The iPhone launched on Friday on the Irish networks and I’m sure by now many of you have gotten yours. We published the plans and device prices earlier in the week on offer from all of the Irish networks so now we thought we’d take a closer look at what’s on offer for the new customer and upgrader. You shouldn’t be just looking at the price of the phone but rather the plan you’re going to get including its monthly cost, the length of the contract, what the options are for upgrading later, the amount of data that’ll come with your plan and most importantly the network signal (if you’re considering changing networks).
First off before we get into the detail, if you’re considering moving networks and signing up to a new contract we strongly recommend that you test the signal of the network you’re considering in advance. Most of the Irish networks offer free pre pay sims so you can test the 3G signal of your preferred network where you live work and play. At least that way initially you’ve done your homework and assured yourself of good signal for your new toy. This will avoid the long drawn out process of extricating yourself from a contract with a network if you’ve rubbish signal.
The iPhone 4 on the Irish networks ranges from free to almost 500 euro for a 64GB iPhone 4s. The plans (and we’re specifically only going to look at the contract plans) range from coming with as little as 150mbs a month (on the O2 network) to essentially unlimited on the Three network (although they may employ speed restrictions if you go over 15GB’s a month) which is 100x O2’s offering. Meteor offer 5GB’s with their plans, emobile offer 1GB to 15GB’s depending on the plan and finally Vodafone offer 1GB on their plans but there’s also the “My Way” plans for increased data at an increased cost of course. It seems O2 are out of step with the rest of the networks in that they appear to be looking at monetising data more and so offer the smallest data allowance on their base plans (in effect almost 10 times smaller than the next closest plan on offer from another network). If you do want to stay with a particular network most of them offer the ability to buy more data through Add-ons.
Typically all the networks require 18-24 month contracts for their advertised plans but under comreg rules they must offer you a 12 month contract if you request it although you can expect to pay higher for the device on a shorter contract. Some thing to consider about long contracts is when can upgrade. Typically O2 and Vodafone don’t allow you to upgrade until your contract is over but O2 have allowed people to upgrade to the iPhone for the past two years by paying an “early upgrade fee” which varies depending on how long you have to go to your upgrade. Three allow upgrades after 10 months on a 12 month contract, after 16 on an 18 month contract and after 22 months on a 24 month contract. Consider when you think you’ll want your next upgrade so you aren’t disappointed or forced to pay out to upgrade early.
The base plans on the networks start at 40 euro on Three, 45 euro on Vodafone, Meteor and O2 and from 29 euro on emobile.
Many of the networks require you to change to the latest plan on offer from the network when you go to upgrade. This helps them get rid of older plans which may or may not be beneficial to the consumer. In O2’s case this has always been the way but with the launch of the iPhone 4s O2 have had a late change of heart for whatever reason and are now allowing customers to remain on their old plans instead of having to upgrade to the new “All-in” plans from the network (which offer only 150mbs at the base level). Remember this when you go to upgrade as it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be told about it. We’ve also heard of many O2 stores telling people this is not possible so make sure you push the issue or go to another store. We hope O2 will get the message out to their staff asap so people are offered the correct information. We’ve also seen rumours that O2 may offer the iPhone 4s for free early next year. Details will follow once we hear something concrete.
Remember you’ll need a micro sim to take advantage of the new iPhone. We’d advise you to get a proper micro sim from your particular network rather than trying to trim your existing sim to make it fit. All the networks will swap your old sim for a micro sim for free.
The information above could also be applied to the purchase of any phone. Read and consider everything before signing on to a long contract!
So did you upgrade, switch network or are you waiting for iPhone 5? Let us know your experiences below in the comments section.