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O2 to offer £100 iPhone... in time for Xmas?

Rumours abound

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UK carrier O2 will punt Apple's anticipated 3G iPhone for just £100 - provided buyers agree to an 18-month tie-in, it has been claimed.

Meanwhile, one Register Hardware reader claims O2 staffers told him not to expect the handset until Christmas.

The O2 tariff details come from a Macworld UK report citing unnamed sources. In addition to offering the new model for £100, it's said to be planning to offer the hanset on pay-as-you-go for £269.

Folk currently on the top-of-the-line £75-a-month tariff will get a free handset upgrade in return for a new 18-month contract, the site claims.

But when will all this happen. World+Dog expects Apple to announce the handset next Monday, but according to one reader who approached O2 this week - his current contract, with Orange, is about to expire - was told the 3G iPhone "will be out around Christmas time now".

Sign of a delay? Well, there's nothing to stop Apple announcing the 3G iPhone next week but not shipping it - outside of the US, at least; AT&T's plans suggest it'll appear there sooner - until later in the year.

Certainly, a later-than-expected arrival would be surprising in light of recent attempts by O2, Carphone Warehouse others to drive sales of the current version, presumably to clear the way for the new one.

That said, all recent announcements from carriers that they will be selling the iPhone state that this will happen "later this year". Apple obfuscation - or a sign that Apple is planning a more staggered release than previously thought? We shall see.

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