O2 UK followed T-Mobile USA in decoupling device subsidies from service costs, with the launch of its O2 Refresh tariff.
In a statement, the company said that the proposition “has been designed for customers to get a new phone at any time, without having to pay out their airtime contract”.
As with the T-Mobile offering, customers can pay off the remainder of the device cost at any time in order to get an early upgrade, and can trade-in handsets in order to get up to £260 of credit.
Unlike the US proposition, the service element has a 24-month contract rather than being offered on a one-month rolling basis – although some reports said that once the phone has been paid off, customers will be free to leave.
“Increasingly our customers are telling us that they don’t want to be tied to the same phone for two years and, with 4G coming to O2 this summer, we want to make it easier for our customers to benefit from the latest technology,” said Feilim Mackle, sales and service director at Telefonica UK.
At launch, a number of devices will be offered from vendors including HTC (One), Sony (Xperia Z), BlackBerry (Z10), Samsung (Galaxy SIII) and Apple (iPhone 5).
After this, it will be extended “with a specific focus on high-end smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S4”.