With all these new phones coming out, and certain networks increasing the prices of their most popular deals, you might be in the market for a brand new phone contract. Maybe one with a new phone. Shopping around isn't easy, and there are a lot of deals to sift through. Which deals are best? We did the hard work for you, and sorted the best deals to suit your budget.
How we decided the best deals
Shopping around for the best deal isn't easy. There are a crazy number of networks out there, and each of them offers a huge number of different contracts for you to sign up with. To help you out, I've done the hunting for you and picked out three of the best SIM deals available at different price points. Those price points are: less than £10, £10-£15, £15-£20, £20-£25, £25-£30, and £30+. Unless stated otherwise, these deals are all subject to a 12-month contract.
As for how I worked out which deal was 'best', I'm judging that on what allowances you get and how much you have to pay. Obviously getting more allowances for less money is the best way to go. If in doubt, data trumps all since that's what we use the most of these days. The bonus perks don't really come into it, since they are perks and rank second to what you need your contract to do.
If you're looking for a deal that comes bundled with a handset, head straight to the end of the article. I've gone through the major networks, compared the different prices for the biggest phones currently available to buy, and picked what I consider to be the best three.
Picking the phone deals was focused on getting as much as you can for the money. This was less about the monthly payments, and more about the total cost at the end of the 24-month contract. Different phones are worth different amounts of money, so there's no one size fits all but I roughly tried to keep the monthly cost under £45.
We are looking for the best deals you can get for your money here, so I've opted not to include any networks that don't offer 4G data. You don't save much, if any, money by sticking with 3G, so why bother with it? This means that most of the smaller networks are not included here.
Before you sign up for anything, it's definitely worth checking the network coverage so you don't find out that you live in a dead spot after you've signed on. Online you can find coverage maps from EE, Vodafone, Three, O2, and at Ofcom.
If you opt for one of the small virtual networks (ones that piggyback on the infrastructure of the big four), know that giffgaff and Tesco Mobile use O2, iD uses Three, and BT uses EE.
Under £10 a month
If you're looking for the best deal available under a tenner a month, you're going to struggle to find something better than this one from Carphone Warhouse's iD. For £9 a month you get 2GB of data, 250 minutes, and 5,000 texts. It's certainly not the cheapest contract iD offers, but if you're unwilling to spend more than £10 a month it is one of the best deals around. The fact that it's a rolling one-month contract also means that if you're not happy, you're not stuck with a shitty service for the better part of a year.
If 5,000 texts just isn't enough, and you're willing to compromise on the amount of data, give giffgaff's £7.50 deal a go. You get 500MB of data, 250 minutes, and unlimited texts.
Next up is Three's £8 a month deal that nets you 500MB of data, 200 minutes, and unlimited minutes. That's not quite as good a deal, but you do get the usual Three perks thrown in on top, including the option to use your allowances in 18 foreign countries without racking up any extra charges. Obviously Three has all of its own infrastructure and doesn't piggyback from someone else's network.
It is worth mentioning that BT currently offers a SIM-only deal that costs £5 a month, and comes with 500MB of data, unlimited access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots, 300 minutes, and unlimited texts. Sadly that's only available to those of you who already have BT broadband subscriptions, which is why it's not officially in the top three. It is, however, well worth mentioning for you existing BT customers since it's a damn good deal.
If you're already a BT broadband customer the best deal in this price bracket is the £10 deal that nets you 2GB of data, 500 minutes, and unlimited texts. If you're not a broadband customer you'll find that this deal normally costs £15 a month, but for now it's on sale and is £35 per month for the first two months. Signing with BT also gives you unlimited free access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.
Next up is iD, which is offering 250 minutes, 4GB of data, and 5,000 texts for a mere £10 a month. It's a bit stingier with the minutes and texts (if 5,000 texts can be classified as stingy anyway), but 4GB of data for ten quid is a damn good deal. This one also happens to be another rolling monthly contract.
Finally we have giffgaff which offers a bit more with 1,000 minutes, 4GB of data, and unlimited texts. The downside is, of course, that it costs a bit more at £15 a month. Still if the extra texts and minutes are your jam, an extra £4/£5 a month isn't that much to spend.
Giffgaff's £18 deal is the clear winner for those of you looking to spend between £15 and £20, offering unlimited texts, 2,000 minutes, and 6GB of data. All-in-all that's a nice round monthly allowance for you to enjoy. Not like Three's £17 deal which goes big on the data, but at the expense of minutes.
