Free iPad contract unveiled

Apple's slate goes free on new 3G deal

Japan's Softbank Mobile touts bargain deal for 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

Orange’s iPad contract deals are undoubtedly welcome. But at £27 a month for new punters, with 2GB of data and free Wi-Fi, all after stumping up a minimum of £199, you do wonder if there’s a better deal to be had.

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Step forward Softbank Mobile, the Japanese network which has just confirmed it will soon be touting the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G for free as long as you pay the equivalent of £36 a month over two years.

Now, there’s no denying that’s attractive, what with not having to front up for the hottest gadget of 2010. But the two yearly term will end up costing Japanese punters around £864. That compares to £847 on the Orange deal.

The question is, however, would Orange be better off charging more every month and just giving away the iPad for nowt? It would certainly be a ploy that would raise awareness and ultimately make them more money.

Of course, contracts are all about spreading the cost and both of these deals work out cheaper than if you bought a 16GB 3G iPad for £529 and spent £15 a month over two years on data (that clocks in at £889). The only catch with a contract is, of course, that you can’t ditch your deal when you want and nab a spanking new next-gen iPad whenever it takes your fancy.

Contract or SIM-free? When it comes to the iPad, which do you prefer? Tell us now on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Via Engadget