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.



I think this is the way I'll buy all my phones, from now on. Unlocked! Smiley Tongue

Contracts are, as far as i'm concerned, becoming nothing more than legalised slavery.

You go to work, so your phone company gets paid, and you sign a proportion of your wages over to them for the privilege.


I want to unlock myself from all my contracts, like I've done with giffgaff. I've just got the energy bills to go... Smiley Happy

top cat
Excellent post - really helpful information, thoroughly researched and well presented. Thanks Smiley Happy



As others have said, great post.


However, i am suprised you let tesco win one of the categories! If you had chosen the 18 and 12 month contracts with 200 minutes, then GG would have beaten tesco in the 12 months category, then it would have been a clean sweep!!!


The other issue is you need to discount future years costs (5% per year for example), to accuarlty reflect the prices over time. The means the competition would be closer to GG, as with GG you have a very high outlay initially. Discounting is not easy or an exact science though!!!


Really interesting I was wondering the other day if it worked out cheaper to buy a phone  and stay on giffgaff or opt out and get a contract'

Now all I need is for Santa to leave me a nice new  iPhone on Christmas morning


a very timely post, not to mention - great too..


Great post.


One offer I'll add is that from QuidCo: they are doing £115 cashback if you take out a "One Plan" 2-year contract with Three on either the 32 or 64 GB models (no listing for the 16 GB). This plan comes it at either £35 or £40 a month and has unlimited internet, 2000 mins and loads of texts.


The best possible deal on this then is:


iPhone 4S 32 GB, One Plan, 2 Years

£189 for the phone + (24 x £35) - £115 cashback =  £914


It's the best offer I found, until I discovered GiffGaff.


The offer runs until Sunday I think if you are still thinking of getting a Contract.


Well, giffgaff doesn't allow hotspot, doesn't offer wifi, has expensive roaming and requires to manually enter voicemail number and apn settings, so although the deals seem to be very good, but there are some disadvantages to consider Smiley Happy not a straight forward math.

very good post!

A well-detailed post. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into this.


Only downside is, I can't afford one! Smiley Sad


Is it worth buying??