A price war has broken out, to the delight of iPhone users in the city, as Smartone-Vodafone becomes the second telecom operator to offer 3G iPhone services. Rival operator 3 Hong Kong sweetened its subscription plans yesterday in response to Smartone's launch of such services on the same day. 'We are entering into a price war with Smartone,' said Max Wong, a spokeswoman for 3 Hong Kong. 'After reviewing Smartone's current price plans, we've come up with new plans.' The mobile operating arm of Hutchison Telecommunications, which had been running 3G iPhone services since mid-2008, added 500 minutes of basic airtime to each of its price plans for such services. The airtime in 3 Hong Kong's HK$138 monthly plan with a 16-gigabyte iPhone 3GS, for example, was increased to 900 minutes to beat a Smartone subscription that features the same monthly fee and same handset model. Smartone's plan offers a basic airtime of 800 minutes, twice the basic airtime under 3 Hong Kong's old subscription plan. The Smartone plan charges HK$3,680 for the handset, on a par with the old 3 Hong Kong plan. In response, 3 Hong Kong lowered its handset price by HK$100 to HK$3,580. A spokesman for Smartone-Vodafone said he did not see any need to engage in a price war over the 3G iPhone services. 'There is a large demand for smartphones. People who want to use iPhones are looking for services provided by a quality network,' he said, adding that the Smartone prices were already very competitive. He said Smartone was known for its reliable and high-speed data transmission. A technology jointly developed by Smartone and Chinese University enabled iPhone 3G users to watch video clips of a wide range of formats with ease, the spokesman said. Hundreds of people queued up yesterday to subscribe to Smartone's iPhone 3G services at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, where the operator was hosting a launch party. In the same shopping mall, 3 Hong Kong hired 30 models to hand out discount coupons for its services. Apple's iPhone models come in storage capacities of 8GB, 16GB and 32GB. An 8GB iPhone 3G normally costs HK$4,488 if bought independently of a service provider plan, while the top-of-the-line 32GB iPhone 3GS model sells for HK$6,288. The 3GS is said to be the fastest and most powerful iPhone to date, with a data processing speed twice that of the iPhone 3G.