Are Vodafone's iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 deals good value?

Vodafone’s announced it’ll offer the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 on contract. That means you pay less upfront — but is it worth it?
Buying a tablet on contract is always dependent on the value proposition behind paying upfront for a tablet you fully own and absorbing the cost all at once, or paying a contract price and paying a little over 24 months.
There is some logic to getting a tablet on contract, because unlike a phone an up-to-date tablet should still be reasonably current by the time your two year contract ends. But how do Vodafone’s figures stack up? They’re only offering the LTE version of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 tablets, so I’ve used the outright price of those against a straight Vodafone month-by-month SIM plan to compare. You could always throw a competing carrier SIM into an iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3 that you owned — but this makes for a simpler head to head comparison.
Vodafone iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini Deals,
Plan name,$20 Plan,$30 Plan,$45 Plan,$65 Plan,$90 Plan,Apple Outright Purchase Price
Included Data,2.5GB,4GB,8GB,12GB,25GB,
iPad Mini 3 16GB Minimum Total Price,”$1,104 “,”$1,224 “,”$1,560 “,”$1,992 “,”$2,520 “,$659
iPad Mini 3 64GB Minimum Total Price,”$1,224 “,”$1,344 “,”$1,680 “,”$2,112 “,”$2,640 “,$779
iPad Mini 3 128GB Minimum Total Price,”$1,344 “,”$1,464 “,”$1,800 “,”$2,232 “,”$2,760 “,$899
iPad Air 2 16GB Minimum Total Price,”$1,224 “,”$1,368 “,”$1,680 “,”$2,112 “,”$2,640 “,$779
iPad Air 2 64GB Minimum Total Price,”$1,320 “,”$1,440 “,”$1,776 “,”$2,208 “,”$2,736 “,$899
iPad Air 2 128GB Minimum Total Price,”$1,440 “,”$1,560 “,”$1,872 “,”$2,304 “,”$2,856 “,”$1,019 ”
All prices are as per Vodafone’s press release for their iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 deals.
Vodafone offers the same data plans on a BYO basis for SIM-only customers on a month by month basis, which makes it pretty easy to ascertain what you’re actually paying for the tablet itself. Bear in mind that the costs associated are just the minimum you’ll pay. Go over your data allowance and you could pay quite a bit more. Still, assuming that you didn’t, here’s price you’re paying for each tablet on each plan less the cost of the data.
,$20 Plan,$30 Plan,$45 Plan,$65 Plan,$90 Plan,Apple Outright Purchase Price
24 Month Data SIM-only Cost,$480 ,$720 ,”$1,080 “,”$1,560 “,”$2,160 “,
iPad Mini 3 16GB Adjusted Price,$624 ,$504 ,$480 ,$432 ,$360 ,$659
iPad Mini 3 64GB Adjusted Price,$744 ,$624 ,$600 ,$552 ,$480 ,$779
iPad Mini 3 128GB Adjusted Price,$864 ,$744 ,$720 ,$672 ,$600 ,$899
iPad Air 2 16GB Adjusted Price,$744 ,$648 ,$600 ,$552 ,$480 ,$779
iPad Air 2 64GB Adjusted Price,$840 ,$720 ,$696 ,$648 ,$576 ,$899
iPad Air 2 128GB Adjusted Price,$960 ,$840 ,$792 ,$744 ,$696 ,”$1,019 ”
The comparison is pretty clear, and quite generous. If you’re an existing Vodafone contract customer and you add a tablet plan to your contract, they’ll also give you a $100 credit on your plan as well, but I haven’t figured that particular bonus into my figures, as you could simply contract for just the tablet itself.
If you’re ready to spend up big on data — and not everyone is, and obviously you’d have to keep within your data limits on your iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3 — then you can score quite a reasonable discount on the outright purchase price of the LTE tablet itself. If you’re more keen on the Wi-Fi model, then the numbers don’t add up, but then they never would have.
I’d still advocate for steering clear of the iPad Mini 3 because aside from TouchID it just doesn’t offer enough difference from last year’s model, but if you’ve got your heart set on an iPad Air 2 and Vodafone works for you as a mobile provider, these deals appear pretty decent. Bear in mind that you’re still up for that minimum total cost, and there are contract break penalties to deal with, as is usual with standard mobile contracts.
For what it’s worth, at the time of writing Telstra’s indicated that it’ll offer iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 contract deals, but they haven’t disclosed absolute pricing, making comparison impossible.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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