The identity of Apple's UK iPhone launch partner remains an open question as the latest rumour claims a hacked iPhone has been successfully used on Vodafone's UK network.

It's claimed that a UK user this week made the first known phone call on the Apple mobile on Vodafone's network.

The hacker purchased a prepaid AT&T card in the US, and was then able to have that SIM card enabled by Vodafone staff through the expedient of putting it inside a device already supported by the UK network.

He then swapped the now-active SIM into his iPhone, which he activated using easily available hacking tool, IASign (developed by DVD Jon).

These claims are being rejected in many quarters, but led EnGadget to speculate that Vodafone may quietly be preparing the market.

Apple has promised to ship the iPhone in Europe later this year. It's not yet known which mobile network - or networks - Apple will work with to ship the product in the UK.

The company is expected to work with different networks within each territory, as it struggles to address Europe's diversified mobile infrastructure.

News of success making a call using Vodafone's network emerges after Vodafone Group chief executive Arun Sarin said: "The iPhone is clearly a good, software-driven device, but we're concerned about wideband area coverage. 3G (capability) is something we look forward to and hope Apple moves forward to soon."

His comments set in motion a new round of speculation that Apple will deliver an iPhone model that supports 3G in Europe at some point.

Meanwhile, rumours that Apple will introduce a less advanced iPhone nano at a lower price took another step up yesterday, with AppleInsider citing "sources" in confirmation of the plan.

The report describes the new device as a scaled-back version of the iPhone, combining iPod and mobile phone features in an iPod nano-like device. The device (the report claims) has already been through final product testing.

AppleInsider describes the introduction as: "Part of a broader, all-out blitz on the consumer electronics sector this holiday shopping season, in which a staggering array of gadgets from the Cupertino-based firm is expected to leave would-be rivals confused and unable to react."