As the rumours continue to fly about what options will be available for Aussie iPhone purchasers, one thing's becoming very clear: being the first kid on the block with a new iPhone will almost certainly mean getting shafted on price.
While you can sign up with either Optus or Vodafone to get one of the first batches, neither company is officially talking about what you'll get charged. And though the dominant model in the Australian market has been "pay nothing up front, and then pay up every 24 months", that may not apply with the iPhone; there's probably enough demand for the telcos to ask for an up-front fee and get away with it — even if the phone becomes massively cheaper six months down the track. Both companies have said they'll offer prepaid plans, but there's no word on the up-front device cost or what the rates will be, or even if these will be available right from launch.
Reception is also a critical issue. Telstra is already making noises about taking Optus to court over its claims that the iPhone will have widespread network access, given that the device can't use the 900MHz spectrum used in some rural areas. Telstra itself hasn't dismissed speculation that it might also offer the iPhone, which can make full use of its Next G network.
Historically, Telstra's never been the cheapest option, but its coverage is still broader than most of its rivals — something worth noting for rural iPhone fanciers. The cheapest data plans in Australia come from 3, which isn't officially in the iPhone race, but the caveat about not leaving a 3 reception area is also relevant here.
Bottom line? People utterly obsessed with Apple aren't going to care and will probably sign up regardless, but for everyone else, a little patience will likely keep your wallet somewhat fatter.
Early iPhone buyers will get less choice
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