Cheap iPhone Deals

Find the best iPhone XS, XS Max & XR deals here – plus tips to cut the cost of an iPhone, incl the X & 8

Cheap iPhone Deals. Find the best iPhone XS, XS Max & XR deals here – plus tips to cut the cost of an iPhone, incl the X & 8. MSE.

A new iPhone is never MoneySaving, but if you're determined to get one anyway, this guide will take you through the cheapest ways to get one, including our pick of the best deals.

The top iPhone need-to-knows

Should you get an iPhone on a contract? What other ways are there to get one? 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.

  • Always check if it's cheaper to buy it outright or on finance before signing up for a contract  and never go direct to the network as resellers usually offer the same deals for £100s less.

    Buy a handset upfront and save

    Buying a handset outright and pairing it with a cheap 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.

    Never go direct to a network, always check mobile resellers

    Buying a new handset on a traditional mobile contract from the major mobile networks can be £100s more expensive than buying the handset outright and pairing with a cheap Sim. Yet reseller sites such as Mobiles.co.uk* (owned by Carphone Warehouse) and MobilePhonesDirect are almost always cheaper than going direct to the network - and can sometimes even undercut buying upfront  . 

    MobilePhoneChecker* and HandsetExpert are useful sites for comparing deals from the major networks and mobile resellers, or see our pick of the best deals. 

    Consider a second-hand or refurbished handset

    Don't forget to check out second-hand models on eBay* and refurbished ones directly from your network. Make sure it's unlocked (see Mobile Unlocking for full info) though, so you can take advantage of super-cheap Sim only tariffs.

    See our Refurbished Mobiles guide for full information and tips.

  • iPhone Payments is Apple's interest-free financing scheme – it's now available for the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR. This allows you to buy the phone for Apple's standard price but pay only a small amount upfront and then the rest in 20 monthly instalments.

    Be careful not to get caught out though. Apple offers another plan – its iPhone Upgrade Programme – which gives you the option to swap handsets and includes AppleCare, its extended warranty and technical support service, but this scheme can usually be beaten by other methods. See our full analysis of the iPhone Upgrade Programme (the examples are old but the same principles apply).

    You'll be credit-checked and will need to be accepted for what's technically an interest-free loan. Here's what it costs:

    • iPhone XS – £69 upfront, then £46.50/mth for 20 months for the 64GB model (£54/mth for 256GB or £64/mth for 512GB)
    • iPhone XS Max – £69 upfront, then £51.50/mth for 20 months for the 64GB model (£59/mth for 256GB or £69/mth for 512GB)
    • iPhone XR – £69 upfront, then £34/mth for 20 months for the 64GB model (£36.50/mth for 128GB or £41.50/mth for 256GB)

    Here's how to pay this way:

    1. You can ONLY get iPhone Payments in store – first, reserve the model you want. It's best to reserve your iPhone XS, XS Max or XR online before visiting a store. 

    2. When you collect the phone, ensure you opt for iPhone Payments. You'll need to take bank details, a valid photo ID and your current mobile plus other personal info – see Apple's website for a full list. You'll need to be a UK resident aged 18+, have a UK bank account and have lived in the UK for three or more years.

    3. If accepted (it could take up to an hour), you'll pay £69 upfront and the rest in 20 monthly instalments. Your loan will be with Barclays, the finance provider behind the scheme, at 0% APR. Monthly repayments are made by direct debit. If you don't keep up with them, Barclays would take the same action as any other loan provider – it could result in a mark on your credit file, for example.

    Once you've got the phone you'll then need to find a separate cheap Sim only deal.

  • 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. To help you choose the correct tariff, check your actual past usage with an online tool.

    There are two sites accredited by regulator Ofcom to choose from. Both will analyse your bills from the last three months to determine your average usage and suggest deals based on this.

    Billmonitor* works for customers of EE, O2, Tesco Mobile, Three and Vodafone. It's not the most user-friendly site, but it gives a detailed bill analysis.

    Ctrlio will handily remind you when better deals at your usage become available (monthly or just at the end of your contract). Currently it can read the bills of EE, Giffgaff, O2, Three and Vodafone customers.
     

    Don't overestimate how much data you need - most  use less than 3GB a month

    Don't overestimate how much data you need

    As apps become ever more data-hungry, it's fair to question whether you'll chomp through your data allowance quickly each month and wind up paying a wedge for more.

