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T-Mobile wins right to end sale of unlocked iPhones

German Court rules against Vodafone

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France is now the only country on the planet where you can buy - legally - an unlocked iPhone. A German court has cast aside a two-week-old order forcing T-Mobile to begin offering unlocked iPhones.

The initial order was established after Vodafone argued before the Hamburg District Court that T-Mobile's exclusive deal with Apple was anti-competitive. The Court imposed a temporary injunction forcing T-Mobile to offer iPhones capable of being used on any network.

Immediately, the carrier began selling unlocked iPhones for €999 ($1464/£710). Essentially, standard iPhones, these units were subsequently unlocked when buyers activated their handsets using Apple's iTunes software. Locked iPhones cost €399 ($585/£283) but the cost of the enforced contract takes the price over the minimum contract period of two years to at least €1575 ($2309/£1119).

However, the Court today ruled that T-Mobile's exclusive iPhone sales deal is permissible under German law. T-Mobile may now stop selling unlockable iPhones. Whether it will remains to be seen, but it seems likely that it will sell only tethered Apple handsets.

Vodafone said it was considering its next move in the light of the fresh judgement.

Last month, Orange France began selling locked iPhones for €399 and an unlocked version of the handset for €749 ($1098/£532).

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