Tesco has announced how much it's going to ding us for the iPhone, with two contracts and a pay as you go option available. One of our favourite details is its fair-use policy for surfing the Web on your phone -- one delicious terabyte each month.
Compare that to Orange's paltry 750MB limit, or O2's mysterious possibly-8GB limit, and it has a round-number appeal that tickles our nerd whiskers. Tesco's profligacy is even more interesting considering it uses O2's mobile network.
When we compared Orange with O2, we found the contracts almost the same. Now we've crunched the numbers to find out whether Tesco's is as cheap as chips or just another in the endless parade of identical iPhone tariffs.
The lowest tariff on offer at Tesco is a one-year, £20-per-month contract that gives you £60 of calls and texts a month. Calls cost 20p a minute (or 10p a minute for your five favourite numbers) and texts cost 10p each (or 5p each for your five favourite numbers). So each month you get 300 cross-network minutes, 600 texts, 600 minutes to your favourite five people, or some mix thereof. Think of it as 200 minutes and 100 texts to your best friend, and 150 texts and 100 minutes of calls to random strangers.
The other tariff is a straight-up all you can eat, with unlimited texts and calls for £60 a month for two years -- with a £500-per-month fair use policy.
Cheapest Tesco iPhone deal
Let's say you're looking for the cheapest deal you can get, you don't make many calls or texts, and an 8GB iPhone 3G will do you fine. For the sake of comparison, if you stick with the cheap contract for two years -- although you could switch after one -- and never go over your allotted calls and texts, it'll cost you £702 total for the phone and contract.
The same two years on the cheapest Orange contract at £29.36 per month, with a free iPhone 3G, will set you back £704.64. That includes 150 minutes and 250 texts.
O2's least expensive contract is 18 months long and costs £29.38 a month, and assuming you stayed on it for two years, after paying £96.89 for the iPhone 3G, the total cost is £802.01. That includes 75 mins and 125 texts.
So for cheapskates like us, Tesco is a clear winner -- it gives you more inclusive stuff, and it's only a year long.
Top-end Tesco iPhone deal
If, however, you're a blabbermouth and a text addict who needs lots more on contract, and you want the top of the line 32GB iPhone 3GS, you're looking at £1,490 for your two-year stint with Tesco.
On Orange, an unlimited contract will cost £2,936.16 -- although you could probably get away with the contract that includes 3,000 minutes and 500 texts, knocking the price down to £1,761.60.
On O2, there's no unlimited option, but the biggest bundle is the same as Orange's, within a few pennies -- 3,000 minutes and 500 texts, for £1,761.84 over two years.
Again, we think Tesco is the best deal by far -- although you will have to spend £50 up front for the phone.
All the above tariffs come with unlimited data, subject to the networks' fair-use policies.
Check out all the details of Tesco's iPhone contracts at the Tesco Web site.