So you fancy snagging yerself an iPad 2 with Wi-Fi and 3G? Smart move -- 3G lets you cruise the Web when you're nowhere near a Wi-Fi connection, making your tablet truly mobile. We've rounded up the best iPad 2 contract deals from the four major UK networks and corralled them for some for table-comparing, deal-roundupping, tarriff-totalling action!
At the time of writing, not every network has come forth with their iPad 2 contract plans, so we'll be updating this story on the fly as the various networks get their rears in gear.
Vodafone's deal for new customers is £27 per month on a 24-month contract, as well as an up-front cost of £229 for the 16GB iPad 2, £279 for the 32GB model or £379 for the 64GB option.
That's a whole lot of cash. Adding it up, the cheapest 16GB model will set you back £877 over two years. Ignoring the fact you'll be tied into a pricey contract for 24 months -- which is a long time in technology terms -- that's still expensive. The more expensive 64GB model will set you back an eye-watering total of £1,027.
If you're an existing Vodafone customer, things are a little cheaper. You can bag a 16GB iPad 2 for £199 upfront and £24.50 per month, though you'll still be tied in for two years.
The data allowance on Vodafone is 2GB per month. While that's similar compared to what some other networks are offering, it's hardly generous. Extra data is charged at a mammoth £15 per gigabyte, though one small saving grace is you'll get 1GB of Wi-Fi allowance, which you can rattle through when connected at a BT OpenZone hotspot.
T-Mobile is charging new customers £25 per month for 24 months, plus £229 for the 16GB iPad 2 and £279 for the 32GB model. It's not selling the 62GB iPad 2 at all. That undercuts Vodafone by £2 per month.
If you're already a T-Mobile customer, you'll save £100 on the up-front cost of the iPad 2. It's still £25 per month, plus £199 for the 16GB model and £249 for the 32GB option.
The deals include 2GB of data. However, 1GB of that data can be used any time, and the other 1GB is what T-Mobile calls 'quiet time' data, which you can only use from midnight to 10am.
T-Mobile's cheapest contract deal for new customers will cost a total of £829 over two years, saving you £48 compared to Vodafone. On the other hand, Vodafone's 2GB of data isn't restricted to certain times of day.
You also have a pay as you go option on T-Mobile. It costs £499.99 for a 16GB iPad 2 -- 99p more than buying it unlocked and SIM free from the Apple store. Then it costs £2 per day for 250MB of data, £7 per week for 500MB, or £15 per month for 1GB.
This looks like a rubbish deal to us, since you pay a quid extra for the privilege of buying your iPad 2 from T-Mobile. It's better to pick up the iPad and buy a SIM-only deal separately.
T-Mobile and Orange are now one and the same company, under the name Everything Everywhere. So it's likely that Orange is offering the same deals as T-Mobile.
So far, all we know is that Orange has written to customers who registered an interest in the device, saying it will be selling the 16GB Wi-Fi and 3G iPad 2 for £199 on a £25 per month, 24-month contract. Like T-Mobile, you get 1GB of anytime data and 1GB of data to use outside the peak evening hours.
Orange's quiet time is between midnight and 4pm, however, rather than midnight and 10am, like T-Mobile. Colour us confused.
Orange hasn't announced if this plan is exclusive to existing customers, but based on the T-Mobile deals, we think it probably is.
Three's prices are seemingly close to Vodafone and T-Mobile's -- the iPad 2 is yours for £25 per month on a 24-month contract, plus an upfront sum of £229 for the 16GB model, £279 for the 32GB, and £379 for the 64GB version. Existing Three customers bag a £30 discount on each.
Three is offering a whopping 15GB of data on all those tariffs, however, which is so much data you'll find it coming out of your ears. That makes rival networks' Internet offerings look extremely anaemic by comparison.
O2 won't be selling the iPad 2, though it does offer data packages if you bought a SIM-free iPad 2 and want a SIM-only monthly data deal.
So who's best?
Comparing the deals currently on offer, it looks like Three is the best bet, offering way more data for the same money than rival networks.
If you're already a Vodafone customer, however, the monthly rate is 50p cheaper at £24.50, and the upfront cost for the device itself is discounted too -- probably enough to make it worth going with Voda, even though it doesn't offer as much data as Three.
The secret iPad 2 deal
If you have the money to buy the Wi-Fi and 3G iPad 2 SIM-free, you'll find it's much cheaper in the long run to buy a data package to complement that purchase.
Our pick of the SIM-only iPad data deals is from Three. It offers 1GB of data for £7.50 per month, or 10GB of data for £15 every month. You can also get a pay as you go micro SIM that's preloaded with 1GB of data for £10.49 that expires in 30 days, or one that packs 3GB of data for £20.99 and is good for three months.