Get Help

iPhone 4S Price Comparison: giffgaff Goodybags VS Contract

grand master

iPhone 4S.jpgThe Apple iPhone 4S goes on general release in the UK on Friday. Sporting a new dual-core 1GHz A5 processor, an improved 8 megapixel camera, the updated iOS5 operating system and the new Siri voice control system, the iPhone 4S is set to be a big hit in the UK.


The iPhone 4S can be purchased in one of two ways: with a contract from one of the major mobile operators or without a contract when you buy directly from Apple (your iPhone will be SIM-free and unlocked). The latter route means paying more for your handset upfront but it also means you can save money by taking advantage of cheaper SIM only deals such as giffgaff goodybags. In the long run, it can often work out to be better value to go down the latter route: you can buy a SIM-free iPhone 4S directly from Apple and then use a giffgaff SIM card with a suitable giffgaff goodybag.


iPhone 4S price comparison


Mobile phone tariffs aren’t always easy to compare – the iPhone 4S in particular is available on a range of different networks and different tariffs with varying upfront costs, monthly costs and different contract lengths. The easiest way to compare tariffs is to calculate the total cost of ownership. This gives you a single figure for comparison which takes into account both upfront costs and monthly costs.


The total cost of ownership is calculated as:

Total Cost of Ownership = Upfront Cost + (Monthly Cost x Number of Months)


This figure essentially tells you how much the contract will cost over the entire 24 months of your contract (or 12 months/18 months if you’re looking at a shorter contract). In this post, we’ve calculated the “total cost of ownership” of owning the iPhone 4S on giffgaff compared to purchasing the iPhone 4S on a contract.


Light users – 200 minutes per month


If you are a light user (about 200 minutes each month), the cheapest iPhone 4S deal on contract comes from Tesco Mobile. For £235 plus £25/month, you’ll get a 16GB iPhone 4S with 250 minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB internet to use each month. The total cost of ownership over 24 months comes to £835.


For comparison, giffgaff offers the same amount of minutes for £10/month with the addition of unlimited texts and unlimited internet. A SIM-free 16GB iPhone 4S costs £499 upfront from Apple. Taking into account both the upfront and monthly costs, the total cost of ownership over 24 months is £739 – a whole £96 cheaper than the cheapest contract deal on Tesco Mobile.


The following table shows the cheapest tariffs on each network suitable for somebody making 200 minutes of calls a month. The total cost of ownership over 24 months is shown on the right of the table.




Medium users – 400 minutes per month


If you use around 400 minutes each month, giffgaff’s £15/month Goodybag offers 400 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited internet. With £499 upfront for the 16GB iPhone 4S, the total cost of ownership over 24 months comes to £859.


For comparison, Three’s “Text 500” tariff is the cheapest contract deal. Three offer a 16GB iPhone 4S with 500 minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB internet. You’ll pay £35/month plus £49 upfront for the phone. Although you’ll pay less upfront for the phone compared to going down the SIM Only route, you’ll spend the next 24 months paying an extra £20/month compared to the giffgaff goodybag route. The total cost of ownership over 24 months of the “Three” contract is £889: £30 more than going down the SIM Only/giffgaff route.




Heavy users – 800 minutes per month


For heavier users (800 minutes per month), Three offers the 16GB iPhone 4S on “The One Plan” for £99 plus £35/month (£939 over the 24 months).


Giffgaff offers a competitive alternative with the £20/month Goodybag. After paying £499 upfront for a SIM-free 16GB iPhone 4S from Apple, the total cost of ownership over 24 months on Giffgaff is £979.




Price comparison to shorter contracts


A comparison to contracts offering at least 400 minutes over 18 months:




Note that Three, Orange and T-Mobile are not currently offering the iPhone 4S on an 18 month contract.


A comparison to contracts offering at least 400 minutes over 12 months:




Note that Three, Orange and T-Mobile are not currently offering the iPhone 4S on a 12 month contract. O2 offer 12 month contracts but only to existing customers. For this comparison, we have used O2’s 1200 minutes tariff as the total cost of ownership over 12 months (£714) is actually lower than on the 600 minute tariff (£744) and the 900 minute tariff (£754).


Giffgaffing your iPhone 4S


If you purchase your iPhone 4S directly from Apple, it won’t be locked to a network so there’s no need to unlock it. You’ll only need to unlock your iPhone if you purchased it from another mobile operator.


