T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and Virgin HTC Desire deals compared

Ashesh Shah
August 18, 2017

The HTC Desire was only announced two months ago, yet it’s not only in consumers’ hands, it’s also causing a lot of excitement.

We might have given it our first five star review in donkey’s years, but that’s not the end of the story – the public wants to know how to get it on the cheap as well.

And they’re being spoilt with the HTC Desire, as it’s coming to all six top providers – but that means a plethora of deals to sort through.

But don’t worry, as we’ve trawled the official provider’s tariffs and cracked out the calculators to work out the cash behind the contracts – how much will each really cost you?

We’re not talking about how little it will cost you at the start – there are plenty of ways to get a free phone and a bagillion minutes, but we want to know how much lighter your wallet will be in 18 to 24 months.

Note: We’ve not yet received official word on tariffs from O2, 3 or Orange (although we’ve taken those offered by The Carphone Warehouse for the latter), but we’ll update the article as they emerge.

We’ve taken a few things into account – the amount of cash you’ll chuck into the pockets of each network over the course of the deal, the minutes on offer, the contract length and handset cost, to find the cheapest overall cost for each network.

All are offering unlimited texts with the deals (although for T-Mobile this is a free Booster option; you could switch this for cheaper international calls for instance).

Also all of the deals we surveyed offer unlimited internet (with the exception of Vodafone, that’s only giving away a measly 500MB per month) because let’s be honest – if you’re not going to use the HTC Desire for a lot of data hungry applications and internet, then there’s not really a lot of point picking it up.

So once you’ve decided how long you can want to keep the phone for, and how many minutes you’re likely to be chatting for each month, have a look at TechRadar’s friendly chart to see which is the best deal for you:

If the thought of having to roll over and stare at the same (phone) face every day for two years is too much for you, then perhaps you’d be better off not tying yourself into a deal for 24 months.

18-month deals will generally cost the same as their two year brethren, but you do generally get more minutes and the chance to pick up a nice and shiny new phone sooner.

100-200 mins

There aren’t a lot of deals around for this price point, with only Virgin Media and T-Mobile chiming in with offers.

T-Mobile just shades it though: for £15 per month and £164 for the Desire, you get 100 minutes and an overall cost of £434.

Virgin Media’s offer might give you 200 minutes, but an extra tenner per month hurts over the year and half, despite the handset costing less up front.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £434

300 mins

T-Mobile is all on its lonesome in this category, with nobody else coming with a similar deal at the moment.

However, the deal isn’t too bad: £20 a month for 300 minutes, although £129 is a lot to pay at the start for the phone.

Don’t fret though – over the course of the deal it boils down to £489, which is a lot cheaper than buying a phone and whacking a pay-as-you go SIM in.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £434

600 mins

We’ve got three players in the space this time: T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin Media. If you’re against the pink network, look away now: T-Mobile is cheapest again.

With a £25 per month deal and a £129 upfront cost, the overall deal works out at £579 over the 18 months.

Vodafone is next up, with a £35 per month deal that costs £630 overall, with a free phone. However, you do get 300 extra minutes for signing up online, although there’s that pesky 500MB data limit.

And Virgin Media lags in last, with a £30 per month deal with a £115 upfront cost, taking the overall total to £655.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £579

800 – 900 mins

The same three again – T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin Media duke it out.

And this time we have a new winner – Virgin Media shaves it with a £35 per month deal offering 800 minutes and a free phone that costs £360 over the course of the deal.

T-Mobile is pretty close though; for £30 a month and a free phone it costs £635, and you also get 100 extra minutes per month, which equates to an extra 108,000 seconds of chat for only £5.

Vodafone limps in third again, with 900 minutes and a free phone for £40 per month, but the same 300 extra minutes if you sign up online, for £720 over 18 months.

Best deal: Virgin Media – £630

1,200 mins

Virgin Media and T-Mobile tie this one: both deals will end up costing you £720 over the course of the contract.

Virgin Media only offers 1,000 minutes, whereas T-Mobile will offer you 1,200, but both cost £40 per month with a free phone.

