O2 and Apple are to make iPhone buyers register O2 contracts in-store or online before purchasing the new 3G iPhone, which goes on sale in the UK on July 11. The network claimed the move is to combat fraud.
Until now, customers could purchase the iPhone for a set fee, regardless of tariff, and connect to the O2 network from home using iTunes. It left the device wide open to box breaking.
From July 11, customers will be required to pass regular credit checks ahead of purchase of all iPhones on contract.
An O2 spokesman said: "We are bringing the iPhone in line with our usual business practices to avoid potential fraud."
But box breakers took heart from the fact new iPhone models are being made available on prepay for the first time.
"Just hours after the announcement, I received orders from at least 10 dealers and exporters. One exporter even offered to give me £10,000 and get as many as I could, so demand is definitely still there," said one box breaker.
An O2 staffer said: "It’s good it is on prepay, but it will almost certainly attract box breakers, especially if the price is similar to the original 8GB."
Prepay pricing is not yet available. Rumours last week said the 8GB version could be available for as little as £150 on prepay, and the 16GB for £200.
The box breaker added: "They could sell it for £400 and there would still be a market for it. Whatever the price, it will be the best selling handset from the dealer channel on T-Mobile, Orange, Vodafone and O2.
"The fact O2 and Apple have decided to connect them n store is a compliment to what we do. We are ready and are looking forward to unlocking it. We have the tools, and if we were given one now we could unlock it."
The 3G iPhone is available from O2, Carphone Warehouse and Apple retail outlets and web channels. Devices will still be activated via iTunes.