what a lot of fuss..
.. people make about the 'locking' of the phone.
For ages in the UK (I realise it differs elsewhere) even contract phones have often only been available 'locked' to a particular network, to facilitate subsidy. A Motorola Timeport I wanted to buy back in 2000 was only available on (then) Cellnet. Specific versions of Sony Ericsson phones are often only available through one network.
.. people make about the camera.
Nearly all (a sweeping generalisation, sure) phone cameras are rubbish.
.. people make about no front-facing camera.
Have you ever used your phone for video calling? I've had a phone with front-facing camera for 3 years, and its just an annoyance when I hit the video-call option by accident.
MMS - ditto: and the phone has email, so far more flexible.
.. people are making about the GPS.
This new model has Assisted GPS - look it up.
I've not found these cheap contract deals in the UK either. Well, you can get them if you want to deal with T-Mobile's UK network. But I quite like having my phone work inside an office.
O2's deals, including the data and WiFi, seems pretty competitive to me. Even the upgrade option sounds fair (for the person on the 35 quid a month tariff - well, the person on the 45 quid tariff who gets an upgrade for free has paid £120 more over the year than you. So your £100 upgrade seems a better deal.)
But, it's a free world. You don't have to buy anything you don't want to. You don't even have to buy a new phone at all.