O2 Launches UK i-mode Service

It's taken six years for i-mode to make its way from Japan to the UK - Riyad was at the O2 launch.

There were three handsets on show at the event, two from NEC and one from Samsung. The NEC N343i is a great looking device with rather obvious cues taken from a certain digital music player. Despite being slim and stylish, this is actually the entry level phone, but I imagine that it will become a favourite among style conscious consumers.

The second NEC handset is the N411i, which is a clamshell model. This has a higher spec than its sibling and although it looks bulkier, it actually weighs the same. Both handsets are Tri-Band and both will be available free with a contract – on pre-pay the N343i will set you back £79.99 while the N411i will cost £99.

The Samsung S500i will be available in mid-October and brings a large 80MB of internal memory to the party as well as a TransFlash memory card slot. The S500i will also be available free on certain contracts, while a pre-pay customer will need to cough up £249.

The final handset to be announced wasn’t on show at the event and will be hitting the streets at the end of October. The Z320i is a 3G handset and should lift i-mode to the next level with lightning fast performance. This sliding handsets takes a cue from Samsung’s immensely popular D500, and with a weight of 105g it’s pretty svelte for a 3G device. If you want to go i-mode with 3G you’re going to have to dig a little deeper – even on contract the Z320i will cost you £79.99 while pre-pay customers will need to come up with £279.

O2’s i-mode service will be launching on 1st October, so if you’re thinking of upgrading your mobile phone, you might want to wait a few days. I should be getting my paws on an i-mode handset any day now, so check back soon for the full low down.

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