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Cheap iPhones

Comparison & tips - Including iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6s & 6s Plus, iPhone 6 & 6 Plus

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Nick and Weleid | Edited by Steve N

Updated Weekly

iPhone 7 iPhones aren't MoneySaving, but if you're going to get one anyway, check out our host of tricks to cut the cost of getting your hands on a new handset or contract.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus went on sale last week and the major networks have announced their tariffs, though they're very expensive currently. A new zero-percent interest financing scheme from Apple means you're much better off getting the iPhone 7 this way, if you must have one. We also have our top pick tariffs for the older iPhone 6s (Plus) and iPhone 6 (Plus).

The top iPhone need-to-knows

Outright prices direct from Apple are from £599 for the iPhone 7, and from £719 for the iPhone 7 Plus. But which phone is best? And should you get one on a contract?

Our iPhone need-to-knows should help you decide, as well as giving you some tips on selling your old phone and getting the most out of your current tariff.

iPhone top picks

We've chosen our top pick tariffs for the latest iPhone models, with a minimum 3GB data. Please note that tariffs can change quickly so it's always worth checking what's out there before locking yourself in to a contract. Of course, if you want a different type of package then you'll need to use a comparison site such as MobilePhoneChecker*.

Not sure what iPhone to go for? Take a look at find the right phone for you for help and full specifications.

32GB iPhone 7 with unltd mins, 4GB (4G): £49 upfront then £36.50/mth for 20mths

Via 'iPhone Payments'

iPhone Payments

So this isn't a mobile contract as such, but it is a way of spreading the cost of the iPhone 7 over 20 months that Apple's now started offering – without paying a penny in interest. For the 32GB iPhone 7 the monthly cost is £26.50/month, plus an upfront payment of £49.

We've paired this with our top pick Sim-only deal from Three*, which gives unlimited minutes and texts and 4GB of 4G for £9/month over a 12-month contract which you can stay on afterwards (though sadly it's one of their 'Essential' plans so doesn't include free roaming or tethering).

For full details see below. For a comparison with the networks' tariffs and the potential savings, see the Interest-free iPhone 7 MSE News story.

32GB iPhone 7 Plus with unltd mins, 4GB (4G): £49 upfront then £42.50/mth for 20mths

Via 'iPhone Payments'

iPhone Payments

So this isn't a mobile contract as such, but it is a way of spreading the cost of the iPhone 7 Plus over 20 months that Apple's now started offering – without paying a penny interest. For the 32GB iPhone 7 Plus the monthly cost is £33.50/month, plus an upfront payment of £49.

We've paired this with our top pick Sim-only deal from Three*, which gives unlimited minutes and texts and 4GB of 4G for £9/month over a 12-month contract, which you can stay on afterwards (though sadly it's one of their 'Essential' plans so doesn't include free roaming or tethering).

For full details see below. For a comparison with the networks' tariffs and the potential savings, see the Interest-free iPhone 7 MSE News story.

32GB iPhone 6s with unltd mins, 3GB (4G): £125 upfront then £26.50/mth*


This two-year contract from O2 is one of the market's cheapest tariff at this usage level. You can get a new 32GB iPhone 6s for £125 upfront followed by £26.50 a month for 24 months, making it £761 for two years (monthly cost may increase each year in line with inflation).

The deal is for O2 newbies via* and comes with unlimited minutes and texts, and 3GB of 4G data. If you use up your data and need more, you'll need to buy a bolt-on starting at £3 for 100MB.

32GB iPhone 6s Plus with unltd mins, 4GB (4G): £9.99 upfront then £37/mth

Affordable Mobiles*


If you want the iPhone 6s Plus but can't afford to pay it all upfront, this 24-month contract for Three newbies via Affordable Mobiles* could be right for you.

You pay £9.99 upfront then £37/mth for two years and it comes with unlimited minutes and texts, and 3GB of 4G data (monthly cost may increase each year in line with inflation). If you use up your data and need more, you'll need to buy an add-on starting at £2.50 for 250MB.

