If you’re on the edge about picking up a tablet, there's an option you might not have thought of - getting it for free.
An increasing number of retailers are offering 'free' tablets - just as long as you sign up for a smartphone deal. It can be a bargain way to snap up a tablet - particularly one of this year's 7-inch models such as Google's smash hit Nexus 7.
Bearing in mind that not every smartphone plan can be joined to a tablet and not every new tablet is available on a plan, the range of devices that are available should be varied enough to slot into your life and work alongside your new handset.
Finally, it’s always worth checking how much the tablet will cost to buy separately. If you’re pay a little extra over a 24-month contract you may end up paying more than the original tablet price.
Not only is the Nexus 7 the best selling Android tablet this year by far, but it demolished a number of records set by the Apple iPad. The Asus-made Nexus 7 tablet features a quad-core processor and a 12-core graphics processor so its fast and powerful, a 1280x800 7-inch HD display and a front facing camera so that you can make video calls using apps like Skype or Google Hangouts. What’s more it runs the latest version of Android - 4.2 or Jelly Bean.
TalkTalk - Not only can you bag yourself an Android Jelly Bean-running tablet, but TalkTalk is pairing it with the brand new LG Nexus 4 Android smartphone; the newest Android handset built out of a partnership between LG and Google. For £35 a month on a 24-month plan, users will be awarded with 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB of data, which doubles to 1GB if bought online instead of in-store.
BuyMobilePhones.net - A 16GB Google Nexus 7 is free on a myriad of deals when paired with an LG Optimus L3 Android smartphone. The cheapest package comes in the form of a 24-month plan from O2 which offers 100 minutes, unlimited texts, 100MB of data, access to O2 Priority Moments and a free handset, all for £18.50 a month.
RIM dipped its toes into the 7-inch tablet market long before Google with the BlackBerry Playbook, a sturdy, nippy 1GHz dual-core tablet which doesn't have the same vast array of Android apps at its disposal (although it can be made to run them) but instead utilises the BlackBerry App World instead. The PlayBook also features front and rear cameras and in the instances below 32GB of onboard storage (a 64GB option is also available).
Carphone Warehouse - A free 32GB PlayBook can be had when bought in conjunction with a BlackBerry Curve 9320 on a 24-month plan. £31 a month not only guarantees the tablet, but a free handset in black or white, 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 750MB of BlackBerry data, all on Orange.
BuyMobilePhones.net - The larger 64GB BlackBerry PlayBook is available as part of a deal with a number of handsets. We opted for the Samsung Galaxy S3, one of the best selling handsets of 2012 and Samsung’s flagship device. For £36 a month on Three, users not only get a 64GB PlayBook but on the Ultimate Internet 500 plan, with 500 minutes, 5000 texts and unlimited mobile data for 24 months.
The Kindle Fire proved to be a hugely successful tablet in the US, the problem was it wasn’t available anywhere else. Amazon have rectified that with the arrival of the Kindle Fire HD and incredibly affordable Android-based tablet in its own right can be yours for free from a number of retailers. The tablet gives you access to a comprehensive array of content from books, movies, tv shows, magazines and music, plus the device itself features an HD front-facing camera.
Carphone Warehouse - The small but powerful 1GHz dual-core toting Sony Xperia U is available from on Vodafone for £25 a month on a 24 month contract. The plan includes a 16GB Kindle Fire HD tablet, 300 minutes, unlimited texts, 250MB of data (plus 1GB on BT WiFi Hotspots anytime) and a free handset.
Mobiles.co.uk - One of the best mid-ranger handsets of 2012, the Android-powered HTC One S is available with a £37 a month, 24 month contract. The plan, which operates on O2, offers users 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 750MB of data plus both a free handset and 16GB Kindle Fire HD.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.0
Samsung offers an Android Ice Cream Sandwich-running 7-inch tablet in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The device features 1GHz dual-core processor a 7-inch WSVGA screen, front and rear cameras (3MP on the back, VGA on the front) and it comes in either black or white.
Phones4U - The Tab 2 7.0 is available on just one plan from Phones4U. The tablet comes free with a Samsung Galaxy Ace at £20.50 a month on a 24 month plan from Orange. This plan features 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 100MB of data.
Carphone Warehouse - The only handset in the world to feature an 800MHz dual-core processor, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is available with a white Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for £26 a month on Orange for 24 months in total. The plan which caught our eye includes 200 minutes, unlimited texts and 750MB of mobile data.
BuyMobilePhones.net - RIM’s flagship smartphone; the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is available in conjunction with a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 for £41 a month on Orange. This includes 1200 minutes, unlimited texts, 250MB of BlackBerry Internet and a free handset, not to mention £15 cash to go in hand.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1
The last tablet on our list is also the largest. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is the bigger brother to the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and totes a 10.1-inch WXGA (1280x800) HD screen, plus a 1GHz dual-core processor.
BuyMobilePhones.net - A white 16GB model of the Tab 2 10.1 is on offer to match a white Samsung Galaxy S2, a device which is about to receive an update to the latest version of Android: Jelly Bean in a few weeks. For £38 a month, prospective customers can pick up 500 minutes, 5000 texts and unlimited data, plus a free handset on a 24 month plan from Three.
Mobiles.co.uk - If you’re willing to fork out a little more every month, £67 each time will not only grab you the Tab 2 10.1, but a brand new 16GB Apple iPhone 4S in black on O2 with unlimited calls and texts, plus 1GB of data. The plan is naturally 24 months long.