Vodafone is proffering a huge 1,500 minute allowance if you sign up online, but costs £45 per month and will end up costing you £810 overall.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £720 (but with 200 more mins per month)

OK, you’ve read our HTC Desire review and decided that two years with this phone wouldn’t be so bad – we like the way you’re thinking.

But we wouldn’t want you to assume that’s the end of the decision making process – you’ve still got to choose a contract to go with that bad boy.

The Carphone Warehouse is only offering 24-month deals on Orange with unlimited internet – we expect that to change when we finally get the official tariffs through.

100-200 mins

Three networks in this one: T-Mobile, Virgin Media and Orange.

And it’s T-Mobile that takes the top slot, with a great £10 a month deal. The phone does cost £164 to buy first of all, and you only get 100 mins, but for £404 over two years you’re not going to get a lot better.

Virgin Media is offering the HTC Desire for £20 per month with 200 minutes, and an upfront cost of £149.99 – this equates to the much pricier £630.

And Orange comes in last, with 100 minutes on a £20 a month deal – and a whopping £240 for the phone as well.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £404

300 mins

Two options only here – T-Mobile and Orange.

The former is far and away the cheapest option again, with a cheap as chips £489 the cost over two years – at £15 per month and an early £129 upfront cost.

Orange is next up at £700 for the lifetime of the contract, at £25 per month and £100 for the phone – we can only hope that the official tariffs come in a little cheaper.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £489

500-600 mins

Now we’re getting somewhere – four networks duking it out, and it’s a lot closer this time between T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and Virgin Media.

Well, we say a lot closer, but T-Mobile is still ahead of the pack: for £20 per month and £129 at the start you get 600 mins for an overall cost of £609.

Virgin Media is up next, with 600 mins for £25 per month and £100 up front – that equates to a £700 lump sum.

Vodafone and Orange’s efforts will both set you back £720 over the two years (with a free phone) – with the latter you only get 500 mins, and with the former you can nab up to 300 bonus minutes (taking the total to 900) if you do it online.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £609

800-900 mins

All four in it to win it, with the price varying between £695 and £840 for the overall cost.

T-Mobile is (now predictably) the winner – it only costs £695 for a £25 per month deal, with the phone priced at £95.

If you only want 800 minutes but want to pay more cash, then check out Virgin Media’s offering – it’s £720 at £30 a month with a free phone.

And Vodafone and Orange tie again – both costing £840, but Vodafone offers 900 minutes (1,200 online) where Orange only offers 800.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £695

1,200 mins

We’re into seriously chatty territory here – so chatty that Orange hasn’t even got a tariff through The Carphone Warehouse.

£40 per month and a free phone (as well as 1,200 minutes, 1,500 online) will get you a Vodafone-branded HTC Desire for an overall cost of £960.

But the cheaper duo are the T-Mobile and Virgin Media offerings – the former giving 1,200 minutes, the latter 1,000 minutes for the same £840.

Best deal: T-Mobile – £840 (200 more minutes per month).

The findings paint an interesting early picture of the mobile phone landscape in the UK – it’s nothing like the Apple iPhone snooze-fest we’re used to when it comes to pricing.

T-Mobile is the winner of nearly every category when you average it out over the course of the deals – we certainly didn’t expect a near-whitewash from one network.

And, of course, it’s about more than this; many people get attracted by the prospect of a free phone at the start and are happy to pay a little bit more over the course of a contract. If that’s the case, Vodafone is a good bet, given that you can’t actually pay upfront for the HTC Desire on a contract with the network.

Don’t forget the smorgasbord of other independent sites out there undercutting the networks with different minute and handset contract combos – you can use a comparison site like Omio to see all those on offer.

Virgin Media has some comparably good deals in the mix as well, and we haven’t even taken into account the customer-centric offerings we’ve seen, with offers of either a £5 lower tariff for the same contract term or a shorter 18-month contract for the same monthly tariff.

If you’re an existing customer, this makes it far and away the cheapest in a number of categories – but we’re assuming many people won’t be.

So T-Mobile is so far the best way to get the HTC Desire on the cheapest deal when it’s all laid out. But it really depends how you like to buy your mobile really.


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