4GEE Handset Prices: iPhone 5 From £180 On Cheapest 4G Tariff, SGSIII From £150; Huawei Ascend P1 Only Free 4G Handset Option

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Earlier today U.K. carrier EE announced how much it will cost to get a taste of its 4G — the first 4G/LTE network to launch in the U.K. It’s now revealed handset costs for those wanting to get a new phone when signing up for a 4GEE contract. Prices range from free for one handset model on £41+ monthly tariffs, up to an up front payment of £380 for a 64GB iPhone 5 on the cheapest 4GEE 24-month tariff (£36). The 16GB iPhone 5 costs £180 up front on the cheapest tariff, while the Samsung Galaxy SIII 4G costs £150 on the same tariff.

EE is currently offering a choice of five 4G handsets — Apple’s iPhone 5, HTC’s One XL 4G, Huawei’s Ascend P1 4G, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 4G and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 4G — with Nokia’s two forthcoming Windows Phone 8-based Lumias, the 920 and 820, due to be added later.

Here’s the full price break by device down for its 24 month 4GEE phone contracts:

12-month 4GEE phone tariffs

EE has also just revealed that it will be offering 12 month phone contracts — in addition to the 24 month contracts announced earlier today. Handset prices for the 12 month contracts are identical to the handset prices in the table above but the monthly tariffs are higher: the cheapest 12-month tariff is £46 per month (for 500MB of data), rising to £66 for the most expensive package (offering 8GB of data).

The other 12-month tariffs are as follows: a 1GB data package costs £51 per month; a 3GB package costs £56 per month; and a 5GB package costs £61 per month.

Where are 4GEE’s unlimited data tariffs?

Since announcing pricing EE has been fielding a stream of criticism via Twitter for the low monthly data limits. Its entry level £36 per month package offers a mere 500MB of data — which a user could burn through in around five minutes if they were downloading at a rate of 15Mbps (an EE spokesman told me real-world network speeds for users are likely to be in the 10Mbps to 20Mbps range).

EE does not offer any unlimited data packages on any of its 4G tariffs. Asked why it’s not offering unlimited data the company claimed that it is offering customers a choice of data packages to suit various needs — pointing to the fact that the majority of its (3G) mobile customers choose data packages of between 500MB and 1GB. However this explanation fails to address the salient point that a 4G network supports much higher data usage since download speeds are faster — up to five times faster, according to EE — therefore data limits that were appropriate for 3G users are likely to be far too small (up to 5x too small?) for 4G users.