iPhone Second thoughts on buying a iphone 4

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BRITONS desperate to get their hands on the latest iPhone will get stung for thousands of pounds if they pick the wrong package.

The best-ever version of the phone makes it easier than ever to watch TV and videos, listen to Internet radio, use sat-nav with GPS and download games, music, books and songs - which all quickly eat up data.

Yet networks have begun scaling back on data allowances - and users who breach limits can face stiff charges or having net access cut off.

They have realised that having got smartphone users into the habit of using the net they can now cash in, according to experts.

An iPhone user who makes the most of its multimedia capability by watching just a couple of hours of TV a week could run up an extra £100 a month bill by going over data limits.

Network O2, the first to offer the iPhone three years ago, offered unlimited data until Thursday - the release of the latest version.

It has now cut this back to as little as 500MB for new contracts and upgrades. Once the limit is reached it sells so-called bolt on packs of extra allowance or if users do not sign up they can no longer use the web.

Football fans watching England play Germany today could use up NEARLY ALL of that allowance on that one game alone.

Vodafone and Three, which also use to offer unlimited data, now charge users who hit limits as much as 10p for every 1MB, according to Carphone Warehouse. That's the same as checking World Cup scores a few times.

So someone who uses 2GB on Three would run up extra charges of £102.40. But like others, Three does offer send warning texts and offers additional bolt-on data packages.

Orange offers what is marketed as unlimited data - but a fair use policy of 750MB applies.

Mike Wilson, manager of mobiles and broadband at moneysupermarket.com, said: "You have to consider how you are going to use the phone. What on the surface could appear cheap can cost you more in the long term if you go over the limit.

"The iPhone 4 is an expensive phone to start with - but don't skimp on a contract to save money. A cheap deal with give you fewer minutes and less data - and going over can cost you more in the long term.

"Two years is a long time to be locked into the wrong contract."

Networks vary their data bundle between 500MB and 1GB per month, depending on the cost of the contract a user chooses.
Consumption

A 1GB cap amounts to approximately two to three hundred MP3 song downloads in a month.

And O2's website says that a user with a 500MB cap could send 1,000 e-mails with photos attached.

But data consumption grows very quickly when users start to stream video on their phones.

The amount of video streaming has also increased from 3 per cent to 10 per cent between July last year and April this year, according to retail analysts Mintel.

Mintel's technology expert Jim Clark said: "It seems networks have realised that phones are now geared up to lots of web use - and that is another way to make money other than just on call charges.

"Providers offered cheap and often unlimited deals to get Britons in the habit of watching TV, listening to music, using their GPS and browsing the web.

"And once they got the heavier users hooked, they changed the rules of charging."

He added: "The amount of Britons who stream video is likely to increase further as more feature packed, processor-heavy, handsets come to the market making the web more accessible than ever.

"This is especially so for the iPhone, which puts the Internet and online multimedia at the heart of the usage experience."

For the first time the iPhone is available from every network - so there is the widest range of tariffs ever.

But with contracts varying from 12 months to two years, two versions of the iPhone with different storage, and operators offering different call, text and data packages there are a baffling array of options.

There are 41 different tariffs from Tesco, O2, Orange, Vodafone and Three, according to moneysupermarket.com. T-Mobile, which is merging with Orange, is launching soon.

In almost all tariffs there is a charge for the phone, of up to £429 for the larger 32GB version on Tesco.

The total cost of contracts can be as high as £1,829 for the 32GB iPhone on a two-year, £75-a-month deal with Orange that includes unlimited texts and calls.

The cheapest is the smaller 16GB iPhone on Tesco's £20 a month tariff which costs £589 for a year, including the £349 cost of the phone.

Tesco Mobile is the only to offer 12-month contracts. The rest are 18 or 24-months.

The iPhone 4 is the thinnest, fastest and most powerful yet from Apple. A new operating system allows the use of more than one app at once.

It has a camera on the front for video calling, though this is via Wi-Fi only.

Networks point out that 80 per cent of phone users do not hit their data allowance limit - but that means a fifth do.

And with new smartphones designed around encouraging web use, experts say that will go up.

Andrew Harrison, chief executive of The Carphone Warehouse - which sells the iPhone 4 on most networks - said: "The current model has undergone exciting developments, including longer battery life and the ability to multitask, meaning that more people than ever are considering it for their next handset.

"With this in mind, it is important for people to select a network which is both affordable and suitable for their usage."
 
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