iPads have always been top of the gadget wishlist, and the new iPad Air is no exception, but iPads aren't MoneySaving by anyone's definition. If you must have one though, there are ways to save...
While prices don't vary much between stores, savings can be made with the 3G model if you opt for the right data plan. This guide looks at the best available option.
In this guide
Important! Ensure you know how to shop safely before trying these deals
- For safety, pay by credit card if over £100
- Use unfamiliar sites without checking
- Let your antivirus run out
- Protect purchases under £100
Full DOs and DON'Ts
Tips for shopping safely
Whether it's a retailer or restaurateur, airline or air-conditioner seller, computer shop or car rental company, there are always two main risks. Either it's a dodgy company, or it's a legit company that has financial problems and goes bust.
The aim of these tips is to help you minimise the risks.
What happens if a company goes bust?
Quite simply, its customers are immediately transformed into creditors. This hits hardest if you've ordered goods or tickets from them, and not had delivery, as then you become one of a line of people trying to get your money back out of the company's assets, and you usually get back much less than you paid in.
Even if you've had delivery, if the company you bought from goes under and there's a problem with the goods, it can mean you've no comeback.
While MoneySavingExpert.com endeavours to check deals are valid, we don't check companies ' finances. Even huge names such as MFI and Woolies have folded, so it's very important you use the right strategies to stay protected where possible.
DO Pay by credit card for goods over £100
Pay by credit card for something over £100, and Section 75 laws supercharge your consumer rights.
Unlike debit cards, cheques or cash, pay in full or part (even just £1) on a credit card and by law the lender's jointly liable with the retailer.
This means you have exactly the same rights with the card company as you do with the retailer. So if it goes bust, you can simply take your complaints there instead and get money back if there's no delivery.
Yet it's important you ALWAYS REPAY IN FULL each month, so there's no interest cost. See the full Section 75 guide.
DO Protect purchases under £100
Section 75 doesn't apply to purchases under £100, but there's still an option which can help. It isn't a legal protection, just Visa, Mastercard and Amex's rules, but it's a good back-up.
Spend on a Visa, Mastercard or Amex credit card or any debit or charge card. If the goods don't appear, you can try to ask your bank/card provider to reclaim the cash from the seller's bank, so long as you complain within 120 days of realising there’s a problem. See the Chargeback guide for full details.
DON'T Use unfamiliar sites without checking
Bogus websites are often set up to cash in on popular products like Ugg boots and Tiffany necklaces, so be wary if it's an unfamiliar site. And don't think that because it appears on a reputable search engine, that makes it a reputable site - always check.
DO Check the site's legit
Most folk know to look for a security padlock on the bottom right of a website, but that doesn't mean the site's legit, just that payment's secure.
To find out who registered the site and when, search the Whois database. Reputable firms should also appear on the Companies House site, the UK Government's official companies register. Be very wary of businesses with just a PO Box or email address.
Study the site's worldwide web ranking on Alexa. Anything in the top 100,000 means it's reasonably big and a good, though not foolproof indication of legitimacy. Do a quick Google search for other shoppers' experiences.
DON'T Let your antivirus run out
Crucially, ensure your security's up-to-date - free software can be downloaded to your computer in about five minutes. Full details in the Free Antivirus Software guide.
DO Know your distance selling rights
Many people are surprised to learn you've MORE rights buying online (or by telephone/catalogue) due to the Distance Selling Regulations.
These give you a legal right to send most goods back within seven days for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault. You'll usually need to pay for the return delivery. Read Consumer Rights for a full guide.
However, of course, this is balanced by the fact ordering online automatically means there's a time gap between ordering and delivering - when the company has your money. So if it goes bust during that time, the distance selling rights don't help.
DO Understand sometimes there's no protection.
Ultimately, there is always a risk that a company can go bust. If the above routes don't apply, then you have to make a decision about whether you're willing to take the risk of parting with your cash.
Don't be scared of this. Every day we all make transactions based on trust, and this is part of that, but do balance up the amount you're spending against the risk. Don't give large amounts of money to a company you're not sure about.
