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Cheap iPads

Find the best iPad deals and cheap 4G data plans

iPads have been top of the gadget wishlist for years - and the latest iPad Air 2 is no exception - but iPads aren't MoneySaving by anyone's definition. If you must have one, here are a few tips to keep down costs...

While prices don't vary much between stores, savings can be made with the 3G/4G models if you choose the right mobile data plan. This guide looks at the best available options.

Important! Ensure you know how to shop safely before trying these deals

DOs:
  • For safety, pay by credit card if £100+

  • Protect purchases under £100

DON'Ts:
  • Use unfamiliar sites without checking

  • Let your antivirus run out

Full DOs and DONT's

Getting an iPad: Need-to-knows

Apple's iPads are, without doubt, the world's most popular tablets. Like all Apple products, though - they don't come cheap. So think long and hard before parting with your cash.

An iPad is not a pocket money purchase, so think carefully before deciding to buy one.

There are two large-screen iPad models, plus three iPad Minis. The newest are the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. The original iPad, the iPad 2, the third-generation iPad (iPad 3) and the iPad with Retina Display (iPad 4) have now been discontinued by Apple, but you may be able to pick a second-hand one up cheap from eBay or a refurbished model.

The table below shows a quick comparison of each iPad's features:

Which iPad should I buy?

Model Display / screen size 4G ready? Chip Storage Price (RRP) More info
iPad Air
Retina display, 9.7in screen
Yes
A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
16GB, 32GB
From £319
iPad Air 2
Retina display, 9.7in screen
Yes
A8X chip with 64-bit architecture and M8 motion coprocessor
16GB, 64GB, 128GB
From £399
iPad Mini

7.9in screen

Yes
Dual-core A5
16GB
From £199
iPad Mini 2
Retina display, 7.9in screen
Yes
A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
16GB, 32GB
From £239
iPad Mini 3
Retina display, 7.9in screen
Yes
A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
16GB, 64GB, 128GB
From £319

Tips for choosing your new iPad

Once you've chosen which iPad model you'd like, you'll need to think about whether you want 4G internet access and need a mobile data plan. Consider the following:

  • Wi-fi or 3G/4G? If you plan to use your iPad while out and about, you should opt for the 3G/4G and wi-fi model. If you'll just be using it at home, wi-fi only is more suitable (and cheaper). Read below to help you decide whether you need wi-fi only or 4G and wi-fi.
  • Do you need Flash? Though great for browsing the web, Apple's iPads don't support Flash software for videos and audio, so you may come across broken pages where videos or music should be. The lack of Flash can also be a problem for gamers, though apps/games bought from the App Store are designed around this Apple 'flaw'.
  • Do you want to use it to make calls? One of the most exciting features of an iPad is FaceTime, a video-calling app. However, FaceTime only works with the latest Apple technology so you won't be able to ditch your mobile yet.
  • How much data do I need? The amount of data you'll need will depend how you plan to use the iPad. Here's a general guideline to help you figure out whether you're above or below average in data usage terms:

If you're worried about your usage, there are a number of free apps that you can download from the App Store that can help you track the amount you're using. Read the data usage section in the Cheap iPhones guide for more info.

Should I get a 4G or wi-fi only iPad?

Where to find free wi-fi access in the UK

What is 'tethering'?

What about iPad alternatives?

Cheapest iPad wi-fi only: Best deals

Here, you're just buying a bit of tech - there's no contract, so cheapest is best. The problem is there's very little price variance.

Apple has strict price controls, so the savings on new iPads are frankly derisory. The one minor option producing dividends is for those who collect Tesco Clubcard points.

Here's a table of some of the current cheapest deals:

Product Apple price Cheapest elsewhere Cheapest refurb iPad Cheapest with reward points
iPad Air (16GB) £319 at Apple* £319 at Tesco Direct*, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 2 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year) There are no refurbs that are cheaper than buying a new one. Keep an eye on refurb iPads for more info £319 at Tesco Direct*, plus 319 Clubcard pts worth up to about £13¹
iPad Air 2 (16GB) £399 at Apple* £399 at Tesco Direct*, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 2 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year) There are no refurbs that are cheaper than buying a new one. Keep an eye on refurb iPads for more info £399 at Tesco Direct* plus 399 Clubcard pts worth up to about £16¹
iPad Mini (16GB) £199 at Apple* £199 at Tesco Direct*, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 2 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year) There are no refurbs that are cheaper than buying a new one. Keep an eye on refurb iPads for more info £199 at Tesco Direct*, plus 199 Clubcard pts worth up to about £8¹
iPad Mini 2 (16GB) £239 at Apple* £239 at Tesco Direct*, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 2 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year) There are no refurbs that are cheaper than buying a new one. Keep an eye on refurb iPads for more info £239 at Tesco Direct* plus 239 Clubcard pts worth up to about £9¹
iPad Mini 3 (16GB) £319 at Apple* £319 at Tesco Direct*, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 2 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year) There are no refurbs that are cheaper than buying a new one. Keep an eye on refurb iPads for more info £319 at Tesco Direct* plus 269 Clubcard pts worth up to about £10¹
¹ Clubcard points can be quadrupled for maximum rewards - read Boost Tesco Clubcard points for more info. ² Prices change on Amazon very quickly. All prices correct as Thu 9 Apr.

