A UK Perspective – Weighing iPhone 3G’s Cost

When I read that Apple’s iPhone 3G was going to be made available on a contract-free O2 Pay & Go tariff in the UK, I thought that perhaps I would finally climb aboard the iPhone train and discover whatever I had been missing.

But after a little ‘research’ and number crunching, it appears that as an option to the original iPhone on an O2 contract, things don’t seem to be that much cheaper. I won’t go again into the details as to why I want to avoid a contract—I already have commented on this—but cost wise, the Pay & Go tariff appears to be almost as expensive as an iPhone on a contract.

O2 let the cat out of the bag regarding the Pay & Go tariff earlier this week, by mistake it would seem, as the page was taken down quickly, shortly after we reported on it. It was online long enough for me to get some figures to work on.

Looking at the 16GB iPhone 3G, O2 wants £359.99 ($715) on the Pay & Go tariff with six months unlimited browsing and Wi-Fi with an option to continue after the six months for £10 ($20) a month. On top of this, there is a minimum monthly “top-up” of £10 upwards which gives an allowance of X number of minutes, depending on which of the many tariff packages you opt for—calls, texts or a mix of both. I personally find the O2 tariffs confusing. If you use 18 months as a period to add the cost up, it works out to approximately £659.99 ($1,311). It could be more if you decide to add one of the O2 “Bolt-On” packages; for example, £10 a month for the calls, then £7.99 ($16) for texts, then £10 for unlimited browsing/wi-fi – that’s £27.99 ($56).

For the same model of iPhone on the £30 ($60) a month contract, the phone would cost £159 ($316) and with 18 months at £30 a month the total cost of ownership would come to £699 ($1,389). That’s only £39 ($78) more than on the Pay & Go option.

From calling into my local O2 store today, it seems that the iPhone 3G on the Pay & Go package will not be available until September. I wonder if by then O2 will have had a rethink and changed the tariffs again due to lack of interest?

Or maybe I will have had a rethink and will have opted for a contract. We’ll have to see.