How much will 4G cost? I'm glad you ask, phone fans, because EE has revealed its prices for 4G phone contracts and phones. Read on to find out how much a speeded-up HTC One XL or iPhone 5 will cost, and what nifty bonuses you can bag on top.,
The first 4G network in the UK launches next week, courtesy of EE (the network formed by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile). Orange and T-Mobile still exist, but if you want next-generation data speeds on your phone you need to sign up for a new contract from EE.
What are the phone deals?
EE says 4G contracts are £5 dearer per month than the equivalent 3G contract. All 4G deals come with unlimited calls and texts -- you just choose the amount of data you want, and pay accordingly.
Phone deals start at £36 for 500MB. After that you can get 1GB for £41, 3GB for £46, or 5GB for £51. The maximum amount of data available is 8GB, for £56 per month.
Contracts at those prices are all two years long. If you just want to sign up for a year, just add £10 to each tariff: so 12-month deals start at £46 for 500MB, and go up to 1GB for £51, 3GB for £56, or 5GB for £61. The maximum 8GB deal is £66 per month for 12 months.
SIM-only deals will begin on 9 November and will start at £21 per month. If you already own a phone or want to buy the phone separately -- often cheaper in the long run -- a SIM-only deal runs 12 months and also includes unlimited calls and texts.
If you're getting phones for your small business, plans start at £35 per month for 1GB of data and go up to £50 per month for 16GB. That data can be shared among more than one person.
How much do the phones cost?
The data deal you choose also dictates the amount you have to pay for the phone you want. The cheapest 500MB tariff sees you pay £150 for the HTC One XL or Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, but subsequent data deals drop the price to £50 or £30.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE starts at £180 but goes down to £30 on the most expensive deal. Meanwhile the bargain option is the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE: £20 on the cheapest monthly tariff, and a very charitable zero pounds on the others.
The iPhone 5 is the priciest of the 4G range, starting at £180 for the 16GB model on the cheapest tariff, dropping to £110, £50, £30, or finally £20 on the highest tariff.
The 32GB model starts at £270 and the 64GB version at £380. While you can net a 32GB iPhone for just £30 if you fork out for the highest monthly contract, a 64GB iPhone will set you back at least £140.
Dongle deals for 4G for your laptop start at £16 for 2GB. But the good news is that tethering is included in your phone contract, so as long as you get enough data you can turbo-boost your tablet or laptop with 4G magic too.
What if I go over my data limit?
If you chew through more data than you expected, you'll get a warning message as you near your limit with the option to buy more. A bite size 50MB more Internet cost £3, 500MB costs £6, an extra 2GB costs £15 and 4GB costs £20.
What extras do I get?
Sign a 4G contract, and you'll be able to use BT Wi-Fi hotspots when you're out and about through an EE app -- handy for avoiding going over your tariff's data limit.
If you pay £41 or more you can also choose a free add-on each month: live TV, music or gaming. Each add-on gives you access to one service, and any TV viewing, music streaming or gaming you do comes out of your data allowance.
The TV service boasts 19 channels, including Channel 4 and Eurosport. The music service is Deezer, which allows you to stream or download tracks. The gaming add-on lets you download and keep two games per month.
You can change which add-on you want each month, and if you want more than one add-on, you can pay extra.
EE also has roaming deals lined up that will let you take your minutes, texts and data allowance on holiday with you, for a fee.
What's EE Film all about?
EE has also announced a new film service. Every month you can pick any film to watch for free from the EE movie catalogue -- up to the end of February -- and you also get a free two-for-one cinema ticket every Wednesday. Just like Orange Wednesday!
Are there any new features on the 4G phones?
EE is also offering a couple of new features, which seem to have been created based solely on whether they rhyme. Clone Phone backs up and restores lost phones, while Loan Phone lends you a replacement phone if yours needs to be sent off for repairs.
Clone Phone also offers an online Find My iPhone-style map to track down errant blowers if you pay £4 per month, and insurance if you pay £6 per month.
Other rhyming features will no doubt be added later, including Groan Phone -- which texts you a bad pun each day, Throne Phone -- which uses less power when you're on the loo, and Rolling Stones Phone -- which ensures your phone will keep working forever even when it's a bit embarrassing and you wish it would just stop.
Will I actually get 4G where I live?
On 30 October, 4G launches in 10 cities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and Sheffield.
After those initial lucky cities, 4G comes next to Belfast, Derby, Hull, Newcastle and Nottingham. Next year coverage will widen to Cornwall, Cumbria and Northern Ireland.
I'm sold -- how do I switch?
If you're on Orange or T-Mobile and you just bought an iPhone 5 -- or any 4G-ready phone -- you can switch for free. Just choose a new EE contract from the deals above and hey presto!
If you signed up to Orange or T-Mobile in the last six months and you bought a 3G version of one of the phones in the 4G line-up -- including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone -- you can swap it for the 4G version for £100 and a new 4G contract. You do have to give back the old phone though.
If you're on Orange and T-Mobile and your contract has longer than six months to run, you can buy your way out by paying the remainder -- what you would have paid over the full term of your contract -- but minus a 33 per cent discount.
And if you're not on Orange or T-Mobile? Hard luck sunshine: you have to wait until your current contract with your network runs out so you can change networks. Or you can wait until the other networks launch their own 4G services, which could be next year if you're lucky.
Are you planning to switch to 4G? What do you think of the prices, deals and extras? Which phone is the biggest bargain? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.