I received an email from a former colleague of mine today (who knows I’m a thorough iPhone geek!), with a question from a friend of his about getting an iPhone on Vodafone. One of the big appeals of Vodafone for his mate is that they supply phones on Pay Monthly unlocked as standard – no need to go faffing about with unlock codes and the like. Just buy your phone, and get on with using it however you want.
It’s not long to go until Vodafone launch their iPhone offering in the UK on January 14th, and my friend’s mate really wants an iPhone 3GS. So his simple question was: “It’ll be supplied unlocked right?”
Twitter to the rescue again. I had a conversation with Vodafone’s PR team on Twitter (@VodafoneUK). They confirmed that not only is the phone not going to be unlocked, but that they don’t have any plans to allow unlocking.
This is very poor. Vodafone’s tariffs are not that different from other UK operators, so they have missed an opportunity to differentiate themselves at very little financial cost to them. Also, it marks out the iPhone as a special case – to shaft the customer who wants to use a different SIM when they choose (as one of Vodafone’s excellent online forum team has acknowledged). It’s not like you can get out of the contract with them – you still have to pay Vodafone the money they expect over the life of the deal. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I just don’t get it.
The annoying thing is that the tariffs are right for my friend’s mate – he’s ready to sign up with Vodafone again. And the doubly-annoying thing is that he will, but I’ll be advising him to get a cheap officially unlocked iPhone*, then get a SIM-only deal with Vodafone.
Are we ever going to see a UK iPhone provider break the pattern of same old same old?
* More on that shortly…