Whether it’s the thumbprint-scanning 5s or the colourful 5c you’re after (and you can read all about them here if you’re undecided), here’s a run-down of the cheapest ways to get your hands on one.
I want a free phone
If you don’t want to fork out anything upfront for an iPhone 5c, there are pay-monthly tariffs where you get the phone for ‘free’.
For example, you can get a 32GB iPhone 5c on O2’s Refresh plan for £42 a month. With that you’ll get unlimited texts and minutes and a 1GB data allowance.
With the Refresh plan, you pay for your airtime and phone separately, so if you want to change your phone at any time, you only have to pay off what you owe for the handset for the rest of the contract.
For example, if you’re bored of the 5c after six months on this tariff, it’ll cost you £450 to pay off the phone (that’s 18 months of phone payments at £25). With a standard £42-a-month tariff (that doesn’t split the costs) it would cost you £756 (18 x £42).
Remember you could also recycle the 5c for cash towards paying off the remaining £450. At the moment, selling a 32GB iPhone 5c through our recycling partner would get you £350 towards that total.
If you keep the phone for the duration of the 24-month contract, the total cost of the tariff will be £1,008.
Vodafone will give you a free 5c with unlimited minutes and texts and an 8GB data allowance (if you sign up before October 31 – otherwise you’ll get 4GB) for £47 a month. You’ll be tied into this deal for 24 months. The total cost of this tariff over two years is £1,128.
At the time of writing, there are no tariffs with which you’ll get a free iPhone 5s.
I want low monthly payments
The more you pay upfront for the phone, the lower your monthly bill will be.
For example, if you give O2 £529.99 upfront, you’ll get a 16GB iPhone 5c with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 750MB of data for £12 a month. Over the two years, this will cost you a total of £817.99, but as it’s a Refresh plan and the phone is paid off in full from the start, you’ll be free to recycle or upgrade your phone at any time.
Bear in mind, however, that a 16GB 5c costs £469 direct from Apple. It may be cheaper to do this and opt for a SIM-only deal.
On EE, the lowest price you can pay each month for the 16GB 5c is £26. To get this, you’ll have to pay £189.99 upfront. On this tariff you’ll get unlimited calls and texts and 500MB of data. Over two years this will cost you £813.99.
With Vodafone, the least you can pay for a 16GB 5c is £42 a month, with £19 upfront. For that you’ll get unlimited calls, texts and 6GB of data. Over two years this will cost you £1,027.
Three’s cheapest pay monthly deal on the 5c comes in at £37 a month, plus £49 upfront. This will give you 500 minutes, 5,000 texts and as much data as you like. Over 24 months you’ll pay £937.
Not all of the networks have released pricing details for the 5s, instead only allowing customers to register their interest, for now.
O2’s lowest monthly cost for the 5s is £22, if you pay £600 upfront. For that you’ll get unlimited calls and texts and 8GB of data. Over two years that brings your total cost to £1,128.
EE’s cheapest pay-monthly 5s tariff costs £26 a month when you pay £259.99 upfront. For this you’ll get unlimited calls and texts, plus 500MB of data. Over the two-year term, this will pile up to £883.99.
I want a short contract
Vodafone and EE’s shortest contracts on the 5c are 12 months. With a shorter contract you’ll pay an inflated monthly fee and/or more upfront for the handset.
EE’s cheapest 12-month deals will cost you £931.99 over the course of a year and will give you unlimited calls and texts, plus 4GB of data. This includes the minimum £259.99 you’ll have to pay upfront, though.
Vodafone’s 12-month deals will cost you £853 and give you unlimited minutes and texts, plus a minimum data allowance of 6GB (2GB after October 31). With Vodafone you’ll have to pay at least £229 upfront.
With O2’s Refresh plan, contract lengths work differently as you can pay off the phone component of the contract at any time and upgrade to a new handset while continuing to pay the airtime component of the contract, and that’s for both the 5c and 5s.
Vodafone will offer the 16GB 5s on a 12-month contract starting at £47 a month, with £79 upfront. With this you’ll get unlimited calls and texts, plus 6GB of data, and pay £643 over the year.
The absolute shortest contracts are actually on SIM-only plans, which can last for as little as one month, but you’ll need to buy the phone outright, SIM-free, first.
I have the phone, I need a SIM
If you buy a new iPhone SIM-free, you’ll want a SIM-only deal.
T-Mobile does a one-month nano-SIM with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data for £11. Stick with this for a year and the 5c would cost you £601. (That’s £469 for the handset and 12 payments of £11). With the 5s it’ll cost you £681.
If you don’t want download limits, 3 has a 30-day nano-SIM with 200 minutes, 5,000 texts and unlimited data for £12.90 a month. iPhone 5c cost over one year: £623.80; iPhone 5s cost over one year: £703.80.
If you have the cash to pay for the phone upfront (£469 for the 5c, £549 for the 5s) then it’s cheapest to get a SIM-only deal to go with it.
With 30-day SIM-only deals starting at £5 a month, you’d be free to sell the phone and end the contract at any point – perfect for the inevitable release of the iPhone 6, if you like to keep up.
If you don’t want to fork out any cash upfront, O2 is probably your best bet at £42 a month for a 5c because you can change your phone whenever you like with its Refresh plan.
If you’re happy to pay a bit upfront for a 5c, EE is competitive at £26 a month and £189.99 for the handset (total cost of £813.99 over two years). The data allowance is fairly paltry at 500MB, though.
A happy medium would be O2’s £99 upfront and £42-a-month 5c tariff, which gives you unlimited minutes and texts, plus a healthy 5GB of data.
You can get cheaper tariffs on both handsets by going for a 3G plan instead of 4G, but then you won’t be able to take advantage of the super-fast mobile web tech.
As ever, comparing tariffs is complex because they’re not often like for like. When comparing mobile tariffs, make sure you look at call, text and data allowances as well as the overall price – otherwise a cheap tariff could prove a false economy.
Find out more!Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct