Orange, T-Mobile and 3 are all offering subsidised iPads - but only if you sign up to a two year contract. We take a look at the small print to see how the offers stack up....
What's the deal?
Customers who take out a 24-month contract with either Orange, T-Mobile or 3 can pick up the 16GB WiFi +3G iPad for just £199, while the 32GB and 64GB models cost £249 and £299 respectively.
The 16GB model usually costs £529, while the 32GB model costs £599 and the 64GB model £699, so the savings look substantial. However, you need to lock in to a two-year contract to qualify for these offers.
If you sign up with Orange and T-Mobile, this involves paying £27 a month for your data for 24 months if you are a new customer, while existing customers are charged £25 a month.
For this you get 1GB of data use at any time and a further 1GB between midnight and 4pm. You also get free use of BT Openzone WiFi hotspots. To give some idea of what you can do with 1GB a month, you could send 35 e-mails, do one and a half hours browsing on the internet and watch six minutes of YouTube videos every day.
With 3's deal, you pay £25 a month for 24 months and get a much more generous 15GB monthly data allowance, although it doesn't offer the free BT Openzone WiFi access.
Over a two-year period, the contract cost works out at £600 (or £648 if you sign up with Orange or T-Mobile and aren't an existing customer) so you need to factor this in.
The Orange and T-Mobile offers restrict internet use to 2GB a month in total, of which 1GB must be made during 'quiet times', so this may not be enough for heavy internet users who regularly need to download a lot of information.
Subsidised iPad deals are a great option for people who can't afford to pay for one up-front, but remember that you do still have to fork out for the contract costs, so you will effectively end up paying the full-price over the two-year tie-in period.
Out of the current available deals, 3's deal looks the best as it offers a much larger monthly data allowance, but if you are a light or medium internet user, then Orange or T-Mobile's deals may well suffice.
Bear in mind that other providers may also launch iPad subsidised deals in the next few weeks or months, so you may want to wait until all the offers have been introduced before signing up.
Remember that you don't have to lock into a two year contract if you don't want to, as there are plenty of SIM-only deals available, but it does mean you will need to buy a full price +3G iPad.
For a one month contract with 3 it costs £7.50 a month for 1GB or £15 a month for 10GB, or on pay-as-you-go the cost is £10 for 30 days for 1GB or £20 for 3 months for 3GB. With T-Mobile's pay-as-you-go iPad deal, you pay £2 a day for up to 500MB internet allowance a day, £7 a week for 1GB a week, or £15 a month for 2GB a month.
Orange offers an iPad daily tariff which costs £2 a day for 200MB, a weekly tariff which costs £7.50 for 1GB and a monthly tariff for £15 a month which gives you 3GB and unlimited BT Openzone WiFi. Alternatively, its iPad monthly 25 tariff gives you 10GB a month, and unlimited BT Openzone WiFi.