MSE News

Looking for the iPhone XR? Here's how to find the best deals

Apple's new 'affordable' iPhone XR is now available to buy in shops – here's our round-up of the best deals.

The XR is the relative 'budget' version, with a starting price of £749, in comparison with the already launched XS and XS Max which start at £1,099

It features many of the same specifications as these two XS models, but with some drawbacks, such as only having a single rear camera and an LCD screen – unlike the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen of the XS. 

Buying a new iPhone is never MoneySaving, and early adopters often pay more, but if you're determined to get one anyway, make sure to do it in the cheapest way.

At launch, we found a contract deal via a mobile reseller that was £520 less over the two-year contract than if bought direct from O2, plus a 24-month Vodafone deal that beat buying the handset upfront and pairing with a cheap Sim.

See our full round-up of the best iPhone XR deals below

For the best deals and tips on cutting the cost of iPhones, including the XS, XS Max and iPhone 8, see our Cheap iPhones guide. 

How does the new iPhone XR compare?

Apple's new iPhone XR joins the XS and XS Max in completing the 2018 line up unveiled in the United States last month, and while it's still in no way cheap, it's the relative 'budget' option at £350 less than the XS, direct from Apple.  

Here's how the models compare on specifications:

  • iPhone XR – from £749 for the 64GB model to £899 for the 256GB model

    6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD display, 12-megapixel rear camera, 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, up to 25 hours' talk-time battery life.
  • iPhone XS – from £999 for the 64GB model to £1,349 for the 512GB model

    5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display, dual 12-megapixel telephoto and wide-angle rear cameras, 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, up to 20 hours' talk-time battery life.
  • iPhone XS Max – from £1,099 for the 64GB model to £1,449 for the 512GB model

    6.5-inch Super Retina OLED display, dual 12-megapixel telephoto and wide-angle rear cameras, 7-megapixel front-facing camera, 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second, up to 25 hours' talk-time battery life.
See our iPhone guide for more information on all the available iPhone models.

A traditional contract is still a competitive way to get it – but don't go direct 

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.

Currently the cheapest option we've found is to buy the handset directly from Apple and pair it with an £8/month iD Mobile Sim. However, paying almost £750 upfront for the handset is out of reach for many people.

Reseller sites such as Mobiles.co.uk*e2save.com (both owned by Carphone Warehouse) and MobilePhonesDirect are almost always cheaper than going direct to the network. Right now we've found deals on EE, O2 and Vodafone that can save you up to £512 over the two-year contract for the same deal if bought direct.

Our top-pick iPhone XR deal with a 4GB data allowance works out £248 less than the same two-year deal direct from Vodafone. Via Mobiles.co.uk*, if you're a Vodafone newbie, you'll get 4GB of data with unlimited minutes and texts for £23/month, though you'll have to stump up a hefty £405 upfront – so £957 over the two years. 

If you're looking for a higher data allowance, O2 newbies can get 15GB, unlimited minutes and texts for £34/month and £190 upfront – so £1,006 over the two-year contract – again via e2save.com*. Though you can't get the exact same deal direct from O2, it's over £535 cheaper than the closest deal we found it offers with a 20GB allowance.  

How different ways of buying the iPhone compare

To show the savings you can make buying in the right way, we've compared the prices for an iPhone XR by taking it out on a traditional contract, buying from a mobile reseller or buying outright and pairing with a cheap Sim.

To compare the cost of handset plus allowance, we've used iD Mobile's £8/mth Sim with 500 minutes and unlimited texts and 4GB of data as a benchmark, and used networks' closest deals where there's no direct equivalent. 

iPhone XR deals compared (i)

Deal Upfront cost Monthly cost (ii) Data allowance Total over 24mths
24MTH CONTRACT VIA RESELLER (iii)
Vodafone (via Mobiles.co.uk*) £405 £23 4GB £957
O2 (via Mobiles.co.uk*) £275 £29 4GB £971
EE (via buymobiles.net) £360 £25 4GB £960
BUY OUTRIGHT + iD Mobile SIM (iv)
Apple (outright) £749 £8 4GB £941
24MTH STANDARD CONTRACT
Vodafone (direct) £149 £44 4GB £1,205
Three (direct) £200 £43 4GB £1,232
O2 (direct) £30 (v) £59.98 (v) 4GB £1,470
EE (direct) £80 £58 4GB £1,472

Prices correct as of 6 Nov 2018, rounded to the nearest £1. We haven't linked to standard network contracts as these are more expensive. (i) All with unlimited mins & texts. (ii) Monthly costs are over 24mths. Monthly contract prices may increase in line with inflation each year. (iii) Cheapest deals we found from resellers – no cheaper Three deal available. (iv) 500 mins & unlimited texts. (v) O2 allows you to configure the upfront & monthly cost, ie, you can set how much you pay upfront, which changes the monthly cost, though the overall total doesn't change.

As always it's worth checking if cashback is available on these types of deals. See our Top Cashback Sites guide for more information. Remember you can also trade in your old handset for cash – check our Sell Old Mobiles guide for tips.

Prefer to buy it outright? Spread the cost interest-free with Apple

Usually when a new iPhone's launched we say the cheapest way is to buy it upfront – if you can stomach the hefty price-tag – and then find a separate cheap Sim to use it with. Yet this launch, we've found that contract deals can sometimes beat this – and require a lower upfront fee.  

But if you'd rather own the device outright and would like to spread the payments, here's how to get it direct from Apple without paying interest.  

iPhone Payments is Apple's interest-free financing scheme – it's now available for all three of Apple's latest handsets, including the XR – though only in Apple stores. This allows you to buy the phone for Apple's standard price, but pay a smaller amount upfront and the rest in 20 monthly instalments.

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

  • 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).
  • 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).

Be careful not to get caught out as Apple also offers another scheme – its iPhone Upgrade Programme – which gives you the option to swap handsets and includes AppleCare, its extended warranty and technical support service, but this can usually be beaten by other methods. See our Cheap iPhones guide for full information and how to reserve a model for collection in store.