iPads, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, Huawei MediaPads, and other tablets all have three things in common: they look cool, they’re useful, and they’re blooming expensive.
Luckily, a lot of mobile networks can help out with that last point, with pay-monthly contract deals on all kinds of tablets. For a set cost each month, you get a tablet and a data allowance so you can connect it to the internet - just like a mobile phone contract. It's a great way of getting a cool-looking, useful gadget without the huge expense.
Here's everything you need to know about pay-monthly tablet plans and how to choose a deal.
Which network should I choose?
Only a handful of mobile networks offer pay-monthly plans on tablets and iPads, but that's enough to give you plenty of choice when you're picking out a deal.
EE tablet deals
Grab a tablet deal from EE, and you'll have access to the fastest 4G and best coverage in the country - perfect for getting online when you're on the go.
EE's got a good range of tablet models, including iPads, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, and special tablets for kids. Plans go up to 20GB of data per month, and you'll get access to discounts and offers on EE's other services - such as mobile deals and home broadband.
It's not the cheapest network around, but if good coverage is vital, an EE plan could be worth the cost… especially if you take advantage of those special offers.
O2 tablet deals
O2's got an impressive spread of tablets in its arsenal - iPads, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, Huawei MediaPads, Alcatels, you name it. Tariffs range from 2GB-20GB for pay-monthly plans. And they're available on O2 Refresh contracts too, meaning you can pay more flexibly and upgrade your tablet at any point.
You'll also get a few extras, including free use of O2 Wi-Fi hotspots and special offers for existing customers.
Three tablet deals
From Three, you can grab a deal on various tablets, with data tariffs ranging from 2GB-20GB per month at fantastic, manageable prices.
All its pay-monthly tablet plans include Feel At Home so you can use your data in dozens of countries abroad, and caps so you don't spend too much over your allowance.
Three's coverage doesn't quite reach as much of the country as, for instance, EE - but if you're covered, it offers some of the best value around.
Vodafone tablet deals
Vodafone has iPads, Samsungs, own-brand tablets, and more, on plans with monthly data allowances that go up to a whopping 50GB. Global Roaming is included, so you can use your tablet data abroad for a very low price - or for free.
How much data do I need?
Have a look at our data usage guide to get an idea of how much data you'll use in a month. Remember that you only need to use internet data when you aren't connected to Wi-Fi.
For using your tablet out and about a few times a month… a small allowance will suit you. You probably won't need more than 5GB, depending what you'll use your tablet for.
For more moderate use… have a look at allowances of 10GB or so. Especially if you want to watch a bit of iPlayer.
For streaming video on your daily commute… you'll need a bigger data allowance, say 10GB and above. Bear in mind that the higher your tablet screen's resolution, the more data a video stream will use up.
If you only have a tablet, and no computer or home broadband…go for a large allowance, if you know you'll use your tablet a lot. Plans with 20GB of data and above are for you. (On the other hand, if you only plan to use it for a bit of web and Facebook, you'll be fine with a smaller, 10GB-ish allowance.)
Pros of pay-monthly tablet contracts
- There's less to pay upfront. You won't need to shell out hundreds of pounds all in one go - and some are even available for free.
- Spreading the cost out over several months makes an expensive tablet more manageable.
- Taking out a pay-monthly contract gives you benefits and perks from your chosen mobile network - like roaming data.
- Special offers are available for existing customers, so you can get an even better deal.
- It's less hassle than buying a tablet from one shop, then faffing about with SIM cards from another.
Cons of pay-monthly tablet contracts
- Contracts usually last 24 months, which is a long time.
- There's not much flexibility - most contracts don't let you change your allowance whenever you like. (If you do want that flexibility, we recommend buying a tablet outright and taking out a 30-day data SIM.)
- Tablets are often locked to a single network. It's easy enough to get them unlocked, but that's still extra hassle.
Once your contract comes to an end, don't keep paying the same price - switch to a cheaper SIM-only data deal.
Sign up to our reminder tool, and we'll drop you an email when your tablet contract is about to come to an end.