Thursday, August 14, 2008

Getting an iPhone in Australia with 3

Only a tribe of cave dwellers in the mountains of Papua New Guinea could have possibly missed the release of Apple's iPhone 3G last month, and even then only because they probably don't have 3G coverage in the vicinity.

Being a geek of the first order, you might expect that I would have got one by now, even if I didn't care to queue for 3-4 hours to get one on release day (the day after release, I was lucky enough to sit on the same aisle on a flight up to Brisbane as someone who had scored themselves one, so I got to play with it. What a great icebreaker an iPhone is. Just pity the poor woman who was stuck between the two of us!)

The reasons are:

  1. my network, 3, doesn't sell the iPhone. A bit obvious, but worth saying. The official reasons why are not widely known, but it's a bit strange, as 3's data plans are arguably the best available (and the less said about Telstra's data plans, the better);
  2. I'm less than a year into a new contract, so I would get hit with some pretty painful cancellation charges if I hopped to Optus or Vodaphone;
  3. most people that I'm likely to talk to on the phone are on 3 as well, and the free same-network calls would be much missed, on both ends of the conversation.

Fortunately, 3 are still working on the case. It is possible to get an iPhone on to the 3 network. The process is relatively simple:

  1. buy a pre-paid iPhone from Optus, and pay the $80 unlocking fee;
  2. go to 3, who will give you the appropriate SIM card and also refund you $300 of the purchase price of the phone.

The only downsides to the operation are:

  1. if you're outside 3's coverage, you'll be paying for Sol Trujilo's heavy mob at the rate of $1.65/Mb, which is enough to make your eyes water;
  2. the new contract will be for 24 months, but I guess if you're in my boat, then that shouldn't matter so much if everyone you also talk to is on the same network.

So now I only need spousal approval. Oh, and the timely arrival of my 35th birthday...

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