Last updated: Nov. 4th, 2010
If you’re planning on getting an iPad 3G, then the networks have revealed their pricing on Apple’s UK website. I’ve collated these with all the options and notes and added Three and Vodafone’s MiFi mobile broadband into the mix. I’ve also worked out the Total Costs of Ownership for all that tasty mobile data, which I’ve put into one searchable, sortable table.
(If you like this article, you may also want to check out my comparison of buying an iPad 3 vs. an iPad and a MiFi)
The full table is below, but here’s the headlines:
Want to try mobile data for just £2, for a single day?
Pick up a Micro-SIM from O2, and sign up for for the one day £2 tariff. You’ll get 200Mb and unlimited wifi, for 24 hours from activation. Orange only give you up to midnight.
The cheapest rolling tariff
3’s 1Gb rolling monthly micro-SIM tariff will only cost you £7.50 per month. Orange’s £5 per month is the cheapest MiFi tariff for occasional usage.
Want to pay about £15 per month?
Again, I’d pick 3. You get a whopping 10Gb compared to Orange and Vodafone’s 3Gb or O2’s very poor 2Gb. No-brainer.
Prepared to pay over £20 per month?
Don’t pick Vodafone. If you’re happy to be locked into an 18 month contract, then Three will give you a MiFi and you’ll get 5Gb more per month than Orange (10Gb more than Vodafone!) over the same amount of time. If you want flexibility on a month-by-month basis, stick with 10Gb from Orange.
Micro-SIM or MiFi?
At the bottom end, if you’re going for the absolute cheapest, occasional usage, then .go for a £2/day tariff.
If you want 1Gb available to you, 3’s £7.50 rolling micro-SIM contract is the best.
At the top end, 3’s 18 month MiFi contact works out better value than Orange’s rolling monthly contract- £50 cheaper over the 18 months, plus you get an extra 5Gb data per month. But it depends what you need.
Who’s best for MiFi?
Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile: step up. Your tariffs are rubbish compared to 3.
Existing customer with Vodafone?
Additional discounts are available, but they’re pretty poor.
Existing customer with Orange?
You can shave £5 off the MiFi tariffs. They’re still not brilliant though.
|Network||Data Allowance (Gb)||SIM or MiFi?||Cost (£)||Setup Cost (£)||Data allowance lasts for||Contract Type||Total Cost of Ownership, over 18 months (£)||Activation Method|
|Orange||0.2||Micro-SIM||2||0||1 day||PAYG||-||Call to activate||Allowance lasts until midnight. Out-of-bundle data charged at 5p per mb, capped at £40/month. £10 initial credit.|
|O2||0.2||Micro-SIM||2||0||1 day||PAYG||-||Activate on iPad 3G||Used to be 500Mb. Includes unlimited wifi with The Cloud and BT Openzone|
|3||1||Micro-SIM||7.5||0||1 month||Rolling monthly||135||Call to activate||Out of bundle charges of 10p per MB apply|
|Vodafone (existing customer)||1||Micro-SIM||7.5||0||1 month||18 month||135||Activate on iPad 3G||Existing customers with a 12 month+ contract|
|Orange||1||Micro-SIM||7.5||0||7 days||PAYG||-||Call to activate||Lasts until midnight of 7th day. Out-of-bundle 3G data charged at 5p per mb, capped at £40/moth. £10 initial credit.|
|3||1||MiFi||9.5||0||1 month||18 month||171||Call to activate|
|O2||1||Micro-SIM||10||0||30 days||Rolling 30 day||180||Activate on iPad 3G||Includes unlimited wifi with The Cloud and BT Openzone|
|Vodafone||1||Micro-SIM||10||0||30 days||Rolling 30 day||180||Activate on iPad 3G|
|3||1||Micro-SIM||10||0||30 days||PAYG||180||Call to activate|
|3||1||MiFi||10||49.99||30 days||PAYG||229.99||Call to activate|
|3||3||MiFi||10||69.99||30 days||PAYG||249.99||Call to activate||MiFi pre-loaded with 3Gb data. Assumed lowest additional top-up.|
|Vodafone (existing customer)||3||Micro-SIM||12.5||0||1 month||18 month||225||Activate on iPad 3G||Existing customers with a 12 month+ contract|
|Vodafone (existing customer)||3||MiFi||12.5||0||1 month||18 month||225||Call to activate||Existing customers with a 12 month+ contract|
|O2||2||Micro-SIM||15||0||30 days||Rolling 30 day||270||Activate on iPad 3G||Used to be 3Gb. Includes unlimited wifi with The Cloud and BT Openzone|
|Orange||3||Micro-SIM||15||0||30 days||Rolling 30 day||270||Call to activate||Includes unlimited wifi with BT Openzone in UK & Eire. Out-of-bundle 3G data charged at 5p per mb, capped at £40/month. £10 initial credit.|
