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O2 has launched a radical new iPhone proposition that allows customers to rent an Apple handset, freeing them from lengthy contracts and bringing an end to the days of being stuck with a superannuated smartie.

Under the terms of the just unveiled O2 Lease scheme, the carrier is offering consumers the chance to rent an iPhone 4S for 12 months. That means that, unlike those who’ve signed up to an 18 or 24-month contract, once the year-long lease period ends they’ll be free to upgrade to a shiny, up-to-the-minute handset.

iphone 4s triplicate

The price? A pretty damn reasonable £55 per month for the 16GB iteration of the 4S or £65 for the 32GB bigger brother, with no upfront charges to cover the cost of the phone. Allowances are 750 call minutes and 500MB of data per months, as well as unlimited text messages.

However, there are some obvious downsides. One is that you’ll lose out on any resale value – something that’s very much worth considering, given that iPhones hold their price on auction sites like no other handsets.

Just as important, though, is that you’re going to need to look after your phone while you’ve got it. O2’s rubric sternly warns that if you don’t return it in “satisfactory condition”, you could well be looking at “substantial charges”.

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