It's iPhone 4 pre-order day and here's a nice surprise for those of you who hate long term contracts: Apple has broken ranks by announcing every iPhone 4 bought direct from its site will come unlocked.
The news is sure to come as a blow to the UK's major networks - all of which are now Apple partners and were no doubt hoping to tie down thousands of new customers to long term contracts.
Of course they still will get thousands since an iPhone 4 costs £499 for a 16GB model and £599 for a 32GBer, a substantial upfront lump many are willing to pay. That said if you do have the cash, we'd recommend going through Apple since a) you're not tied to a long term contract and can switch networks at any point and b) you'll actually save money over the length of an 18/24 month period given the significantly higher tariffs you'll pay when subsidising a handset.
Elsewhere we're still waiting for Orange, 3 and T-Mobile to reveal their iPhone 4 tariffs, but the good news is we have the price plans from Vodafone after it briefly set live contract details on its site last night and they are significantly better than the tariffs revealed by O2 last week.
The images are shown in detail below courtesy of Engadget, and highlights include 1GB of data allowance - as opposed to O2's 500MB and 5MB of European data roaming on all contracts over £40. A bizarre aspect is the 1GB limit on BT Openzone hotspots. As for the plans themselves, an 18 month £40pm deal offers 600 minutes, unlimited texts and nets you a 16GB iPhone 4 for £89. That's the sweet spot to me unless you need more minutes in which case £45pm nets 900 minutes and a 16GB iPhone for £59. One caveat: as always, be wary until Vodafone makes these tariffs official.
My personal tip: buy the iPhone 4 from Apple, get a Vodafone sim only 30 day rolling contract and grab a Sure Signal femtocell box so you'll get flawless home reception (unless you do already). Problem. Sorted.
Update: Tesco has confirmed it will also be selling the iPhone 4 on its virtual network (hosted by O2) as it did the iPhone 3GS. Again no tariffs have been mentioned, but they should undercut others slightly.
And yes, I shall be selling the iPhone 4 from 24 June. Please form an orderly queue outside my flat.
iPhone 4 Pre-order (yes the 8GB 3GS pricing is crazy)