iPhone fever starts 9 November in UK

Apple has now confirmed one of the worst-kept industry secrets - the iPhone will be launching in the UK on the O2 network and will be sold via the Carphone Warehouse.

What we didn't know was 'when' and 'how much?' O2 revealed these details today: an 8GB iPhone (the same 2.5G version as sold in the US) will be available 9 November and will cost £269 inc VAT.

The full iPhone story

Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance at the Regent Street Apple Store to launch the UK version of the iPhone today.

The iPhone goes on sale on Friday 9th November, just in time for the Christmas buying season. The spec is unchanged from the original US model, but only the 8GB version of the iPhone will be on sale here, priced at £269 including VAT (plus an O2 contract).

Contract pricing is pegged at £35 per month, £45 per month and £55 per month (see the O2 website for full details), with unlimited data included on all three tariffs. As expected, the contract term is a minimum of 18 months. And it's worth noting that the unlimited data tariff is subject to a fair use limitation of 1,400 pages per day

No 3G connectivity for iPhone

While the iPhone won't have 3G networking capabilities (as many had hoped), both Apple and O2 are confident that the phone will perform well on O2's newly-upgraded EDGE network.

O2 said that, as well as powering mobile data access on the iPhone, it would also benefit users of RIM's Blackberry and other smartphones. Matthew Key, the CEO of O2 in the UK, added that O2 currently had 5,000 such users on its books.

Jobs defended Apple's decision not to include 3G in the iPhone. He said that current 3G chips were too demanding on battery life and that, for most people, the EDGE network would be quick enough for accessing email and browsing web pages.

He talked up the iPhone's Wi-Fi capabilities, arguing that this was still the preferred method for surfing the internet using the iPhone's built-in Safari browser.

However he did hold out some hope for 3G users - he said that a 3G model would be available later next year. And that Apple was already working on the next iPhone, and the one after that, and the one after that...

Is the iPhone overpriced?

Jobs also said the £269 UK price was a fair one when compared to the current $399 (£198) US price point. He said the UK price included VAT, whereas the US price didn't. He went on to explain that VAT here is higher than sales tax is on average in the US. He also commented that it was also more expensive to do business in the UK in terms of servicing the iPhone.

At its cheapest, an iPhone will cost you £899 for 18 months. That rises to £1,259 on the highest tariff.

O2 CEO Matthew Key confirmed that O2 will be partnering with Carphone Warehouse to sell the iPhone, with a specially trained member of staff in every store to help with any customer questions. He also said that 1,000 dedicated call centre support staff would be available to help with iPhone queries.

When asked about the availability of software hacks for the iPhone that could enable it to be used on other mobile networks, Steve Jobs said: "This is a constant cat and mouse game we play... We try to stay ahead. Are we the cat or the mouse? I'm not sure."

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