Where's the best place to buy a cheap iPad in the UK?
Thinking of buying a new iPad? Then you've come to the right place. Here, we'll help you find out the best place to buy an iPad, whether you want the brand-new iPad Pro or iPad mini 4, or one of Apple's older iPads such as the iPad Air 2, original iPad Air 1, iPad mini 3 or iPad mini 2. We also explore ways to get cheaper iPads through refurbishment services and by buying second-hand.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: Which iPad model should you buy?
We'll be assuming in this article that you've already made two key decisions: firstly, that you're going to buy an iPad, and secondly, which model you want. If we're getting ahead of ourselves, forever, head over to our Best iPad buying guide 2016 article (condensed into a video below), which explains the differences between each of the iPads, measures their comparative processing speed and battery life performance, and walks you through the various buying options. We'll still be here when you get back.
Finished? Great. Now we can talk about the best places to buy your chosen iPad.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: Can you get an education discount on your iPad?
Before moving on to the deals available for each model of iPad, let's briefly check whether you qualify for Apple's education/student discount, which will net you a small saving on the purchase - just £15 or so for most iPad models. (The saving is larger for Macs, incidentally, but it's still worth getting a few quid off your iPad if you qualify.)
The gist is that anybody who works in an educational environment qualifies for a discount on Apple computers: students, teachers and lecturers qualify, of course, but so do administrative workers and other members of staff at an educational institution.
If you think this applies to you, take a look at our article How to get an education/student discount from Apple.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: Apple, or not Apple?
The most obvious place to buy your iPad is from Apple itself, but that's not the only way. In this article we'll take you through a few more of the options.
If you do want to buy your iPad from Apple, there are two ways of doing so. The first is to head down to an Apple Retail Store and pick one up. You can buy the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2 or iPad mini. Read next: iPad mini 2 vs iPad mini 3
Ordering online will mean you'll have to wait for your new iPad to arrive, but it's a quick and easy way to buy a new iPad.
It's not just Apple that sells iPads, though. Retailers including Tesco, John Lewis, Argos and Curry's also sell iPads, including Apple's latest iPads. They tend to be the same price as they would be from Apple, but occasionally these retailers will offer deals on iPads so it's worth keeping an eye out.
You'll also find iPads available from Apple Premium Resellers. You can find out where your nearest Apple Premium Reseller is here. For us here in London, the nearest resellers include Albion iStore, CompuB and Stormfront.
In the following sections we'll look at the various iPad models individually, but the general buying advice above should hold you in good stead.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: iPad Pro
3 models available: 32GB Wi-Fi/128GB WiFi/128GB cellular. iPad Pro review
Here are your buying options for the iPad Pro.
Buy new model direct from Apple: £679/£799/£899
Apple's Refurbished Store currently doesn't even have an entry for the iPad Pro (it's too new), let alone any hardware on offer. It will be worth a check in the future, though.
The lowest price you're likely to get on the iPad Pro is from Amazon, but the prices change so frequently that it's hard to offer definitive advice. Obviously you should be comparing the prices with Apple's own deals, taking into account the education discount if you qualify for it. Amazon.co.uk (as of 14 January 2016) has the 32GB iPad Pro starting at £639 (plus £15 delivery), the 128GB Wi-Fi model from £738.95 and the 128GB cellular iPad Pro from £834.99. Click here to see the latest Amazon iPad Pro deals.
Tesco also offers the iPad Pro, but its prices are currently the same as Apple's: £679/£799/£899 (all Space Grey models - other colours are available). Probably only worth considering if you've got Tesco vouchers or can save money there in some other way; may also be a good choice if loyalty card points are a priority.
John Lewis: Same prices as Apple, but offers a longer warranty. View John Lewis iPad Pro deals.
If you want to buy your (cellular) iPad Pro on a data plan, you'll pay more in the long run, but for some budgets this will still be a better option. And bear in mind that the total costs listed below include the cost of the data, which you'll have to pay for separately if you go for one of the deals above (and pick the cellular model).
