Don't expect an iPhone on other networks anytime soon

Of course, there's the current news to fan the flames: T-Mobile is offering customers paying over £75 a month a free iPhone that it has imported unlocked from the continent - something that many believe is the pre-cursor to the network becoming an official stockist.

Lest we forget though - T-Mobile is apparently up for sale, and therefore likely needs to keep customers at all costs to make sure it represents a valuable proposition to a prospective buyer, so it would make sense it might even take a slight loss (although we don't know the overall costs) to keep these high end customers no matter what it takes.

But would you really want a second generation iPhone 3G when you're paying nearly £100 a month to a phone company? At that price, it would only take a quick call to O2 and you're on a similar price plan with a UK specific iPhone 3GS.

Talking of iPhone rumours, don't get me started on the amount of rumours that fly around when the iPhone gets a new model or firmware upgrade - there's too many to mention.

It will have a 5MP camera, a video calling function, there'll be a nano option - all stated as fact. We've seen screenshots of it appearing on Orange's internal systems in the UK, have heard that T-Mobile is extending its deal with the phone from Europe into the UK... it just goes on and on.

The networks respond

I've spoken to all the networks on the subject in the past week, and there's some real nuggets for the conspiracy theorists out there. T-Mobile told me there was nothing to report, but would update me 'should the situation change'. Orange simply point blank refused to talk about it, and Vodafone confirmed there weren't any negotiations.

Of course, we all know about 3's campaign to help provide the world with cheaper mobiles full of free Skype minutes, and the CEO has previously gone on record saying the iPhone isn't the kind of device the network is looking at.

That doesn't mean that O2 is definitely keeping its agreement with Apple the way it's always been. T-Mobile could be about to take the older 3G version of the iPhone, with O2 keeping its agreement to stock the main iPhone 3GS exclusively.

This seems especially likely when you consider that O2 has just been announced as the official stockist of the Palm Pre (apparently Apple's bitter rival according to the patent wars) and also the new Samsung Android phone too, so it's not hard pressed for decent handsets.

It's also locked a number of customers into a 24-month contract prior to the new iPhone 3GS' release, so it will at least have retained them for a while yet too.

But the point is: not only does it not really matter which network a phone is on (network coverage issues aside) as you can get pretty much the same deal anywhere, but the fact O2 could lose exclusivity is a saga that will rumble on and on until the day comes that the iPhone isn't just tied to one carrier (just like AT&T say in the US).

And of course - it doesn't really matter. If the iPhone is on O2, T-Mobile, Orange or Virgin Mobile, it's still the iPhone. It's still just another mobile phone.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.