iPhone 5 deals: Best UK plans

The UK iPhone 5 deals have hit the mobile operator's pages and it's time to pre-order yourself an iPhone 5. There are masses of options out there with colour, size of memory, price plan and up front payments all to consider. Pocket-lint has put all of them together right here to see which ones we like. So, here are the best iPhone 5 deals around right now.

Take a look at everything iPhone 5 related on our iPhone 5 homepage right here.

Unlocked and SIM-free

You’ll get no bonuses and no service if you buy your iPhone 5 through Apple but you will get it at rock bottom price and with no strings attached. It’s also worth taking notice of how much the three iPhone 5 models cost so that you have a pretty good idea of how much more all the extras cost when dealing with the mobile networks.

So, black or white, the 16GB iPhone 5 costs £529, the 32GB iPhone 5 costs £599 and the 64GB iPhone 5 costs £699. The best value and most practical option seems very much to be the 32GB iPhone 5.

T-Mobile

iPhone 5 deals over 24 months

From the way its pre-order page is set out, it looks like T-Mobile would rather push you towards its Full Monty, 24-month contracts with unlimited texts, minutes and data. If that sounds good to you, then it’s a choice of whether you’d like to pay £36, £41, £46 or £61 each month.

What becomes apparent when you start doing the maths is that your value for money drops as you choose to pay more each month and less up front. As such, it’s the £36 per month iPhone 5 package that you should go for.

If you’d rather spend less per month, then there are £21, £26 and £31 options. Each comes with 50, 100, and 300 minutes respectively and you’ll pay £339, £249 and £179 for the 16GB iPhone 5 up front. Text is unlimited and data set to 750GB. Again, the more you can manage up front means the less you pay overall.

iPhone 5 deals over 18 months

There are no official Full Monty packages over 18 months but the tariff bands are similar. You can pay £26, £31, £36, £41, £46 or £51 for 50, 100, 300, 600, 900 and 1200 minutes respectively. Each deal comes with 750GB of data and only the bottom package doesn’t offer unlimited texts. While it might be frustrating to tie yourself in for longer, the 24-month deals look of much better value.

Fair usage warning

T-Mobile’s “unlimited” data packages come with a fair usage policy that states that there is a notional limit to the amount of data you can use per month but you won’t ever be charged you if you go over it. Instead, the company may limit the amount you download or stream once you’ve passed it. The bad news is that this limit seems to be as low as 1GB, which doesn’t sound very unlimited at all.

Orange

iPhone 5 upgrade

Before we get stuck into the iPhone 5 deals on Orange, anyone already on the nation's most colourful and animal-friendly network should note that there’s an iPhone 5 upgrade section. Go here first, enter your phone number, get a code back and see what kind of incentive Orange is happy to give you. Good luck.

iPhone 5 deals over 24 months

Orange’s unlimited ‘The Works' iPhone 5 deals are very, very, similar to those on T-Mobile but we rather like the more explicit description of what you get on the data front. There’s a choice of paying £36, £41, £46 or £51 each month and you get 1GB, 2GB, 3GB and unlimited GB of data respectively with each alongside unending phone calls and texts.

Again, the more you pay up front, the less you pay overall, so we’d probably recommend either the £36 per month or £41 per month deals on either the 16GB or 32GB iPhone 5. You’ll also get access to BT Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots and Orange Wednesdays, of course.

Interestingly, Orange isn’t offering any 18-month deals. So, if The Works is too much for you, your choice is to drop down to £31, £25 or just £20 per month. We couldn’t advise going below the £31 deal, however, as the £25 comes with inly 250MB of data and the £20 deal with just 100MB. They may seem cheap but you’d end up paying much more in out-of-contract charges.

Three

iPhone 5 upgrade

As with Orange, Three has an iPhone 5 upgrade section. Go here first and see if the network can offer you something special.

The One Plan

Three is keeping it super simple. There are two plans. The first - the one with all-you-can-eat data, 2,000 minutes and 5,000 texts - is The One Plan. The 16GB iPhone 5 is £36 per month with £79 up front, the 32GB iPhone 5 is £39 with £89 up front and the 64GB iPhone 5 is £42 with £109 up front. They're all good value.

Unlimited Internet 500

Like the name says, this plan is very similar to The One except your all-you-can-eat data is accompanied by 500 minutes and 5,000 texts which is plenty for most people anyway. This time, the 16GB iPhone 5 is £34 per month with £79 up front, the 32GB iPhone 5 is £37 with £89 up front and the 64GB iPhone 5 is £40 with £109 up front. Essentially, the saving in service works out cheaper by £48 over the term of the contract. It’s not massive but half a tonne is half a tonne.