O2 currently offers the 128GB cellular iPad Pro on a 24-month contract. Plumping for a 2GB monthly data plan will set you back either £159.99 upfront, followed by 24 monthly payments of £40.80 (for a total of £1,139.19) or £109.99 and payments of £43.80 (a total of £1,161.19). If you can manage with 500MB a month, it'll cost you £119.99 and then 24 payments of £40 (a total of £1,079.99). And the top-end 10GB plan costs £99.99 upfront, followed by monthly payments of £49 (a total of £1,275.99).
O2 says the 2GB and 10GB deals end on 2 February 2016.
It's also worth thinking about buying an unlocked iPad through one of the deals above, then paying for the data plan separately; this is often cheaper, albeit slightly less convenient. Giffgaff is generally among the cheapest options, although at time of writing O2's deals appear to offer better value.
If we add Giffgaff's 2GB SIM-only Goodybag data plan (£12 a month) to the cellular iPad Pro bought direct from Apple (£899), for instance, our total expenditure over 24 months would be £1,187. If you can get a better deal on the iPad, from Amazon, for example, this approach may make sense - or if you miss out on the reduced prices offered temporarily by O2.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: iPad Air 2
6 models available: 16GB/64GB/128GB (Wi-Fi only). 16GB/64GB/128GB (cellular). iPad Air 2 review
Here are your buying options for the iPad Air 2.
Buy new model direct from Apple: £399/£479/£559 (Wi-Fi only). £499/£579/£659 (cellular)
Apple's Refurbished Store may be a good option here. (The store, as we explain here - Should I buy a refurbished iPad? - sells second-hand hardware but gives all of its wares a thorough MOT and warranty.) But sadly there are no iPad Air 2 deals on the Refurbished Store at time of writing.
Again, you should check Amazon for its latest prices, which are likely to undercut Apple. As of 14 Jan 2016, it has the Wi-Fi models starting at £309.99 (16GB), £402 (64GB) and £478 (128GB); and the cellular models from £419 (16GB), £479 (64GB) and £552 (128GB), although many of these are via third parties and customers would be advised to research sellers thoroughly. View Amazon's iPad Air 2 deals here. You could try eBay too, but be even more cautious there.
O2 offers 24-month contracts on the cellular iPad Air 2 models, and if you pick the 16GB version you don't have to pay anything upfront (although this will add slightly to the amount you pay in the long term). The 2GB data plan, for instance, can be had for either no upfront cost and 24 monthly payments of £30.80 (a total of £739.20) or £44.99 and £28.80 a month (a total of £736.19).
As with the iPad Pro, take a look at the feasibility of buying an iPad Air 2 and paying for the data separately, with Giffgaff likely to be the cheapest option.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: iPad Air 1 (often just called 'iPad Air')
4 models available: 16GB/32GB (Wi-Fi only). 16GB/32GB (cellular). iPad Air 1 review
Here are your buying options for the iPad Air 1.
Buy new model direct from Apple: £319/£359 (Wi-Fi only). £419/£459 (cellular)
Check Apple's Refurbished Store, which is likely to be your best bet. At time of writing there are four iPad Air models on sale, all of them cellular models. You can get the 16GB model for £349 (a saving of £70 on a brand-new tablet) and the 32GB one for £389. Better still, the Refurbished Store still offers the 128GB version of the iPad Air 1 (for £429), which has been discontinued in Apple's main store.
Amazon has deals on the iPad Air 1 starting at £260.70 (for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model), so take a look at the latest offers.
If you need data, as usual consider Giffgaff's Goodybags data plans.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: iPad mini 4
6 models available: 16GB/64GB/128GB (Wi-Fi only). 16GB/64GB/128GB (cellular). iPad mini 4 review
Here are your buying options for the iPad mini 4.
