, and where it isn't, it's usually because it's for a 16GB phone rather than a 32. Is this why there was such a wait before the company raised the curtain?

 

Deciding factors

What's excellent to see this time around is that having six networks involved means that there's finally a plan to meet just about everyone's needs at a price point that works - even if Steve Jobs still ultimately has the upper hand. That said, there are plenty of times on the table when some of the deals seem too similar to separate. If you find yourself facing one of these decisions, then these are the things to remember:

Orange
Orange might seem expensive for the big packages, but there's a reason for that. Start spending more than £60 a month on your contract and the company will throw in 20Mbps home broadband as well. Go for £75 per month and you get 20MB of free roaming data on top. All of Orange's iPhone plans include free Wi-Fi on BT's Openzone public hotspots and there are a lot more of these than you might think. Last but not least - Orange Wednesdays.

Tesco Mobile
Nothing too complicated here but you do get BT Openzone Wi-Fi hotspot access as well.

O2
Same situation with O2. "Unlimited" access to BT hotspots until someone decides that you've passed a limit, of course.

Vodafone
It seems everyone has done the deal with BT for the hotspots, but Vodafone will also chuck in 5MB of roaming data per day if you're spending more than £40/45 with it each month on 24/18 month contracts.

T-Mobile
So, not quite everyone made that deal with BT, it seems. However, the news isn't all bad if you want to get it on with T-Mob. Every single one of its iPhone contracts comes with one of their Flexible Boosters. It's a typically difficult bonus to quantify but, if you can remember to change it when you need, you can get access to more minutes, texts, data and even cheaper charges when overseas. You can switch to a different Booster every 30 days and it's the kind of thing that could work out very well for the organised user.

Three
Extra Three to Three minutes is about as exciting as it gets here. There's no Wi-Fi tie in described on the company's tariff website which is surprising but, then, as the biggest data network in the UK along with T-Mobile, maybe both providers are pretty confident that you won't need it.

Finally

Last of all, do remember that despite companies saying that certain things are unlimited, they'll all be subject to fair usage policies hidden deep in the small print in a dusty corner of a website on a server in Samoa. The only network to have ditched this annoying term once and for all is Three. Good on them. As for the others, make sure you ask what the policy is before you buy. Happy hunting.



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