Buying a new iPad that has Wi-Fi only is a simple enough affair. The prices are pretty much set and all you need to do is choose your favourite colour, memory size and do your best to resist as many iPad accessory upsells as you possibly can.
However, when it comes to finding the best deal on a new iPad Wi-Fi + 4G, there’s a lot more leeway in price and certainly the amount of data that included. As ever, Pocket-lint has had a scratch around and these are the best iPad Wi-Fi + 4G offers depending upon your needs.
iPad Wi-Fi + 4G on 24-month contract
Let’s get one thing straight first. If you’re planning on buying your iPad Wi-Fi + 4G subsidised as part of a long contract - and the only subsidised contracts available are for 24 month, the longest of all - then you’re going to be paying a lot more than if you bought the thing straight out. What’s more, you’ll also be locked into that deal for a whole two iPad cycles. So, in effect, you won’t be free to upgrade the thing until the iPad 5 comes out.
That said, for some people, it’s just not an option to go spending £500 or more in one hit, so, if this is the only way it can work for, you then these are the deals we’d advise.
For pure price, you can’t beat Three. You’re looking at a total spend over 24 months of £759, £829 and £899 of the 16, 32 and 64GB versions respectively and that's a £25 per month deal which beats anyone else out there right now. What’s more, the data allowance for that plan is 15GB per month - again, many, many times more than anyone else is has on the slab.
Worth a look: Orange
Arguably, 15GB is a lot more data than you’re ever going to need for you iPad Wi-Fi + 4G. Instead, Orange has a few bonuses as part of its deals that might make it a better option over 24 months.
The plans are the same £25 per month but work out more expensive overall, coming in at £799, £849 and £949. For that you get 1GB of anytime data, 1GB of quiet time data (between midnight-4pm) and 10GB per month of BT Openzone Wi-Fi access. The extra bonus is Orange Wednesdays cinema tickets and a free movie rental from the iTunes Store on Thursdays.
iPad Wi-Fi + 4G on 30-day rolling contract
One month rolling contracts still require you to buy your iPad Wi-Fi + 4G up front but are probably the best way of maximising your data while minimising your outlay. The trick to note is that they will require 30 days' notice to get out of.
It’s not an advertised deal but there is a Vodafone promotion on at the moment such that you can get 500MB of data plus 1GB of BT Openzone Wi-Fi time each month for £5 instead of the advertised £7.50. You’ll need to shell out the initial £499, £569 or £645 for the iPad up front but it’s still a great deal.
What makes the offer particularly good is that there are no out-of-plan data charges. If you go over your 500MB allowance, you’ll get charged a further £7.50 which will top you up with another 500MB. Do bear in mind that none of this data can be rolled over to the next month, though, so perhaps isn't something you should be aiming to do too often.
It may not seem like a huge data allowance but, in practice, very few people get through much tablet data at all. You can also get yourself out of the deal very quickly if you discover that it's not enough.
To get the deal from Vodafone, call them up and ask for it specifically. If they don’t offer it as with-device, then buy your tablet from Apple and get the deal microSIM-only from Vodafone.
Worth a look: Three
If you’re really not comfortable with just 500MB to play with, then Three’s 30-day rolling contracts not only bring you the cheapest devices up front but also the most data for your spend. The prices for the new iPad Wi-Fi + 4G are £479, £549 and £629 (£20 less than Vodafone) and you get a whopping 10GB to play with for a £15 per month spend.
MicroSIM-only 30-day contracts
Of course, you can always buy your new iPad Wi-Fi + 4G through Apple or another retailer and just head to the mobile networks for your microSIM. Again, the best deals are generally found if you can handle a 30-day rolling contract and, despite some reasonable packages from the other operators, it’s the same microSIM-only versions of the two deals above that work out best.
You’ll need to call up to get it but for the lower-end data users, which is most people, you just can’t beat 500MB plus 1GB of BT Openzone Wi-Fi for £5.
Worth a look: Three
And, at the power-user end of the spectrum, those who have no home Wi-Fi and rely on mobile broadband all the time would best opt for Three’s 10GB for £15.
Most of the deals at the very flexible, straight PAYG end of the spectrum aren't particularly good but there is one stand-out piece of value a long way above the others.
Outdoing its parent network, O2, the virtual operator Giffgaff has the best data prices for iPads at the low end. Five pounds will buy you 500MB to use within 30 days of purchase. You can also click an automatic top up so that you just pay another £5 each time you run out.
Upgrade your iPad
For those looking to upgrade, by far and away the best method is with a trade-in deal. It's certainly possible to sell your old iPad or iPad 2 on eBay or such, but a far more predictable way of doing things is on offer from Carphone Warehouse.
CPWH will give you between £245 and £355 for your iPad 2, depending on which version it is and the condition, and between £105 and £205 if you're still rocking the original device. That's quite a significant dent out of the £399 bottom end new iPad cost.
Three is pretty much the cheapest place to pick up an iPad Wi-Fi + 4G. It's even cheaper than the Apple Store. You'll need to sign up to one of the company's 30-day contracts to get one but they're decent value, so that's no bad thing.
Try to avoid the 24-month contracts if you can. You’ll end up paying 50 per cent more for the device in the long run and you’ll be locked in until the iPad 5 comes out.
When we chatted to the CEO of Giffgaff, it turned out that people don't use much mobile broadband data on tablet PCs at all. Hardly anything. So it might be worth starting small and seeing how you get on.
The flexible deals in which you pay per MB or per day might sound like a good idea, but they’re not. If you use mobile data on your iPad in those instances for any more than two days or 100MB, they cease to become cost-effective and if you’re only using your iPad Wi-Fi + 4G on mobile broadband for just two out of every 30 days, you might want to consider why you’re not just going for the Wi-Fi-only Apple tablet instead.
Last of all, and probably the most important piece of advice to note, is that you will not be able to use your new iPad Wi-Fi + 4G at 4G speeds in Britain. Not now, not ever. Not only does the UK currently have no 4G networks but, even when we do, they will not work at the same portion of the spectrum to which your iPad is sensitive.