What's the cheapest way to get a new iPhone SE? We explain the easy way to save nearly £200

You can get the iPhone SE 2020 from under £11 per month! Here's how to spend the least on Apple's most affordable handset

iPhone SE cheapest price
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone SE 2020 is Apple's cheapest phone, and there are some great iPhone SE deals on contract from various phone companies. But while these contracts make it simple to just sign up and get the phone, they're not the cheapest way to buy.

The cheapest way to buy is to get the phone from Apple directly and then grab a low-cost SIM-only deal for your calls, minutes and texts. And the best news is that you can still pay for all this monthly – you don't have to pay the full £419 cost for the phone up front.

Apple offers the ability to break the cost into monthly repayments at 0% interest, which can be combined with some credit for trading in your old iPhone, if you choose. Apple's trade-in value aren't as high as what you'd get for selling your phone, unsurprisingly, but it's definitely easier.

• The iPhone SE (2020) reviews are in!
iPhone SE 2020: should you upgrade from your old iPhone?

Even without trading in, going this route could save you nearly £200 compared to the cheapest contract options for the new iPhone SE! Let's break it down…

iPhone SE: the cheapest way to buy in the UK

• See all Apple UK's interest-free credit options for the iPhone SE

Apple offers 0% interest on iPhone SE purchases, with the cost spread over 24 months. Without any trade-in, this becomes £16.99 per month (with a £20 deposit upfront) for the 64GB version of the phone. This is a totally unlocked phone, so you can use it with any phone provider you like. You can also pay off the remaining cost of the phone early, if you prefer, with no penalty.

Now we can look at where to get our phone service from – we've got all the latest and greatest SIM-only deals below, but our pick for this example is ID's £6 per month rolling monthly deal. 

ID Mobile SIM-only monthly contract | 1GB data, unlimited minutes and texts |£6 per month
Proof that contracts don't have to cost the earth. You get 1GB of data, enough for sporadic smartphone users, unlimited minutes, calls and texts for a VERY wallet-friendly £6.00. One of the cheapest phone contracts on the market right now. View Deal

One nice thing about this deal is that you can change or leave it at any time, because it's a rolling month-by-month thing! But if you stay with it for the same length of time as you're paying for the iPhone, it will cost you £144 total over those 24 months.

In total here, you'll be paying £22.99 per month, and the full cost you'll pay for the iPhone and the service over two years is £563.

If you trade in your old phone, you can bring this down further! You'll need to enter some information about your old phone and its condition while buying your new one to see what you get. The lowest price Apple offers is £10.99 per month for the 64GB iPhone (£279 total) – this would make our total with the SIM deal just £423 over two years.

Now let's compare with the cheapest-per-month contract option for the iPhone SE, which is this great deal from Sky Mobile.

iPhone SE | Up-front cost: £0.00 | Monthly cost: £21 per month | 2GB data | Unlimited texts and calls | Available now
Sky Mobile has killed it here with this iPhone SE deal, offering the brand new Apple handset for free up-front, and with a SIM plan that costs just £21 per month. 2GB of data, as well as unlimited minutes and texts are delivered. Free delivery is included in the deal.View Deal

This is slightly cheaper per month than our non-trade-in example above, and gives you a bit more data (as well as some extra perks, including streaming of Sky TV not counting against your data limit), but the contract is actually for three years. This makes the total cost of this contract £753 – £190 more than our setup above without any trade-in, and £331 less than the best price including trade-in.

So that's it, basically – even if you want more data than that, the best thing is still to take the total cost of buying the phone from Apple plus getting a SIM-only deal and comparing it to the total cost of a contract over its length. You'll find there's at least enough saving to pick yourself up a pair of AirPods

You can take a look through all of Apple's options at the link below, and you can find the perfect SIM-only deal that ticks all your boxes with our comparison chart.

• See Apple's pricing and trade-in options for the iPhone SE

Of course, we're not saying you shouldn't get a contract deal – just that even a low-price one won't be the cheapest way to get the iPhone SE.

As we said, there are other benefits to getting a phone on contract and paying the extra – some people will prefer the simplicity of paying it all in one place, and the phone companies often throw in freebies or other features and add-ons that you won't get with a SIM-only deal. 

Take a look at the best contract offers for the iPhone SE 2020 below:

iPhone SE: the cheapest way to buy in the US

• See all Apple US interest-free credit options for the iPhone SE

Of course, Apple also offers 0% interest on new iPhone SE purchases in the US that sign up – or have an existing contract – with one of the four major service providers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or Verizon. These payments can be spread out across 24 months ($16.62/mo), 30 months ($13.30/mo), or paid in full if at the time of purchase. You can also purchase the iPhone SE without a plan, but Apple does require the full $399 price tag up front.

If you purchase the iPhone SE and activate it with one of the for major carriers listed above, Apple will handle the work with your current carrier so you can keep your existing number and rate plan. The mobile data plans of these carriers may be a bit on the pricey side, but they offer the most reliable connections and provide the widest reception coverage by far.

Thankfully, there are plenty of alternative options available if you're looking for a mobile plan that's a bit more affordable. 

Cricket Wireless | High Speed Data Plans Starting at $15/month | 2GB data | Unlimited text and calls | Available Now
Cricket Wireless offers the same area of coverage as AT&T at a more affordable price. You may not receive all the special perks you get with a AT&T contract, but with plans starting at just $15/month for 2GB of data you're getting a reliable coverage at an affordable price.View Deal

Mint Mobile | High Speed Data Plans Starting at $15/month | 3GB data | Unlimited text and calls | Available Now
With premium iPhone SE bundles starting at just $30/month, Mint Mobile is offering an excellent chance for new shoppers to pickup an iPhone SE and a premium wireless data service in one shot. Mint Mobile shared some coverage areas with T-Mobile, and offers plans in three month increments. The basic 3GB data plan runs only $180 for a full year.View Deal

Boost Mobile | High Speed Data Plans Starting at $50/month | Unlimited data, text, and calls | No contracts | Available Now
Part of the Sprint network, Boost Mobile offers low cost month-to-month service plans with no contracts. With the lowest plan offering unlimited data, text, and talk at just $50/month, Boost Mobile offers solid data plans without the hassle.View Deal

Again, though, there are benefits to going directly for a plan with your preferred provider, so here are the best deals on current iPhone SE plans:

Matthew Bolton
Matthew Bolton

Matthew runs T3's magazine side putting the best gadgets in ink every month, having worked across on many tech mags over the last decade. He's also our resident Apple expert, and you absolutely should not get him started about Lego or board games unless you have a free afternoon and endless patience.