    However, don't fall for mobile firms pushing high-data deals, try and choose a contract with a data allowance you actually need. Plus with free Wi-Fi readily available, you may find you actually use less now than you used to. In a recent poll of more than 4,500 MSE users, only 10% actually use 10GB a month, while 69% use less than 3GB and 41% less than 1GB.

  • 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 second-hand 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, as you'll usually see the highest returns.

    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, sites such as Compare My Mobile* and Sell My Mobile* compare 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 though.

    See our Sell old mobiles guide for full information. 

  • All iPhone models come in different storage sizes – depending on the model they're available with 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. Generally, you'll pay £50-200 to go up a size (if you're buying directly from Apple).

    As a rule of thumb, 32GB can hold 1,000 apps, 800 albums or 6-10 HD films, which is enough for some.

    Unlike most 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 end up paying for a more expensive model 'just to be safe'.

    For our top tips for saving storage space on your phone and paying less overall, see our How to Increase Phone Storage guide.

  • 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 4G signal - 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 checker to see what signal strength will be like in your area.

  • Accidents can and do happen. Because mobiles are worth so much these days, if you lose 'em, break 'em or have 'em nicked, it can be costly to replace them.

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

    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.

  • 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.

    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 after losing a handset.

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

    Backup to the web

    This type of backup is becoming increasingly common. Plug in your phone to your computer and data is synced with a server, effectively saving it to be retrieved at a button push. Always check you know exactly which info is being stored, and if anything important is missed use a different route to save that.

    Take a look at this step-by-step guide on Apple's site on how to backup data to the web with iCloud.

    There are also other free apps available such as Dropbox or Google Photos, whereby you can transfer content from your phone to the cloud - which can then be securely accessed from any device.

    Old school pen and paper route

    For all the fancy new technologies that promise to save you time, there's still a whole lot to be said for a pen and little address book. Just remember to update the book occasionally with new numbers, and not to 'put it somewhere safe', which vanishes from memory the next time you need it.

  • 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 showed the best mobile providers to haggle with are EE and Vodafone. See our Mobile phone haggling guide for help with getting a better deal. Bear in mind though it's usually harder to haggle on a contract for a new phone, particularly if you're after the latest model. 

  • 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 or mobile reseller. 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 Top Cashback Sites guide.

    Retailer cashback. Don't confuse cashback sites with cashback you can get directly through a retailer, usually 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 usually steer clear of these deals, unless it's sent out automatically. 

Best iPhone deals

Right now, traditional contracts offer some of the cheapest ways to get the newest handsets – but don't go direct. Via a mobile reseller, the SAME deal is often £100s less overall. So don't get stung by the big networks - buying in the right way can save you a fortune. See our top pick deals for the iPhone XRiPhone XSiPhone XS MaxiPhone X and the iPhone 8 below.

Tariffs change continually, so it's always worth checking what else is out there. If you're after a different data allowance or prefer a certain network, try checking out a comparison site such as MobilePhoneChecker*.

Things to watch out for

  • Under regulator Ofcom's rules, mobile networks are permitted to increase your monthly tariff price at the rate of inflation each year, but only if their T&Cs state so before you sign up. Sadly all the major networks have such terms, including EE, O2, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone.

    Changes are usually made in accordance with the Retail Prices Index (a measure of inflation) between February and April each year. Occasionally some firms will choose not to exercise this right, but this year we've so far seen price rise announcements from all of the biggies including EEVodafoneVirgin MobileO2 and Three.  

    If a provider hikes your monthly bill by more than the RPI – or hikes it if its T&Cs don't allow this – then you can leave your contract penalty-free.

  • Most providers will carry out a credit check, so if you tend to struggle getting credit, you may want to check your credit score before applying for a mobile contract.

    MoneySavingExpert.com's free Credit Club gives you your free Experian Credit Score and Credit Report. While it won't tell you for definite whether you'll pass a credit check for a contract, it will give you a general idea of whether you'll be seen as a good or bad credit risk.

    If you think you're unlikely to pass a credit check, or tried and were declined, it could be better to opt for an affordable handset and pair it with a pay-as-you-go Sim instead.

  • 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 porting authorisation code (PAC) from your provider.