What can I do with 100MB of data?If you've got a phone tariff with 100MB of mobile data, as a rough guide, you'll be able to do one of the following, or a mixture (eg 100 emails with photos and 5 low-quality music tracks):
- Send 100,000 emails without attachments
- Send 200 emails with photos attached
- Visit 1,000 simple sites like Twitter or your favourite blog
- Visit 300 rich content sites like bbc.co.uk, guardian.co.uk or yahoo.co.uk
- Download 10 low-quality or 5 high-quality music tracks
What can you do with 500MB of data?If you've got a phone tariff with 500MB of mobile data, as a rough guide, you'll be able to do one of the following, or a mixture (eg 500 emails with photos and 30 YouTube videos):
- Send 500,000 emails without attachments
- Send 1,000 emails with photos attached
- Visit 5,000 simple sites like Twitter or your favourite blog
- Visit 1,500 rich content sites like bbc.co.uk, guardian.co.uk or yahoo.co.uk
- Download 50 low-quality or 12 high-quality music tracks
- Watch 60 YouTube videos, about 4.5mins long
What can you do with 1GB of data?If you've got a phone tariff with 1GB of mobile data, as a rough guide, you'll be able to do one of the following, or a mixture (eg 1,000 emails with photos and 30 YouTube videos):
- Send 1,000,000 emails without attachments
- Send 2,000 emails with photos attached
- Visit 10,000 simple sites like Twitter or your favourite blog
- Visit 3,000 rich content sites like bbc.co.uk, guardian.co.uk or yahoo.co.uk
- Download 50 low quality or 12 high quality music tracks
- Watch 60 YouTube videos, about 4.5 minutes long
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 five iPad models, plus the iPad Mini and iPad Mini with Retina display. The newest is the iPad Air (iPad 5). The original iPad, 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.
|Which iPad should I buy?|
|Model||Display / screen size||4G ready?||Chip||Storage||Price (RRP)||More info|
Retina display, 9.7in screen
A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor
16GB, 32GB, 64GB
16GB, 32GB, 64GB
Here's a bit more detail about the different models:
The iPad Mini, costs from £269 for the wi-fi only version and £369 for the wi-fi + 4G version.
The iPad mini is approximately two-thirds the size of the standard iPad, sporting a 7.9in screen (the standard iPad is 9.7in). It doesn’t have Apple’s super high-definition Retina Display (found on the 4th generation model), but it does have the same screen resolution as an iPad 2. It's just 7.2mm thick, and weighs only 0.68lbs, making it 23% thinner and 53% lighter than the third generation iPad.
It also features a 4G data connection, although this feature will be redundant in the UK unless you opt for a tariff with Orange, T-Mobile or EE.
Apple says its iPad Air, the fifth generation of the tablet, is the best device it's ever made.
The Retina Display makes everything look crisper and clearer, with more vibrant colours, because it has 3.1 million pixels. Apple says the new A7 chip inside the iPad Air is up to twice as fast as its predecessor, and delivers up to twice the graphics performance, without sacrificing battery life.
iPad 2: A brief overview
Apple's second-generation tablet is a massive step up from its predecessor, the original iPad, not to mention faster and packed with more features and technology.
One of the big boons of Apple's latest iPad launch is that the price of the iPad 2 has dropped to £329. Apple has only cut the price of the iPad 2 16GB model though - the 32GB and 64GB models have been discontinued.
The iPad 2's still a fantastic device so many will be content with it, especially as it's now much cheaper than newer models. Because of this, the rest of this guide focuses on the iPad 2.
It's likely the iPad 2 will come down in price further (and may be withdrawn from the Apple site altogether) in the New Year, with cheap refurbished models becoming less scarce. We'll update the guide as and when we know more.
Some of the features of the iPad 2 include:
- Two cameras. One camera on the back plus one camera on the front equals FaceTime video calling and full HD video recording. Reviews suggest its cameras aren't as good as other tablets' cameras, as Apple hasn't included a flash. So while photos look decent on its own display, according to magazine Macworld, they're "noticeably grainy and muddy" when printed.
