I've had a surprisingly large number of PAYG iPhone 3G enquires from readers since Monday and now I've finally got some news for you. Bad news...
Vodafone's Italian site has today revealed its proposed pricing for both 8GB and 16GB models sans contract as €499 (£395) and €569 (£450) respectively meaning you're going to have to dig far deeper than many expected.
Bright sides? Well, these sizeable lumps of wonga actually equate fairly closely to what you'd have to lay down for most unsubsidized Windows Mobile-based smartphones so perhaps we should have predicted such a hefty hit. For the record, PAYG iPhone 3Gs will also go on sale on 11 July.
The alternative naturally enough is to bite the bullet for 18 months on an O2 contract and potentially grab one for free. Given O2 is also allowing existing iPhone owners to break their contracts without penalty (and will presumably do so again next time around) it seems a fairly good deal for all concerned.
Ultimately what this reiterates is Apple desperately wants iPhone unlocking and jailbreaking to stop. Prohibitive PAYG pricing should curtail the former while the introduction of third party apps in firmware 2.0 will likely end much of the latter.
To answer another regular question: yes, selling the iPhone 3G on a few more UK networks wouldn't hurt, but no-one knows how long O2's exclusive deal has to run...