For that price Three is offering a whopping 12GB of data, but you only get 200 minutes to play with. If that's not your thing, Three is offering 8GB of data, 600 minutes, and unlimited texts for £19 a month. It's still not a lot of minutes, but it's on offer. Personally I'd say that the £17 deal is much better.
The final good deal in this price bracket comes from Vodafone, which wants £17 a month for 2GB of data, plus unlimited minutes and texts. Sadly, unlike Vodafone's premium deals, this doesn't come with many major perks. You do get two months of unlimited data absolutely free when you sign up, though.
The very best deal here clocks in at £20 from Three. For that price you get unlimited data (proper unlimited, with a 4GB tethering allowance), unlimited texts, and 200 minutes. Again, Three is being pretty stingy with the minutes to offer extra data, but with unlimited data you can probably manage with VoIP services. It's worth mentioning that if you take this phone abroad with Three's 'Feel at Home' programme, your data allowance is capped at 12GB. For the same price you can also opt for 30GB of data, with no caps on tethering.
Next up is giffgaff, which offers an enticing deal that isn't all that dissimilar from Three. For £20 you get unlimited calls and texts, and what GiffGaff calls 'Always On' internet. This isn't quite the same as unlimited data, since you only get a 6GB full-speed allowance. Go over that and you'll be throttled to 256kbps between 8am and Midnight. Midnight to 7.59am is full speed again, which should be handy if you ever end up working the night shift.
Finally we have Tesco Mobile's £22.50 a month deal, which offers 6GB of data, 5,000 minutes, and 5,000 texts. The main perk of being with Tesco (price and allowances aside) is that pay monthly customers can link their contract to their Clubcard and earn points.
Despite the fact that this deal costs £20 for BT broadband customers, the £25 non-BT customer price is pretty impressive. You get unlimited calls, texts, and BT Wi-Fi, as well as 20GB of data to use each month. That's more data than any of the other networks offer in this price range (except Three), and it's much cheaper to boot.
The next one to think about is £25 from Three. Like the £20 deal it offers unlimited data (with 4GB tethering limit) and texts, but ups the minutes to 600 each month. That's pretty stingy compared to BT, but once more you can probably manage with VoIP if you burn through them all. For the same price you can also ditch the tethering limits by opting for the 30GB data package.
Finally we have iD, which is offering 10GB of data, 2,000 minutes, and 5,000 texts for £25 a month. Unlike the other iD contracts in this list, this deal is a 12-month contract.
In the premium £30+ range, the best deals clearly come from Three. For £30 a month you can get unlimited calls, texts, and data with the usual 4GB tethering allowance. If that tethering allowance is nowhere near good enough, you can opt for a data cap of 30GB each month. It's the same price, but you don't have to deal with the pesky caps on your tethering.
Next up is Tesco, which is offering 20GB, 750 minutes, and 5,000 texts for £30 a month. Plus Clubcard points.
Then there's O2, which is offering 16GB of data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts for £34 a month. This deal also comes with the usual O2 perks, including priority gig ticket access, exclusive offers, VIP treatment at O2 events, and unlimited free access to O2 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.
The final deal of note is EE's £35 deal that offers the same allowances as O2 – 16GB data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts. The extra pound per month does seem a bit odd given the competition, but EE does have the fastest 4G network in the country. If you value that extra speed, and have decent EE signal in your area, it might be worth it.
iPhone SE (16GB)
If you want Apple's latest phone, with the teeny-tiny screen, the best place to check is Tesco. For some reason, Tesco is ludicrously cheap compared to the other networks, and for £32.50 a month, £60 up-front (totalling £840), you get 5,000 minutes, 5,000 texts, and a whopping 20GB of data. Sure there's no unlimited in there, but you'll be hard pressed to get through that lot. Cheaper tariffs with smaller allowances are, of course, available.
If you want to keep the total cost down, iD also has a great deal for you. It's not as generous allowance wise, but for £31.50 a month and no up-front cost (totalling £756), you get 600 minutes, 5,000 texts, and 2GB of data. For a lot of you, that should be more than enough.
The final deal you should pay attention to is from Three. For a total of £907 (£37 a month and £19 up front), you get unlimited calls and texts, plus 8GB of data to use each month.
iPhone 6S (16GB)
Like the iPhone SE, one of the cheapest places to get your phone is with iD. The most expensive 24-month contract totals £804 with monthly payments of £33.50 and no up front cost. That gets you 1,200 minutes, 5,000 texts, and 2GB of data. Not the most generous of allowances, but cheap is cheap. iD also offers 12 month contracts, the most expensive of which totals £650 (£37.50 a month, with a £200 up-front). That gets you 2GB of data, 600 minutes, and 5,000 texts.
