iPad Air goes on sale: Where's the cheapest place to get one in the UK?

UK consumers can get their hands on an iPad Air for as low as £29, but they'll have to weigh up how much mobile data they actually need and whether they prefer lower monthly bills or a higher one-off payment.

For those who prefer to buy a mobile network-ready iPad Air over two years rather than pay Apple's higher upfront price, UK operators Vodafone, Three, and EE have released their pricing for the iPad Air.

At Vodafone, the 16GB iPad Air starts at £28 a month for 1GB of data on its 3G network, with a £129 upfront fee (compared to the £499 cost to buy it without a mobile plan).

Depending on how much time you spend away from a wi-fi network, another option is the 2GB 3G plan for £32 a month, which carries a much lower £29 upfront fee. Similarly, the 4GB and 10GB per month 4G-ready plans have a £29 upfront cost, with monthly fees at £37 and £42, respectively.

Vodafone is reporting a two- to four-week delivery time for the tablet.

The 32GB model also starts at £28 a month for 1GB on its 3G network, but has an upfront cost of £209 compared to Apple's outright price of £579. The upfront fee for the variant is £79 on a 10GB 4G-ready plan, which carries a £42 monthly fee. Meanwhile, upfront fee for the 32GB iPad Air is £109 on the 2GB 3G and the 4GB 4G-ready plans. The respective monthly fees here are £32 and £37.

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The upfront cost for the 64GB model on Vodafone's £28 1GB 3G plan rises to £289. The upfront price drops to £159 on the 10GB 4G-ready plan, which costs £42 a month, while the upfront fee for the 2GB 3G plan and 4GB 4G-ready plan is £189. Similar to the 32GB model, the respective monthly fees here are £32 and £37.

Three is leaning towards a more-than-you-can-eat approach to data on its iPad Air pricing, offering generous and lower-cost data plans, but at higher upfront prices than Vodafone.

The 16GB iPad Air is available at Three for £179 on a £25 per month plan, which includes a 15GB data allowance. The device cost falls to £119 for customers who pay £29 a month for the same amount of data, while the £15 per month plan, which offers 10GB of data, carries an upfront cost of £499 — equivalent to Apple's outright purchase price.

The same £29, £25 and £15 data plans are available for the 32GB model, which respectively cost £219, £279 and £579 upfront. Under the same data and price structure, the 64GB Air costs £289, £349 and £659.

Three and Vodafone are not selling the 128GB mobile data iPad Air, which retails at Apple for £739. Meanwhile, O2 has not announced plans to sell the iPad Air.

Like Three, LTE-friendly network EE generally has higher upfront costs on its plans, but slightly lower monthly charges than Vodafone. EE's pricing is built around 3GB, 5GB and 8GB plans that cost £25.99, £30.99 and £35.99 respectively, with device costs falling with larger data plans.

EE is charging £249 for the 16GB iPad Air on a 3GB plan. The upfront charge falls to £149 on the 5GB plan, which drops to £99 on an 8GB plan.

The 32GB iPad Air starts at £319 on the 3GB plan, falling to £219 on the 5GB monthly allowance, and £169 on the 8GB monthly plan.   

Similarly, the 64GB iPad Air will cost £389 on a 3GB plan, £289 on a 5GB plan and £239 on an 8GB plan. Meanwhile, the 128 GB iPad Air will cost £459 on the 3GB allowance, £359 on the 5GB allowance and £309 on the 8GB plan.

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