|Vodafone||3||Micro-SIM||15||0||30 days||Rolling 30 day||270||Activate on iPad 3G|
|3||10||Micro-SIM||15||0||1 month||Rolling monthly||270||Call to activate||Out of bundle charges of 10p per MB apply|
|3||5||MiFi||15||39.99||1 month||Rolling monthly||309.99||Call to activate||MiFi pre-loaded with 5Gb data|
|Vodafone||3||MiFi||15||49||1 month||18 month||319.00||Call to activate|
|3||3||MiFi||15||49.99||30 days||PAYG||319.99||Call to activate|
|3||5||MiFi||17||0||1 month||18 month||306||Call to activate|
|3||3||Micro-SIM||20||0||3 months||PAYG||120||Call to activate|
|Vodafone (existing customer)||5||Micro-SIM||20||0||1 month||18 month||360||Activate on iPad 3G||Existing customers with a 12 month+ contract|
|Vodafone||4||MiFi||20||29||1 month||18 month||389.00||Call to activate|
|3||15||MiFi||22||0||1 month||18 month||396||Call to activate|
|Vodafone||5||Micro-SIM||25||0||30 days||Rolling 30 day||450||Activate on iPad 3G||Originally promoted as "unlimited", now changed to £5Gb.|
|Vodafone||5||MiFi||25||0||1 month||18 month||450.00||Call to activate|
|Orange||10||Micro-SIM||25||0||30 days||1 month||450||Call to activate||Includes unlimited wifi with BT Openzone in UK & Eire. Out-of-bundle 3G data charged at 5p per mb, capped at £40/month. £10 initial credit.|
|3||15||MiFi||25||49.99||30 days||PAYG||499.99||Call to activate|
|Orange||0.1||MiFi||5||89||1 month||1 month||179.00||Call to activate||Data charged at 5p per Mb from £5 allowance, additional charged at the same. Capped at £40/month.|
|Orange||0.5||MiFi||10||89||1 month||1 month||269||Call to activate|
|Orange||0.5||MiFi||10||59.00||1 month||12 months||239.00||Call to activate|
|Orange||1||MiFi||15||75||1 month||1 month||345.00||Call to activate|
|Orange||1||MiFi||15||59||1 month||12 months||329.00||Call to activate||Also includes 1 Gb "quiet time" (midnight -4pm)|
|Orange||1||MiFi||20||75||1 month||1 month||435.00||Call to activate||Also includes unlimited BT Openzone|
|Orange||1||MiFi||20||49||1 month||12 months||409.00||Call to activate||Also includes 1 Gb "quiet time" (midnight -4pm) & unlimited BT Openzeon|
|T-Mobile||0.5||MiFi||2||69||1 day||Rolling-credit base||-||Call to activate||Setup price includes £10 credit|
|T-Mobile||1||MiFi||7||69||1 week||Rolling-credit base||-||Call to activate||Setup price includes £10 credit|
|T-Mobile||2||MiFi||15||69||1 month||Rolling-credit base||339.00||Call to activate||Setup price includes £10 credit|
Obviously, your use cases will vary. Every carrier will benefit some and not others, not least in terms of network coverage and/or the ability to activate data plans on the iPad itself.
The main differentiators are:
Unlimited use of The Cloud and BT Openzone, flexibility to use a 24 hour tariff.
Unlimited use of BT Openzone on higher tariffs, flexibility to use a single day tariff.
Further details of the Orange MiFI have been added by Ben Smith here: http://mobilewifichallenge.com/post/1480322061/orange-launch-a-mobile-wifi-device-too
What is going on with their pricing? Check it out here. It’s a weird PAYG / monthly credit combo. Confusing. They claim you get unlimited data, but have fair use limits imposed (which are the rates I’ve put in the table). Plus they’ve called their MiFi the “Mobile Pointer”. WTF?!
Their new deals with micro-SIMs are pretty good. You can have either a cheap tariff that lasts for a month, or pay £15 for 10Gb. That’s a very good deal in my opinion. Alternatively, get a MiFi. You may feel that carrying around an extra unit in the form of a MiFi is an inelegant solution, or, it may be incredibly useful to you to carry a wifi hotspot in your pocket. But 3’s MiFi data tariffs are not as good for iPad owners as their iPad-specific ones.
Hmm, I’m not sure they’re bringing a lot apart from parity 1Gb and 3Gb pricing. Their MiFi is another option but still pricey.
Let me know what you choose!
Updates to this article:
- May 26th: altered 3 MiFi costs, added 3 micro-SIM plans
- Sept. 30th: altered 3 MiFi costs, added 3 micro-SIM PAYG plans, altered O2 tariffs, added Vodafone’s MiFi unit and note about existing customer discounts.
- Nov. 4th: added T-Mobile’s weirdly named MiFi, and Orange’s MiFi.