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Compare the UK iPhone Price War: O2 vs Orange vs Tesco

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Category : apple, review

Right, so here we are with not one, but three official carriers who are providing the iPhone in the UK [ unlike the US, where AT&T still has the exclusive rights]. We had O2 originally who were the sole carriers in the UK, but when the contract between O2 and Apple expired this year in November, Orange sprung into action. Yet, the rate and plans revealed by Orange for the iPhone were of no noticeable change than the ones of O2.

And now, UK’s biggest retail supermarket – Tesco – in partnership with O2, is posing as the third official carrier of the iPhone in the UK. The rate plans were released today [ visit: Tesco iPhone website]

So which one of the three is actually the one to look out, or has anything changed at all? Has the addition of 2 more players in the iPhone market brought any real value addition for the customer. We’ll try to answer that question with comparative spreadsheets of the various rate plans. Hit the jump to view the spreadsheet.


The first carrier of the iPhone offers the rate plans shown below. [For the higher resolution image, click the picture]

[Rates Source: O2 iPhone Website]

So, the O2 offers the iPhone in Pay & Go for £342.54 (8GB), £440.40(16GB) and £538.30(32GB). But the main competition arena for the carriers is the Pay-monthly deals.

We tried to calculate the per-month(including) for O2’s pay-monthly deals. [All rates are per month, including Phone costs, and averaged over the contract period]

On the 8GB iPhone 3G- it ranges from as low as £34.26 [for 24 month contract -600 mins/500texts and Unlimited internet] to £73.41[ for 18 months contract-3000 mins/500 texts].

On the 16GB iPhone 3Gs-the lowest rate was for £37.89[for 24 month contract-600 mins/500texts and Unlimited internet] to £73.41[for 18 months contract-3000 mins/500 texts]. Now this is a redundant plan, which pretty much leaves the 8GB iPhone plan as a stupid addition.

As for the 32GB iPhone 3Gs – the lowest rate was for £41.56[24 month contract-600 mins/500 texts and Unlimited internet] to £78.79[for 18 month contract-3000 mins/500 texts].

The iPhone certainly does not come cheap, and O2 has no unlimited talk+text plans similar as offered by Orange and Tesco.


[Rate source: Orange iPhone website]

[For the higher resolution image, click the picture] The Pay & Go iPhone rates for Orange, O2 and Tesco are not much different at all. But the major difference between O2 and Orange is the offering of Unlimited mins, text and internet on the Orange plans. Of course, Orange caps the unlimited internet usage at 750 MB per month-as per the fair usage policy – which is in fact complete bull crap.

Secondly, for the lower rates, Orange offers better value for money.
Such as for £29.36 a month, Orange offers 150 mins/250 texts [ for almost similar Phone prices on 18 and 24 month contracts]. Whereas O2 offers 75 mins/125 texts for the same amount of monthly pay-plan [half of Orange].

But this difference is not there for the higher pay-monthly plans. So if you are going for the higher pay-monthly plans, there is practically no difference between choosing Orange or O2 as the Per-month cost works out to be quite similar.

And then enter – Tesco Mobile

[Rate Source: Tesco Mobile iPhone Website]

[For the higher resolution image, click the picture] So Tesco’s offering is a bit different from the pay-plans that we have seen so far. Or is it? It does offer a 12 month plan which no other carrier offers. This means, we won’t have to wait for long before we upgrade the next version of iPhone, as and when it rolls out from Cupertino. But the per-month rate calculated is repulsively expensive. Tesco has  its own £30 sim only plans which allows customers to avail unlimited texts/calls and internet. An additional 30 quid per month and £50 up-front will now get you the iPhone 3GS 32GB. It works out to just £64.17 which stands at almost half of the rate offered by both Orange and O2. But again, this is a 24 month contract.

Also, as I mentioned earlier – the 12 month contract flexibility is the one to look out for.

So, how do the prices of the three compare to each other.

Best Phone Price:

8GB: Tesco sells at a total of £462 for 12 months – which inflates to £693 for 18 months. But comparing 12 and 18 month deals is not fair. So we’ll just drop it.

So, as 12 month deals are only offered by Tesco, Round 1- goes to Tesco. Also the £20 month pay-monthly gives back £60 monthly credit and also for every pound you spend on your bills, you earn Tesco Clubcard points which you can redeem for your Tesco grocery shopping.

For 16GB:

24 month contract: Tesco’s rates:  £1440 for 24 months.

The closest that Orange comes is at £2936-for unlimited stuff and O2 offers something similar for £1321.38

And for 32GB:

24 month contract: Tesco’s rates: £1490 for 24 months [Just £50 more than the 16GB version, hmm!]

Orange offers almost the same for £2936.16 and O2 for £1761.84

The final verdict:

Pay & Go – Either of the three. Maybe Orange, coz it has Orange Wednesdays – offering 1+1 free movie tickets for Wednesdays.

12 months – only available on Tesco – clear choice.

18 months – Orange or O2 doesn’t matter. But if you’re choosing the £29.35 tariff, go for Orange.

24 months- Tesco ftw!! Unlimited Text, Calls and Internet – including Web and Wi-Fi which includes BT Openzones.

Now, it will be a tough act to follow for Vodafone when they release their rate plans early next year. As for Christmas time, I think Santa’s iPhone gifts will come with a Tesco Mobile Sim!

Please leave your comments on this comparison post! Cheerio!

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Author: Sujoy



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