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Apple iPhone 4 : PAYG Vs Contract Options

For the first time ever, Apple is going to sell an unlocked iPhone from the first day, at least in the UK and France. This means that anybody will be able to get a SIM Free iPhone 4 without having to care about whether or not they need to lock it.

And at £499 for the 16GB and the £599 for the 32GB version, the iPhone 4 is not obscenely expensive, especially when you know Apple's propensity to overprice its products compare to the competition. The unlocked version popular HTC Desire currently costs £387 (at Amazon (opens in new tab)) and was launched with a SRP of £440. Add around £30 for a 16GB microSD card and suddenly the price difference between the two, at launch, shrink to £30.

Apple's decision to sell SIM Free iPhone could have some significant outcome for mobile phone networks if it allows users to use its own Apple Financial Services to buy a phone. AFS appears to be limited to computers but we will get in touch with Apple's PR to find out more (opens in new tab).

This little known possibility could encourage more customers to buy a SIM free phone outright and then buy a cheap SIM-only deal from the mobile phone operators, something that could significantly hamper the sales of iPhone 4 handsets via the likes of O2 or Vodafone.

Given that the cheapest monthly total cost of ownership for an iPhone 4 (opens in new tab) is at least £41.61 (O2 on 18 months contract) and tie you with a single operator for a long period, it makes sense for users to explore alternative ways to acquire an iPhone 4.

The bottom line is, if you have the cash, buy the iPhone 4 from Apple and get a SIM-only deal. We will be providing you shortly with an updated guide of the best SIM-free deals in the country as well as the complete round up of pay monthly prices when the last three operators - T-mobile, Tesco and 3 UK - publish theirs.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.