As the iPhone 4S accepts smaller micro-SIM cards rather than full-sized SIM cards, you’ll need to cut one of our SIM cards down to size with our Micro SIM template. Alternatively, you could order one from our microgaff community.


Once you’ve got an iPhone 4S and a giffgaff micro-SIM, check out the discussion on our community about giffgaffing your iPhone for more information on setting up your iPhone for giffgaff.


Tariff details correct as of 14th October 2011.



@whatsupwez – I thought they had a roaming agreement with Orange, to share their 2G signal. Is that not the case?


as I have seen in a faw posts people point out the cost of a phone and goodybag once payback has been added

i think when GG do price tables the avrege payback should be taken in to account I know the amount of payback verys

from one to the other but if the avrage payback was taken in it might give a batter reflection of the over all cost of buing a phone 

and the goodybag when using GG


@cheepnetwork - average payback maybe not that dramatic a figure to factor in?


I would hazard a guess at less than a tenner payback per subscriber per year averaged across all subscrbers - and  we can't know the real figure as although giffgaff do publish payback amounts, they do not publush a current number of subscribers.

I came to the same conclusion with my 4S. The money I have saved by keeping my unlocked 3G for three years and being on O2 PAYG (£10/month) and now GiffGaff PLUS what I'm saving by being on GiffGaff (and earning through introducing friends and family) means I could afford to pay the £599 up front, buy the phone from Apple and have an unlocked 32GB 4S with 250 mins, unlimited text and data and free mobile calls to my friends and family for a tenner a month. 


I tell people this and they don't believe it. 


PLUS: cutting my SIM down was really really easy. The SIM caddy shows you where to cut. 


I'm very pleased with GiffGaff so far.

I sacked off the iPhone, orange and the horrible long depressing contracts. iPad 3G/wifi. Same price as iPhone. Android phone £10 goody bag and a £5 data one starting the end of the month. £15 to giffgaff and everything up and working and can change when ever if need be
woop iphone it is then Smiley Happy
What about free phone upgrades on the contracts? Surely some of them offer free upgrades when the new phone appears and then you sell the old one for maybe £350, thats a huge saving.

Annother thing you may want to take into account is you dont have to stay on one contract. For example if you were to get the phone on the tesco 12 month contract, and then switch to giffgaff for the 12 months after your contreact ends you would end up paying 655 + 180 = 835, saving 24 pounds when compared to a similar tarriff on giffgaff for the full 24 months. If you were to be just a light user, then the tescos contranct could couple up with a 10 pound giffgaff sim (after your initial contract expires) making the 24 month term cost just 655+120, or 795 compared to the just giffgaff of 740, meaning you would make a loss of 55 pounds. it always helps to remmember that you can switch tariffs easily. plus, on giffgaff you have the option to switch down to a differnet tarrif if you find yourself using your phone less than you expected.


Great work there! But direct price comparisons do not fully reflect the giffgaff deal.


As a person who spends a reasonable time abroad, the giffgaff option gives me the option to take my iphone abroad without wasting minutes of my contract. Indeed Iphone users must be statistically more likely to go abroad on holiday, and be forced to pay steep charges on calling home. Giffgaff remains reasonable and you can always skip buying a goodybag that month. If you're abroad for longer, then you can always pop a local SIM in the iPhone without hassle.  The flexible goodybag system saves you money.


Apart from that, although giffgaff's prices may change over time, they ought to remain competitive. The telecommunications market is fast moving, and in 24 months' time, 500MB of Internet access is likely to be a somewhat pathetic monthly allowance. Giffgaff will modify tariffs according to what the people want, and according to what is competitive.


Plus there's the unlimited giffgaff to giffgaff calls, money gained through forum usage, encouraging friends onto giffgaff etc. So let's not forget the unspoken benefits of being with giffgaff! Smiley Happy



grand master

@shrike The calculations already take into account the fact that you'll get a cheaper/free iPhone on a contract than if you bought it outright! There is no such thing as a "free" phone - in reality you pay for it over the course of the 12/18/24 months of your contract. If you look at any of the mainstream networks, they offer both fully-fledged Pay Monthly contracts (with a new phone) and a SIM-only contract (without a new phone). Even if you find two equivalent tariffs in terms of minutes, texts and data, the Pay Monthly version tends to be around £15/month or £20/month more expensive. This is what you're essentially paying for the phone!