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Orange UK iPhone Tariffs Avoid O2 Fight

Gordon Kelly


Orange UK iPhone Tariffs Avoid O2 Fight

The rumours were right. Sadly.

Today Orange has confirmed two pieces of widespread industry gossip: that the iPhone 3G and 3GS will hit retail on its network starting 10 November and that it has no plan to start a price war with O2.

The former is fairly self evident with users able to begin pre-orders today and Orange stores opening early at 7am on 10 November to deal with the expected rush. The network will also sell iPhones through Apple retail stores, Carphone Warehouse, Phones4U and its Orange HMV concessions. The UK deal expands Orange iPhone sales to a total of 28 countries.

Perhaps more importantly however Orange has rolled out its full array of tariffs and there is little to separate them from the O2 iPhone price plans which so infuriated users back in June. Most significant in terms of difference is the increased monthly 'unlimited' data allowance of 750MB while entry level £29.36pm 18 and 24 month contracts provide 150 minutes and 250 texts as opposed to the lousy 75 minutes and 125 texts on O2.

That said, contract prices are otherwise largely identical, give or take a few pence, with pre-pay users also seeing no significant saving on handset prices or bundled add-ons (free data and WiFi for 12 months is similarly provided). O2's monthly iPhone tariffs are provided at the bottom of this story for comparison.

Why has Orange done this? We have no definitive answer, but either a) Apple takes such a large cut it is impossible to offer the handset and tariffs for less, or b) Orange knows the O2 network reputation is so bad right now it doesn't have to compete. Either way, it's a shame.

So I guess it will be up to Vodafone in 2010 and possibly 3 to inject some competition into this handset. *Le sigh*


Orange UK iPhone Pay Monthly

Orange UK iPhone PAYG


November 2, 2009, 4:11 pm

This stinks of collusion.


November 2, 2009, 4:34 pm

Free 8GB iphone for £29.36 a month over 24 months. That's better than the £34.26 it costs on O2. That's a saving of £118 over 2 years, or 14%. Still costs £704 for those 2 years though! You'd have to pay £15 a month on Orange's pay as you go plans to equal that.

Not sure what the absolute best deal would be for me, it's tough to stomach the initial payment a pay as you go deal requires, even if it might save me a considerable chunk of cash.

Kashif Bhatti

November 2, 2009, 4:53 pm

hmmm... this is becoming like the british electric/gas utilities scenario... my conspiracy theory mind thinks O2 and orange are in this together.... I hope Voda will bring some change! Then again, we know the utilities market...


November 2, 2009, 5:38 pm

How utterly predictable. I can't see Vodafone doing anything different either, and i doubt 3 has the money to undercut the others.


November 2, 2009, 5:52 pm

No unlimited text bolt on unless you're willing to pay £122 a month for 2 years

Couldn't believe o2 withdrew the unlimited text bolt on

Can't believe Orange aren't offering something in this obvious gap

Roll on 3 to save the day


November 2, 2009, 6:29 pm

Im on a rolling monthly contract with orange and get Unlimited data (unlimited my ass!!!) 200 mins and unlimited text for £20. As such I find these deals awful, not that I want an Iphone but still. Would be better of just buying a simfree phone

Trotskiii (UK)

November 2, 2009, 6:43 pm

..."Orange knows the O2 network reputation is so bad right now it doesn't have to compete. Either way, it's a shame."

Sorry to contradict you but I have exactly the opposite experience. At this very moment I have a full 3G signal from O2 on my unlocked iPhone, when I swap the sim for an Orange one I am lucky to get any signal at all. I travel a lot and I do not recognise the bad reputation that you claim the O2 network has, on the other hand I accept that it is not perfect.

I was probably one of the first Orange customers in this country (1994) and I have seen their customer service standards plummet in recent years. The final straw for me was their attempt to credit blacklist me for non-payment of a bill that they sent to the wrong address! Do you think I even got an apology?

