UK Network Operators Announce Subsidised iPads

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Orange, T-Mobile, 3 and Vodafone all plan to sell cheaper iPads with subscription plans

UK network operators Orange, T-Mobile, Three and Vodafone have all this week announced plans to offer subsidised versions of Apple’s iPad with data contracts.

No details on pricing or availability have so far been released, but a rumour published by business website City AM suggested Orange and T-Mobile – which officially merged as “Everything Everywhere” over the summer – may sell the devices for as little as £200 with an 18- or 24-month data contract and may launch them before Christmas.

Data plans

Currently UK operators sell iPad-ready micro SIM cards with contract or pay-as-you-go price plans but don’t subsidise the device. The 3G iPad sells in the UK for prices starting at £529.

Orange and T-Mobile have both created web pages for the iPad, allowing customers to register their interest.

“You’ll soon be able to buy the iPad from Orange,” Orange said on its website. “We can’t tell you too much now, but it will come on a great monthly plan.”

Meanwhile, Apple is working on the iPad 2, dur for release next year, and rumours have already begun suggesting possible features for the device, such as dual docking ports.

Updates coming

The iPad currently runs iOS 4.2, which, when released earlier this month, introduced-multi-tasking, allowing users to switch between applications instantly without shortening the device’s battery life. The update also brought new features to the iPad including Folders, allowing users to organise their apps with drag-and-drop, and Unified Inbox with threaded message view.

“iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season”, said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit.”

iOS 4.3 is rumoured to be headed for release ahead of Christmas and may reportedly introduce a subscription payment capability that could support payment for an iPad-only newspaper.

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