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Court lets T-Mobile sell only locked iPhones in Germany

It will now sell iPhones with a two-year contract

By Peter Sayer
December 4, 2007 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - PARIS -- T-Mobile Germany need not sell an unlocked version of Apple Inc.'s iPhone, a court in Hamburg ruled today.

The decision leaves the German operator free to sell the phone for €399 ($585 U.S.), including tax -- tied to its network and with a two-year service contract, just as it proposed at the phone's German launch on Nov. 9.

Rival Vodafone sued T-Mobile on Nov. 19, alleging that the sale of locked phones tied to a two-year contract breached German consumer-protection laws.

More important for Vodafone, T-Mobile's exclusive deal with Apple, combined with the locking of the phones, meant that Vodafone stood to lose customers who bought the iPhone.

In response to Vodafone's suit, the court temporarily ordered T-Mobile to sell an unlocked version of the phone, with no restrictive contract, while it decided the case. T-Mobile sold the unlocked iPhones without a service contract for €999 (about $1,482 U.S.) while waiting for the court's final ruling.

Now the court has thrown out Vodafone's complaint, and T-Mobile is once again selling only locked phones, T-Mobile said today.

T-Mobile offers three service contracts for the iPhone, with monthly costs of €49 ($72 U.S.)for 100 voice minutes and 40 text messages, €69 ($102 U.S.) for 200 minutes and 150 messages, or €89 ($131 U.S.) for 1,000 minutes and 300 messages. There is no charge for cellular data traffic, access to T-Mobile's Wi-Fi hot-spot network or use of the Visual Voicemail service. Unlike their U.S. counterparts, European mobile phone users do not pay for incoming calls. All of the contracts run for a minimum of 24 months, after which customers can ask T-Mobile to unlock their iPhone for free, the company said.

Vodafone said it will analyze the ruling before deciding what action to take.

Customers wanting an unlocked iPhone can still cross the border to France, where France Telecom subsidiary Orange sells phones without a contract for €649 ($958 U.S.), plus a €100 ($147 U.S.) unlocking charge. (The charge is waived if the customer waits for six months from the purchase date.) The phones sold by Orange can be configured to present menu options in French, German, English or Italian.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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