O2 will provide the Palm Pre in the UK from 16 October and will be the device's exclusive carrier in the country, the operator has announced.
The Linux-based smartphone will be sold directly through O2, retail outlets such as Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U, and through O2 Business partners, the company said on Thursday.
"Today's announcement reinforces O2's position as the home of the smartphone," chief executive Ronan Dunne said in a statement. "With the addition of the excellent Palm Pre to our already extensive portfolio, we will continue to offer our customers the widest range of the very best devices on the market today."
The Pre uses Palm's WebOS, a gesture-based, Linux operating system. Palm has said it will only release handsets using WebOS from now on, a break away from the operating systems it used to use: Palm OS — since acquired by Japanese software firm Access — and Windows Mobile.
The Pre first went on sale in the US at the start of June. Palm has already announced its second WebOS handset, the Qwerty-keypadded Pixi, which is due to be launched in the US in time for Christmas.
At £44.05 per month on a 24-month contract, or £73.41 per month on an 18-month contract, the Pre will cost O2 customers the same in monthly charges as the iPhone 3GS if it is taken as a free handset. The tariff includes unlimited data browsing on O2's HSDPA network and unlimited access to the 7,500 Wi-Fi hotspots operated by The Cloud and BT Openzone.
However, for the same cost as the O2 contracts, buyers could get an iPhone 3GS with 16GB of internal storage. The Pre only has 8GB of storage and, like the iPhone, does not have expandability in the form of a memory card slot.
Business customers will be able to get the Pre for free at the current monthly business tariffs, which start at £30.91 per month on a 24-month contract. Those contracts do not include data or Wi-Fi, so companies with the Pre will be automatically billed an additional £8.51 a month for those services.
Users will also be able to buy the Palm Touchstone charging dock, which, along with a special back cover for the Pre, allows the device to be charged wirelessly using inductive technology. The dock and cover will cost £44.11.