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Image What's the cheapest way to buy an iPhone 7?
Image Robyn Hamilton
Staff Writer

Despite the rising popularity of more competitively priced Android handsets, the ubiquity of Apple’s iPhone still reigns supreme in the smartphone market. With such a sought-after piece of tech coming with such a hefty price tag, we decided to investigate to see if there’s a cheaper way to get your hands on an iPhone 7.

** ATTENTION ** This article and the information contained therein was reviewed and updated on 11/12/2017. All prices quoted are relevant to the 32GB iPhone 7 model. If you'd like to see a comparison of the newer iPhone 8 and iPhone X models, click here

Steve Jobs knew what he was doing when he built his tech empire. For the last ten years and to this day, many would argue that there is little so alluring as the latest model of the iPhone where premium smartphones are concerned. If it were not for its prohibitive price tag, no doubt the majority of us would be sporting one. But just how expensive is it to buy a new iPhone? Is there a cheaper way to do it?

Billpay is the only way to go… or is it?

It’s often the case that the only people you’ll come across in possession of the very latest shiny brand new iPhone model are those who are on a business contract upgrade or some other form of billpay.  The rest of us Apple heads tend to lag one or two models behind in envy.

Why? Simple - the upfront cost of a brand new prepay iPhone is the equivalent of a month’s rent in Dublin, so it’s not surprising that many Apple disciples opt for the billpay option, which usually more than halves the upfront cost, and allows you to pay off the remainder of the bill over a 24 month contract.

The question is, do you actually end up paying more in the long term if you choose billpay over prepay? The uncomplicated answer is yes - and it makes sense - to a point. Just like taking out any kind of loan (which taking out a billpay contract in order to get the latest phone models essentially is) you’re going to be subject to an interest rate of sorts. Just take a look at the chart which compares billpay/prepay costs for an entry level iPhone 7 across networks to see what we mean:

iPhone 7 32GB Price Comparison

Initial Cost

Cost per month

Total cost over 2 years

Three Billpay




Three Prepay


€20 (every 28 days)


Vodafone Billpay




Vodafone Prepay


€20 (every 28 days)


eir Billpay




eir Prepay




iD Mobile Billpay




iD Mobile Prepay




Virgin Mobile Billpay




Virgin Mobile Prepay




Tesco Mobile Billpay




Tesco Mobile Prepay




*N/A refers to networks with no corresponding prepay plan for the iPhone 7 i.e. to buy the iPhone handset from that network.

Prepay is cheapest in the long run

With the notable exception of Virgin Mobile who is leading the pack by a mile where iPhone 7’s are concerned - generally, you’ll end up paying more for a new iPhone if you go for a 24 month billpay contract over prepay.

Many would argue that paying a little bit extra over time is preferable to paying a hefty €600 upfront to be able to enjoy the features of a premium phone.

It should also be noted that on billpay, though you’ll often pay more than double a month to use your phone as compared to prepay users, you will more often than not get the perks that come with that higher price, in the form of more minutes, texts and data.

Don’t get caught out

If you do choose billpay, don’t forget to stop paying those premium rates once your contract has come to an end! Once you’ve paid off your phone, you’re under no obligation to keep paying upwards of 40 quid a month, so make sure to set yourself a reminder. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying a hell of a lot more than you need to, depending on how long you continue to mindlessly pay your bill every month.

Who are the winners?

According to the above chart, the cheapest way to get a new iPhone with billpay is with Virgin Media, which is a huge €371 cheaper than the next cheapest option and €511 cheaper than the most expensive option. But are these really your cheapest options?

Are there any alternatives?

There is one other way - choose to buy an unlocked SIM-free handset and then select the best price plan from your preferred network. There are a few options when it comes to buying an unlocked SIM free phone. You could buy directly from Apple which will cost you €649. Currys are offering theirs at €749, and you can pick one up for the slightly cheaper price of €678.99 from So far, not great - as you’ll end up paying a little bit more than if you were to go with a network...

However, if you buy SIM-free from the UK you could make a decent enough saving. Carphone Warehouse UK are selling new iPhone 7s for around €647 or you could pick one up from reputable UK online tech store Clove Technology for €615.

So, let’s say, for example, you go with Clove Technology to purchase your handset and then go with iD Mobile’s €15 topup deal which will get you unlimited iD to iD texts, 300 minutes of calls and 30GB of data a month. Over two years you’ll end up paying €915 to buy and use a brand new iPhone 7.

Yes, it’s still more expensive than Virgin Media’s unbeatable billpay deal, but this option might be more suitable for those who do not wish to be tied down to any one network for a long period of time.

What’s the best deal for me?

As always, choosing the best price payment scheme will be subject to your own needs and capacity for repayment.

For many, the freedom of owning a contractless phone is alluring because it means they aren’t tied down to any provider but equally others will choose billpay because it allows them to slowly pay off their phone in a way that’s feasible to them.

Make sure you fully compare the market before you make any decisions. If you’re not sure where to start, the chart above should give you a good idea!