The new 3G iPhone could be available for nothing in the UK through O2, as the operator plans to offer heavy subsidies in a bid to win more customers.

The company saw sales of the iPhone climb significantly when it knocked £100 off the price of the 8GB model earlier this year, and looks set to repeat the trick if / when the new iPhone is released.

Both sides of the pond

O2’s iPhone US counterpart AT&T is also rumoured to be considering a similar scheme in a bid to boost subscriber numbers.

Apparently, despite decent sales after the release, some customers baulked at the lack of subsidy being offered, so AT&T looks set to change its policy.

However, it will only be offered through AT&T outlets, so some incentive might need to be offered for those choosing to buy through the Apple store.

Encouraging new iPhone customers could be difficult should a new model be released only a year after the first iteration, with many still locked into 18- or 24-month contracts.

The companies mentioned could choose to offer a subsidised upgrade in order to appease the hordes of iPhone-lovers who will feel cheated after supporting the device from the outset.