Phones4u were a British high street mobile phone reseller and in some cases, their stores still exist in one form or another as they have not yet been refurbished for the new tenants. Phones4u went out of business because three of the four British carriers – O2, Vodafone and EE – did not continue their business arrangement with Phones4u. This meant that Phones4u had no main network to sell. Worse, the business had just handed Apple a significant sum of money for the dubious pleasure of selling the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as this was still in the pre-ordering stage. Customers who had put cash down for the new iPhone were left waiting for the device and Apple would not honor the orders but kept the money Phones4u put up front.
Fortunately, many of the staff working for Phones4u were able to secure new positions with either EE or Vodafone but the executive board members did not have a new position to step into. Several executives joined together to work on a new product and today comes the news that this has been released: Unshackled. This is a way of financing a new handset through a personal loan, arranged with Zopa, and gives the customer the ability to move to whatever SIM-only plan suits his or her circumstances. The Unshackled service also include a large number of SIM-only plans available from the website. Unshackled's website explains that some customers could save hundreds of pounds over the course of a two year smartphone plan, even though the cost of a device repaid over monthly installments includes a charge for interest, so it's more expensive than paying the full price up front.
The concept of stretching out paying for a smartphone is nothing new to the UK market. O2 Refresh, launched three years ago, offers customers a transparent way of buying and paying for their phone by combining an interest-free handset repayment together with what is in effect a SIM-only deal and the ability to unlock the device free of charge. O2's MVNO, mobile virtual network operator, offer a similar scheme whereby customers can pay for their smartphone over a period of time. With smartphones often costing several hundreds of pounds, it's an attractive proposition for many customers and it's good to see more businesses openly explaining how much a smartphone will cost the customer over a two-year plan. To coincide with the launch of Unshackled, the company have released a YouTube video: