With 3 jumping on the iPhone 4 bandwagon, all five major UK networks will be selling Apple’s latest, greatest smartie when it goes on pre-order on June 15th. But this is simply a reason to delight in the fact that what was once the most contentious mobile exclusive in the UK has been broken completely.
If 3 stays true to its key philosophy of low prices and cheap mobile internet access, this could be the start iPhone price war that’s been desperately needed since day one.
O2 is so far the only one of the five major players to have published its iPhone 4 tariffs. And it’s not pretty reading. Aside from the monthly prices staying the same, the data limit has gone from unlimited to a measly 500MB. If you want more, you’ll need to pay an extra £5 a month for 500MB and £10 a month for 1GB. The data gravy train has ended, at least as far as O2 is concerned.
Orange and Vodafone’s iPhone 3G S prices have been roughly the same as O2’s, give or take a few pence. But 3 has a real opportunity to create a niche, if, of course, Apple lets them. Remember, Cupertino takes a cut of the monthly package and will not want its premium smartphone's air of exclusivity diluted too much.
However, 3 has previous for offering killer deals. It includes Skype as standard on top of data plans, something that could come in handy in the coming months if the VoIP company’s rumoured plans to develop a new iPhone app around FaceTime come to fruition. And of course if Apple manages to push FaceTime beyond its Wi-Fi only state.
Its winning HTC Desire contract is a case in point: £30 for unlimited texts and web, 500 minutes and unlimited 3-to-3 minutes. That kind of deal would have iPhone users new and old queueing up to get on 3. But there are some caveats.
3 has been talking up its network as a “100 per cent 3G production” in recent weeks. But its network suffers badly in certain areas of the UK, where 3G coverage often drops back and the lack of a GPRS network becomes an issue. Even in central London 3 sometimes struggles.
This is by no means an issue exclusive to the 3 network though, with O2 suffering terribly with poor iPhone connectivity. But 3’s iPhone 4 will really shine a light on how robust its mobile internet services truly are unlike any other phone before. The high data usage of iPhone customers will see to that.
3, though, is in a pretty good position. Loyal customers will now stay put rather than heading off to Vodafone, O2, Orange or T-Mobile, most likely whatever the cost. Newbies might be tempted, however, if they come in with a deal that undercuts the others. Whatever happens, and we should know soon, this is great news all round for wannabe iPhone 4 owners. Let’s just hope that 3’s network can withstand the pressure and get over niggles which have plagued it in the past.
Compare iPhone 4 deals at Top10: iPhone 4 Deals