Europe's operators flock to Apple's iPhone 6

Unless you have been residing in a cave with no Wi-Fi access for the past 24 hours, you will probably know that Apple has just launched the latest iterations of the iPhone. Europe's operators have certainly wasted no time in telling customers that the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will soon be in stock.

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iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

One provider, the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Giffgaff, even pre-empted Apple's actual announcement by revealing it would be selling the iPhone 6 handset "unlocked and at a very competitive price" earlier in the day.

EE had perhaps one of the most interesting stories among the UK operators: the company will be Apple's partner for Wi-Fi calling in the UK. Indeed, voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over Wi-Fi are two of the new wireless technologies supported by the new devices.

Otherwise, operators including Vodafone, Three, SFR, O2 and many, many more said they would be selling the new iPhone once it becomes available. Apple said the new phones will start shipping on Sept. 19 in the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico and Singapore, and pre-orders start Friday.

Among the attractions for mobile operators in Europe will be the increased number of LTE bands supported by the new devices: The phones support up to 20 different LTE bands, which Apple said is more than any other smartphone. The modem also supports carrier aggregation, which carriers are using to enhance capacity on their networks by melding disparate bands of spectrum together for wider channels.

As widely expected the phones also come with NFC capability in the form of Apple Pay, and analysts from IHS think that Apple will extend Apple Pay internationally as soon as it is able to do so. "Apple's product strategy is global-focused and as a result keeps variation in products, models and services to a minimum to maximise global scale economies. Apple has already started conversations with key financial players," IHS said.

Although operators will set their own prices depending on contract terms and bundles, Apple said the suggested retail price including VAT for the iPhone 6 in the UK is £539 (€672/$869) for the 16GB model,  £619 for the 64GB model and £699 for a new 128GB model. In the eurozone, prices start at €699 for the iPhone 6 and €799 for the iPhone 6 Plus.

The level of excitement was certainly high during and after the Apple announcement, although one company tried to dampen the mood by warning that a sparkling new device will not be the answer to all the industry's current woes. Indeed, Mark Windle, head of marketing at OpenCloud, said operators should try to break the mould of leaning on exclusive handsets and content deals.

"Instead they should equip themselves to start competing on the services that they deliver to their customers; innovating in voice and video communication services in order to differentiate effectively. Like Apple, who constantly produce new features for their handsets, mobile operators must invest in developing services that add value and strengthen customer loyalty to their brand," Windle commented.

For all the details about the new technical capabilities and design features of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the new Apple Watch, read this very comprehensive report put together by our colleagues from FierceWireless.

For more:
- see this Apple release

Special Report: Apple iPhone 6: Complete coverage

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Apple introduces Apple Pay mobile payments service to challenge Google Wallet, Softcard
iPhone 6 rumours: From NFC and VoLTE to sapphire displays
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