The best iPhone 5 deal we've ever seen - just in time for Christmas!

If you’re looking for an iPhone 5 deal this Christmas then it might be worth going the contract route. At £33 per month over two years, a tariff from Vodafone has a total cost of ownership of only £792, which compares very well to the £529 Apple charges for the most basic SIM-free version of its newest handset.

Note that E2Save, a subsidiary of Carphone Warehouse, is the retailer selling the handset and that while the iPhone 5 should be delivered unlocked, it is likely to lock to the network of the first SIM deployed.

The Vodafone plan includes 600 minutes, unlimited texts, and 500MB of data plus 2GB Wi-Fi useage via BT Openzone per month. Making the E2Save deal even better is the fact that the phone comes free with the tariff - Carphone Warehouse charges £49 for the device on its comparable contract offer.

The iPhone 5 was released back in September 2012 and features Apple’s famed Retina display, while upping the screen size to 4in. The new resolution is now 1,136 x 640 pixels, which is a good quality specification, though future devices like the expected full HD HTC Butterfly may soon put it to shame. It is powered by a new A6 system-on-a-chip with 1GB of RAM, and the particular device on offer is the 16GB on-board storage iteration. It also sports an 8-megapixel camera, a slimline chassis, 4G connectivity and of course the iOS 6 platform.

Interested parties should note that while the device supports the UK's new super-fast LTE standard, that spectrum currently being presided over exclusively by EE and Vodafone is not expected to enter the fray until Spring 2013 and additional charges could apply for 4G uses at that point.

That said, we have to say that we’re pleasantly surprised at how fast the average contract price for the iPhone 5 has fallen over the past few weeks - it's a trend that is different from previous years - as it's certainly one of the best smartphones for Christmas 2012.