Fans greeted the new iPad as it became available at Apple's flagship stores in London this morning, as expected global demand for the tablet helped to push the US firm's share price above the $600 mark for the first time.
The third generation of the iPad features a high resolution Retina display, Apple's new A5X chip with quad-core graphics, 4G connectivity and a 5 megapixel iSight camera with advanced optics, capable of capturing 1080p HD video.
Three has announced that it will offer the new iPad - announced last week at an event in San Francisco - from an upfront cost starting at £99 for the 16GB WiFi-only model on a 24-month plan offering a 15GB monthly data allowance.
On the 24-month plan, the mobile operator will offer the 16GB Wi-Fi model for £99 upfront / £29 per month; 3G/4G 16GB - £159 upfront / £25 per month; Wi-Fi 32GB - £169 upfront / £29 per month; 3G/4G 32GB - £229 upfront / £25 per month; Wi-Fi 64GB - £249 upfront / £29 per month; 3G/4G 64GB - £299 up front / £25 per month.
Three is also offering rolling monthly contracts for 10GB or 1GB of data across all models.
The new iPad supports 4G connectivity, but this is not currently available in the UK. However, Three stressed that it has invested heavily over the past year in the latest 3G technology - HSPA+ - running mobile broadband of around 10Mbps.
"Teaming up our leading-edge HSPA+ network with the innovative new iPad is great news for our customers," said Thomas Malleschitz, marketing director at Three.
"Our customers already enjoy superfast internet on the move, and with an excellent range of great value price plans and our leadership in fast UK mobile broadband, we look forward to being the network of choice for new iPad customers."
Vodafone is offering the new iPad from £199 on a 24-month agreement for £27 per month, including a 2GB monthly data allowance and 1GB from the BT Openzone network of Wi-Fi hotspots.
A 30-day SIM-only plan is available from Vodafone for £15 per month, offering a 2GB UK data allowance (with usage alerts) and 1GB from BT Openzone.
Orange will make the new iPad available on a £25 per month, 24-month contract with upfront charges depending on the model and storage size.
With that, consumers will get 1GB of anytime data, 1GB of quiet time data (midnight to 4am) and 'unlimited' (max 10GB per month) data through BT Openzone.
Existing Orange customers will have to pay out £199, £249 or £349 up front for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models respectively, while new customers will be charged £229, £279 or £379.
T-Mobile will offer the new iPad today for broadly the same pricing and upfront costs as its Everything Everywhere stablemate Orange.
"New iPad customers will benefit from the widest 3G coverage in the UK and, with our advanced 3.5G roll out, they will also benefit from a really fast network" said Pippa Dunn, the chief marketing officer at Everything Everywhere.
"As a result, we're definitely the number one place to go for those wanting the best all round performance on their new iPad."
UK purchasers of the new iPad could be encouraged to splash out on the 4G model following the news that the next-generation mobile spectrum may launch this year in Britain under proposals put forward by mobile giant Everything Everywhere.
Apple has said that standalone pricing for the new iPad purchased with a data plan runs as follows:
Wi-Fi-only - 16GB (£399), 32GB (£479), 64GB (£559)
Wi-Fi + 3G/4G - 16GB (£499), 32GB (£579), 64GB (£659)