Softbank to sell 'cheap' iPhone in Japan

Softbank, the carrier that won the coveted right to sell the iPhone in Japan, will sell the device for €80.25 (US$215), comparable to the marked-down US price for the hit gadget, an Associated Press report said.

The iPhone is due to debut in gadget-loving Japan on July 11, as Apple rolls out a new version and expands the availability to 20 countries.

The Associated Press report also said Softbank, Japan's No. 3 mobile phone company, said it will subsidize its subscribers' mobile phone bills for two years so as to make the cost of the 8-gigabyte iPhone 23,040 yen (€138, US$215). The 16-gigabyte version will cost €206 (US$320).

Whether that will be seen as a discount by Japanese gadget fans is unclear.

For years, some mobile phones were practically given away for free as carriers were eager to win market share and earn revenue through phone fees.

But recently, as the Japanese market here has saturated, mobile phones have gone up in price, and the more sophisticated ones can cost about €302.7 (US$470).

Some can receive digital TV broadcasts, which the iPhone will not.