Apple fans who hate smartphone contracts, rejoice: the iPhone is coming to Virgin Mobile (US) on June 29. For $649, one can buy a 16GB iPhone 4S, while the 8GB iPhone 4 will go for a “mere” $549.
Despite the extremely steep upfront cost for an unsubsidized iPhone, I suppose it might be a worthwhile purchase for those who specifically want an iPhone, but hate the idea of restrictive smartphone contracts, as well as the steep monthly rates. For $35/month ($30 if one allows automatic credit/debit card billing), one can get 300 phone minutes plus “unlimited” data and texting (throttling kicks in at 2.5GB). Moving up to $55/month ($50 via auto-billing) will gain unlimited phone minutes. For a comparison between Virgin Mobile and a standard two-year iPhone Sprint contract:
- Virgin Mobile: $649 (16GB iPhone 4S) + $1,320 ($55/month x 24 months) = $1,969 over two years.
- Sprint: $199 (16GB iPhone 4S) + $2,376 ($99/month x 24 months) = $2,575 over two years.
Of course, Sprint is Virgin Mobile’s parent company in the United States. I’ve also left out any taxes or early termination fees. Still, going with Virgin Mobile would save $606 over two years. Assuming one’s willing to pay for an unsubsidized smartphone tied to Virgin Mobile’s network, this might be worth the savings to avoid a contract. If curious, there’s no roaming with VM, plus the network is CDMA.
I’m still using Virgin Mobile’s much-cheaper LG Optimus V, which I’ve had replaced once (the previous phone suddenly malfunctioned). I wouldn’t mind a more modern smartphone (if it meant one with a bigger screen), but it’ll be another Android-powered phone (that won’t run $649)…