Find the cheapest iPads and 4G data plans
iPads have been a 'must-have' in many homes for years, but at a cost of up to £1,000 they're not MoneySaving. Yet if you're going to buy one, here are a few tips to keep the price down...
Although iPad prices don't vary much between stores, and Apple itself rarely offers big discounts, savings can still be made elsewhere - particularly with the 'cellular' models if you choose the right 4G data plan. This guide looks generally at the cheapest ways to buy an iPad - whether you want mobile data or a 'Wi-Fi only' model.
Buying an iPad: Need-to-knows
Apple's iPad is without doubt the world's most popular tablet. Yet like most Apple products, they never come cheap. So think long and hard before parting with your cash - there are cheaper alternatives to consider.
If you must buy an iPad, use the info below to find which model best suits your budget and needs.
Which iPad should I buy?
|iPad||10.2in||A10 chip with 64-bit architecture and M10 coprocessor||32GB, 128GB||From £349||iPad*|
|iPad Mini||7.9in||A12 chip with 64-bit architecture and M12 coprocessor||64GB, 256GB||From £399||iPad Mini*|
|iPad Air||10.5in||A12 chip with 64-bit architecture and M12 coprocessor||64GB, 256GB||From £479||iPad Air*|
|iPad Pro||12.9in, 11in||A12X chip with 64-bit architecture and M12 coprocessor||64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB||From £619||iPad Pro*|
Tips for choosing your new iPad
Once you've chosen which iPad to buy, you'll need to think about whether you need 4G internet access when you're out and about, or can manage with just Wi-Fi. Consider the following:
- Wi-Fi or 4G? If you plan to use your iPad while away from home, eg, commuting to and from work, you may need an iPad with 4G connectivity. Though if you'll only be using it at home on the broadband, Wi-Fi only is the way you should go (and it's cheaper). There's more below on whether you need Wi-Fi only or 4G.
- How much data do I need? The amount of data you'll need will depend how you use the iPad. Here's a general guide to help you figure out whether you're above or below average in data usage terms:
- Light user. Uses 2GB of data or less per month
- Normal user. Uses about 5GB of data per month
- Heavy user. Uses 10GB of data or more per month
If you're worried about usage, there are free apps you can download from the App Store to help you track the amount of data you're using. Read the data usage section in the Cheap iPhone deals guide for more info.
With all iPads, the 4G-enabled model costs considerably more than Wi-Fi only. So there's no point in going for the 4G model unless you're going to use your iPad on the go (in places where Wi-Fi isn't available).
Yet if you travel a lot and want an "always on" connection like most have on their smartphones, a 4G-enabled iPad - which uses a 4G mobile signal to keep you online - is really the only option. As free Wi-Fi is available in public places across the UK, consider whether you really need a 4G version.
If you have Wi-Fi at home, you can get online on your iPad using wireless broadband. The iPad will try to find a network on its own, so it should be easy to set up - you usually just need a password.
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 restaurants, hotels, airports and train stations.
Read our Free Wireless Internet guide for more info.
Tethering effectively turns your mobile phone into a wireless mobile router. It uses the 4G signal on your phone to power the web on your laptop, tablet or e-book reader.
You'll need to have a 4G 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 comes off your phone’s 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 EE customers
- Tethering for Three Mobile customers
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.
iPad aren't the only tablets on the market. There are plenty of alternatives that cost a lot less. Most technology giants offer their own version, including Samsung, Google, Amazon and LG.
Cheapest iPad Wi-Fi only: Best deals
With a Wi-Fi only iPad, you're just buying the tablet - there's no contract, so cheapest is best. The problem is there's very little price variance.
Apple has strict price controls, so the major reputable retailers all generally charge the same amount for their iPads and discounts are rare.
However, we do occasionally see a new voucher or code that can get you an iPad discount. When this happens, it's usually a very short-lived deal, but where possible, we'll update this section of our guide with all the details.
Here's a quick summary of current iPad prices from major UK retailers:
|iPad 9.7in (32GB)||N/A (Discontinued)||£319 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost) and Argos*|
|iPad Mini 5 7.9in (64GB)||£399 at Apple*||£387 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost), £397 at Currys*, and £399 at Argos*|
|iPad Air 10.5in (64GB)||£479 at Apple*||£448 at Currys*, £459 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost), £479 at Argos*|
|iPad Pro 10.5in (64GB)||N/A (Discontinued)||£429 at Argos* (black).|
iPad Pro 11in (64GB)
|£769 at Apple*||£719 at John Lewis* at (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost), £730 at Currys* and £769 at Argos*|
|iPad Pro 12.9in (64GB)||£969 at Apple*||£939 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost) and Currys*, £969 at Argos*
|Prices checked at 13pm on Wed 23 Oct. Table excludes online marketplaces, eg, Amazon, as their prices frequently change. Yet they're often cheapest, so always do your own price checks.|
Apple for Education* is a scheme that gives students, their parents and school staff as much as 15% discount on Apple products, including iPads. The discount on iPads is pretty small, but as Apple deals are so rare even a small discount is likely make going direct to Apple the cheapest option for students buying new.
See our Apple Student Deals blog for more about how you can get it.
You can often find a wide selection of iPads refurbished by Apple* available at a discounted price via its website (delivery's free). If you're buying an iPad, it's worth considering Apple's refurbished models, as they can be up to £80 cheaper than buying new, and there tends to be little difference in condition.
What's more, all of Apple's refurbished iPads include the same 12-month warranty as new ones, plus they come with manuals, accessories, a new battery and a new outer shell, as well as new packaging - so while Apple says they may have the odd scratch, many users have told us what they received was as good as new.
Apple's refurbished stock changes daily, so you should check back regularly if you're waiting for a specific refurbished model to become available.
Others such as Argos* sell refurbished iPads via their eBay outlets, which may be even cheaper, though unless otherwise stated, these are seller refurbished, and won't necessarily meet the same standard as those refurbished by Apple.
Cheapest iPad: Best data 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 and use a Smarty Sim card
Best for those who can pay upfront cost, with lower data needs
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.
What's the deal? Buy the iPad from John Lewis* or Currys*, and get a Sim only data plan from cheap mobile provider Giffgaff* (uses the O2 network). It offers a range of plans with no contract or credit score.
Who's this suitable for? Getting the iPad and data separately is the best option, if you can cough up for the high initial cost. If you think you will use more than 15GB of mobile data in a month, Giffgaff also offer 40GB for £20/mth.
Anything else? It's a pay-upfront deal, so you can simply cancel if you find a better deal comes along.
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.
What's the deal? You'll get 10GB of data to use a month, on a 24-month contract, at £33/month. The 32GB iPad* 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 Smarty above.
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.
For more deals, see our Cheap Mobile Broadband guide.
What: 40GB Goodybag Cost: £20/month
Link: Giffgaff data Sim-only* Contract: One-month rolling
Should you need lots of data, Giffgaff* (which uses the O2 network) offer Sim only deals which you can use in tablets, one of which gives you 40GB of data for £20/mth on a pay-as-you-go basis - pretty good if you get through a lot of data.
Clever ways to calculate your finances