iPhone 3g Pricing From Around the World

With iPhone 3g enjoying a simultaneous release across over 20 countries, Apple and the various carriers it’s partnering with have been forced to announce their pricing strategy at about the same time.  Some reactions have been positive, some negative, and some very negative.  As far as I’m concerned, there are four markets of real interest when it comes to pricing.  The UK, obviously, the US, obviously, Canada because of the strong reaction amongst the public, and New Zealand, because of what seem like absurd prices.  So let’s take a look at how they stack up.

International iPhone RatesClick the image to the right to see the full table.  I’ve broken the rates down in a few different ways in an attempt to compare the different international plans.  Firstly, you have the total cost in British Pounds.  This is the monthly cost, multiplied by the minimum contract length, plus the cost of the phone.  This is an indication of the minimum amount you will have to pay, all converted into GBP for ease of comparison.  Then you’ve got the same but without the GBP conversion (i.e. still in the local currency).  At the end I’ve put the monthly cost in GBP (Per Month Total).  This represents the amount, in pounds, you’ll be paying every month for the minimum contract term and includes the upfront cost of the phone.  I’ve also converted the monthly rates, not including the cost of the phone, into GBP so you can see how the stack up.  The “Exchange” column is just the exchange rate used, taken from xe.com, for transparency.


There are hidden extras on some of the plans.  For example, the Canadian plans have a $35 “Activation Fee” and the unlimited data plans actually have “Fair Use” clauses on them, which essentially means, don’t use the phone as a modem.  There’s also a discrepancy in the way different territories classify inclusive minutes, some including “Any Time” minutes, and some making the distinction between peak and off peak.  You should factor these in, I’ve chosen not to in the name of simplicity.


The cheapest way to get your hands on a 16GB iPhone 3g is the UK, by some way.  In fact, the second cheapest Total Cost in the UK is still cheaper than any other country.  The picture changes slightly when you look at monthly cost because, especially with the Canadian plans, the initial outlay for the handset is distributed over three-years, twice the British period.  So overall, Britain is the cheapest way to buy an iPhone, but this can be largely attributed to the fact that the contract period is shorter, so you’re essentially paying for 6 months less than anywhere else.

Looking at the monthly rates, AT&T in the US comes up trumps at the low end.  All 4 countries offer a deal at, or around, £30, and the AT&T deal gives you the most bang for your buck.  When it comes to inclusive minutes, O2 in the UK seem to lead the way on comparative rates, with New Zealand and Canada falling behind on the more expensive tariffs.  The Canadians and New Zealanders are also way behind the UK and US when it comes to data.

For my money, by far the worst deal of them all is the £95 rate in New Zealand.  For an equivalent amount of minutes and Texts, and much more data, you’d only have to pay £35 in the UK or £40 in the US.  I’ve added a column that has the number of inclusive minutes you get per £GBP, and as you can see, the Canadian and New Zealand plans are well behind.

The best comparison to make is to pick a number of inclusive minutes and text messages you want, and then compare that plan across the four countries.  So, let’s arbitrarily pick 500 of each.  In the UK it would cost £44 a month, or £789 in total (including the phone).  In the US it would cost £47 a month or £1,126 in total for more minutes but less texts.  In Canada it would cost £54 a month or £1,900 total.  In New Zealand it would cost £101 a month or £2,429 total.  All the monthly costs include the initial cost of the phone distributed across the term of the contract, and all Total amounts include the cost of the handset, plus the monthly fee paid once a month for the minimum term – effectively the minimum amount you will pay.

On the face of it, I’d say that the US and UK prices are fairly evenly matched.  The UK deals are understandably inclusive of more SMS Text messages as they are more heavily used in the UK than the US.  Canada comes out third while New Zealand is very much pulling up the rear, with some quite shocking costs, and really tight allowances.

Are you in one of these regions?  If so, what’s your view?  If not, how does your area stack up?  Thinking about getting an iPhone 3g?  Find out why O2 is scared of iPhone 3g.