Update (June 7, 2012): Virgin has confirmed [http://newsroom.virginmobileusa.com/...phone-june-29] it will start selling the iPhone on June 29th complete with an unlimited data and messaging plan, starting at $30 a month. Virgin customers can pick up an 8 GB iPhone 4 for $549 and 16 GB iPhone 4S for $649, both free of contract.
Cricket notably offers the phones at a lower price point, but only offers a plan of $55 a month. Virgin Mobile pre-paid plans originally start at $35, though customers who register monthly payments through a credit card, debit card or PayPal account can save an extra $5 a month. Virgin Mobile will also enable iPhone’s mobile hotspot feature for an extra $15 a month. Like other carriers, Virgin mobile is advertising “unlimited” data but will drastically throttle your usage if you go over 2.5 gigs a month. You can pick up a* Virgin Mobile iPhone later this month through the Virgin website or at your local RadioShack or Best Buy.
Last week, Cricket wireless became the first American carrier to support Apple’s iPhone on a contract-free, pre-paid basis. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, they’ll be getting some company in this space, as Virgin Mobile is expected to announce an iPhone compatible plan, free of contract.
The Wall Street Journal says Sprint Nextel Corp., owner of Virgin Mobile, will announce a pay-as-you-go version of the popular iPhone as soon as July 1. The Wall Street Journal, of course, cites those tricky People Familiar With the Matter.
Sprint’s CEO bet big on the iPhone when he promised to buy $15.5 billion worth of iPhones last year. This agreement may actually help Dan Hesse move some of these units over the next four years. Now that more carriers are providing the iconic device to their customers, Hesse may need such a push to empty his inventory. At this point, he may be keeping some extra iPhones at his house, using them as coasters or door shims. Despite Sprint’s slow performance as of late, their pre-paid markets are a bright spot in their balance sheets.
The Journal reports that Sprint was able to add 489,000 pre-paid customers in the first quarter. Measure this against the 192,000 contract customers lost on Sprint’s network during the same quarter, and bringing the iPhone to Virgin mobile becomes more of a life preserver than an extra oar. Since Sprint began selling the iPhone 4S last October, it’s managed to sell 3.3 million units.
While the Journal was able to report the upcoming union between Apple and Virgin, they weren’t able to announce any sort of pricing. Cricket, on the other hand, will begin selling the iPhone, contract-free, beginning June 22.
Without the subsidization often found with contract plans, the iPhone will cost around $400-$500 with a monthly, unlimited plan of $55. It’s likely the Virgin iPhone will cost around this price if it wants to remain competitive in this market.
For a template, Virgin Mobile’s pre-paid plans start at $35 a month and also offer unlimited data. Just like AT&T, Cricket, Verizon and other carriers, Virgin will begin to throttle data usage if you go over 2.5 gigs a month. This seems interesting, since Sprint continues to hail their completely unlimited data plans with no caps or throttling.
Now that Sprint, Virgin and even Cricket have been seen basking in the brilliant glowing orb of iPhone, T-Mobile is likely feeling even more left out of Apple’s good graces than ever before. They are the last of the major American carriers to not carry the iPhone, a noticeable absence which Chief Executive Phillip Humm said was a main reason so many customers (1.7 million) left Big Pink last year alone.
While Cricket and Virgin now have another thing in common — pre-paid cell phone plans and carriers of the iPhone — they differ in the markets the service. Cricket offers their services to a smaller and more rural area. Virgin, on the other hand, users Sprint’s network and, therefore, can be used anywhere the Sprint network is found.
Sprint bought pre-paid Virgin Mobile in 2009 for around $480 million. The Wall Street Journal was also unsure if Sprint’s other pre-paid carrier, Boost Mobile, would be getting the same iPhone treatment in coming months. Another source of tech news, TechnoBuffalo, announced last week that Boost would start carrying the iPhone this September.
It's official: Virgin Mobile USA will indeed begin selling the iPhone with contract-free, prepaid plans for as low as $30 per month for some users. The company made its announcement early Thursday morning on its website, offering both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S on its CDMA network licensed through Sprint.
As earlier rumors suggested, the devices will indeed be available before July rolls around—Virgin Mobile says its new iPhones will hit the streets on June 29. The 8GB iPhone 4 will sell for $549 while the 16GB iPhone 4S will go for $649. The tradeoff for those relatively high handset prices is the lack of a contract—users can pay as low as $30 per month for 300 voice minutes, unlimited text messages, and "unlimited" data—throttled after the 2.5GB mark is crossed—when you set up your account to autopay. (Without autopay, the plans are $5 more per month.) For $40/month with autopay, users can get 1,200 voice minutes with unlimited messaging and data, and for $50/month, they can get unlimited everything.
Virgin Mobile is the second prepaid cell carrier in the US to offer the iPhone. Cricket was the first to announce its plans in May, offering the 8GB iPhone 4 for $400 and the 16GB iPhone 4S for $500. Those up-front prices are lower than Virgin Mobile's by a good $149 each, but Cricket's monthly plans are higher—the company offers a $55 monthly plan with unlimited calls, texts, and data, with the same caveat that data speeds will be throttled after 2.3GB.
If you only use a handful of voice minutes per month and don't need unlimited calls, though, Virgin's $30/month plan will likely save you the most money—about $180 per year, which would make up for the extra $149 premium you'd pay for the handset through Virgin, and then some (especially if you stick around after the first year). Virgin Mobile's network has a wider reach than Cricket's as well, so there's a good possibility that some users might live in a market that only has one of these carrier options.
The lingering question is whether these prepaid carriers will offer the next-generation iPhone when it is announced (most likely later this year). If so, will any of you be ditching your contracts for one of these prepaid options, or will you be too drawn to the inevitable LTE support that will likely only come through Verizon and AT&T?
I'm so excited! I use Cricket as my cell phone carrier, and have been wanting to upgrade my phone! I had heard new phones would be available this summer, and had asked the sales guy back in April if the iPhone would ever be available, and he said he highly doubted it. I realize you have to shell out more $$ for the phone initially, but what you save in month to month costs is tremendous - I'll actually be paying $10 less per month than what I'm paying now! (I currently pay $65 - $55 for unlimited talk, text, and web + $10 for unlimited music downloads thru their Muve Music plan. Since I'll have access to my iTunes a/c, I won't need the music service anymore!)
The Virgin plan is even less, if you don't need that many minutes - unlimited text & web + 300 minutes is $30 per month (if you want unlimited everything, it's $50/month, so comparable to Cricket, altho they're charging more for the phone itself)
I was so excited when I heard the news yesterday, I called my local store and reserved an iPhone 4S!
If you already have an iPhone can you use it on virgin mobile?
I don't believe you can. I've been reading several articles about this, and I'm pretty sure they said that you have to get the phone through Virgin. Of course, you may want to double check with them if that's actually true.
What a huge bummer! Apparently Cricket won't be making the iPhone available in Chicago - or many other major cities! - because they use a different type of network. According to the rep I just talked to (don't know why they didn't have that info when I talked to them earlier this week!), they should be available in our area in September.
I'm going to look into the Virgin offer - sucks that the phone will cost me more, but at least I could get it now rather than 3 months from now!