16GB iPhone 6 with unltd mins, 3GB (4G): £25 upfront then £26.50/mth*


This deal for O2 newbies from* is great value if you're looking for the 16GB model of the iPhone 6.

It has unlimited minutes and texts, and 3GB of 4G data, It costs £25 upfront then it's £26.50/mth, on a two-year contract (monthly cost may increase each year in line with inflation). If you use up your data and need more, you'll need to buy a bolt-on starting at £3 for 100MB.

64GB iPhone 6 Plus with unltd mins, 3GB (4G): £200 upfront then £26.50/mth*


If you want the iPhone 6 Plus but can't afford to pay for it all upfront, this 24-month contract for O2 newbies via* could be a winner.

For £26.50/mth and £200 upfront, it has unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of 4G data (monthly cost may increase each year in line with inflation). If you use up your data and need more, you'll need to buy an bolt-on starting at £3 for 100MB.

Find the right phone for you

Ask yourself what you really want from your phone, and what features are important to you. iPhones are popular and well reviewed, but they aren't cheap – so getting one is a decision you should weigh up carefully.

Older iPhones often drop in price following the launch of a new model, so consider whether you really want the latest handset. Below, we've compared the features for each model.

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 6s

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Spread the cost of an iPhone 7 INTEREST-FREE

If you're in a two-year contract cycle with your network just because you wince at the thought of forking out £500+ for your phone all at once – or simply can't afford to – there is now another way.

Mobile contracts from networks are typically vastly overpriced – especially when it comes to the latest iPhone. But you can get financing on the new iPhone 7 from the low rate of... 0%. Then just pair it with a cheap Sim-only deal and off you go.

You've got a few financing options – each requires that you're accepted following a credit check:

  1. If you want an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus – iPhone Payments is a financing scheme exclusively for the the new handsets that lets you pay just £49 upfront, then spread the cost over 20 monthly installments, without paying a penny in interest. You can only get it in store and will need to take ID with you. Here's how it works

  2. If you want a different model, or can't get approved for 0% (partnered with Zopa). You're loaned the cost of a handset at a personalised APR based on your credit history – the representative APR is 9.7% (but can go as high as 24.9%). You can also choose your Sim-only deal via it.

  3. If you get offered a poor rate with – have a look at Giffgaff (partnered with RateSetter). The PAYG network also offers financing at a fixed 18.8% APR. Not as competitive as for most, but as it also sells some iPhones at a lower price, it's worth checking on both.

The savings can be £100s compared to a two-year contract. See the Interest-free iPhone 7 MSE News story for a comparison with the networks' tariffs at launch.

Watch out for annual inflationary price rises

Under Ofcom's rules, providers are permitted to increase the monthly cost of mobile contracts by as much as the rate of inflation each year, as long as they are upfront about this and warn you before you sign up. All the major networks (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone) now do this.

Adjustments are made in line with figures published in February each year based on the Retail Prices Index (a measure of inflation).

This year the RPI grew by 1.3% and most of the major networks put up customers' monthly payments by the full 1.3% – EE in March, O2 in April, and Vodafone in May. Any bill you received after those dates will have reflected the increase. Only Three opted to freeze pricing in May.

Match your tariff to your usage

According to BillMonitor, 76% of people are on the wrong contract. Use too few minutes, data or texts and you'll overpay for the contract each month. Yet go over your allowance and the extra charges are costly.

Analyse how many minutes, texts and how much data you're likely to use to get the right tariff. If you're new to smartphones, expect to use much more data than before. Here's a rough guide, based on figures from BillMonitor, to help you determine which type of user you are:

  • Low user. Uses about 250 mins, 250 texts and 250MB of data per month
  • Medium user. Uses about 500 mins, 500 texts and 1GB of data per month
  • High user. Uses about 1,000 mins, 1,000 texts and 3GB of data per month

For info on how to calculate your exact usage, read the Cheap Mobiles guide.

