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The 99p mobile phone: What's the catch?

Umm...err...

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Carphone Warehouse started selling a mobile phone for 99p on Friday.

Alcatel OT-209 mobile phone

The handset is basic and ugly - an Alcatel 0T-209 - and you have to buy £10 Virgin Mobile PAYG credit.

And that's it? Yes, that's it: there is no catch. It really is the cheapest PAYG on the market - about £4 less than the nearest rival, according to the consumer group Which.

Who will buy this phone? One could imagine plenty of people buying the handset as a back-up, or frugal older people who "just want a phone", which they carry only when driving - in case they break down.

But no child or teenager would thank their parents if an Alcatel OT-209 arrived in the Christmas stocking.

In a press call last week, CPW boss Charles Dunston forecast booming PAYG smartphone sales for Christmas.

Entry-level smartphones start at around £60 - and in the absence of an iPhone or a BlackBerry - might pass muster with The Youth of Today.

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