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 in the slightest. Yet if you must have one, here are a few tips to keep costs down...
iPad prices don't vary much between stores, and Apple itself rarely offers big discounts, yet savings can still be made with the 3G/4G models if you choose the right mobile data plan.
This guide looks generally at the cheapest ways to buy an iPad - whether you want mobile data or 'Wi-Fi only'.
Getting an iPad: Need-to-knows
|iPad||9.7in||A9 chip with 64-bit achitecture and M9 coprocessor||32GB, 128GB||From £319||iPad*|
|iPad Mini 4||7.9in||A8 chip with 64-bit architecture and M8 coprocessor||128GB||From £399||iPad Mini 4*|
|iPad Pro||12.9in, 10.5in||A9X chip with 64-bit architecture and M9 coprocessor||64GB, 256GB, 512GB||From £619||iPad Pro*|
Get Our Free Money Tips Email!
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 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.
With all iPad models, the 4G + Wi-Fi version costs considerably more than its Wi-Fi only counterpart. So there's no point in going for for the 4G 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 4G model - which uses a mobile internet signal to get you online - is really the only option. As free Wi-Fi is available in public places across the UK, it pays to consider whether you really need a 4G version.
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, 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, Wetherspoon 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 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)||£319 at Apple*||£319 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost), Argos* and Currys*|
|iPad Mini 4 7.9in (128GB)||N/A (Discontinued)||£349 at Argos*
|New iPad Mini 5 7.9in (64GB)||£399 at Apple*||£385 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost) and Currys*, £399 at Argos*|
|New iPad Air 10.5in (64GB)||£479 at Apple*||£448 at Currys*, £465 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost), £479 at Argos*|
|iPad Pro 10.5in (64GB)||N/A (Discontinued)||£529 at Argos*|
iPad Pro 11in (64GB)
|£769 at Apple*||£719 at Currys*, £769 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost) and Argos*|
|iPad Pro 12.9in (64GB)||£969 at Apple*||£896 at John Lewis* (provides a two-year guarantee at no extra cost) and Currys*, £969 at Argos*
|Prices checked at 5pm on Fri 12 Jul. 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.
|Apple + Smarty||£449 for 32GB
from John Lewis*/Currys*
over 24 mths
over 24 mths
over 24 mths
|(1) This is the total cost if you choose to keep the same Sim for two years. Smarty credits you back for any unused data, so this cost assumes you use the full allowance each month.|
What's the deal? Buy the iPad from John Lewis* or Currys*, and get a Sim only data plan from cheap mobile provider Smarty* (owned by and uses the Three network). It offers a range of base data plans with no contract or credit score and you can add more data if you need it – each extra 1GB costs £1.25/mth. You're then credited for any data you don't use at the end of the month, paid at the same rate.
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 8GB of mobile data in a month though, consider the deal below from Three Mobile.
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: iPad Sim only 20GB Cost: £20/month
Link: Three data Sim-only* Contract: 12-month rolling
Should you need lots of data, Three* offers Sim only deals, one of which gives you 20GB of data for £20/month on a 12-month rolling contract - pretty good if you get through a lot of data. If you want to opt out you'll have to give 30 days' notice.
If you use more than your allocated data, you'll be charged 1p/MB for the remainder of that month until your contract rolls over.
How to complain about a purchase
If you're not happy about a product or the service you receive, you should first contact the retailer in person, by phone, or in writing. However, if you're still not satisfied, 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 it to help people get complaints justice.
If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver can escalate it for free to the relevant ombudsman or trade body.