O2 hikes prices in iPhone build-up

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O2 increased the price of premium handsets such as the Nokia N96 and BlackBerry Bold prior to announcement of the new iPhone 3G S in San Francisco last week, and ahead of its launch in the UK on June 19. 

Such high-end devices are now only available for ‘free’ on top-end tariffs.

The Nokia N96 and BlackBerry Bold, are now free only on £73.41 per month plans according to store offers and the company website, having previously been available for free on £44.05 18-month contracts.

Customers are now charged a £48.93 fee for both devices on the £45 deal.

As with the launch of the iPhone 3G in July last year, O2 has followed Apple’s announcement of a new iPhone by raising the cost of competitor handsets.

The BlackBerry Curve 8900 and Sony Ericsson  C905 have also moved up tariffs. 

An O2 spokesperson said: “We constantly refresh our range of handsets and tariffs to meet the demands of our customer base whilst giving our shareholders the optimal return.

“We offer value for money – the Simplicity [SIM-only] tariffs are popular and we are the only network to offer a 12-month variant, and our 24-month iPhone contract enables even more customers to enjoy the iPhone 3G.

“We always aim to provide our customers with a great service, we don’t guarantee to always be the cheapest but we will always be open with our customers about our pricing structure.”

Curiously, Orange appears to have made a similar move, despite failing to land UK distribution for the new iPhone 3G S, as widely rumoured in the market.

At Orange, the Nokia N96 has increased to £97 on deals priced at £40 per month and above. It was previously available for free. The BlackBerry Bold is now £48.50 on the same plan.

Orange responded: “A variety of factors go into pricing, such as priority device propositions, stock levels, which all change month on month. As a result, we always manage our portfolio of handsets to ensure we have a competitive and compelling range of offers at all price points.”

Other retailers’ pricing has stayed largely consistent month-on-month. The Nokia N96 continues to be free on price plans costing £29.36 per month on 3, £30 per month on Vodafone, and £40 per month on T-Mobile.

Phones 4U continues to offer the N96 free on O2 tariffs of £35 per month or more and on Orange at £30 per month.

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