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iPhone 4S prices: Best deals compared

The iPhone 4S is on sale now -- so what's the best deal for the latest Apple smart phone?

The iPhone 4S is on sale now -- so what's the best deal for the latest Apple smart phone? Three, O2, Orange, Tesco Mobile, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U are selling the iPhone 4S, and we've waded through the various options so you don't have to.

We'll be updating this page when new deals emerge. (Latest update: 13 October, to add Tesco deals.) So remember to check this page before laying down your hard-earned cash. Commence bargainification!

First things first: iPhones ain't cheap. But if you know what you need from your contract -- are you a talker, a texter or a Web surfer? -- you can find the best deal to suit you. Remember though that the most important thing is that your chosen network offers a decent signal at your home, work, school or favourite haunts.

You need two things, and at least one will be expensive: an iPhone, and a phone contract. You can buy the iPhone from Apple (expensive) and bag a contract separately (cheap), or you can buy the contract from a network (expensive) and bag a phone along with it (cheap).

SIM-free iPhone 4S deals

In the long run, the absolute cheapest way to own an iPhone is to buy it SIM-free -- without a contract -- from Apple, then shop around for a cheap contract. Which deal you go for depends on whether you want extra minutes, texts or data, but for us there's one clear winner: GiffGaff.

You may never have heard of GiffGaff, as they save money by eschewing advertising. But the network is insanely cheap, there's no fixed contract so you're not locked into anything, and, best of all, you get unlimited data. Yes, proper unlimited data.

The only problem is you need to fork out at least £500 for the phone up front. But once you've swallowed that, all you need to do is buy a £10 goodybag and you've got 250 free minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited Internet, and free calls to other GiffGaff users every single month. Over two years -- the length of most iPhone contracts -- that's a mere £740. Only Tesco's year-long contract for the 16GB 4S can beat that. Bargain!

Network iPhone 4S deals

We've compared solely on prices here, because if we start comparing how many minutes, texts or bytes of data is included in each contract our brains will dribble out of our ears. Be warned: all smart phones eat data even when you're not looking, as they check your email, social networks and apps.

If you go over your data allowance, it can seriously cost you, so even if you don't do that much browsing of the Web unlimited data is one less thing to worry about. GiffGaff and Three are the only networks to offer unlimited data all the time -- on selected tariffs.

Cheapest 24-month iPhone 4S deal

If you prefer to deal with an established network, or you don't have a monkey up front, there are plenty of deals to choose from. Most deals last two years. O2 wins here, costing you £15 per month -- all the other network's deals start at £30 per month -- totalling £672 for a 16GB model up to £892 for a 64GB model. The catch is that O2 makes you buy data separately as a 'bolt-on' -- so when we look at O2 in this comparison, we'll include the 500Mb data bolt-on which costs £6 per month.

Cheapest 18-month iPhone 4S deal

O2, Vodafone and Orange offer 18-month deals, and the cheapest is O2's £21 tariff, netting you a 16GB iPhone for £230 and a total of £718, including that 500Mb data bolt-on. Meanwhile Orange and Vodafone's 18-month deals are basically identical.

Cheapest 12-month iPhone 4S deal

12-month deals mean you're not tied to one network for quite so long, and your contract will be up when next year's hot phone turns up. Tesco, O2, Vodafone and Orange offer year long deals -- but Orange only offers a pricey 12-month deal on the 32GB model and O2's year-long deals are only for existing customers. Tesco is the winner here with a range of deals starting at £25 per month, for a total of £635 over the year -- that's also the only deal that's cheaper than Giffgaff.

Best free iPhone 4S deal

Fancy netting an iPhone for nowt? It's possible, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg in the long term. If you do have £43 burning a hole in your pocket each month, Three will furnish you with a free 16GB phone and, in return, relieve you of £1,032 over the next two years.

Priciest iPhone 4S deal

If you're going to a party at Monty Burns' place and you really want to impress Scrooge McDuck and Bruce Wayne, the most expensive contract comes courtesy of Orange. In exchange for 3,000 minutes, 3,000 texts and 2GB of data, Orange wants £100 up front and £61 every month for the next two years -- making a grand total of £1,563. Ka-ching!

Are we doing a deal or are we doing a deal?

What's the best iPhone 4S deal you've spotted? Are you in the perfect contract already? Tell us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.