Just a year ago, the only carriers in the United States offering the iPhone were AT&T and Verizon. Since then, three major carriers have picked up the iPhone including Sprint, as well as a number of smaller regional carriers, such as C-Spire and Alaska Communications. On Thursday, Virgin Mobile announced that they will be offering the iPhone 4S, starting on June 29. Virgin Mobile is a prepaid brand operated under Sprint and offers a number of plans for a range of mobile phones. With the iPhone, Virgin Mobile is offering no contract service plans under $30 for customers that opt in for automatic payments.
Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk unlimited data and messaging plans for iPhone start at $35 per month for access to Sprint’s Nationwide Network, and customers can receive a $5 per-month plan discount when they register for automatic monthly payments with a credit card, debit card or PayPal account, making iPhone available for as low as $30 per month. Customers can also use their iPhone as a mobile hotspot through Virgin Mobile for an additional $15 per month.
Although Virgin Mobile is offering cheap plans and is not forcing a contract on customers, it is not subsidizing the iPhone and is offering it full price, at $549 for the 8GB model of the iPhone 4 and the 16GB iPhone 4S at $649.
Early last week, San Diego based carrier, Cricket announced its own prepaid plans for the iPhone and offered the hardware under subsidy, a $150 cheaper than Virgin Mobile’s current price. With Cricket charging less for hardware and more for service ($55 unlimited talk, text, web), the two carriers balance out in terms of price, when considering Virgin Mobile is charging far less for the service. Virgin Mobile is currently offering customers a variety of choices, $30 (300 minutes), $40 (1200 minutes), and $50 (unlimited minutes) and a data cap of 2.5GB.
Virgin Mobile will be selling the iPhone at Best Buy, Radio Shack, and other retailers around the country. Virgin Mobile’s adoption of the iPhone shows the popularity of the device, especially when considering that its parent company, Sprint also offers the iPhone with a contract. The iPhone is now offered on a range of different carriers, national, regional, and prepaid networks, Virgin being the latest to carry it.