The best iPad 2 deals

The iPad is this year’s must-have gadget, with almost three quarters of tablet computer users choosing Apple’s iconic version.

When the iPad 2 first hit the shelves in March this year, Apple stores across the country were inundated by fans desperate to get their hands on the groundbreaking touch-screen tablet.

And similar mayhem is predicted when the iPad 3, which may well be launched before the end of the year in the US, finally arrives in Britain at some point next year.

Until then, however, the big question for fans of the iPad 2 is where to find the best deals on the different models available and whether to buy through a network provider or direct from Apple.


Which network providers offer the best iPad 2 deals?

For new customers, Orange, T-Mobile, 3 and Vodafone all offer the 16GB iPad 2 at £229 with a 24-month contract, while existing Orange, T-Mobile and 3 customers can snap up the same model on the same terms for £199.

The 32GB model, meanwhile, costs £279 for new customers with all four networks and £249 for existing Orange, T-Mobile and 3 customers – again with contracts lasting 24 months.

And for those wanting the 64GB iPad 2, the cost with Orange, 3 and Vodafone (T-Mobile does not offer this model) is £379 for new customers, or £349 for customers already with Orange or 3.

Monthly costs are also similar with all four networks – regardless of which iPad 2 you choose – with only Vodafone charging £2 more a month than its rivals, all three of which charge £25 a month.

However, while the costs are broadly similar, the inclusive data offered by the different contracts varies widely.Orange provides its customers with 1GB of data, plus unlimited BT Openzone Wi-Fi, while T-Mobile gives iPad 2 users just 1GB but makes no charge if they exceed their allowances.

Meanwhile, Vodafone offers 2GB plus 1GB of BT Openzone Wi-Fi as standard, and 3 has the most generous allowance at 15GB.
It is also one of the more expensive providers should you exceed your data allowance, though, charging 10.2p per extra MB.

Orange, on the other hand, charges 5.1p per extra MB, while Vodafone customers pay a whopping £15 per extra GB.

Compare prices and network tariffs for the iPad 2 here.

I already have an iPad 2/would prefer to buy my iPad 2 SIM-free. What are the best options for me?

If you do not want to sign up to a 24-month contract, another option is to buy the iPad 2 SIM-free and sort out your own data provider. Depending on your usage levels, this should actually work out cheaper over the long term, even though you will pay more for the tablet upfront.

The Apple store is quoting prices from £399 to £559 for the Wi-Fi only models, and £499 to £659 for the Wi-Fi + 3G versions.

Mike Wilson, mobile and broadband expert at MoneySupermarket, said: “Although the upfront cost is subsidised, you will probably end up spending a lot more over the period of the agreement if you buy the 3G version through a mobile network provider because of the monthly bill.”

What’s more, with millions of BT broadband users now able to get online for free away from home via BT Wi-Fi hot spots and the Cloud becoming more accessible, avoiding signing up to a long-term contract may prove a wise move.

“As Cloud access begins to expand in the UK we may soon see the scenario where users won’t need to access their 3G network, but will instead use their home broadband package on the move,” Wilson added.

The good news is that all the main networks offer SIM-only deals, with contract lengths ranging from one day to three months. 

O2, for example, has a daily SIM costing £2.04 and providing you with 200MB of data and unlimited Wi-Fi, and two 30-days SIMs costing £10.21 and £15.32, depending on whether you want 1GB or 2GB of data to complement your unlimited Wi-Fi.

Orange's daily SIM also offers 200MB of data for the slightly lower price of £2, while it also has a weekly version that gives you 1Gb of data for £7.50 a week.


Over one month, meanwhile, you can get 3GB of data plus unlimited BT Openzone Wi-Fi access for £15, which is a better deal than with either O2, Vodafone, with which you pay £7.50 a month for 500MB or £15 a month for 2GB plus 1GB of BT Openzone Wi-Fi, or T-Mobile at just 1GB of data for the same price.

You can, however, save even more with a 3 monthly SIM offering 1GB of data for £7.50 – half the price of the T-Mobile deal offering the same data terms – or a massive 10GB for £15 a month.

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

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