Apple’s long-rumoured budget iPhone is now available, so we’ve scoured the networks to find the best deals available.
A new iPhone doesn’t usually see the light of day until September, but with the budget iPhone SE, Apple is trying something different. The Cupertino firm has released a budget phone before – the iPhone 5C launched in 2013 – but releasing it alongside the superior 5S did the cheaper, plastic-backed handset no favours.
By releasing the iPhone SE on 31 March, around five months before we’re likely to see an iPhone 7, Apple has given its budget phone time in the limelight. Alongside the solo launch, its all-metal, iPhone 5S-inspired body gives it a premium identity, while the four-inch screen and potent, 6S-derived spec give it a better chance at success than the underpowered 5C.
So, if you’ve been hankering for a small phone with the power of large one, the iPhone SE could be the phone for you – and to make sure you don’t pay over the odds we’ve scoured the internet to find the best offers from Vodafone, EE, Three and O2.
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The question of storage
LG, Samsung and HTC have all ditched the 16GB storage option on their premium handsets and with good reason: updates, apps and the increasing quality of recorded videos and pictures are taking a bigger toll on those precious gigabytes and 16 of them just isn’t enough anymore.
Nevertheless Apple has decided to offer a 16GB iPhone SE alongside a 64GB model. 64GBs sounds like a lot, but in the absence of a 32GB model it’s the only option that realistically offers enough space for the eventual iOS updates which can be huge – the iOS 8 update was a chunky 4.5GBs for example.
Best Deals on the iPhone SE
Unlimited minutes and texts are par for the course on iPhone contracts; instead, when you’re choosing a contract it’s better to think about how much data you need. The deals we’ve considered are ones that offer enough data to see most people safely through the month, but if you’re on Wi-fi more often than not then check our cheapest iPhone SE deals at the bottom of the page.
Vodafone’s best deal – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 20GB of data
16GB monthly cost: £50, handset: £9, 24 month total: £1209
64GB monthly cost: £56, handset: £9, 24 month total: £1353
The SE is supposed to be a budget iPhone, but it seems Vodafone didn’t get the memo. The 64GB total cost is the same as a 20GB deal for a Samsung Galaxy S7 – a flagship handset that costs £100 more to buy outright.
Vodafone’s 25GB deal could be a better proposition. Despite being £5 more a month it offers a free subscription to Spotify, Sky Sports Mobile TV or Now TV for a portion of the contract. You’ll also be able to make free calls to the UK if you’re in Europe. It could be worth considering if you’re a frequent traveller or you fancy a subscription to any of the aforementioned services, which charge between £4.99 and £9.99 a month.
O2’s best deal – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 20GB of data
16GB monthly cost: £45, handset: £0, 24 month total: £1080
64GB monthly cost: £50, handset: £0, 24 month total: £1200
O2’s competitively priced bundles are more tempting than Vodafone’s and it’s the only provider of the four we checked that offers contracts where you can pay for the handset in full for a cheaper monthly fee. We found there’s little benefit, however, since the costs over 24 months are identical.
Three’s best deal – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 30GB of data
16GB monthly cost: £46, handset: £0, 24 month total: £1104
64GB monthly cost: £51, handset: £0, 24 month total: £1224
It may be slightly more expensive than O2’s deal, but the extra 10GBs of data could be invaluable if you often find yourself on YouTube or Facebook. For anyone who spends every waking minute on their phone there’s an unlimited data package that weighs in at £1176 for the 16GB phone or £1296 for the 64GB – still cheaper than Vodafone!
EE’s best deal – unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 20GB of data
16GB monthly cost: £44.99, handset: £49.99, 24 month total: £1129
64GB monthly cost: £49.99, handset: £49.99, 24 month total: £1249
EE’s deal comes close, but it can’t beat O2 or Three on price. If you’re a big Kevin Bacon fan and you’re dead-set on an EE contract, be wary of the alternative 20GB deal on the 16GB model – while the phone is ‘free’ upfront, the monthly fee is £5 higher and overall it’ll cost you £70 more over the 24 months.
Cheapest deal for the iPhone SE
If a tonne of data is as much use to you as an inflatable dartboard, then you may be better off with these low-data, cheaper deals instead.
Vodafone’s cheapest deal – 500 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data
16GB monthly cost: £26, handset: £99, 24 month total: £723
64GB monthly cost: £32, handset: £69, 24 month total: £837
O2’s cheapest deal – 500 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data
16GB monthly cost: £24, handset: £99.99, 24 month total: £675.99
64GB monthly cost: £29, handset: £69.99, 24 month total: £765.99
Three’s cheapest deal – 500 minutes, unlimited texts, 1GB of data
16GB monthly cost: £31, handset: £0, 24 month total: £744
64GB monthly cost: £36, handset: £0, 24 month totals: £864
EE’s cheapest 16GB deal – 500 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data
Monthly cost: £27.49, handset: £49.99, 24 month total: £709.75
EE’s cheapest 64GB deal – 500 minutes, unlimited texts, 1GB of data
Monthly cost: £34.99, handset: £0, 24 month total: £839.76