The best iPad 2 tariffs

The iPad 2 finally hit Britain on 25 March, causing long queues of gadget worshippers at Apple stores across the country.


The ground-breaking touch-screen tablet computer is now half as thick as the original, twice as fast thanks to its dual-core processor, equipped with cameras front and back, and boasts the same 10-hour battery life. Click here for our full review.

While some technology analysts think this version is merely a short-lived evolutionary step on the road to the iPad 3, the iPad 2, which now comes in white as well as black, still presents a tempting proposition.

What are the best deals around?

Mobile operator Three, the smallest of all the UK carriers, is still leading the pack with its generous monthly data allowance of 15GB. It’s offering the 16GB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G to new customers for a one-off cost of £229, then £25 a month on a 24-month contract. The 32GB model costs £279, the 64GB £379. Existing customers get £30 off those one-off costs. This is definitely the deal to beat.

Vodafone is offering the same fixed prices but charges £27 a month for a 24-month contract and only gives you a 2GB monthly data allowance plus 1GB of BT Openzone Wi-Fi data as well. Think hard about your likely monthly data usage before committing because Vodafone charges a whopping £15 for each extra 1GB of data you use over your limit.

And significantly, the website says ‘Order your iPad now’ suggesting there could possibly be delays if demand outstrips supply. As it is Vodafone is quoting expected delivery times of two to four weeks.

If you’re not sure how much data you’re likely to use and you don’t fancy being tied into a 24-month contract with a total cost ranging from £847 to £995 depending on which iPad model you choose and whether or not you’re an existing customer, you could consider one of Vodafone’s 30-day plans.

With these you pay more for the iPad (16GB £499, 32GB £569, 64GB £645) but you’re only tied into one 30-day contract at a time, ranging from £3 to £15 for 250MB to 2GB of data. For light data users this could work out considerably cheaper. You could start off with the cheapest option, bearing in mind you’ll pay £2 per extra 250MB of data you use over your limit, and see how you go.

Orange offers similar prices for the iPad itself and £25 a month 24-month contracts, but is noticeably stingy on the data allowance – just 1GB anytime, 1GB quiet time (midnight until 4am) and unlimited BT Openzone Wi-Fi (subject to 10GB a month fair usage policy). Not much there to get excited about. T-Mobile is even more underwhelming as it doesn’t even throw in the unlimited Wi-Fi nor offer the 64GB model for the same prices. This is especially confusing given than T-Mobile and Orange are now effectively the same company under the Everything Everywhere brand.

Bear in mind that you can buy the iPad 2 SIM-free and sort out your own data provider. This should work out cheaper over the long term. The Apple store is quoting prices from £399 to £559 for the Wi-Fi only model, and £499 to £659 for the Wi-Fi + 3G model.

Strangely, and annoyingly for its customers hoping for loyalty discounts, O2 has decided not to offer the iPad 2 at all, but is offering data packages for it via its iPad 2 micro sim, which isn’t compatible with the iPhone 4. You can buy 200MB of data allowance plus unlimited Wi-Fi for £2.04 a day, or up to 2GB plus unlimited Wi-Fi for £15.32 over 30 days.

Orange’s SIM-only rolling monthly deal is more generous, offering 3GB of data plus unlimited BT Openzone Wi-Fi access for £15 per month. As with the Vodafone offer, light users could find these SIM-only deals a cheaper option.

But Three trumps the lot once more, offering 10GB for £15 a month with its SIM-only deal.

Before you buy

-Consider how much storage capacity you might need. If you’re likely to use your iPad mostly for surfing the web and accessing apps, 16GB may suffice. But if you want to store all your photos, music and downloaded films you may need the 32GB or 64GB models.

-Consider how much monthly data you might need. See our guide to data usage here.

-Bear in mind that the magnetic protective cover for the iPad 2 is sold separately and costs around £35.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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