iPhone 5 best prices compared: Save hundreds with our guide

We take a look at the best prices for the iPhone 5 to help you snag the best deal for Apple's latest super-phone.

The iPhone 5 is here, boasting a taller 4-inch screen, a slimmer design, a more powerful processor and, of course, the latest iOS 6 software. There's a lot to get excited about -- not least the fact that it will be the first phone to tap into the new, speedy 4G network. So if you hope to snuggle one in your pocket, you'll need to know the best prices around.

You can check out CNET UK's price comparisons for new deals arriving daily. If you're loathe to trawl around for the latest prices, you don't have to, as I've done the legwork for you. Aren't I lovely? I've rounded up the best deals of the moment below, but check back soon to keep abreast of other networks announcing pricing plans and special offers.

It's important to bear in mind that these prices are all for 3G networks. The whole 4G situation is pretty complicated , but EE will be the first network to have it. You'll need to buy your phone from EE or purchase the handset SIM-free and get an EE SIM if you want to be among the first to benefit from super-fast 4G speeds. 

EE hasn't announced pricing for its 4G network, but you can bet it won't come cheap. The company says that if you sign up with Orange or T-Mobile now (the two firms that form EE), you'll be able to switch to 4G from EE when it's available.

Cheapest SIM-free iPhone 5 deal: £611.80

The cheapest way to get a phone is nearly always to buy it outright and then get a SIM-only deal. It means networks don't whack on their premiums throughout your contract, saving you money overall. Of course, it's not always possible to shell out half a grand up front, which is why contracts that factor in the price of the phone are so popular.

If you buy the 16GB iPhone 5 SIM-free for £529 and add Three's Essential Internet SIM 200 (which gets you 200 minutes, 5,000 texts and 500MB of data), it will cost you £611.80 over the course of your 12-month contract. If you don't want to be tied into a contract, you can get the same minutes, texts and data for £9.90 a month on a rolling basis, adding £36 to the total.

Cheapest free iPhone 5 deal over two years: £1,104

Orange and O2 both provide the cheapest option if you don't want to pay any money up front for the iPhone 5. They both demand you pay £46 per month over 24 months for a free 16GB phone, with which you'll get unlimited calls and texts and 3GB of data on Orange and a lesser 1GB with O2.

It's disappointing that O2 doesn't offer more data, as you'll quickly eat that up if you're a serial downloader and intend to use FaceTime over 3G. Still, you do at least get access to its Priority Moments for local vouchers and deals, which might save you a few quid over the course of your contract.

It's important to bear in mind too that O2 will not have a 4G network until next year at the earliest, and even then it may not be compatible with the version of the iPhone 5 you can buy now. So if you're particularly keen to take advantage of the high-speed data 4G provides, you might want to consider joining Orange and switching over to EE when its 4G services become available.

Cheapest two-year iPhone 5 deal: £849

Vodafone is where you should be looking for overall value. It offers the 16GB phone on a £25 per month contract over 24 months, with an up-front cost of £249 for the phone itself. That comes to a total of £849 over the two years for which you'll get 100 minutes, unlimited texts and 100MB of data. That's really not going to be enough data for anything more than checking your emails, so if you intend to use the phone to its fullest extent, check out a different plan.

Surprisingly, Vodafone has told us this deal is available in store and over the phone, but not online.

Cheapest unlimited data iPhone 5 deal over two years: £895

The iPhone 5 is evidently more than just a phone, it's an Internet workhorse providing instant access to all your social networking contacts and letting you share high-resolution snaps of your food to all and sundry on Instagram. You're therefore probably going to need a healthy helping of data.

The cheapest way to get the iPhone 5 with an unlimited data contract is to head to Three, which will give you the 16GB model on a £34 per month contract, with an upfront charge of £79 for the phone. That'll come to £895 overall but it's probably worth paying the extra if you know you're going to burn through a lot of data.

At the moment, details are thin on the ground about the networks' other plans, so if you hope to snag a phone on a 12-month contract, keep your eyes peeled over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, check out our great preview of the iPhone 5 and make sure to let me know what other deals you've found in the comments below.

Update 17 September: Added O2 deal.

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About the author

Andrew is a senior editor at CNET and has always been fascinated by tech. When not getting up close and personal with the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

 

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