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iPhone 4 Hits Pre-order, Sold Unlocked On Apple UK

Gordon Kelly


iPhone 4 Hits Pre-order, Sold Unlocked On Apple UK [Update: Tesco Joins In]

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)

O2 iPhone Tariffs

Vodafone Sure Signal


June 15, 2010, 6:50 pm

I agree.

This is the death of 18 or 24 months contracts and jail-breaking business. Unless the contract length is reduced to 12 months it is really unfair to be tied for 18 or 24 months to a network when the new model arrives annually.

In choosing the service provider, the only advantage O2 has over other networks is that it is providing visual voice mail(very useful feature) which Orange & Vodafone are yet to upgrade and T-mobile & 3 have to announce.


June 15, 2010, 6:53 pm

"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. "

1) I can't see where it tells me there what I get in a "SIM only 30 day rolling contract" or how much that costs.

2) I doubt it costs £25 a month and therefore the SureSignal box would cost a bomb.

I'm on o2 at the moment so moving to VodaPhone means hassle and friends that have Blackberry's on Voda have said the 3G data coverage is far worse than O2's.

So although I could easily buy the phone from Apple, I'm struggling to see how the hassle will make it worthwhile doing so.


June 15, 2010, 7:00 pm

1) It's called Google ;) http://shop.vodafone.co.uk/...

2) I'd get a £25pm sim only deal.

I was only Vodafone for years, but moved to O2 with the original iPhone and largely regretted it ever since. O2 customer service is the best in the industry, but I found Vodafone's reception to be far superior.

If you don't want to move I'd go sim only with O2 and get an unlocked iPhone for all the reasons I state in the article. It's a lot less hassle than being tied to a network for 18/24 months and having to buy out your own contract if you want to upgrade to an iPhone 5/Android handset in 12 months time.


June 15, 2010, 7:09 pm

Keeping my awesome Vodafone iPhone SIM-Only 30-day plan, ordered 32GB Black iPhone 4 SIM-Free from Apple! ^5

*Looks around the office for other people's SIM cards to practice cutting up into micro SIMs...*


June 15, 2010, 7:14 pm

Problem is that it all just gets too complicated. Even if their 3g network is up to the job.

Do Vodaphone have "iPhone" SIM only contracts like o2 do ? They don't appear to.

You'd have to get a special diddy SIM from them prior to 24th June and they probably won't have a clue what they are or what you are talking about.

Then I have to wait whilst they move my number over...

And at £25 / month it's going to take me a long time to save back the money of the phone against the £35 / £40 a month I would have otherwise spent. £120 / £180 per year. I like the SureSignal device but I live in South London and coverage is already pretty good with the added bonus of WiFi in the home anyway.

Obviously I love tech, but I think the SIM Free option is really for those looking to upgrade again in a year OR use their phones more than me (medium user).

The techy in me is tempted. But the hassle / extra cost factors holds me back.. :(


June 15, 2010, 7:18 pm

If I got a sim only deal and then made it into a micro sim (by cutting it up) is there any way for the network to know its an iphone since some have been doing iphone only / everything else deals.


June 15, 2010, 7:19 pm

Not at all sure about the 'personal tip'. Suprisingly (to me at least) I think you can save money by signing up for an 18 month contract with Vodafone (if their leaked prices are confirmed) for 600 mins per month. Comparing Vodafone's contract with O2's sim-only tariff (the only one announced for iPhone 4) the sums are simple:

Suppose I want 600 mins talk per month, for 18 months. Using O2's sim-only deal, I'll pay £20 a month (at the cheap 12 month rate) plus £499 upfront for the phone. Meanwhile a Vodafone 18 month contract deal would be £40 per month, plus £89 upfront for the phone. So the Vodafone contract costs £20 extra per month, £360 total (18 x £20), plus another £89 upfront for the actual phone. All-in, then, I'm paying £449 (£360 + £89) for my iPhone with a Vodafone contract, compared with £499 upfront if I go for a sim-only deal.

The Vodafone contract saves me £50, and I get more data than on the O2 sim-only deal (1GB instead of 500MB).

Bottom line - I'm holding off on buying from the Apple store, preparing to leave O2, and waiting for Vodafone to make their contract price 'official'...


June 15, 2010, 7:25 pm

@Gordon: So your plan will cost you over 18 months and extra £150.

Based on 32GIG Iphone4, 1Gig internet, 600 mins.

Contract Total Cost = Phone £179 + (18*£40) = £899

Apple bought + Sim Only = Phone £599 + (18*£25) = £1049

You could even say take this £150 and use it to terminate early, and your still better terminating an 18 month contract at 15 months. And all this is before taking into account inflation.

Sim only certainly gives you the freedom to move about, get a new phone every year etc. But for this privilege it's going to cost you an extra £150.

Pete The Swede

June 15, 2010, 7:36 pm

You guys beat me to it - can't see the Sim Free option is cheaper - more flexible yes, but not cheaper.

Pete The Swede

June 15, 2010, 7:47 pm

Correction - if you are happy with 100 minutes, then with GiffGaff it would work out cheaper, since they do a 100 mins, unlimited text and unlim data plan for £10. £600 for 32 gig phone plus £180 for the plan is cheaper than the equivalent vodafone plan, and you get more data. You would have to manually cut down the sim though.


June 15, 2010, 8:31 pm

@ Pete The Swede - First i'd heard of GiffGaff, cheers for the heads up. Seems like O2's attempt to undercut '3'...looks interesting. Would be a smart move for them to issue micro-SIMs for the iPhone masses.

A Scotland

June 15, 2010, 8:53 pm

GiffGaff only do unlimited free data till end of June 2010 according to their site. Coincidence that every network is ditching unlimited data plans at about the same time?