Nano SIM-only

Things start to get interesting with Three if you take a look at its Nano SIM-only plans. You can still get The One Plan but there are also 600 minute and 200 minute plans, and, if you choose to tie yourself in for 12 months rather than just 30 days at a time, you’ll save yourself a few quid too. For us, it’s either the Essential 600 or Ultimate 600 12-month plans all the way.

Vodafone

iPhone 5 upgrade

Once more, Vodafone is offering an iPhone 5 upgrade path for its customers. Enter your details and see what you can get.

iPhone 5 deals over 24 months

£33, £37, £42 or £47 - that’s the choice from Vodafone. They bring 500MB, 1GB, 2GB and 2GB of data each month in that order and are all unlimited minutes and texts except for the bottom plan which lends you just 600 minutes of talk time.

Once you add in the up-front handset costs, they total price over two years comes out virtually identical to the other networks with the general rule of thumb that the bigger the initial outlay, the cheaper the contract overall.

Of course, as with Orange, the benefit of going with Vodafone is the 2GB of BT Openzone access and Vodafone’s EuroTraveller package which can keep your roaming costs down to just £3 each day you use your mobile from the EU. There's no reason not to go with Vodafone but we're not hugely compelled here either.

iPhone 5 deals over 12 months

Picking a 12 month iPhone 5 deal is very much a case of swings and roundabouts. You pay less overall but then you get a year’s less service. Your costs up front are higher and the package less generous but then you’re tied in for half the time and you can sell you phone for much more at the end of your contract.

If 12 months suits you, then it’s a case of either £36, £41, £46 and £51 each month. Each has 1GB of data apart from the bottom package which comes with just 500MB. As for minutes, it’s 300, 600, 900 and 1,200 respectively. Our advice here is that if you’re thinking of something along these lines, then go SIM-only with Three instead and buy your handset up front in one go.

O2

iPhone 5 upgrade

Yes, O2 has an upgrade path for those customers looking to get in on the iPhone 5 action. The network also has a dedicated standard plan for any of their cohorts who are within 6 months of the end of their current deal. They may choose to pay £63 per month and get unlimited data, texts and minutes for 24 months. Quick piece of advice - don’t bother.

iPhone 5 deals over 24 months

As with Orange, there are no 12 or 18-month iPhone 5 contracts from O2. Interestingly, there’s absolutely no difference in the packages either. You get unlimited calls, texts and minutes with each of them. It’s a question of how much you want to pay up front and our advice here is to pay as much up front as you possibly can. After that, it’s a about signing up to either £26, £31, £36, £41 or £46 each month. You can take a look at the up front handset costs for each iPhone 5 here on O2.

What strikes us straight away is that you can get some great deals on the £26 price plan if you go in store to get your iPhone 5. The 16GB iPhone 5, for example, plus the £26 per month over £24 months comes out at just £874 in total which is the cheapest two-year deal out there.

iPhone 5 PAYG

There’s not much iPhone 5 PAYG on pre-order at the moment but O2 has got something to say about that. O2 has what they call iPhone 5 Pay and Go Go Go. You pay £10 per month. For the first three months, that gives you 75 minutes, 500 texts and 100MB of data plus whatever you’d like to top up with. After three months, your bonus mins, texts and data double and after a further three months they double again to the point where your texts become unlimited. Not too shabby.

4G

A note on 4G. Bear in mind that only Orange and T-Mobile iPhone 5 deals are going to offer you the iPhone 5 on a 4G network more or less from the start. You'll have to get a contract with them and then get another one with EE when the 4G networks launches a few weeks later. We don't quite know how that's going to work at the moment and it might be pricey, so do beware.

Those looking to go with Three can expect 4G courtesy of EE's 4G UK network some time next year.

As far as the other two operators go, the iPhone 5 deals you get now and the handsets you get with them will not work on 4G. Not now, not ever. More than likely, there will be a separate iPhone 5 launched with a different 4G radio inside to work on the 4G networks that O2 and Vodafone will launch some time in 2013.

Best iPhone 5 deals

If we were buying ourselves an iPhone 5, then it would be Three all the way. We recommend buying your iPhone 5 from Apple and then getting a nano SIM-only package with a 12-month tie in. It gives you the best service for the least money and means 4G speeds from some time in 2013.

If 4G doesn't bother you and nor does signing up to a 24-month contract, then you can't beat the iPhone 5 on O2 for both price and service plan if you're happy to pay as much as you can at the start of the deal.

Of course, not everyone has £500 to spend in one go. If that's the case, just find the deal that represents the maximum you can pay up front with the least possible monthly spend, and don't choose anything with less than 500MB of data to use each month or you'll pay for it in extras.

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