Buy new model direct from Apple: £319/£399/£479 (Wi-Fi only). £419/£499/£579 (cellular)
Like the iPad Pro, the mini 4 is too new to have earned itself a label in the Refurbished Store just yet. You could try Amazon, however, where it is available from £294.99 (for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model). View Amazon's deals on the iPad mini 4 here.
02 sells the iPad mini 4 on a 24-month contract; if you pick the 16GB (cellular) model you don't have to pay anything upfront, although as usual this results in you paying very slightly more. Assuming you go for the 16GB model, the 10GB monthly plan with no upfront payment will set you back £33 a month (a total of £792), whereas an initial payment of £22.99 with the same data limit brings the monthly payment down to £32 and the total to £790.99.
The 2GB monthly plan is always free initially, followed by monthly payments of £27.80 (a total of £667.20). Check out O2's iPad mini 4 tariffs here.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: iPad mini 3
3 models available (from Argos): 16GB/64GB/128GB (Wi-Fi only). iPad mini 3 review
Here are your buying options for the iPad mini 3.
Buy new model direct from Apple: No longer available.
If you really want the iPad mini 3 - which is a niche choice, it must be said, since the iPad mini 4 is so much better and the iPad mini 2 only slightly weaker and still available from a wide variety of sellers - then Argos is likely to be your best option. Argos asks £279, £339 and £419 for the 16GB, 64GB and 128GB Wi-Fi-only models, but doesn't currently sell the cellular iPad mini 3. A refurbished model is a sensible choice too, although at time of writing there aren't any iPad mini 3 models in Apple's Refurbished Store.
Also check eBay and and Amazon, of course, with the usual warnings in both cases about researching your seller.
Best cheap iPad deals UK: iPad mini 2
4 models available: 16GB/32GB (Wi-Fi only). 16GB/32GB (cellular). iPad mini 2 review
Here are your buying options for the iPad mini 2.
Buy new model direct from Apple: £219/£259 (Wi-Fi only). £319/£359 (cellular)
At time of writing there are two iPad mini 2s on the Refurbished Store, both of which are the top-of-the-line (and no longer available as a brand-new purchase) 128GB cellular model. These cost £429, which is a decent price but looks steep compared to the brand-new models which are capped at 32GB.
Amazon has deals on the iPad mini 2 starting at £194.98 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model. View Amazon's iPad mini 2 deals here.
If you need data, as usual consider Giffgaff's Goodybags data plans.
Macworld poll: How often do you update your iPad?
Before we move on to talk about refurbishes and second-hand iPads in a little more depth, here's a little poll:
Where to buy an iPad: Best place to buy refurbished or second-hand iPad
As we mention in the individual entries above, to get more for your money, you can buy a refurbished or reconditioned iPad from a reselling service such as the one we offer here at Macworld UK. With our partner mResell, we run a service that you can use to sell your unwanted Macs, iPhones and iPads, and buy those products at reduced prices, too. If you're looking to buy an iPad, make sure you take a look. It's a risk-free way of buying second hand. What's more, we buy the device and check it, refurbish and recondition it, and then you buy it from us, so there is no risk of getting stiffed by someone dodgy.
At time of writing there are several iPads available to buy from our Buy/Sell channel so check it out.
Another option is to buy refurbished from Apple, if you've not got your heart set on one of Apple's newest iPads, is to visit the Apple Refurbished Store. You can save loads of money by opting to buy a refurbished iPad from Apple rather than splashing out on a brand-new iPad.
If you're interested in buying a refurbished iPad, read: Should I buy a refurbished iPad?
If you want to save even more money, you could try sites such as eBay and Gumtree for second-hand iPads, but you should ensure that you carefully read the description of each item and collect as much evidence of purchase as possible. Pay through PayPal or via Credit Card to help ensure that you aren't left out of pocket should you unfortunately find yourself dealing with a con artist.
Here's everything you need to know about Shopping at an Apple Store, Apple Online, and using the Genius Bar