The iPhone Comes to Virgin Mobile
The unthinkable has happened — twice in one week. Today (June 7) no-contract wireless carrier Virgin Mobile announced that it will be offering the Apple iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, joining Cricket Wireless as the second no-contract company to do so.
The pricing is a bit different here, with Virgin charging more for the phone but less for the plans (in some cases, much less). Since you aren't signing a contract, you aren't getting any break on the phone itself. The iPhone 4 (8GB) will sell for $550, while the 16GB iPhone 4s will sell for $650. Each price is $150 more than Cricket is charging, and the same as if you bought the phone directly from Apple with no wireless plan. [What are No-Contract Smartphones?]
But the Virgin monthly plans can be very appealing, especially to people for whom the "phone" part of smartphone is just a quaint anachronism. Virgin's cheapest plan offers unlimited text and 2.5 gigabytes of data per month for just $35 ($30 if you set up automatic payments from you credit card, debit card or PayPal account). The catch? You get just 300 voice minutes. [How Much Smartphone Data Do I Need?]
For people who mainly text, email, Facebook and tweet to stay in touch, that's a good deal. And should they use up their talk time, they can switch to Internet calling apps like Google Voice or Skype and simply use the phone's data connection.
The other plans — all with unlimited text and 2.5GB of data — standard or with recurring payments are $45/$40 for 1,200 minutes and $55/$50 for unlimited talk. [Smartphone Plans Compared]