June 15, 2010, 9:16 pm

I just can't believe the cost of an iPhone over 18 months. It's more than double what I'm paying for a 2 year contract with 3GB of data.

Pete The Swede

June 15, 2010, 9:54 pm

@A Scotland - I don't think that's right - I think you get "unlimited" data each time you top up with £10. They are giving you free data until the end of June even if you don't top up at all.


June 15, 2010, 10:39 pm

@ravmania - Aye, it ain't cheap. Aspirational product and all that aside, I can't see why Apple haven't yet introduced a lower priced iPhone 'Mini' or 'Amateur' to lower the financial barrier of entrance to the Apple hierarchy of supremely well made 'magical' gadgets, in order to get the younger kids hooked on Apple lower down the food chain. Something that retails at a sensible price that competes with Nokia top end stuff, price wise, say £250-300 off the shelf unlocked.

At least that way they can phase out the old 3G & 3Gs phones then recycle all the same components into a new package!


June 15, 2010, 11:07 pm

Wow. Really! I mean Wow. £150 up front and £35 per month for 18 months. Compared to my HTC Desire at £100 per month and £20 per month for the same minutes, and a higher internet allowance. (and 300 texts, but that's as good as unlimited for me). I'm sure the arguments will rage as to which is the better phone, but the iphone 4 is £310 better? Really?

I know for sure which is the better value, and I'm pleased I made the choice I did!


June 16, 2010, 12:48 am

I like the sim free concept but telcos seem to be charging a premium for the 30 day contract which under most circumstances make it more expensive than the longer contract. What would be interesting though is getting sims when you are abroad that allow large amounts of data. Is this even possible though? When I got a 30 day sim from orange for my iPad I had to go through a credit check and assume this would fail if I didn't live in the country?

Ala Miah

June 16, 2010, 2:32 am

I made the mistake of joining a 24 month contract when i promised myself I wouldnt.

I wont anymore regardless of how badly i want the phone when i've got no money.

Mobile phone contracts burn in hell!

p.s iphone 4 is not worth it hence im stickin to my 3gs.


June 16, 2010, 2:47 am

Why are all the networks still mum on the handset cost for contract? It seems like Apple ditched them all by keep all the profit. On a closer look, year by year iPhone is becoming more and more expensive, 2008 iPhone 3G 16GB = £392; 2009 iPhone 3GS 16GB = £449; 2010 iPhone 4 16GB = £499

Geoff Richards

June 16, 2010, 3:08 am

@savant: a good point. Not that the on-board storage is the most expensive component, but back in 2008 16GB of flash would've cost a fair amount, whereas in 2010 it's relatively nothing.

True, the processors are more powerful and the displays better. But that base price has crept up 25% in two years


June 16, 2010, 3:47 am

I've participated heavily in the whole "poor signal" debacle, and I can really conclude that whilst networks have their respective issues (18 months with o2 was horrible with my iPhone 3G), it may come down to the iPhone 4 having a stronger antenna.

So this may mean for some that o2 can be a reasonable choice, if the signal issues on the phone side are sorted. If this is so, then *perhaps* it would be cheaper to get a SIMplicity from o2 since they have a little bit more choice than Vodafone / Orange when it comes to having data/minutes.

I've got my order reserved at the Apple store, I wasn't sure of the circumstances at the time but only after did I realise they were selling it for a full retail price. Perhaps I'll go with this route again. I was happy when I bought my first iPhone (skipped subbing to a contract) then got the 3G several months later. No annoying "oh damn I have a contract!" issues.

I still miss *proper* visual voicemail, even though I use HulloMail.


June 16, 2010, 5:20 am

The 3GS price isn't just crazy, it's a psychological assault by not even giving you the satisfaction of paying under £400.

And regarding the speculation over a 64GB mid cycle refresh - needless to say, that is gonna be one demonic price tag.

Just hope the Touch doesn't creep up too.

Tony Walker

June 16, 2010, 7:28 am

I too have got an iPhone 4 reserved, however whilst you are going through the process you go through the "reduced pricing is also available" option, pick Apple Store, then further down the track you indicate whether you will want it PAYG, Monthly or SIM free. It states too that you can change your mind when you go and collect it.


June 16, 2010, 12:01 pm

I bought a 32 gb iPhone 4 from the Apple store yesterday morning. It was a little bit slow (at 9.20 am) but the whole process still only took around 5 minutes. I'll eBay my old 3GS 16 gb and the whole transaction will probably cost me net £250 to £300.

A price worth paying for me, as:

a) I wanted the extra 16 gb; and

b) I will be out of contract in February and can then move to any provider on any tariff

I see the initial cost / subsidy being more flexible when paid by myself rather than being tied to a carrier. It also leaves me completely free to upgrade when the annual refresh comes around or, should another provider release something superior.

I refuse to be tied into 24 month contracts.


June 16, 2010, 12:37 pm

Amazing how the psychology of contracts plays on peoples minds. At the end of the day you pay your money and make your choice. For most normal users being tied to an 18 / 24 month contract will work out cheaper and there will be a much lesser outlay at the start. So in general the networks are doing most people a good service with the contracts and subsidised handset. Tying you in simply then makes it so they get money back and bit more.

If you can afford the £600 up front and the uncertainly over what the contract will cost you then you are in a more luxurious position and perhaps feel that the "freedom" this gets you is worth it. However remember that if you really desperately wanted a new phone in a year you could always have used the money saved on not paying £600 for the handset to buy yourself out of your contract !

Does anyone know when all the networks are due to announce full pricing and (more importantly) start taking orders ? Then we can really compare.

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