By Michael Evans
LAST WEEK I was moaning about O2's iPhone problem-solving skills and subsequently felt a little guilty. Because, after all, O2 isn't a bad network and has some attractive contract offers. Earlier this week I decided to hand down my original O2-locked iPhone 3G to a friend. We started off thinking about a pay-as-you-go card but realised that there was a realistic alternative in the form of what O2 call their Simplicity Tariff.
We came out of the O2 store in London's Oxford Street with a 30-day rolling contract–which can be cancelled after one month's notice–for £19.58 per month. While this isn't strictly an iPhone contract, it offers 600 minutes, 600 texts and unlimited data. You also get cheaper international calls and texts. An even cheaper option gives 300 minutes, 300 texts and unlimited data for £14.69. Equivalent iPhone contracts, with fixed terms of 18 months, cost £29.38 (75 minutes, 125 texts, unlimited data) or £34.26 (600 minutes, 500 texts, unlimited data). So this Simplicity tariff represents exceptional value for money.
There are two notable omissions in the "non-iPhone" Simplicity tariff: No visual voicemail and no free wifi on The Cloud and BT OpenZone. It depends how much you value these service and many people will be happy to do without in order to save £15 a month. After all, O2 are the losers because the cellular network will be used all the time rather than part of the time.
Incidentally, American friends were asking about the contract cost in order to get a free iPhone. The answer is that the 8GB 3G is free on a contract of £44 per month for 18 months or £34 per month on 24 months. The 3G S 32 GB is free if you contract to pay £73 a month for two years.
All this said, you are still getting a locked phone. Why not sell the phones at a reasonably price of between £400 and £600 and leave them unlocked? Ask Apple.