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Three adds iPhone 4 to its pay as you go unlimited data tariff

Want unlimited data for an iPhone 4 but not on a standard contract? Three has just added Apple's handset to its all you can eat data plan for pay as you go customers.

The iPhone 4 and unlimited data go together beautifully, even if operators have pulled back from the idea, preferring to cap users to prevent their networks being overloaded. Now Three is bucking the trend again, letting pay as you go iPhone 4 users have limitless data for the handset, as well as contract customers.

The operator has just already been selling the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4 for £499.99 and £599.99 respectively, with users required to top up £15 per month for 300 voice call minutes and 3,000 texts. What's new is the addition of Three's all you can eat data plan to that tariff, for no extra cost.

This contrasts to Three's contract-based iPhone 4 tariffs, which range from £25 per month and a £229 upfront cost with 500MB of Internet use included, through to £35 or £40 per month for all you can eat data and an initial handset cost of £69 or £19 respectively.

Is now the time to be buying a pay as you go iPhone 4, though? While Apple is not expected to launch the iPhone 5 this summer to follow its pattern in previous years, its fifth-generation smart phone is expected to come out in the autumn.

Even so, if you're in the market for a contractless iPhone 4, Three's deal is tempting for that unlimited data aspect. By contrast, O2 will sell you a 16GB iPhone 4 for £504.99, and throw in 500MB of data plus unlimited Wi-Fi access if you top up £10 per month.

Vodafone has a similar offering data-wise: 500MB of data if you top up by more than £10 per month, although its Wi-Fi is capped at 1GB. Orange offers 'free Internet' to pay as you go iPhone 4 customers who top up £10 per month, but that's restricted to 250MB plus unlimited Wi-Fi for the first 12 months.

Finally, T-Mobile offers unlimited data for 12 months to its iPhone 4 paygo customers, but that includes a cap of 500MB on streaming videos and uploads/downloads. Again, a £10 monthly top-up is the requirement here. The conclusion? Three's new deal is a pretty good offer.