The iPhone 5 launched last September was the first to veer away from the Apple phone's 3.5-inch screen.

London - It is hailed as the future of mobile phones – but the superfast 4G service will cost at least £5 (about R60) a month extra in the UK, despite evidence the network is cheaper to run.

Users will also have to fork out hundreds of pounds for a smartphone that can use the system, such as Apple’s iPhone 5 or Nokia’s Lumia 920.

Britain’s first 4G network is being launched by EE in London and nine other cities next week.

The 4G system allows smartphones, tablets and laptops to surf the web five times faster than the current 3G network.

But the technology is so powerful that it burns through smartphone battery life, meaning handsets need to be recharged more often. EE customers who upgrade to 4G packages will pay anything from £36 to £56 a month based on the amount of data downloads they sign up for.

This is about £5 a month more than they would have paid under their existing deals for a similar package.

On top of that, customers must buy a new handset – which could cost anything from £110 to £270 extra, depending on their monthly subscription and subsidy available under their contract.

The 4G technology makes it possible to squeeze more data into a smaller slice of the airwaves, which makes it cheaper to transmit vast amounts of information compared with 3G. Consequently, 4G actually costs less to run on a day-to-day basis.

But EE – an amalgamation of the Orange and T-mobile networks – insists its decision to charge more is justified.

Spokesman David Nieberg said: “There is a small premium that customers will pay for using a superfast network, one that is five times faster than 3G. In all other markets around the world, consumers are paying a premium to access 4G.

“We think what is effectively a £5 premium is incredibly competitive.”

EE effectively has a monopoly over the 4G technology until its rivals can launch services in the second half of next year. - Daily Mail