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Orange charges £1 for iPhone visual voicemail, free on EE

Visual voicemail is now available on Orange, but it's only free if you pay more than £35 per month. Otherwise this ancient feature will set you back a quid.

Blinkin' cheek. A feature that has been available on O2 for free on iPhones since the thing launched six years ago has recently been turned on by Orange -- and it's charging for it.

Visual voicemail, which Steve Jobs proudly showed off as he announced Apple's first ever mobile, is now available on the fruit-flavoured network, but it's only free if you pay more than £35 per month. If your monthly spend is less, it'll cost you £1 on your bill.

EE customers get visual voicemail for free -- although most of them will be paying a fair bit more than £35. If you're on O2 and own an iPhone, you'll have been enjoying this simple feature for more than half a decade.

"Once you have visual voicemail the data you use for downloading voicemails in the UK won't cost you a penny," EE promises. "Data used to download visual voicemail messages when abroad is charged at the standard roaming rate for your plan."

Visual voicemail is like an app for your voicemail -- instead of having to dial a number and key through options, you can see on the screen who has called and left a message. Not that complicated, you would think, but there are children who've been conceived, born and are now at school full-time in the years it's taken to implement this standard feature on one of the country's most popular phones.

EE introduced visual voicemail back in January this year, saying it would be coming to Orange in "weeks". And despite T-Mobile being effectively part of the same company here in the UK, it doesn't offer it at all. Neither does Vodafone.

If you're on Orange, your iPhone is up to date and you don't mind the extra quid, just text 'iPhone visual' (without the quotes) to 150. If you later decide against it, you can text 'visual off' to the same number.

Alternatively, there are apps that do much the same job, such as HulloMail and YouMail, which are free to download, with various premium options to go ad-free and add features.

Do you use visual voicemail? What's the best alternative? Leave me a message in the comments, or on our Facebook page.