Tesco also seems to have one of the best value deals, and for £32.50 a month and £60 up front (total of £840) you get 20GB of data, 5,000 minutes, and 5,000 texts. Not unlimited, but look at all that lovely data.
If you're willing to compromise on minutes in favour of data, Three is also one to look at. Clocking in at £43 a month, with an up-front cost of £49, you get 12GB of data, unlimited texts, and 300 minutes. That totals £1,081 over the course of the two years. If you'd rather get unlimited minutes and a bit less data, go for O2. For £43 a month (with a £60 up-front cost) you get unlimited calls and texts plus 5GB of data. That's a total cost of £1,092.
If you want a great deal on a G5, iD is probably the place you want to get it from. This deal totals £834, with monthly payments of £33.50 and an up-front cost of £30. For that you get 4GB of data, 5,000 texts, and 1,200 minutes. In typical iD style, there is no mention of the word 'unlimited'. But will you get through all those texts and calls? Unlikely.
If unlimited is your thing, go for Vodafone. For £34 a month and £9 up-front, you can get unlimited minutes and texts along with 2GB of data, totalling £825 overall. That's quite a hit on the data, compared to iD, so make sure you really need those extra texts and minutes.
Finally we have EE, which is offering 2GB of data, 1,000 minutes, and unlimited texts for £31 a month. Along with £70 up-front you'll end up paying a grand total of £814 by the end of the contract.
Shockingly, not many networks are offering the Lumia 950 on contracts. I wonder why that may be? Thankfully it is being carried by EE, Vodafone, and O2. The best one comes from Vodafone, offering 2GB of data plus unlimited texts and calls for £34 a month (plus £9 up-front). That totals at £825 by the time you're done.
Next up is O2, which is offering a £39.50 a month deal with 3GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. That also comes with a £60 up-front cost, and totals £888 when the two years are up.
Finally is EE. Requiring an up-front payment of £40 and £36 in monthly payments, this deal will end up costing you £904. For that you get 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts, and 2GB of data.
You've not got many options if you want the Nexus 6P on a pay-monthly contract, since most networks aren't carrying it anymore. You can still get a few, the best of which comes from O2. For £39.50 a month you get unlimited calls and texts, plus 3GB of data. That totals £948 by the time you're due to upgrade. Typical O2 perks also apply.
The next best is from iD, costing the same £39.50 a month (and no up-front cost). You get 1,200 minutes, 5,000 texts, and 2GB of data. That's a total of £948 again, but this time doesn't come with any perks.
The only other network that appears to still be carrying the Nexus 6P on contract is EE, the best deal totals £994. For £41 a month, and £10 up-front, you get 2GB of data, 1,000 minutes, and unlimited texts.
Samsung Galaxy S7
Getting yourself the Galaxy S7 for less than a grand is tricky, but it's not possible. Thanks to the amazing prices from Tesco and iD. If you go with the supermarket, you'll pay £780 in total – split into 24 payments of £32.50. That gets you 20GB of data, plus 5,000 minutes and texts. I can't help but think these prices are a mistake, so don't procrastinate and get your order in before Tesco notices.
iD doesn't offer anywhere near as much data or minutes, but for £35.50 a month (£852 in total) you get 2GB of data, 600 minutes, and 5,000 texts. The next cheapest deal that seems worth it is from Vodafone, which wants £40 a month and £49 up-front (£1,009 in total). That gets you 2GB of data, and unlimited calls and texts.
Sony Xperia Z5
Surprise, surprise, Tesco and iD are the top dogs once again. If you get the Z5 at Tesco, you'll have to pay a minuscule total of £528. That's £22 a month with no up-front cost, and that gets you 6GB of data, 5,000 minutes, and 5,000 texts. Going with iD won't cost you more than £804 in total, with a monthly cost of £33.50 and no up-front charges. That gets you 4GB of data, 1,200 minutes, and 5,000 texts. Again, there's no use of the word 'unlimited' here, but it's not like you can't manage right?
If those don't take your fancy, try O2. For £36.50 a month you get 3GB of data and unlimited calls and minutes. Plus the usual O2 perks.