O2 customer service on the other hand is a breath of fresh air. All networks have network issues in different areas and while I accept that Orange may have marginally better coverage overall it is certainly not enough to make me jump ship from O2!


November 2, 2009, 6:47 pm

I was told by O2 *AND* Orange (retentions department when I was trying to leave both) that the prices are set by Apple, not themselves.


November 2, 2009, 7:21 pm

At least tethering (£5 a month) is better than O2's laughable £15 pm efforts. Also why would anyone be willing to pay £122 a month when they could get the same package (i.e. free 32GB iPhone 3GS, unltd minutes, texts, wi-fi and mobile internet) plus tethering for £95 + VAT (i.e. about £114) pm on a business tariff?


November 2, 2009, 7:22 pm

@Trotskiii: I'm with you on this, I've not had any issues with O2. In fact I've often got a signal were my friends have had none. Yeah, it might not always be 3g, but in most cases that's not an issue. For example when I used to use GoogleMaps as a poor man's Sat Nav and when using satellite overlay, it was rare that I never got the overlay. My wife's on the Vodaphone network, and her phone is often saying "Emergency calls only". The bad press was all from an Ofcom report that mapped 3g availability, yeah you might get more 3g coverage on 3, but did they actually test the actually download of such data?

Trotskiii (UK)

November 2, 2009, 7:33 pm

"I was told by O2 *AND* Orange (retentions department when I was trying to leave both) that the prices are set by Apple, not themselves."

I suppose that this statement is true insofar as the Apple charges leave them very little room to move as the tariff is already competitive. I'm sure Apple DO NOT actually SET the tariff prices. Ask a US AT&T customer (who get charged per/mB for broadband!) if they'd like equivalent charges in the US and I think we all know what the answer is going to be!

At the end of the day we probably have among the most competitive tariffs for iPhone in the world. I understand why this is hard for some to swallow but the iPhone (unlike the cheap nokias etc that came before) is very expensive to make, plus Apple & O2/Orange/Vodaphone are in this to make a profit.


November 2, 2009, 8:13 pm

@Trotskiii Why exactly do you think the iphone costs more than other phones to make? you do know that you can buy an ipod touch (which is over 90% of an iphone) for a £150? The extra phone/radio gubbins costs very very little extra to add in.


November 2, 2009, 8:30 pm


The iPhone isn't more expensive to make than other high(er) end smartphones which cost less on contract and come with more minutes/texts and better specs. iSuppli estimates a manufacturing cost of $178.96. Granted there are other costs to add on but that still leaves a fat profit margin to add on top. Apple don't get out of bed for margins other manufacturers would settle for and they seem to have a limitless supply of customers queueing to pay up.


November 2, 2009, 8:30 pm

@Trotskii Have a look here: http://gizmodo.com/229664/ipho...


November 2, 2009, 8:54 pm

@Trotskiii (UK) - I'm glad O2 is working for you (its customer service has always been excellent), but you should check on the hyperlinks in the story for more qualified data as to how far the network has fallen over the last 12 months.

Here's one link, for example: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

Trotskiii (UK)

November 2, 2009, 9:55 pm

Gordon, with respect those maps mean absolutely nothing - The area that I am in at the moment is in a major town which is totally purple on Orange's map yet I cant even get a signal - go figure!

To my knowledge Ofcom do not independantly test these claims they just publish the figures based on transmitter information supplied to them by the respective companies. I have seriously questioned the accuracy of the Orange maps on many occasions. I do accept that Orange are marginally better than the rest but in my experience it is only marginal.

Simon that link is to an article published in January 2007 before the 3G even existed! The only comparable phone that I can see on the market today is the Pre which costs virtually the same as the iPhone, it will be interesting to see how much the Motorola Android ends up selling for?, I am guessing it will be a very similar price?

So to re-emphasize my point I travel a lot and O2 works fine for me, Customer Service is a much bigger issue and one in which Orange seriously fails so there is absolutely no way I am moving anywhere when my contract ends next month.


