Mobile phone retailer The Link is offering free Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles to customers signing up for a Samsung or Nokia handsets.

Sony has been having trouble flogging its long delayed and very expensive games console – so much so that PC Advisor has revelled in finding it being advertised online for ever-reducing sums. Even so, we weren’t expecting to find Sony's PS3 literally being given away.

The Link must have got its hands on a job-lot of unwanted PS3 consoles, because this week its Deal of the Week is a free PS3 with a Samsung E840 or X830 slider handset.

Alternatively, Nokia fans can choose an E50 or 6300 handset. In each case, the tariff includes 900 cross-network minutes of talk-time and unlimited text messaging, but the sign-up period is for a minimum of 18 months.

Customers need to sign up for a monthly tariff of £45 or more in order to receive their free Sony PS3. They also need to shell out a one-off fee of at least £60 for their chosen handset. The Nokia E50 costs £59.99; the Samsung E840 is £69.99 and both the Samsung X830 and the Nokia 6300 are £79.99.

Sony seems to have missed the mark with its £424 PS3 console – and not just because of its hefty price tag. Sales in the first week the PS3 was available in Europe were very encouraging but have since slumped, while Nintendo's Wii console – last Christmas' unexpected big hit – continue to be strong. In Japan, for example, the Nintendo Wii has been outselling the PS3 by a factor of around five to one.

The PS3 has been struggling to compete against its own forerunner, Sony's runaway hit from five years ago, the PS2. Last week, Nielsen Research revealed that the PS2 PS2 is still the most-played console.

It shouldn't be a huge surprise that the PS3 is being given away, however. Two weeks ago we revealed that Sony is to discontinue the 60GB version of its PS3 having already dropped its price to $499 (£250) in the US amid a re-evaluation of the company's sales strategy for the console. It is this version of the PS3 that The Link is offering as a sign-up sweetener for its mobile phones.

Sony says it will begin selling an 80GB version of the PS3 in North America in August.

See also:

PS3 review