Vodafone gets the iPhone, but O2 customers can't unlock theirs

29 September 2009

O2's two-year-old domination of the iPhone market in the UK has collapsed over the past 24 hours; although they were expecting competition at some point, they may not have been expecting the extent to which the market will fragment in the weeks to come. Yesterday, Orange announced they would be selling the new 3GS handset before Christmas - today Vodafone have announced they have secured rights to sell the Jesus phone in the UK, although not until early 2010.

Bitterwallet - iPhone on Vodafone

The press is reporting the Vodafone contract wasn't signed until last night, meaning the announcement has probably been rushed through to catch the coattails of Orange, who enjoyed blanket coverage of their deal yesterday. The Telegraph is also reporting that Virgin Mobile are at the table to acquire rights to the phone - a three/four way split in the market will almost certainly see lower tariffs introduced and significant reductions on handset prices. Why is everybody wanting it so badly? Vodafone reckon they lost 160,000 customers in the last three months alone, because they defected to O2 for the iPhone. Like it or loathe it, there's an exploding customer base for it.

The big question that several readers asked us yesterday was - does this mean O2 will unlock your iPhone at the end of your contract? There are bound to be bargains to be had, so can you move to another network to take advantage of them? The answer as of right now, is no.

Bitterwallet has spoken to O2 Customer Services; no new information concerning unlocking procedures has been agreed by O2 and Apple yet, which means for the time being your handset will remain locked to their network - that goes for Pay As You Go handsets too. It's not that it won't happen, but while O2 has market exclusivity they don't feel they need to change their stance. Once Orange launches into the market, O2 tell us they'll make a decision on whether current customers can take their handset to another network - not that it should be too difficult a decision, especially for customers who bought their handsets outright. Either they weren't expecting the Orange deal so soon, or O2 are stonewalling customers for as long as they can justify it.

TOPICS:   Mobile

19 comments

  • TVDBP
    I must of done exactly the same as you Paul on hearing the Vodafone announcement. I use a o2 PAYG iphone on Vodafone via Ultrasn0w, and I realise this announcement means I could have waited and probably paid a lot less. That doesn't bother me too much - I paid to get it on the day of release, knowing this could well happen. However, I do hope now that o2 will unlock my handset so I can officially use it on vodafone. My o2 rep did say something slightly different though - she said they WOULD unlock, but for a £15 charge, and a possible wait of 40 days while apple sort it. This could only be completed after the device had been activated on o2 for a minimum of 12 months. Hopefully by the new year, apple will have made sure phones are unlocked - at least PAYG ones.
  • Smarky
    Don't think you can blame 02 here, or just not yet anyway, they don't need to have an official policy until another network is actually selling it, lets see what they do when that is the case. Else it's just a fancy story on a website, at least until then.
  • CompactDstrxion
    It would be nice if we had the same laws as Australia with regards to phone unlocking
  • Matt B.
    Reading the Vodafone announcement this morning made me chuckle, having the device on three different networks can only be a good thing. I phoned o2 to ask what deal they would do me when my 3G contract ended (in 2 months). They basically gave me the same deal as new contracts, I could only get a decent sized 3GS for free if I was on a £75p/m contract for 2 years. I think it will be a good idea to hang around and jump ship when better offers come out around Christmas.
  • Jase
    Gotta agree with Smarky on this one... Orange (and 'cos of the merge, T-Mobile?), Vodafone are confirmed, and Virgin is at the table...but as stated here (and elsewhere), the earliest an official iPhone on another network won't be until end of '09; there's no need to do anything just yet. Will be interesting to see how O2 plays this one, my contract with Orange runs out July (18 month from Nov '08) so it might be worthwhile to upgrade to an iPhone...it'd be my 3rd contract with Orange so there's lots of loyalty discount to be had.
  • Tom
    @Paul Smith - Thanks for finding that out for me. I didn't expect such a quick turnaround. Fingers crossed that they do legally allow me to unlock my iPhone 3GS. I've currently got it on T-Mobile with WebNWalk (with Free Tethering too ... who needs a separate mobile broadband modem?!). It would just be nice to be able to apply legal firmware updates when they are released. Maybe I should have gone for the unlocked phone via Italy ... but hey, impulsive shopper.
  • jonathan b.
    Hey Tom could you tell me the internet settings and mms settings for t-mobile?
  • RSG
    u r fools! cant you go elsewhere to unlock your phones but your network i have a jailbroken unlocked iphone 3gS
  • Jeffrey A.
    @RSG u r teh fools! Enjoy patching your jailbroken iPhone? No? Bit of a pain in the arse isn't it...
  • Lawrence C.
    This is a conversation I had with o2 on 16th July 2009, o2 stating it was an apple issue. Draw your own conclusions .......................................................................................... Hello Lawrence Thanks for your further email about our unlatching procedure for the iPhone. Jean has passed this to me for my review. As previously advised the iPhone handsets are exclusive to us within the UK and it can't be unlocked to be used with a different Service Provider's SIM card. This decision was made in conjunction with apple and we are duty bond to uphold their request. I'm sorry if this is not the answer you're looking for but I cannot assist you any further at this time. However, if you wish an impartial review of this please see below for the contact details of our complaint review department: O2 UK complaints review service PO Box 302 Dunstable LU6 9GN email address: [email protected] Fax: 01133 881 153 What you need to include in your letter is: - Your name and address - Your mobile number - A daytime phone number - Details of your complaint - A suggestion of what you'd like us to do to put things right. If you've had any previous correspondence relating to your complaint, please send copies of these as well as any names of managers you've spoken to. When you email us please provide: your date of birth, postcode and mobile number as it helps us answer your query faster. Kind regards Kim Ecare Team Manager - Glasgow O2 Customer Service Getting your query right the first time you email us is very important to us. If your query has not been resolved this time, please reply to this email with the words 'Need More Help' in the subject field. Telefónica O2 UK Limited, Registered in England No 1743099. Registered Office: 260 Bath Road, Slough, Berkshire SL1 4DX.
  • Tom
    @Jonathan Bibby - Here's one I made earlier ;-) http://www.tomjarvis.com/457/iphone-3g-os-3-0-t-mobile-uk-all-working/ @Lawrence Clayton - Thanks for that. However I'm firmly of belief that the general telco Customer Services staff don't always know what can be done. They are just regurgitating the company line, and what they are told to say.
  • sim i.
    cool cool :D
  • free 3.
    nice, the design fits well when reading on my iphone.
  • sim i.
    do you have twitter? it would be cool to put updates on there.
  • free 3.
    thank you for taking the time to post this :)
  • Vivan R.
    well advice and sharing,I will buy one nice apple for me .thanks,Joe
  • Unlock 3.
    Can anyone tell me where I can find how to jailbreak and unlock my new iphone 4. Every blog only has information on unlock iphone 3.1.3 3GS
  • Connie F.
    U got a nice site here, do you use the statpress plugin? Im using it on Jailbreak 4.2.1 but it seems to slow down my site.
  • Site-ul T.
    I have fun with, cause I found just what I was having a look for. You've ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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