Brits to get iPhone 5 with 4G on EE's new network

Brits to get iPhone 5 with 4G on EE's new network

Summary: The former Everything Everywhere gets a jump on rivals again by becoming the only UK operator to sell a 4G LTE version of Apple's newly launched iPhone.

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TOPICS: iPhone, 4G, Apple, Mobility, Telcos
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Apple's iPhone 5 is coming to the UK in a 4G version, carried exclusively by newly rebranded operator EE.

On Wednesday, the companies confirmed what Olaf Swantee, the chief executive of the operator formerly known as Everything Everywhere, hinted at during the launch of the UK's first 4G network

"The iPhone 5 is here! And we've got it," the operator said in a post to its EE Twitter account on Wednesday.

On stage at the iPhone 5 launch event in San Francisco, Apple's head of marketing Phil Schiller revealed that EE will be the only mobile operator in the UK to take advantage of the 4G connectivity introduced in the sixth edition of its flagship handset.

schiller3
Credit: James Martin/CNET

In his presentation, Schiller highlighted the iPhone 5's "ultra-fast wireless technology", noting that its support for LTE, HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA means it can tap into the speediest mobile networks in most corners of the globe.

Other new features in the iPhone 5 include a faster though smaller chip (the A6), a promised longer battery life with eight hours of talk time and a smaller Lightning dock connector. It comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models.

The iPhone 5 will hit British shelves on 21 September, with pre-orders from Friday from partner operators, as well as in Apple's online and brick-and-mortar stores. On its website, Apple said the iPhone 5 will start at £529, which is likely to apply to the 16GB version, but no UK pricing was given for the full range. EE has not revealed how much it will cost, nor what the rate will be for its 4G service. In the US, it will cost $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB, and $399 for the 64GB on a carrier contract.

Providers without LTE can offer the iPhone 5 on 3.5G. In the UK, these are EE's other two networks — Orange and T-Mobile — as well as O2 and Three, according to Apple.

"EE will effectively have an initial monopoly on sales of the iPhone 5, since customers will only fully benefit from its capabilities if they take it though EE," Ovum regulatory telecoms analyst Matthew Howett pointed out in a statement.

"The question will of course be how many non-EE customers will make the switch," he added. "Many will already be in contract with their existing provider. However, with more than two years since the last major release (the iPhone 4), there could be a good number of people in the market for a new mobile provider."

It was only on Tuesday that EE announced it has started work on rolling out its LTE network, the first in the UK. It is likely to remain the sole provider at least until the end of the year, when other 4G frequencies are auctioned off, unless Three gets the go-ahead to use its own LTE spectrum.

The iPhone 5 news could spur EE's rivals into a legal protest against telecoms regulator Ofcom's decision to allow the operator to reuse 2G spectrum for 4G services, according to Howett.

"For Vodafone and O2, who have spoken out against EE's early 4G launch, this could well be what they were waiting for before launching a legal challenge to Ofcom's decision," he said. 

Topics: iPhone, 4G, Apple, Mobility, Telcos

Karen Friar

About Karen Friar

Karen Friar is news editor for ZDNet in the UK, based in London. She started out in film journalism in San Francisco, before making the switch to tech coverage at ZDNet.com. Next came a move to CNET News.com, where she looked after west coast coverage of business technology, and finally a return to her homeland with ZDNet UK.

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4 comments
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  • Is that all?

    Not exactly anything worth parting with cash for.
    Pastabake
  • how important will 4G be and what will be the cost

    I doubt that 4G is going to be available nationwide for sometime and wonder if the cost is going to be higher than 3g? The other issues are the cost of data on 4g and how many people regularly use the smart aspects of their phones over the air. I doubt that operators are going to offer a low cost plan with unlimited data because the economics don't add up for them. People would simply switch to internet based communication and stop making calls through their providers. About the only time that I have made any significant use of 3g in the UK was during a recent hospital stay where I was using my phone for entertainment. I found it was all too easy to use up 700mb - 1gb of data in a day when streaming TV or video and with a measly 500mb allowance on my vodafone rental that was useless. About the only use I make of 3g is when using my phone as a sat nav and it is perfectly adequate to do that efficiently as all it has to do is download very small amounts of data. About 95% of my smartphone usage is within range of WiFi so not sure what the deal is really - except maybe for business users who spend a lot of time out of the office.

    That said, if I was still an iPhone user, I would go for the iPhone 5 simply for the bigger screen size which was my main reason for buying a Galaxy over a year ago. I think screen size is much more important to the UK market and for that reason alone it will do well with or without 4g.

    As for me, now that I have experienced Android and the Galaxy s3 I wouldn't trade back at any price - the larger screen is nearly two years too late to have kept this customer.
    cymru999
    • I'm sure they're devastated to lose you

      They'll have to console themselves by smashing all sales records again, just like last year and next year.
      Englishmole
  • Why so expensive in the UK?

    Iphone5 16GB in the UK is starting at £530 = $860
    Iphone5 16GB in the US is starting at £123 = $199
    Return Flight from London to New York at £400 = $650

    It's cheaper to fly out to the US, buy the Iphone5, and fly back to London than it is to buy the Iphone5 here in the UK.

    I can see the 4g + unlimited data plans being very sought after for those who can afford them. And with the UK prices, if people can afford the Iphone5 at launch, then they can probably afford the extra 4g costs and unlimited data packages.
    justanumber