November 2, 2009, 10:13 pm

@Gordon: The link you provided is just about 3G coverage, also in a lot of places were I don't get 3G I can get EDGE and that's not too shabby, rarely do I have to drop to GPRS.

What would have been a much better comparison would have been some sort of Download testing, it's OK saying your getting 3G, but there is no guarantee your going to get anywhere near 3g performance (very similar to broadband in that respect). eg. I have 8 Meg broadband, but in most case my speed is more like 3 Meg.

And like I pointed out, at least unlike my wife's Vodaphone I never had "Emergency calls only". I think there is more to a phone network that just 3G coverage. I'm not saying O2 don't need to invest more in 3G, but that Ofcom report is certainly not something that would make me switch. Apart from anything else OfCom are a government watchdog, and we all know how useless they are. :)


November 2, 2009, 10:13 pm

@Trotskiii (UK) - with respect, those map images are hugely generalised and coverage can vary from street to street, let alone town to town.

One train of thought is Orange hasn't had the high quality of handsets compared to other networks in recent times so its network hasn't suffered the same hammering. We'll soon see how it reacts when the iPhone launches, but it is impossible to the independent industry regular based on your sole experience I'm afraid.


November 2, 2009, 10:16 pm

@Keith - I didn't provide anything, it is Ofcom's mapping of 3G signal so clearly there won't be any mention of EDGE of GPRS. When a customer buys an iPhone or any high end smartphone what they aren't looking for is the quality of EDGE coverage, it is all about 3G.

Hopefully the roll out of LTE on laptop dongles next year will significantly lighten the load on 3G networks and ultimately the 2011/2012 move of handsets over to LTE should eliminate basic performance issues.


November 2, 2009, 10:23 pm

I've got a 1st gen iPhone, unlocked, on Orange PAYG. Does this new deal with Orange mean future OS updates will allow my sim to work without using pwnage/sn0w workarounds? That would be nice...


November 2, 2009, 10:27 pm

Its a real shame, Orange really had an opportunity here for some good PR and become the Network of Choice for iPhone users. But the tariffs announced today are not going to convince anyone to switch from O2 (myself included). Im sure Orange does have a better 3G network but unless one is doing intensive downloading/streaming they are not really going to notice this.

For most people, if they are getting a good signal and good customer service they are happy; and that is exactly my experience with O2, the network has not prevented me at all from using the full capabilities of the iPhone, even if its not as strong as Orange - it would only have been tempting to switch if I had better value....which is not currently the case.


November 2, 2009, 11:08 pm

At last - reality bites.

It was always a vain hope that more networks would mean lower prices on this handset. Four main players and a few hangers on do not a competitive market make. That's why they have ofcom to (try and) regulate them.

IMO if you want premium handsets then you pay a premium. The cost of manufacture is also largely irrelevant. It's hardly a secret that apple products are expensive for what you get in terms of components. However the overall package of the phone is what gives you value (if that's how you perceive it). You're not just getting a bag of bits from Maplin.

On the relative coverage - as Keith etc have pointed out, if you've never had problems with a network then why would you change it? Personally my experiences with O2 mean that my iphone is gathering dust as I find their service unusable in my home (London zone 1) postcode.


November 3, 2009, 1:59 am

I love the fact apple has stood up to the networks and prevented them from kitting out the iPhone with their network logos that provide no benefit at all and only go to making the handsets look ugly, even better they prevent the networks from doing custom firmware, three cheers to apple


November 3, 2009, 2:01 am

Orange = Losers!!

I just ordered my Iphone on o2.

For the same price they give you even less mobile internet

I can´t belive, JOKE!

Mark Booth

November 3, 2009, 4:11 am

@Trotskiii (UK), @Gordon - It was a few years ago now, but at least one UK mobile operator had a published coverage map which was quite different from the one they had for internal use. The internal one was quite accurate for the area I was testing in.

It wouldn't surprise me if all networks exaggerated their coverage.... a bit like CVs :)

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