Spotted any other deals? Share your suggestions in the forum discussion.

Cheapest iPad Air 2 wi-fi + 4G: Best deals

If you want mobile internet access, you'll need an iPad that's Wi-fi + 4G. Below are our top picks - if you need more help choosing a model, see our tips for choosing an iPad.

Cheapest overall deal: Buy an iPad Air 2 and use a Giffgaff Sim card

Best for those who can pay upfront cost, though limited data

The cheapest way to get your hands on an iPad with data is to get the tablet and data plan separately. This comes with a high upfront cost though, so if you don't have £££s to stump up from day one, see the deal below instead.

Package details Provider Upfront cost Monthly cost Data allowance Overall Get deal
£499 for 16GB
from Tesco*
£12/mth 1GB/mth £787
over 24 mths
Go*
£15/mth 3GB/mth £859
over 24 mths
Go*
£18/mth 5GB/mth £931
over 24 mths
Go*

What's the deal? Buy the iPad directly from Apple, and get a Sim-only Gigabag data plan from cheap mobile provider Giffgaff*. For £12/month you'll get 1GB of data, £15/month will give you 3GB, and £18/month gets 5GB.

Who's this suitable for? Getting the iPad and data separately is the best option, if you can cough up for the high inital cost. If you think you will use more than 3GB of mobile data in a month though, consider the deal below from Three Mobile.

Anything else? It's a one-month rolling contract, meaning you can cancel at short notice.

Though the £12/month option with 1GB is cheapest, we found iPhone users often use more than this on their mobiles in a month. So unless you're going to be using the iPad's 4G just for emails, it's wise to get one of the larger plans.

Lowest upfront cost: iPad and data bundle from Three

Best for those who want to spread the cost, with high data

If you want an iPad but don't have the cash for it upfront, you can spread the cost of the tablet (slightly) over a contract with a monthly data plan.

While more affordable upfront, this is not the cheapest way to get an iPad - paying a higher monthly amount and less upfront normally costs a lot more over the duration of the deal.

Package details Provider Upfront cost Monthly cost Data allowance Overall Get deal
£49 for 16GB from Three* £38.16/mth 15GB/mth £964.84 for 16GB over 24 mths Go*

What's the deal? You'll get 15GB of data to use a month, on a 24-month contract, at £38.16/month. The 16GB iPad Air 2* is available for £49 upfront.

Who's this suitable for? Those that either haven't the cash to pay for an iPad outright, or for those that want more mobile data than the plans from Giffgaff above.

Anything else? We reckon 15GB/month is more than enough data, but if you exceed this you'll be charged 10.2p/MB. If you're worried about your data use, though, it's worth installing a usage monitoring app. See below for more info.

Get a refurbished iPad wi-fi+4G

It's possible to get a refurbished iPad for a bit less than a brand new one, and there's little difference in condition. You stand to make savings of £70+ on the retail price.

Refurbished iPads from Apple should be in 100% working condition, though they may, as Apple says, "exhibit some minor cosmetic imperfection, such as scratches, marks or discolourations". It also says they may not be in the original packaging. You can order a refurbished iPad Air from Apple*, with free delivery. Stock levels change daily, so check back regularly.

All these refurbished iPads come with a one-year Apple warranty. Apple high street branches do not stock refurbished iPads, but staff can help with any problems.

The Argos eBay outlet* often has refurbished iPads too, though like Apple, stock is limited and changes on a daily basis.

Got an iPad? Cheapest Sim-only

If you already have an iPad but no data plan, getting a Sim will allow you to access the web whenever, and wherever, you are.

All of the newer Apple products require a micro or nano Sim (smaller versions of the traditional Sim card), so make sure you order a data plan that comes with the size you need. Here are our picks:

Three Mobile

Get 10GB of data for £15/month

Three Mobile Sim

What: iPad Sim-only 10GB
Cost: £15/month

Contract: 1-month rolling

Should you need a bit more data than 3GB, Three Mobile* offers a Sim-only deal which gives you a 10GB for £15/month on a one-month rolling contract.

If you use over your allocated 10GB, you'll be charged 10.2p/MB for the remainder of that month until your contract rolls over.

Giffgaff

Data plans from £12/month for 1GB

Giffgaff Gigabag Sim

What: Giffgaff Sim Gigabag
Cost: Priced from £12/month

Contract: 1-month rolling

Super-cheap mobile network Giffgaff offers a range of Sim-only "Gigabag" data plans for tablets, including iPads. They all have rolling, one-month contracts.

  • 1GB* £12/month for 1GB
  • 3GB* £15/month for 3GB
  • 5GB* £18/month for 5GB

Giffgaff Sim cards now come as "snappable" dual Sims, so they will work in tablets which require a micro-Sim and tablets which just require standard a Sim.

Warning! If you use up your allocated allowance before your Gigabag expires, Giffgaff will notify you and give you a 50MB buffer for free. Once you run out of your buffer allowance, you'll be charged at 20p/MB until your Gigabag renews.

Spotted any other deals? Share your suggestions in the forum discussion.