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Japan iPhone 3G owners can pay just £14 a month

Cheap as chips - the iPhone costs just £14 a month in Japan

Surprise changes made today to iPhone price plans in Japan make it one of the cheapest places in the world to own Apple's new 3G handset.

Sole provider, Softbank Mobile, has announced that it will respond to customer demand and start offering a vastly reduced data plan from this month.

Step-up pricing

Instead of being forced to pay ¥7,280 (£34) for unlimited downloads, the hardware and a voice plan, users can now opt for a package that brings the minimum monthly cost for the phone and services to just ¥2,990 (£14).

Light data users won't pay more than that, but heavy downloaders can keep going without fear of a huge bill, as Softbank is still capping the monthly maximum at the previous price.

Also, Softbank's new scheme for accepting iPhone reservations from today likely means that it is confident there will soon be plenty of the popular handset to go around.

Softbank reported record profits in the last fiscal quarter of ¥85 billion (¥402 million).