What's the UK's best combination of iPhone 3G S tariff and phone capacity?
June 16, 2009 3:39 PM   Subscribe

What's a better deal for a contract iPhone — pay more per month and get the phone cheaper, or get a cheaper phone?

I'm in the UK, and I want to get an iPhone 3G S. I already have a first-generation iPhone, and all the things the matter with it — a bit slow operationally, very slow internet, not-so-great camera, lack of video and MMS — are all fixed in this one, so it's time to make the jump. I'm not on contract now, so I'm free to choose whichever and I'll be subsidised whatever way. The difficulty lies in picking a plan and, subsequently, the phone capacity.

I'm looking at the 24 months, partly because someone said I'd then come right up on the iPhone to be released two years from now, and partly because it's only another six months but the upfront cost of the handset drops considerably.

£34.26 a month, then, means the iPhone 3G S 16GB and 32GB will cost £87.11 and £175.19 respectively. If I go on £45, the 16GB is free and the 32GB costs £96.89. What I'm not sure about is whether it's smarter to go onto a higher tariff in return for a significantly cheaper handset, or pay more upfront and go on a lower one. At the moment, I'm looking at the 16GB on £34.26 a month; I'd like the 32GB, but I've survived for a while with 8GB and I'm not sure if paying £175 for the phone is particularly financially sensible. There's an element of judgement here, to be sure, but am I missing a particularly compelling combination of tariff and phone size that's a much better deal than the others?

P.S. I'm fully aware I may be overthinking this, and it should be more a case of 'If you can afford it, go for it' but two years is a long time and I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing a trick.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Cost = (Price per month X length of contract) + price of phone

That will tell you what combination is the best deal.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:24 PM on June 16, 2009

Can you clarify what options you're considering?

It sounds like maybe you can choose between

1) 18 months, 16 GB: 24*34.26 + 87.11 = 909.35
2) 24 months, 16 GB: 24*45 + 0 = 1080
3) 18 months, 32 GB: 24*34.26 + 175.19 = 997.43
4) 24 months, 32 GB: 24*45 + 96.89 = 1176.89

So in both cases, the shorter contract (but used for 24 months) is cheaper overall, plus it lets you change your plan sooner. Am I missing something?
posted by losvedir at 4:30 PM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: I'm also in the UK and thinking about getting an iPhone. The only tariff worth considering for me is the £35 one, but I'm curious to look at the £45 as well.

So let's blow the dust off our calculator and look at the overall, end of the line cost, plus the averaged cost per month:

£34.26 a month:
16GB iPhone @ 184.98 + 18 months @ 616.68 = £801.66 = £44.54 per month
16GB iPhone @ 87.11 + 24 months @ 822.24 = £909.35 = £37.89 per month

32GB iPhone @ 274.23 + 18 months @ 616.68 = £890.91 = £49.50 per month
32GB iPhone @ 175.19 + 24 months @ 822.24 = £997.43 = £44.56 per month

£108 for 6 months doesn't seem too bad. That's essentially three months free service, if the prices don't shift over the next two years.

£44.05 a month:
16GB iPhone @ 87.11 + 18 months @ 792.90 = £880.01 = £48.89 per month
16GB iPhone @ free + 24 months @ 1057.20 = £1057.20 = £44.05 per month

32GB iPhone @ 175.19 + 18 months @ 792.90 = £968.09 = £53.79 per month
32GB iPhone @ 96.89 + 24 months @ 1057.20 = £1154.09 = £48.08 per month

The 24 month options seem significantly less good value than they do with the £35 plans.

Personally, I'm definitely doing £35 p/m
The 16GB at 24 months looks like the best value on paper, though I think the 32GB version would be worth it to me as a user, especially if I end up taking a two year contract.
posted by Magnakai at 4:31 PM on June 16, 2009

Response by poster: Ok, seeing these numbers makes everything a bit clearer. I'm pretty confident that £35/24 months is the way to go. Now all I have to do is decide between 16GB and 32GB. Anyone have strong feelings one way or the other? Am I nuts to even consider getting a 16GB when I'm going to have it for two years? The financially prudent part of my brain (such as it is!) says get the 16GB, but the Apple fan and techhead in me says I'll regret skimping on what'll probably become much-needed space. Decisions, decisions…

Those of you in the same iPhone-desiring boat as me— are you going to an O2 store or an Apple store? I'm already on a month-to-month contract with O2 so I imagine I'll have to go to one of their stores to get it sorted out. Am I right? I'd much rather go to an Apple store, the experience is so much better and they won't try to sell me stupid crap I don't need (in-car bluetooth, massively overpriced insurance and purple flowerpots to name but a few).
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 5:21 PM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: Just to throw another factor into this, but I think you can reduce your contract amount after nine months into the contract term - i.e. you sign up for a £45 a month contract and then after nine months reduce to the £35 contract. (See 02's iPhone t+c's "After connecting or upgrading to a minimum term contract, you’re unable to move to a lower priced Pay Monthly tariff for 9 months unless otherwise stated. After 9 months you can change tariff a maximum of once per month, provided that if moving down a tariff you can only move to the next lowest priced tariff with the same minimum term.")

So, redoing some of the calculations above:

£44.05 a month:
16GB iPhone @ 87.11 + 9 months @ 44.05 + 9 months @ 34.26 = 87.11 + 396.45 + 308.34 = £791.90 = £43.99 per month
16GB iPhone @ free + 9 Months @ 44.05 + 18 month @ 34.26 = 396.45 + 616.68= £1013.13 = £42.21 per month

32GB iPhone @ 175.19 + 9 Months @ 44.05 + 9 months @34.26 = 175.19 + 396.45 + 308.34 = £879.98 = £48.8 per month
32GB iPhone @ 96.89 + 9 Months @44.05 + 18 months @ 34.26 = 96.89 + 396.45 + 616.68 = £1110.02 = £46.25 per month
posted by Mattat at 2:44 AM on June 17, 2009

The best way to gauge the amount of memory that you might need is to consider what you might like to store and whether you would want to store everything concurrently. I have a 32Gb I-touch but, after 8 months of usage, it is still relatively empty. This is because most of what I have on the phone is applications and they do not take up much space. If I watch video on the device it tends to be steamed rather than held locally. Equally if I listen to music it tends to be streamed via LastFM or similar. For me there is no way I could fit all my music in this space so I just carry round a few, regularly changed, gigabytes of it.
posted by rongorongo at 2:46 AM on June 17, 2009

Moneysavingexpert has some iphone advice http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-iphone including £60 cashback via Quidco
posted by hibbersk at 3:55 AM on June 17, 2009

I have the original 8GB iPhone with no data plan and it's fine for me.

You need to decide if the unlimited data is worth the $30-40/month. Especially when you got internet at home. I mean, what is so urgent that you need to be connected to the internet everywhere you go - at this price?

Also, I figured that I don't listen to much of my entire music collection so I weed out the bad and keep the good which is only around 2GB of music. Between the apps, video, etc I got over 3GB free space.
posted by glenno86 at 7:11 AM on June 17, 2009

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