iPhone gets official in the U.K.

As expected, Steve Jobs and O2 U.K.’s CEO Matthew Key announced the availability of the iPhone this morning at an event in London

. Brits will be getting the same old 8GB/EDGE/WiFi iPhone as the rest of us on November 9th for £269 (that’s about $535 of the green stuff). As with the U.S. iPhone, customers will be required to sign a contract with O2 (18 months, as opposed to 2 years) in order to use the phone and will be able to choose from three different rate plans ranging in price from £35 to £55 a month, all of which feature “unlimited” data streaming over EDGE. As expected, the devices will be sold through Carphone Wharehouse, Apple Stores and O2 retail.

So, looks like the iPhone experience will be about the same as in the U.S., eh? Not really. There’s one key difference to keep in mind here: O2 doesn’t have nearly the same level of EDGE network coverage in the United Kingdom as AT&T has in the States. While Jobs is fond of calling AT&T’s EDGE coverage “ubiquitous,” O2’s EDGE network only covers about 30 percent of the U.K. at present. So that means that you’ll be paying as much as £55 a month for a network that you probably won’t be able to use all that often. To help ease this pain a bit, O2 has partnered with the Cloud to give U.K. iPhone users free access to 7,500 WiFi hotspots. While that’s nice and all, it basically ensures that the iPhone will be an iPod, phone and WiFi device in the U.K.–not a true Internet-capable smartphone.

For more on the U.K. launch:
– see Engadget‘s liveblog of the event
– and their hands-on impressions of the U.K. iPhone

More stories about Mobile Devices   Apple   iPhone   European Union   WiFi   Steve Jobs  


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