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iPad UK: release date, where to buy, networks and more

iPad iTunes
The iTunes interface is very finger friendly and makes it simple to navigate your music collection

iPad will be available in the UK (and Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland) on Friday 28 May.

You can pre-order all iPad Wi-Fi and iPad Wi-Fi + 3G models from Apple's online store now.

Buying an iPad in the UK

iPad will be sold through the Apple Store, Apple's retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers. The iBooks app for iPad including Apple's iBookstore will be available as a free download from the App Store on 28 May.

What about iPad UK pricing?

The iPad starts at £429, not £399 as we envisaged before the pricing announcement. As with the US pricing, the gap between the lower end models and the high-end iPads is steep.

  • £429 (inc. VAT) for 16GB Wi-Fi iPad
  • £499 (inc. VAT) for 32GB Wi-Fi iPad
  • £599 (inc. VAT) for 64GB Wi-Fi iPad
  • £529 (inc. VAT) for 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad
  • £599 (inc. VAT) for 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad
  • £699 (inc. VAT) for 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad

Apple plans to release the iPad in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July.

Are we paying a premium for the iPad the UK?

The iPad is more expensive like-for-like in the UK than the US even if, to do a direct comparison is difficult due to tax – with different US states charging a differing amount of sales tax. Apple's suggested retail prices are as follows:

For the cheapest iPad – the 16GB, Wi-Fi only version currently priced at $499, sales tax of 10.75 per cent (in California) takes you to $552.64. Converting that back gives you a price of £377.69 - at least £50 less.

What networks are supporting iPad 3G?

The iPad is shipped unlocked, so if you want to buy a more expensive 3G model you'll need to take out a deal or pay-as-you-go arrangement with a provider. Three has unveiled the cheapest iPad data plan yet.

Orange, O2, Vodafone and Three have all announced iPad support. The iPad uses a new type of SIM, called a microSIM, essentially the same size as the contacts on a standard SIM card.

If you pre-order an iPad, you can also choose to be sent a micro SIM from one of the three networks.

On 10 May Orange UK is launching a pre-registration site for SIMs at Pay-as-you-consume, daily, weekly and monthly data plans will be available.

Orange's PAYG price plan charges for data access at a rate of 5p per MB of usage each month, costing no more than £40 per month (excluding the optional bundles). In addition consumers can also choose from four money-saving bundles for more planned or frequent usage.

Vodafone offers 250MB of data a month for £10, and 5GB a month for £25.

O2 is asking £2 per day for a 500MB per-day limit, £10 for 1GB per month or £15 for 3GB per month.