- 10-hour battery life. Perfect for watching films on long journeys, doing presentations in meetings and finding places when out-and-about, the iPad 2 has a longer battery life than its predecessor.
- Dual-core A5 chip. This tiny piece of technology makes the iPad 2 a fast, powerful multitasking tablet. It can do twice the work at once; apps load quickly, and the touchscreen responds instantly.
Once you've chosen which iPad model you'd like, you'll need to consider other things, such as whether you want 3G web access and need a data plan. Consider the following:
- Wi-fi or 3G? If you plan to use your iPad while out and about, you should opt for the 3G and wi-fi model. If you'll just be using it at home, the wi-fi only version is more suitable (and cheaper). Read below to help you decide whether you need wi-fi only or 3G 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 photo slideshows, videos and audio 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 (2nd generation and above) 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.
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:
Low user. Uses about 100MB of data per month
Average user. Uses about 500MB of data per month
High user. Uses about 1GB of data per month
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.
When choosing an iPad, you can opt for a wi-fi only model (which can only connect online with a wireless internet signal), or one with both wi-fi and 3G connections (which can connect to wireless and mobile internet signals).
With all iPad models, the 3G + wi-fi version is £100 more than its wi-fi only counterpart. So there's no point in going for for the 3G model unless you're going to use your iPad on the go (or in places where free wi-fi isn't available).
Yet if you travel a lot and want an "always on" connection, the 3G model - which uses a mobile internet signal to get you online - is the only option. As free wi-fi is available pretty much everywhere around the UK, it pays to consider whether you really need a 3G version.
Where to find free wi-fi access in the UK
If you have wi-fi at home, you can get online on your iPad through your wireless network. The iPad will usually find a network on its own, and ask if you want to connect, so it's easy to set up.
You're not limited to using it just at home, as wi-fi hotspots are popping up everywhere these days. From coffee shops and pubs to fast food joints and train stations, wi-fi is fast becoming the norm, and any hotel worth staying at should have free wi-fi. McDonald's outlets, Wetherspoons and Walkabout pubs, and Starbucks coffee shops all offer free wi-fi.
Read our Free Wireless Internet guide for more info.
Tethering effectively turns your mobile phone into a wireless mobile router. It uses the 3G signal on your phone to power the web on your laptop, tablet or e-book reader.
You'll need to have a 3G handset and a mobile tariff that supports tethering. You can set your phone up to create a wi-fi hotspot, which you can then use with other wi-fi devices, including the wi-fi only iPad, to get online wherever you are.
Once set up, any data you use will come out of your phone’s monthly mobile data allowance.
Will it cost me extra to tether to my iPad?
Whether you can tether depends on the tariff you have. And as your internet usage on the iPad will count towards to your mobile data allowance when tethering, it's important you make sure you don't go over this allowance - otherwise it could be costly.
Below are links to each of the main providers' tethering pages:
- Tethering for Vodafone customers
- Tethering for O2 customers
- Tethering for T-Mobile customers
- Tethering for Orange customers
- Tethering for Three Mobile customers
- Giffgaff - Goodybags only support tethering with smartphones, not iPads
- Tesco Mobile - currently doesn't support any tethering.
If in doubt, contact your mobile provider. It'll be able to tell you if there are any charges for tethering, charges for going over your monthly data allowance (helping you avoid potential bill shock at the end of the month), and talk you through the set-up process to enable tethering.
Is it worth paying for tethering?
Before deciding whether tethering is right for you, and whether it's worth paying extra to tether if your mobile provider doesn't allow it for free, consider when you're likely to use your iPad the most, and what you'll be using it for.
Mobile data allowances are usually a maximum of 1GB a month. This is fine for occasional use, browsing the web and checking emails, but it's not really suitable if you want to spend a lot of time online, watching TV or movies, or downloading music or films.
If you're going to be using your iPad a lot, both on the go and at home, compare the 3G data deals below. As these have a bigger usage limit, you may find that it's cheaper to buy a wi-fi + 3G model with a data tariff and bigger usage limit, than paying the extra to tether your smartphone to a wi-fi only iPad and risk going over your mobile phone's data limit (and being hit hit with a hefty charge).
