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3 offers best iPhone deal

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So now we know - there is to be no price war over the iPhone 4. But operator 3, which became the latest UK network to unveil its pricing, has opted for much more generous bundles than the competition – and a significantly lower upfront Apple tax.

The drawbacks? Well, 3 won't bundle public Wi-Fi hotspot access in its deals, reckoning its network is now good enough, and you'll need to go to an Apple Store to sign up for now, since supplies are constrained. But that's true for all operators today.

At 3, the iPhone 4 on contract starts at £30, which includes 500 minutes, 5000 3-to-3 minutes and 5,000 texts with the handset at £99 or £189; £35 gets you 900 minutes (or 2,000 if you sign up on line) and the handset for the same price, a slight reduction for the online-only deal; £40 gets you the same minutes as at £35 but a lower handset tax of £59 and £149; while at £45 the 16GB is free, the 32GB model is £89. All the tariffs include 1GB of data per month.

If you're not concerned about being on the bleeding edge, the 3GS model is available at much more attractive rates. For example, you can pick up a 3GS on contract on 3 for £25 a month, and get 500 minutes, and the 1GB of data, with the phone costing £129. At £30 a month, also with 500 minutes bundled, the phone drops to £29, and at £35 a month it's free.

Tesco is offering the iPhone on a £20 monthly tariff – but you'll need to find £429 or £329 for the iPhone 4 models, or £407 or £320 for the iPhone 3GS models (32GB and 16GB respectively), and the bundled minutes allowance (250) is nowhere near as generous.

Other than 3 and Tesco the deals are the same or worse than they were before. So what does £30 a month buy you on Orange, O2 or Voda?

Orange offers a measly 150 minutes and 250 texts for £30 and both “unlimited” 3G and Wi-Fi bundles are capped at 750MB. The new models cost £319 (32GB) or £229 (16GB). £35 buys you 600 minutes. Over at Voda, £30 buys you more minutes – 600 - data is capped at 1GB, and the handset is £269 or £169. O2 offers 100 minutes on an 18-month contract for £30, or 300 minutes on a 24-month contract; texts are unlimited but MMS is extra (20p a pop), and the handsets are £323 or £299 for the iPhone 4 32GB, depending on the length of the contract, and £279 or £209 for the 16GB model.

We're reluctant to say that 3 has started a “price war” - but the deal at the £30 contract spot is much more generous.

T-Mobile has yet to announce its prices.

As for availability, they're all out of stock. O2 is giving existing customers first crack at the new model, and 3 sources say supplies should arrive in its stores in late July or early August.

So you'll need to find an Apple Store, and make your choice there. ®

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