Deutsche Telekom's mobile unit T-Mobile is coming under fire from competitors over its exclusive sales deal for Apple's iPhone in Germany.

A German court has granted British telecoms group Vodafone a preliminary injunction designed to stop sales of the iPhone linked to a 24-month T-Mobile contract.

German mobile phone operator Debitel also said it had lodged a complaint with Germany's telecoms regulator about T-Mobile's iPhone deal.

It is not permissible to link the use of the iPhone exclusively to T-Mobile's network, a Debitel spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

She added that Debitel complained to the regulator last month and was now waiting for a response from T-Mobile, expected by the end of this month.

A spokesman for the federal network agency said it had asked T-Mobile to respond but declined to divulge details. T-Mobile was not immediately available to comment on Debitel's complaint.

Analysts had expected Vodafone to secure a pan-European deal to sell the handset but it lost out to Telefonica's O2, which sells the iPhone in Great Britain, and France Telecom, who won the rights for France.

Customers in Germany can buy the music-playing and Web-browsing device for 399 euros but are obliged to agree to a 24-month contract with T-Mobile.

The device is only available in company shops or over the T-Mobile website.

Vodafone's injunction was handed down at a regional court in Hamburg, where a spokeswoman said that T-Mobile can file an objection.

The legal basis for the injunction is currently being examined, a T-Mobile spokesman said.

The head of Vodafone Germany told German daily Frankfurter Rundschau the aim was not to stop T-Mobile from selling the iPhone but to examine whether the terms T-Mobile had set were acceptable.

(Reporting by Nicola Leske)