O2 brings i-mode to the UK

Actually, it appears i-mode is more than glorified WAP. Where WAP was slow and more than a little unfriendly, i-mode is nippy and simple, and offers a

Actually, it appears i-mode is more than glorified WAP. Where WAP was slow and more than a little unfriendly, i-mode is nippy and simple, and offers a host of extra services.

The big news for most will be BlackBerry-style 'push' email for all, courtesy of i-mode's i-mail service. This means that even cheap handsets will allow the kind of connectivity previously the preserve of high-end and business mobiles.

Also mention-worthy is the secure element of i-mode, which will allow you to carry out all kinds of transactions (including banking, thanks to Egg) while out and about. Over 100 popular websites like Lastminute.com, Amazon and Interflora have already signed up to the service, while Norwich Union will provide insurance quotes over the air.

O2 has launched 4 i-mode handsets. Top-of-the-line is the Samsung Z320i - a 3G quadband slider with 100MB memory, Bluetooth and stereo speakers, which will cost £280 pre-pay and £80 with contract. Next down is Samsung's S500i, which looks about the size of the Z500, and has a 1.3MP camera, external MP3 controls, 80MB memory (with Transflash expansion) and a startlingly good QVGA screen. It'll be £0 - £250, depending on contract.

NEC occupies the lower echelons of the lineup, but the two handsets look pretty perky. The triband 411i has a 1.3MP camera and Bluetooth, and the 343i is really rather attractive. Both are free on contract, and £100/£80 respectively pre-pay.

For info galore, head to O2's website.