Some deals are only available to 'new customers'

The deals you see here and on most comparison sites are geared towards new customers of the relevant network. If you're already with that network, even if your existing contract is up, and you try to get the deal then technically you'll be 'upgrading' rather than taking out a new contract, and you may have to pay more as a result.

Of course, you can still get the deal if you take out a separate new contract. But if you do, frustratingly you won't be able to directly transfer your existing number across to your new phone.

There is one possible way round this, though it's a bit of work. What you can do is get the deal on a separate new contract, and also get yourself a free pay-as-you-go Sim from a different network.

Port your existing number across to the free pay-as-you-go Sim, then port it again to the new contract once it's been set up. To port your number over you'll need to request a port authorisation code from your provider.

Buy a handset upfront and save

Unless you're a heavy user, a standalone handset with a Sim-only deal can often be the cheapest option. If you can't afford such an upfront payment, consider buying your iPhone on cheap or free finance instead.

There are many one-month rolling contract Sim-only deals available, so you're not tied in, you only pay for what you use – see the top Sim-only deals for the best options.

Already have a Sim-only deal from an old phone?

Unless you buy a handset for that network, to put it in a new handset you'll need to "unlock" it from its pre-set network provider. For some phones this can be free, or it could cost up to £30 – for more info, see Mobile Unlocking.

You can get cheap handsets from retailers such as Argos or Use the MegaShopBot to quickly compare prices.

Don't overestimate how much storage you need

All iPhone models come in different storage sizes, with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus available in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB models. Generally, you'll pay £100 to go up a size (if you're buying directly from Apple).

As a rule of thumb 32GB can hold around 7,00 songs or 40 hours of video, which is enough for some, though apps these days can take up quite a lot of space.

Unlike other smartphones, iPhones don't have memory card slots so you can't expand the storage if you decide you want more. However, be careful not to overestimate how much storage you'll need and go for a more expensive model 'just to be safe'.

We asked one of our techies, MSE Shrey for his top tips on saving storage space on your phone and paying less overall.

  1. Free online storage. Apple gives iPhone users 5GB of storage space in iCloud for free. It isn't much, but there are lots of other providers that also offer free storage space and many have mobile apps. If you need more, email providers such as Gmail offer free storage space. You could sign up to several with multiple email addresses and assign categories of content to each.

  2. Stream instead of downloading. Music and video streaming services like Spotify (which is now free on mobile) and Netflix are all the rage and get rid of the need to download and store content on your phone. Streaming uses the same bandwidth as downloading, so do it when connected to Wi-Fi or it's costly. If you're streaming via 3G/4G, make sure you get the right tariff with a big enough data allowance.

  3. Auto-upload to 'the Cloud'. Apps from some online storage providers, such as Dropbox, have settings to automatically upload your photos and videos, after which you can delete them from your phone without losing them. For music, iTunes Match (£21.99/yr) will store all your tracks on Apple's servers for you to access online.

  4. Turn off automatic downloads. Content that automatically downloads to your device can take up more storage space than you realise. New purchases from the iTunes Store will sync to all of your iDevices with the same iCloud account, if they're set to do this. Turn off automatic downloads in Settings >> iTunes & App Store. Also, if you don't need to access older emails (especially if they have big attachments) while you're offline, you can reduce how many previous days' worth to store on your iPhone.

  5. Clean up your apps. If you go to Settings >> General >> Usage in your iPhone, it'll show a breakdown of how much space your apps take up. Go through and get rid of those you no longer use and delete content you don't want anymore (eg, watched videos). You can download them again free if you paid for them – although you can't get back personal data once it's gone.

Think about whether you need 4G

4G, also known as LTE or Long Term Evolution, is a lightning-quick internet connection for mobile devices. Networks claim that it's up to 5x faster than 3G, but Ofcom estimations say it's only twice as fast as 3G.

Check with your chosen provider whether you can actually get 4G where you live before signing up, and bear in mind that Ofcom says 4G and 3G performance differs between networks, with some outperforming others.

