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After the storm: iPhone & the U.K.

Nik Fletcher

September 18th was perhaps one of the most hotly-anticipated days for us Apple-loving Brits. The iPhone, arguably one of the most hyped and hotly anticipated mobile phone handsets, was rumoured to be coming to our fair isle. Our resident iPhone code-guru Erica posted after the event on the most disappointing aspect of the announcement - the lack of 3G despite its prevalence this side of the pond, the contract pricing, and the 30% coverage of O2 EDGE services in the U.K. Let's take a look at these concerns, and see whether they are unfounded.


Until today, we couldn't compare the iPhone contact with other existing O2 offering, but pricing for the 'unlimited' data packages was released this morning (which, if you're an existing customer, will be available on October 1st). Looking through the package for a single mobile device (other than the iPhone) on 'unlimited' data, O2 is charging £7.50 ($15US) per month, with a fair use policy coming into play above a stingy 200MB (1,400 pages) per month. Contrast that with the iPhone deal, which according to O2 CEO Matthew Key would require you to use 1,400 pages per day to incur the wrath of the fair use policy - if the figures are correct, that's about 200MB a day.

To compare the costs of an iPhone and a competitor, I went to the O2 online store. The common nemisis to iPhone is the Nokia N95, so I chose that with the most similar package to the iPhone package (200 minutes) available - the Online 25 package - and then stacked that up with Cloud WiFi and the new data package (remembering that the N95 is on a far less generous 'unlimited' data package).

Comparing prices is, as ever, highly contentious - offers can obviously affect these prices - but to say that the iPhone is more expensive is a myth.

Where's the 3G?

For once, I believe Steve Jobs when he talks about just how hungry 3G mobile phones are when it comes to power - it's not just the Reality Distortion Field some readers may think I'm living in - I've experienced the horrific battery drain of a third generation mobile. Sure, it's highly desirable to get the higher data speeds, what with the UK phone networks having spent £21 billion (US$42 billion) on 3G licenses, but at the expense of battery life, I'm quite happy to wait a little longer for my downloads, and keep going for longer - especially given the inclusion of WiFi as part of the contract.

In Conclusion

Whilst readers will undoubtedly point to deals for other handsets that they believe offer better value, I can't help but feel those who've been particularly vocal over the cost of the iPhone are purely playing out some unfounded anti-Apple hysteria (affectionately known as FUD). The handset may be more expensive to buy outright than its American relative, but when considered in the context of the UK mobile market, the supposed facts supporting the Apple hatred start to falter.

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