Countdown begins for the iPhone's arrival in Britain

Considering Apple sold one million iPhone units in the US within 74 days of its release, it is little wonder that the imminent arrival of the latest must-have product has sparked a consumer frenzy this side of the Atlantic as well.

The phone, which will be launched in Britain on Friday, is expected to sell rapidly with sales of the "breakthrough" handsets predicted to reach 400,000 over Christmas.

The much-anticipated iPhone, a cornucopia of the latest multimedia technology squashed into a palm-sized box that contains, among other things, a mobile phone, mp3 player, camera and wireless internet browser, will be available in shops under an exclusive deal with Britain's largest mobile operator, O2. Never ones to shy from even the smallest of publicity stunts, Apple and O2 confirmed that the handsets would be available in Britain from exactly 6.02pm on Friday.

Queues are expected to form early as Carphone Warehouse, the only non-Apple or O2-branded store allowed to sell the device, pledged to keep all 783 of its UK stores open during the night until the last customers leave.

The touchscreen handset will be one of the most expensive on the market at £269 but users will in fact have to shell out a minimum of £899 during the first year and a half of ownership because the phones can be bought only with an 18-month O2 contract, with the minimum monthly tariff starting at £35.

O2 hopes the technology, which represents Apple's first foray into the telecoms industry, will tempt thousands of Apple-loyal customers from its main rivals Vodafone and Orange, which both failed to secure the highly sought-after exclusive contract with the San Francisco-based company.

Analysts say the decision to charge such a high price for the handset is unusual in the UK telecoms market, which usually provides cheap handsets if customers sign a contract.

"It's definitely a new approach because the phone is not subsidised," said Carolina Milanesi, research director at the analyst Gartner, which predicts that Apple could sell as many as 400,000 units in the next two months. "Consumers are buying it for the user interface; it's essentially the latest and greatest iPod that also happens to be a phone. In the UK we're very spoilt because we normally get a phone cheaply if we sign up to a contract but that doesn't happen in countries like Italy, Belgium and Finland."

The launch of the handset, now Time magazine's "Invention of the Year", has also been dogged by controversy since Apple announced its first foray into the telecommunications market in January. Diehard Apple fans in the US, who queued through the night in their thousands in June on the US launch day, were incensed when Apple slashed the retail price by $200 (£100) 10 weeks later.

There was also widespread dissatisfaction that, as in the UK, the handsets were available only on one network, the US telecoms giant AT&T. The exclusive deals with network providers, a tactic Apple has pursued in wider Europe, has led to blogger backlash as well as a number of websites offering software that can supposedly "unlock" an iPhone's software, making it available on other network providers.

Apple has warned that unauthorised downloads could cause "irreparable damage" to the handsets and said doing so would void the phone's warranty.

The success of the iPhone will be closely scrutinised by Google, which also wants to tap into the telecoms market and has announced a new strategy to form an alliance with more than 30 handset makers and communications companies, which will work with the company to utilise its famously easy-to-use software in their phones.

Ringing in the changes

What you can do with an iPhone...

* "Visual voicemail" allows users to view all waiting messages on screen, and makes them accessible in any order.

* The music player uses the Cover Flow software that was recently made available to the newest iPods, the iTouch. Listerners can flip though album sleeve covers rather than simple playlists.

* The headphones act as a hands-free kit and a remote control for music. If you receive a call the music cuts out for you to answer and then returns to the same spot.

* The iPhone's Wi-Fi technology makes it possible to browse and buy music on the go. Tracks downloaded from iTunes can be transferred to your computer.

* The Safari web browser allows users to access the net as if from home. The iPhone runs on the 2.5G network rather than 3G so downloads times may not be quick.

* The iPhone could replace your BlackBerry as the best way to access emails on the move.

* Using Google Maps, the iPhone acts as a de facto GPS device. It's not as accurate or fast as GPS but the software in the iPhone gives directions from a user's house, for instance, to a local sushi restaurant, and tracks their progress.

... And what you can't

* The iPhone will only be available on one network, O2. Customers will have to sign up to an 18-month contract.

* There is no removable battery, no expandable storage, no multimedia messaging or musical ringtones.

* The iPhone's camera is only 1.6 megapixels and it cannot record videos.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Assistant Management Accountant - Part Qualified CIMA / ACCA

£30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are recruitment for an Assistan...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive - OTE £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Analyst

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be a part of ...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Manager - R&D - Paint

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This growing successful busines...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea