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O2 reckons it’s the first UK operator to lease smartphones to small businesses, providing annual upgrades and free insurance, but no phone at the end of the day.

O2 Lease can be used to get iPhone 4Ses, or whatever tech-candy the executive staff are demanding, on a lease deal, from £55 a month with the usual bundle of call minutes and data (750 minutes, unlimited texts, 500MB of data, at that price). The deal is much the same as a normal punter gets, only it lasts a year, gives free insurance, but you don't get the keep the phone at the end.

Given companies have little use for last year's handsets it doesn't sound like a bad idea. Personally owned kit might trickle down to spouses or children, but company devices tend to get pushed to the back of cupboards to be taken out, laughed at, and thrown away the next time the business relocates.

O2 will let you post back the handset at the end of a year, which at least stops it ending up in landfill following a few years in the back of a filing cabinet.

The tariff is comparable with what O2 offers to ordinary users on a two-year contract, so basically a company is trading an old handset against a year's lock-in. Plus the potential for keeping the management quiet with annually upgraded shiny things is arguably much more valuable. ®

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