iPhone 5 goes on sale: Here's the cheapest way to get one in the UK

iPhone 5 goes on sale: Here's the cheapest way to get one in the UK

Summary: Apple has fired the starting gun on retail sales of the iPhone 5, the sixth version of the iOS-based handset. Find out where it will cost you the least, in our rundown of the plans out there.

TOPICS: Apple, iPhone, Mobility

The iPhone 5 has now been released, and you're free to go and pick one up — but what's the cheapest way to go about buying one?

For the purposes of this, I've only looked at deals (whether contract or SIM-only PAYG options) that offer at least 1GB of data usage per month. If you're not using at least around that amount, I'd question why you're shelling out for an iPhone in the first place.

Three store with iPhone 5
The iPhone went on sale on Friday, with Three offering one of the cheapest ways of getting it. Image: Ben Woods

If you're happy to stump up some cash up front, well, all of it — £529 in the UK, that's easily the least expensive way to get up and running in the long term. That's for the 16GB version, the lowest-priced version of the iPhone 5 available.

Of course, putting up the cash up front means that you'll need to arrange a SIM card: but if you really want it on Friday, the first day on sale, then your choice of networks is somewhat limited.

READ THIS: Brother and sister duo nabs first iPhone 5 in the world

The absolute cheapest way would be with GiffGaff, which typically does a £10 month PAYG deal with 1GB of data. But the network hasn't confirmed when it will offer the device, or the nano-SIM required. So if you want it today, no dice.

It's a similar story for T-Mobile: the network told me on Thursday that it had not confirmed its PAYG plans for the iPhone 5, or when it would have a nano-SIM available.

In fact, at the time of writing, only Three and O2 could confirm that new or existing customers can walk into a store and pick up the nano-SIM required for the iPhone 5.

READ THIS: Singapore still hungry for iPhone, but buzz lacking

Of those two, the most economical is Three's 'Ultimate Internet SIM 200 1 Month' plan, which provides unlimited data, 200 minutes and 5,000 texts for £12.90 per month. If you want to bump that up to 600 minutes but stay on a one-month rolling contract, it will cost £18.90.

So, £529 for the phone, and £12.90 per month for 12 months (£154.80), which makes a total cost of ownership for one year £683.80 on this Three PAYG plan.

Monthly plans

By comparison, the least expensive 12-month contract with the handset is with Tesco Mobile. This deal will cost £30 per month, and require a £400 outlay on the handset, making the total cost of ownership for a year £760.

iPhone 5 launch in London
iPhone 5 fans get high-fives from Apple staff at the store in Regent Street, London. Image: Ben Woods

If you really don't want to shell out anything at all for the handset and are happy with a monthly commitment, all the major UK networks are offering the device for free on 24-month contracts of around £44 to £46. The exception is T-Mobile, where the cheapest up-front device cost is £19 with a subscription payment of £61 per month.

Taking the lowest of those free handset contract deals (which is Three at £44), one year of ownership will cost £528 — making the total cost of the deal £1,056. The equivalent PAYG Three route would cost a total of £838.60.

For the record, the 'Full Monty' T-Mobile option — where the handset costs 'just' £19 up front — would cost £1,464 across the full term of the contract. That's one of the more-expensive ways of getting a nearly-free iPhone 5 in the UK that we've come across — but there could be more out there. Have you seen any bargains? Let me know in the comments.

Topics: Apple, iPhone, Mobility

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Orange trousers‽

    Why on this delectable terrestrial sphere would you wear orange trousers‽
    I would understand it if he were an escaped felon, but surely he would have the common faculty to change out of his prison attire, and a azure t-shirt‽ What is the microcosm coming to‽

    • ?

      I think you'll find it's *an azure top. I love your spectacular use of grammar and vocabulary, but at least get the fundamentals in order
      Hannah Cleary-Hughes
  • The moment you start treating monthly

    cell phone fees, that you have to pay for ANY cell phone you get, as unique to the iPhone so as to give an artificially inflated cost of ownership, I know I'm dealing with a propagandist.
    • Stretching?

      Where does the author state the monthly fees only apply to iphone?
      They are part of the cost of ownership otherwise the £19 up front charge is a no brainer. Surely it's a more rounded appraoch to look at all costs involved as the aforementioned £19 up-front is actually one of the highest overall.
      Having re-read the article, I can't see anywhere that the monthly costs are only attributed to ibrick purchases, I know it's not the case having upgraded recently. If you can quote where the article does claim that, I will happily go on record with an apology.
      Little Old Man
      • The moment he used the phrase

        brings the total cost of ownership. Cell phone fees cancel out of the equation. Including them is a common trick that's been used to inflate the cost of iPhones since they first came out. But you already knew that.
  • Is it just me....

    or do those lines look small and sad now, It's a great phone, but no longer the best by a long shot. Might be time to line up at Nokia I think, if you're into that sort of thing.
    • It will be a long wait

      There are no specs, nobody has seen Windows Phone 8 past the home screen, there's no pricing, and no launch date. So unless you're part of an Occupy camp-out, I'm not sure you'd want to be doing that.
      • So how many Occupy camp-outs have you been to?

        Or don't you have a job or something?

    • So you are admiting the iPHone at one time was the best?

      I"m only asking because as far back as I can remember I've never head that said before by your type of person. So lines not at any given location but all across not only this country but across the globe are not impressive to you? And what is it like 5 million pre orders on top of that?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • I will.

        At once it was clearly the best. And it's still very good. Is it the best today? Not for me but I'm sure it is for others.
        • iPhone 4 is the best product Apple has ever made for the time

          iPhone 4 was just so much better than everything else that was out at the time, buying one was an easy decision for me.

          Since then, Apple has stagnated big time. After the release of iPhone IE last year and iPhone IE2 today, I simply can't punish myself any longer by staying on Apple's inferior platform.

          I am personally switching from Apple to Nokia but the Samsung Galaxy SIII is also a truly fantastic device for anyone not willing to risk a few hundred dollars on a new and untested platform.
          • The same iPhone4 where

            the CEO was told by an engineer long before its release date there was a major problem with the antenna design, with the CEO ignoring said engineer?

            When the iPhone 4 was released and customers reported problems, the same CEO screamed "you're holding it wrong", despite deliberately knowing he consciously put out a problem... had there not been a quick and dirty workaround... Still, most of us know you don't treat customers like pig ****. Not EVER. Because we are doing work for them in exchange for their hard-earned money...

            The myth of that CEO is noble. The CEO, outside the myth, was deplorable and hardly worth putting on any pedestal...
          • That old saw? YAWN....Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

            Just saying....

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
    • So, short lines means

      The phone has lost it's appeal, but long lines means mindless Apple drones and slick marketing.
      • Ever get the feeling you just can't win?

        How does that make you feel? Are you frustrated?

        Just curious.
      • There was no slick marketing...

        Apple didn't market iPhone 5 other than the announcement 2 weeks ago...
        • same as to say

          there is elephant in the room - just a large mammal with a trunk.
        • Apart from scores of "rumors" articles,

          trashing the nobility of media outlets in the process.

          Rumors are not news, and most reputable news agencies wouldn't stoop so low of their own accord.

          It's just an obfuscated form of marketing.
  • News

    Latest news about iPhone 5 (Updating Live) from Gizmodo - now working link http://l4f.co/go/iphone5
    Brian Bice
  • Response of iPhone 5 Release, Apple Stores across the world in Pictures

    Hi Guys...Please do check my blog and leave your valuable comment:

    Response of iPhone 5 Release, Apple Stores across the world in Pictures

    Thank You!