Re: "Given that most phones are replaced in 12-18 month cycles"
"Well that depends on the size of your wallet and the priorities of your life. As far as I'm concerned, £300/year is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a phone, so I don't think you can make blanket statements like that."
Fair point, should have qualified that statement. I didn't upgrade to the SII until it reached a price I was willing to pay. Although the point is, that's a top-end phone, on £25/month, how many monthly contracts come in under that, or compare on pay as you go?
"Believe it or not, as far as the carriers go mobiles are very much about making and receiving calls because that's where a large part of their revenue comes from."
Sorry, that's not what I meant. With the release of the iPhone, making sure your handset had the best call quality, signal strength etc as a selling point became moot, as making/receiving calls was no longer the primary (or secondary, or tertiary...) function of a mobile phone. (Ok, probably more at the point the App Store started, rather than the original iPhone release).
This also marked the shift in power from the carriers to the handset manufacturers. It used to be a choice between Orange, Vodafone, O2 etc... Now it's iOS, Android, (RIM? Nokia?). The network you're on is largely irrelevant. Especially since cross-network plans came in. Witness the mergers/consolidation in the carrier market compared to the success of the handset makers.
That £1000 figure isn't far off - some handsets have cost near that sim-free. Which is why we got the subscription model from the carriers in the first place - they subsidised the upfront cost to get phones into the hands of users, so that they could make money from them making/receiving calls. And at that point the handset makers were pitching to the carriers, not the users. It's a little different now :)