What about iPad alternatives?
iPad aren't the only tablets on the market. There are plenty of alternatives that cost a lot less. All the big name mobile manufacturers offer some kind of tablet, including Samsung, Motorola, BlackBerry and HTC. We'll be adding them to the site soon.
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 the current cheapest deals:
|Where to get the cheapest iPads (wi-fi only models)|
|iPad 2 (16GB)|
|Apple price||£329 at Apple*|
|Cheapest online||£299 at Tesco Direct, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 3 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year)|
|Cheapest in-store||£299 at Tesco Direct, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 3 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year)|
|Cheapest refurb iPad||Current cheapest is £285 at Apple*. Prices and stock change quickly - see refurb iPads for more info|
|Cheapest with reward points||£329 at Tesco Direct plus 329 Clubcard pts worth up to about £12¹|
|iPad Air (16GB)|
|Apple price||£399 at Apple*|
|Cheapest online||£399 at Tesco Direct, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 3 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year)|
|Cheapest in-store||£399 at Tesco Direct, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 3 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year)|
|Cheapest refurb iPad||Not currently available. Prices and stock change quickly - see refurb iPads for more info|
|Cheapest with reward points||£399 at Tesco Direct plus 399 Clubcard pts worth up to about £15¹|
|iPad Mini (16GB)|
|Apple price||£249 at Apple*|
|Cheapest online||£249 at Tesco Direct, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 3 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year)|
|Cheapest in-store||£249 at Tesco Direct, Argos*, Currys* and John Lewis* (John Lewis offers a 3 year warranty compared to the standard 1 year)|
|Cheapest refurb iPad||Current cheapest is £209 at Apple*.. Prices and stock change quickly - see refurb iPads for more info|
|Cheapest with reward points||£249 at Tesco Direct plus 249 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 Fri 28 Feb.
Spotted any other deals? Share your suggestions in the forum discussion.
If you want web access away from home, you'll need an iPad 2 with Wi-fi + 3G. Below are our top picks - if you need more help choosing the model, eg, what size, see our tips for choosing an iPad.
Note. We don't know if the deals below will be available for the New iPad yet, but all will work with the iPad 2.
Cheapest overall deal: Buy an iPad 2 and use a Giffgaff Sim card Best for those who can pay upfront cost, though limited data
|£429 for 16GB from Tesco||£5/mth||500MB/mth||£549
over 24 mths
over 24 mths
over 24 mths
The cheapest way to get your hands on an iPad 2 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 £429 to stump up for the tablet outright, see the deal below.
What's the deal? Buy the iPad directly from Apple*, and get a Sim-only Gigabag data plan from cheap mobile provider Giffgaff*. For £5/month you'll get 500MB of data, £7.50/month will give you 1GB, and £12.50/month gets 3GB.
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 £5/month option with 500MB 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 3G just for emails, it's wise to get one of the larger plans.
Lowest upfront cost: Get an iPad 2 and data bundle from Three Mobile Best for those who want to spread the cost, with high data
|£69 for 16GB from Three*||£25 per month||15GB per month||£669 for 16GB over 24 mths||Go*|
If you want an iPad 2 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 (this is not the cheapest way to get the iPad though).
What's the deal? With this deal from Three Mobile you'll get 15GB of data to use a month, on a 24-month contract, at £25/month. The 16GB model* is available for £69 upfront.
Who's this suitable for? This deal is 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.
It's possible to get a refurbished iPad 2 (not the latest 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 2 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.
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.
- What: iPad micro Sim-only 10GB
- Cost: £15/month
- Link: Three Mobile micro-Sim*
- 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.
- What: Giffgaff micro-Sim Gigabag
- Cost: Priced from £5/month
- Link: Giffgaff micro-Sim*
- Contract: 1 month rolling
Super-cheap mobile network Giffgaff offers a range of Sim-only "Gigabag" data plans which can be used in any tablet PC, including iPads. They all have a rolling, one-month contract.
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.