Pricing for the eagerly awaited Apple iPhone 3GS has finally surfaced from Vodafone New Zealand, with the least amount upfront being NZ$399 for the 16GB model, if you sign up for a two-year contract at NZ$130 a month on an iPhone-specific plan.
The bigger 32GB iPhone 3GS goes for NZ$599 on those same terms. Dropping down the monthly cost to NZ$40, NZ$60 and NZ$80 increases the cost of the 16GB model to NZ$699, NZ$649 and NZ$599 respectively. The 32GB device goes for NZ$899, NZ$849 and NZ$799 on the lower monthly cost plans.
This differs from Australia, where Telstra and Optus have the iPhone 3GS 16GB for no money upfront on a two-year contract for AU$100/month and AU$79/month plans respectively. Vodafone Australia also offers the iPhone for no money upfront, provided you sign up for at least AU$69 a month over two years (16GB model) or AU$114 (32GB model).
Those who can afford the NZ$130/month iPhone plan get 500MB data, 250 voice minutes and 600 texts with it. The lower monthly cost plans halve the data to 250MB a month and have fewer voice minutes: the NZ$40 plan comes with 20, NZ$60 has 60 and the NZ$80 has 120; the number of texts on the two cheapest plans drop to 100 and 200 respectively, but the NZ$80 has 600 texts per month.
Vodafone's iPhone-specific plans haven't been updated to include MMS PXTs — these are charged at 20 cents each on all the plans, possibly because the previous iPhones didn't provide MMS functionality.
To soften the blow of the iPhone plans not being updated, Vodafone has a three-month introductory offer. On top of what's included in the plans, iPhone buyers on contract get 3GB of data and 1000 MMS PXTs. This offer is available until end of September, and requires version 3.0 of the iPhone operating system, according to Vodafone spokesperson Paul Brislen.
Brislen says that to tether your iPhone to your laptop for internet access with version 3.0 of the iPhone OS doesn't attract any extra charge and doesn't require any further downloads.
Brislen would not say if the offer would remain in place after the three months have passed, but it's a safe bet to assume that updates to Vodafone's iPhone plans will be made, if only to include MMS bundles.
For those not wanting to go onto a fixed-term contract, the global mobile giant offers the iPhone by itself, costing NZ$1179 for the 16GB version or NZ$1379 for the 32GB model, which is roughly on par with what it costs when buying it from Apple Australia.
Kiwis, however, can't purchase the iPhone directly from Apple. For the time being, Vodafone is the only carrier with the iPhone in New Zealand. While Telecom New Zealand's new XT network is arguably a better match for the 850MHz and 2100MHz 3G device — Vodafone's network runs in the 900MHz and 2100MHz bands — the incumbent is refusing to comment on any other handsets than the ones it has currently in store, according to spokesperson Nick Brown.