  • The majority of phone contracts which include a handset are paid for monthly over a two-year period, meaning the handset is paid for at the end. Though the handset has been paid for, most providers continue to charge the same monthly price after the initial contract period is over, meaning you're effectively paying for the phone again.

    To avoid overpaying, make a note of your contract end date and diarise to contact your provider one month before it ends to give it notice, which means you're free to leave or change deal. If you're happy with your phone consider switching to a cheap Sim only deal or see our top tips for haggling a new deal.

iPhone XR

64GB iPhone XR with 10GB data for £135 upfront, then £31/mth + £20 auto cheque

Until Mon 27 May

We've blagged a top deal for O2 newbies* for the latest 64GB iPhone XR. It comes with unlimited mins & texts plus a £20 cheque if you enter the code MSE20 in the voucher box just before checkout.

We can't find a cheaper way to get an iPhone XR with calls, texts and data - even with small allowances. Over the two-year contract it works out around £120 less than we found for a similar handset and Sim combo, which is often to the cheapest way.  

Allowance: 10GB data, unlimited minutes & texts
Network: O2 (via Mobiles.co.uk, part of Carphone Warehouse)
Upfront costs: £135
Monthly payment: £31
Rewards: Enter the code MSE20 at the basket stage and you'll automatically receive a cheque for £20 within two months of your order
Contract length: 24 months
Total cost: Factoring in the cheque, it's £859 over the two years
Who can get it? New customers to O2

  • Apple's latest 'colourful' smartphone

    • Operating system: iOS 12
    • Processor: A12 'Bionic' chip
    • Screen size / sharpness: 6.1in / 458 ppi
    • Weight: 194g
    • Camera: 12MP (rear), 7MP (front)
    • Internal Storage: 64GB, 128GB or 256GB
    • Colours: red, yellow, white, coral, black, blue
    • Price: £749 (64GB), £799 (128GB), £899 (256GB)

     

  • Your monthly price could change:  The monthly cost may increase each year in line with inflation.

    You'll be credit-checked: See our Credit Scores guide for full information and help.

iPhone XS

64GB iPhone XS + 3GB data, unltd mins & texts: £490 upfront, then £26/mth

It's often cheaper to buy the phone outright and pair it with a cheap Sim, however this 24-month deal for O2 newbies* is not a bad deal if you'd prefer a traditional contract.

Allowance: 3GB data, unlimited minutes & texts
Network: O2 (via Mobiles.co.uk, part of Carphone Warehouse)
Upfront costs: £490
Monthly payment: £26
Contract length: 24 months
Total cost: £1,114 over the two years
Who can get it? New customers to O2

iPhone XS Max

64GB iPhone XS Max + 3GB data, unltd mins & texts: £600 upfront, then £28/mth

This 24-month deal for O2 newbies* is one of the cheapest 64GB iPhone XS Max contracts we could find, with an adequate data allowance – though it does come with a hefty upfront cost.

Allowance: 4GB data, unlimited minutes & texts
Network: O2 (via Mobiles.co.uk, part of Carphone Warehouse)
Upfront costs: £600
Monthly payment: £28
Contract length: 24 months
Total cost: £1,272 over the two years
Who can get it? New customers to O2

iPhone X

64GB iPhone X + 5GB data, unltd mins & texts: £349 upfront, then £26/mth

This 24-month deal for Vodafone newbies* works out around the same price over the two years as we found buying the handset upfront and pairing it with an equivalent Sim, which is usually the cheapest way.

Allowance: 5GB data, unlimited minutes & texts
Network: Vodafone (via Mobile Phones Direct)
Upfront costs: £349
Monthly payment: £26
Contract length: 24 months
Total cost: £973 over the two years
Who can get it? New customers to Vodafone

iPhone 8

64GB iPhone 8 + 5GB data, unltd mins & texts: £90 upfront, then £26/mth

This deal for Vodafone newbies* for a 64GB iPhone 8 is a decent deal, and works out around £40 cheaper over the two year contract than we found for a similar Sim and handset combo, which is often the cheapest way. 

Allowance: 5GB data, unlimited minutes & texts
Network: Vodafone (via Mobiles.co.uk - part of Carphone Warehouse) 
Upfront costs: £90
Monthly payment: £26
Contract length: 24 months
Total cost: £714 over the two years
Who can get it? New customers to Vodafone

How to complain about your network

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 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).

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