By Michael Evans
ENCOURAGING news that O2 are to lose their UK monopoly, not because I have anything against O2, but because the advent of Orange and, possibly, T-Mobile, will bring competition and lower prices. But Apple still fail to realise that there are people who do not want a locked phone under any circumstances. Most travellers these days prefer to buy local pay-as-you-go SIM cards in order to avoid the penal data roaming costs imposed by nearly all service providers.
In many countries, including Greece where I obtained my unlocked phone, locking to specific carriers is forbidden. Sure, you pay a bit more; but even if you do not want a contract, you can get an unlocked 32GB iPhone 3GS for about £550. With an 18-month contract I paid about £350 for an unlocked 32 GB model.
The point about locking is that it is totally unnecessary and is merely used as a device to keep people after their contract has expired. If you commit to a long contract, up to two years, it is reasonable to get a cheaper phone. But why is it locked? Provided you have committed to paying the contract, why should the service provider worry if you choose to put in a card from another network while travelling abroad?
Admittedly, with most phones this isn't a big problem. For a few pounds or euros, most phones can be unlocked without detriment to the service or user experience. Not so with the iPhone, where unlocking means jailbreaking and all the hassle that comes when software is updated. So Apple, really, are the big offenders here.
It is time that the European Union took a view that locking phones is monopolistic and should be banned.