To get 4G, as well as being in an area that can receive a 4G signal, you'll also need a 4G tariff and a 4G-compatible handset. Everything released after the iPhone 5s is 4G-compatible.

Make sure you've the right size Sim

Daring to be different, Apple went against the grain with its iPhones, designing them to take a smaller Sim card.

Differences in Sim card sizesFor the iPhone 4 and 4s (and its iPads), Apple adopted the smaller-than-standard-size "micro-Sim". With the launch of the iPhone 5 came the arrival of a yet smaller Sim card – the "nano-Sim". This is also used in the iPhone 5c 5s and later. Because it's a lot smaller, if you have an iPhone 4 or 4s you won't be able to simply swap Sim cards.

If you're upgrading from another handset to a newer iPhone, you could ask your network provider to exchange Sim cards, or try one of their shops, which should have nano-Sims available.

Try haggling for a better deal

Haggling on monthly mobile phone contracts can slash the price you pay. If you have a contract deal and you're nearing the end of your fixed term, the network will be frantic to keep you, so it's the best time to haggle. Long-term customers have a better chance at success here.

Our poll found the best mobile providers to haggle with are Virgin and Vodafone. See our guide on How To Negotiate to help you get a better deal. Bear in mind though it's harder to haggle on a contract for a new phone, especially one in as much demand as new iPhones are.

Get a cheap Sim-only deal

Already got an iPhone? If you're out of contract, you could stand to make serious savings by switching to a Sim-only tariff.

The main benefit of switching is that you won't pay an extra monthly cost for a handset – so your tariff price and overall costs will drop significantly.

Find our up-to-date Sim-only top picks in the Cheap Mobiles guide.

Don't overestimate how much data you need

Apps on a smart phone

Smartphones are fast becoming the norm. If you use your phone to constantly search the web, you need to watch the amount of data you use. As more data-hungry apps are released, it's fair to question whether you'll chomp through your data allowance quickly each month and wind up paying a wedge for more.

For checking emails, looking at Facebook and watching the odd YouTube video, 1GB should be more than enough.

To give you a rough idea, MSE's Eesha says: "I have 1GB a month. I tend to use close to this limit but never go over. I generally just use Whatsapp, Facebook, emails, and check deals apps like Groupon, Wowcher, Quidco and the PayPal app."

Downloading videos, TV shows or other web-heavy apps may take you over your limit and cause you to incur heavy charges.

If you're worried about data use, try using the free Onavo app mentioned below.

Sneaky app gets you more from your data allowance

Onavo Android app

Heavy downloaders could end up paying out BIG if they exceed their download allowance. Some providers charge as much as 20p/MB if you go over your inclusive data limit.

Try the free app Onavo, which says it compresses data when web-browsing and using other apps such as Facebook and Twitter. This means the same amount of surfing will only use a fraction of your data allowance, avoiding any hefty fees.

More info about Onavo

Sell your old phone to fund your new one

Selling your old mobile could help you recoup some of the cost of your new one. There are two ways you can do this:

Flog your mobile for more

There's huge demand for secondhand iPhones, so it's very much a seller's market. Perhaps unsurprisingly, eBay* should be your first port of call if you're willing to put in a bit of (virtual) legwork. At the time of writing, a used unlocked 16GB iPhone 6 in decent nick could fetch around £250, and a 16GB iPhone 6s about £400.

Flog your mobile in a hurry

If you want a guaranteed amount of cash to put towards your next handset (or something else entirely), mobile recycling sites are an easy option.

To save you the hassle of going door-to-door, our MobileValuer tool compares how much each of the big players will offer for your old phone, whether it's working or broken. Usually you'll get a bit less than what you'd get if you listed the phone on eBay. For example, at the time of writing, the most you'd get for recycling a 16GB iPhone 6 is £300.

Don't forget insurance saving

Accidents can and do happen. Because mobiles are worth so much more to us these days (and they cost a lot more), if you lose 'em, break 'em or have 'em nicked, it can be costly to replace them.

