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T-Mobile UK Offering Unlocked iPhones to Retain High-Value Customers?

The Register, (via Engadget Mobile) is reporting that T-Mobile UK is slipping unlocked iPhones to high-value customers in an attempt to keep them from switching to the exclusive UK iPhone carrier, O2.

It seems if you do indeed appear to be a big spender on T-Mobile, you just need to find a willing customer service rep, threaten to take your money and go to O2, and they'll slip you an unlocked iPhone (smuggled over from T-Mobile Germany, perhaps?). Apparently, however, they're limiting this to 150 units a week so as not to be too overt -- or called out to joust by angry O2 bigwigs.

Any UK readers nab one?

Rene Ritchie
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

14 Comments
  • I'll allow it!
  • Well, how could anyone be surprised at this? The market (customers) are driving the behavior as a result of predatory and anti-competitive practices. It's not an accident that Apple is the profit margin leader in this industry now. And without credible competition in the marketplace they will continue to get away with it, in general.
    I've had passionate discussions with friends who suggest that the iPhone isn't all that. I don't argue that point, but instead point out that the primary driver for Apple's success in this is that there isn't a better alternative that does what customers want/need. The moment that happens, the competitive winds will shift. So far it hasn't happened.
  • Couple of friends have tried it, £100 plus a month customers and nothing like this was offered by T-mobile.
    T-Mobile are saying they'll get the iPhone, but with no hard dates.
  • I live in the Uk, have a contract with o2 and the iPhone. This will I believe soon be old news. I have a mate in the Geek Sqaud over at carphone. He's usually on the ball witg it being a massive company. Now, he was told, and no I don't have a link (sorry) that Several providers in the Uk have made a deal with apple. O2 are soon not going to be the sole provider.
    I know, rumours are just that. But he has been right befor, so watch this space.
  • This isnt surprising. Tmobiles main setup in terms of smartphones is their rebranded htc models and blackberries both of which are frightfully dated in comparison to the iphone.
    I work for a communications firm that works with all the networks in the UK and we are often asked to supply iphones which normally come from italy via a distributors
    there are a few downsides to this though, firmware updates seem to wipe apn details, they dont come with a uk charger and I suspect the warranty situation would be awkward as well, trying to get support for a foreign iphone in the uk
  • I think alot more people will get an iPhone after this. Because it means people won't have to switch to o2 to get the iPhone
  • I was in a T-Mobile shop on Saturday and was told the I-Phone will be avialable on TMobile from September only for upgrade
  • What I will say is the UK mobile network stores are know for feeding customers a load of BS in an attempt to get business and get commission.
    I don't think O2 do a bad job to be honest, there a solid network, the deals with Cloud and BT Openzone wifi for iPhone users is great, and the network is pretty good considering.
  • @ bengil
    The htc hero which is available on t mobile is frightfully dated compared to the iPhone? Somehow I don't think so buddy! Flash support, multiouch, 5mp camera, multi tasking which the iPhone can only dream of and the openess of the android ui, I really don't think it's frightfully dated compared to the iPhone.
    Can I say fanboy?
  • @janna, im no fanboy trust me.
    im assuming thats what tmob are calling the g2 on their site then?
    Android is very very new, and from experience using it its not quite there yet IMHO. This isnt a bad things, iphone OS is in its 3rd release, winmo is nearly at 6.5 and blackberry at 5.0 (well very soon anyway)
    agreed maybe the android isnt dated but its ONE htc device that isnt on winmo.
    Anyway my point mainly was that there were no handsets that will really get the consumer rushing, when was the last time you saw a queue out of a t-mobile store?
  • @Ben. I don't really want to get into the "phone x is better than phone y" discussion, but just wanted to point out that HTC has 3 Android phones (G1, Magic and Hero) and around about now the Samsung Galaxy will be with us in the UK.
    I also think you'll be surprised at the popularity of the Hero (I should come clean and admit to having one on order).
    I agree that the Android GUI does look a bit dated but the HTC Sense Sense UI is really cool and hopefully the base Android OS will gain something similar in the future.
    I honestly think that Android will easily overtake apple for the number of phones sold in the next couple of years and that this will drive the development of more and better applications, which in turn will drive greater adoption etc.
    The main advantage in my view is the fact that phones can be produced by different manufacturers using different hardware. Lets face it companies like Nokia, Sony and Samsung have been producing phones with superior hardware (in most areas) to the iPhone for a few years. For example a Sony Android with 4" screen, 1Ghz processor and 8MP camera is rumoured for release around October (Xperia X3 aka Rachael).
    Of course Apple won't hang around either and the iPhone is already a great device, but then I can't get a 12 month contract, with £35 a month, and pay just £27 for an unlocked iPhone. I can with a Hero, and value for money is important to lots of us. Of course Apple will retain the snob appeal. I feel it's a bit like Windows vs Mac OS all over again.
    Either way, choice can only be a good thing and I hope both OS go on to better things so I can decide again at the end of my sweet 12 month contract.
  • I wish they did something like this in America. T-Mobile is the only other carrier where you can use an unlocked iPhone in the US, though they don't advertise it much. http://www.computersncs.com/rd_p?p=186122&t=9544&a=29670-theiphoneblog&g...
  • O2 will lose exclusivity in October, but only for the iPhone 3G - so the 3GS is still going to be exclusive to O2. You will be able to get the iPhone 3G on networks such as T-Mobile and Orange from October onwards.
  • I think i missed the banana boat on this ipone melarky, i'm sure the fanboys will shoot me down in flames, i still see it as a great PMP with a crap phone & camera added not a proper smartphone.