8 things you could buy instead of an iPhone 12 mini
Are you feeling the hype of the iPhone 12 release? Stop. Step away from the queue. Here’s what your money could buy you instead.
The new iPhone 12 is here and, if you believe the hype, it's about to change your life in a way unimaginable since... the iPhone 11 just a year ago. Fancy getting your hands on one? You might want to read this first.
An unlocked version of the absolute most basic model iPhone 12 mini (the 64GB) will set you back £699 when you buy it from the Apple Store.
You can get it on a contract (assuming you pass the credit checks), but as networks tend to charge considerable interest on your instalments, this will mean you end up paying more in the long run.
How much does the iPhone 12 mini cost?
Around the launch date, very few retailers (aside from Apple, of course) will allow you to buy the iPhone 12 mini without a monthly contract. Among those who do, we couldn't find anyone selling the phone for less than the £699 price listed on Apple's site (excluding those, including Apple, who offer a discount for trading in an older iPhone).
The bonus of buying through Apple is that they offer a 24-month payment plan with 0% interest.
This option is only available when you buy an iPhone in a physical Apple Store, not via the online Apple shop, and not through any third-party retailers. It's also worth noting that you can reduce the monthly payments by trading in your old iPhone at the same time (although for the sake of this guide, we're assuming you won't do that).
From that, we've concluded that the cheapest way to shell out on your fancy iPhone 12 mini is usually to buy it directly through Apple, although it's always worth checking out our deals section to see if anything else has popped up.
How iPhone Payments works
Apple's payments scheme, inventively dubbed 'iPhone Payments', is a handset-only interest-free payment option that you can choose if you buy your iPhone 12 mini (or any other iPhone, for that matter) from a physical Apple Store rather than online.
When buying your handset, just let them know you want to pay for it via iPhone Payments and they'll set it up for you there and then. Make sure you ask for it without AppleCare+ if you want the cheapest plan!
The cheapest available model is the 64GB, which can be paid for in 24 monthly instalments of £29.12.
8 things you can buy for less than an iPhone 12 mini
Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn't take the plunge and buy a new iPhone, but when money’s tight, it’s always worth putting the cost into context.
So, here are eight surprising things that are cheaper than an iPhone 12 mini:
Over a month of rent
With the average student rent standing at £547 a month, the value of an iPhone 12 mini is equivalent to well over a month of rent (about a month and a quarter, to be precise).
If we flip that around, that means that if you go for the phone, you’ve got to find the same amount of cash to keep a roof over your head. Or, you could just do what this guy did and live in a tent in someone's garden for the year.
Almost four years of broadband
There are tons of student-friendly broadband deals out there. At the time of writing, the cheapest deal in our student broadband comparison guide comes in at £15.21 a month, so you'd need to sign a contract for almost four years in order to hit the £699 mark.
And remember, these numbers assume that you live by yourself, which most students don't. Your share of the broadband bill is smaller when you live with other people, so even if you lived with just one other person, you'd be looking at almost eight years of internet for the same price as an iPhone 12 mini.Whether you're after an iPhone or vintage Nokia, compare the best contracts using our mobile phone contract comparison tool.
Over a year of Nando's fine dining
Let's say you go for what we have decided (after a heated office discussion) is the standard Nando's order: quarter chicken, two regular sides and a bottomless soft drink. At the time of writing (we're covering ourselves because even Nando's is affected by inflation), this comes in at £9.80.
If you went to Nando's once a week for an entire year, and always ordered this, you'd still have only spent £509.60.
That leaves £189.40 left over, which you could either spend on MORE Nando's (almost another six months' worth), or the cost of a bus fare to get there and back each week.
Of course, if you use our money-saving Nando's tricks, you could end up going to Nando's for far longer than just a year!
Almost 10 years of Netflix
Student life involves a lot of free time. While that would be best spent studying, working or even socialising, the reality is that sometimes you just want to slob in front of the telly. For that reason, Netflix is becoming a bit of a must-have for students.
For the cost of an iPhone 12 mini, you could pay for a Basic subscription to Netflix (£5.99 at the time of writing, and even though they don't offer a student discount you can get it for less with our Netflix hacks) for over nine and a half years – 9.7 years, to be precise.
We did some Googling and found that the total length of every video on Netflix is estimated to be three and a half years, meaning you could watch the entire catalogue three times over (almost) and only have spent as much on Netflix as you would have on an iPhone 12 mini. Your recommendations would be totally screwed though.
For the same price as an iPhone 12 mini, you could get yourself a great set of wheels on eBay. There are heaps of second-hand mopeds and road scooters going for around the £600 – £700 mark or less (but if you're paying much less, be wary of getting a dying bike).
On top of saving you some cash (you could be saving on commuting costs, or cutting your rent by living a bit further away from uni in a cheaper area), no one is gonna deny how badass you'll look rocking up to lectures on one of these bad boys.
And yes, we're aware that you can get actual cars on eBay (and elsewhere) for less than £699. But if a car is going for that little, there's a good chance that you'll be paying to get it repaired at some point (not to mention the fact that it'll use more petrol than a moped!).There are some great bargains on eBay, but you can get an even better deal by using our eBay hacks.
Over a year's worth of nights out
According to our National Student Money Survey, the average student spends £46 each month on going out. Or, to put it in a way that suits the purposes of this article, an iPhone 12 mini costs 15.2 months of nights out.
Now, it's worth noting that 'going out' can include more than just nights out (like these things to do for under £20). And, clearly, during the coronavirus pandemic, nights out aren't quite what they once were (if indeed they're happening at all) – but you can bet your bottom dollar that when the clubs properly reopen, the first night out will be worth saving your money for.
So, whatever you like to do when you're spending time with friends, if you choose not to buy an iPhone 12 mini, that could be over a year of your social life funded.
A season ticket at (almost) any Premier League club
You know iPhones are getting expensive when there's more money involved than watching Premier League football. The 2020/21 season is a bit of a write-off in terms of attending games in-person, but let's take a look at what your money could have got you in 2019/20 in the hope that season tickets are back on the table in 2021/22.
If you're happy to go for the cheapest option available (and if you're a die-hard fan on a budget, why wouldn't you be?), you could have got a season ticket at whichever Premier League club took your fancy... apart from Arsenal and Tottenham, who decided that you can put a price on disappointment (£891 and £795 respectively).
In fact, at Manchester City and West Ham, you could have got TWO season tickets for the price of an iPhone 12 mini. Although, depending on the team, this could be seen as drastically over- or underpaying for the entertainment on show...
A trip to New York
Do a quick search online for trips to New York, and it won't be long before you find some for £699 or less. In fact, if you're paying as much £699 for your flights and accommodation, you could even be overpaying.
We hopped onto lastminute.com and within seconds we'd found loads of deals including flights and three nights at a four-star hotel for well under £600 per person.
Now, there are almost certainly better deals out there, and you might want to make some space for spending money if you're setting yourself a budget of £699.
But given the choice between a break in the Big Apple, and a phone that will be outdated within a year, we know what we'd go for.
Of course, the most effective use of your £699 could be simply not to spend it. Instead, you could put it to work and see it lay many more golden coins over the two years you'd otherwise have been paying it out.
If you pay the monthly cash into a savings account instead, not only will you not be spending £699, you'll also gain interest and be better off than when you started.
We'll leave you with our essential tips for grabbing the best phone contract deal: read them, save on them, and make your money go further.