Onavo Android app

Insurers play on this fear with hefty prices and unnecessary cover. Yet you can get cheap insurance for your iPhone from £70/year.

Read the full Mobile Insurance guide for full info and best buys.

If your phone's stolen...

Report it to the police and let your network know as soon as possible.This is important to prevent unauthorised use of your service, and may also be critical for insurance claims.

Check coverage in your area

The quality of the signal you'll receive will depend on where you are. Across all the networks, big cities and towns should all have a decent 3G signal – and some may have 4G – while those in rural areas can struggle.

All the networks have coverage checkers on their sites, but these tend to be optimistic. Ofcom's research into 4G constitutes the most up-to-date objective info we have on coverage – view its Mobile coverage checker to see what signal strength will be like in your area.

Consider a secondhand or refurbished handset

Don't forget to check out secondhand models on eBay*. As an example, at the time of writing you can get a used 128GB iPhone 6s in good condition for around £450 on eBay, compared with a new one from Apple which costs £599. Make sure it's unlocked (see Mobile Unlocking for full info) though, so you can take advantage of super-cheap Sim-only tariffs.

It's also possible to get refurbished handsets on eBay or through some resellers online. These work just as new phones and come in new condition, plus they typically come with a manufacturer's warranty. Bear in mind that used handsets on eBay usually don't come with warranties.

Watch out for auto-insurance

Some retailers automatically add insurance to a mobile phone contract when you sign up online, regardless of whether you want it or not.

This has stung quite a few MSE users, so be sure to read all the small print, thoroughly, before clicking the 'buy' button.

These insurance policies are normally more expensive than standard insurance, and if there's no 'opt out' option – you must remember to cancel it as soon as you get your phone.

If you cancel over the phone, ask the company to email you with confirmation of the cancellation, so you have it in writing too. Read the full Mobile Insurance guide for how to get the cheapest standalone mobile cover.

Protect your iPhone and its data

Losing your data, photos and contacts is a nightmare. Yet there are a number of easy ways to protect your mobile and data, many of which are free.

Sim card padlock

Regardless of how expensive your phone is, the info you've got stored on it can also be mega-valuable, and it's a nightmare (and probably a lost cause) to retrieve contacts, photos, apps, games, messages back after losing a handset.

To beat this, free services can back up this crucial info before you lose it.

Back up to the web

Back up your computer

Via your network provider

Old school pen and paper route

Make use of free Wi-Fi

Rather than using up your monthly download allowance, when you're out and about, find a free Wi-Fi hotspot to use instead.

McDonald's, Starbucks and Wetherspoon pubs all offer free Wi-Fi access, plus check My Hotspots, Free Hotspot, and Hotspot Locations for more. There are thousands of free, legal wireless hotspots around the UK. See free Wi-Fi for more info.

Get extra cashback on top

It's often possible to grab extra cashback on top when you sign up for a mobile phone contract. To get it, you need to sign up via a specialist cashback website rather than directly with the network provider. Cashback websites use affiliate links to generate revenue, so if they get paid when you sign up, you'll get paid.

Unfortunately this cash is never guaranteed, as sometimes cashback sites don't track deals in progress, so it's generally best to pick the right tariff first and view any cashback as an added extra. To find out more about how these sites can pay you, and how you can make the most of them, read the full Cashback Sites guide.

Retailer redemption cashback. Don't confuse cashback sites with cashback you can get directly through a retailer, through redemption. This kind of cashback isn't straightforward, and can often require you to send several copies of your monthly bills on certain days.

We rarely include these kinds of deals, unless they're super-cheap. If we do include them, they'll be mentioned in the free weekly email.

How to complain about your mobile provider

The mobile industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include limited network coverage, slow data speeds, unexpected charges and more. It's always worth complaining to your provider first, but if you have no success, then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it on your behalf to the free Ombudsman Services (or CISAS if you're complaining about Virgin Mobile).

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing as that's usually quicker.