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UK operator O2 is going to start handing out free iPhones from April 3, for punters prepared to sign up to a two-year contract or pay almost £45 for 18 months.

The new tariffs include the usual unlimited data and hotspot access, but those wanting the 16GB iPhone will have to commit to paying £44.05 every month for the next two years, a total of £1057.20, but they will have a shiny iPhone with nothing down.

Anyone prepared to make do with 8GB will only have to stump up £34.26 for a couple of years, though they'll also have to squeeze their voice calls into 600 minutes a month - so if ten hours of nattering isn't enough for you, then you'll be wanting the more expensive contract that bundles twenty hours of solid conversation.

As phone models age it's normal for the subsidy on them to increase, and even with Apple refreshing the OS to keep the iPhone current that is holding true. But with the subsidy comes operator control - once the operator is paying for the handset they get a much greater hand in dictating the feature set, which may be one of the reasons we're finally seeing MMS with the next iPhone update. ®

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