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Apple's iPhone coming to Virgin Mobile with $30/mo. plans June 29

post #1 of 33
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Virgin Mobile USA announced on Thursday that it will offer Apple's iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 beginning Friday, June 29, with contract-free plans as low as $30 per month.

Customers will be able to purchase the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for $649, matching the price of a contract-free handset purchased through the Apple Store or AT&T. That's different from regional wireless carrier Leap, which announced late last month that it would sell a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for $500, meaning the carrier is subsidizing the price by about $150.

While customers who buy the iPhone through Virgin Mobile USA will pay a higher upfront premium, they could also see considerable savings on their plans. The carrier offers customers a $5-per-month discount when they register for automatic monthly payments, which results in a basic plan with "unlimited" data and text messaging and 300 voice minutes for $30.

Users can upgrade to 1,200 voice minutes for $40 per month, or obtain unlimited minutes for $50 per month. Though data is advertised as "unlimited," all plans include 2.5 gigabytes per month of full-speed data, and any overages can be throttled.

Virgin Mobile USA will also offer Apple's previous-generation iPhone 4 for $549 in the 8 gigabyte capacity. The contract-free phones will be available at Virgin Mobile's website, RadioShack, Best Buy, and select local retailers.

"This month marks Virgin Mobile USA?s tenth birthday," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. "And what better way to thank our fans for ten years of loyalty than by giving them exactly what they want: the perfect plan for the perfect phone. That is the essence of 'A Higher Calling.'"

iPhone 4S


Word first surfaced on Tuesday that Virgin Mobile USA would become the second American carrier to offer Apple's iPhone without a service contract. However, the launch date and exact pricing were not known until the official announcement was made Thursday by Virgin Mobile.

Virgin's voice and data service relies on Sprint's "Nationwide Network." The sale of iPhones through Sprint's Virgin mobile could go toward the $15.5 billion in iPhones sprint had pledged to sell over a four-year span in a deal with Apple.
post #2 of 33
So unlike Leap, Virgin iPhone will be unlocked thus the full $649 price?
post #3 of 33
Wow, what a leap forward Virgin Mobile. You do the same as AT&T and Verizon, but with a different color. So dumb. What encourages me to want to change from one of those carriers to you? Absolutely nothing.
post #4 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

So unlike Leap, Virgin iPhone will be unlocked thus the full $649 price?

Virgin is a CDMA provider.  I don't know if CDMA providers offer unlocked iPhones or not.  I think their biggest draw is the fact that they don't mandate contracts.  However I am willing to be that there will be sticker shock for a lot of buyers.  

post #5 of 33

I don't see it with a lot of market potential at Virgin Mobile. That's not the type client they normally attract is it, with bargain hunters more the norm IMO. I completely understand why Sprint would make the iPhone available at Virgin tho. They're committed to taking a whole lot of iPhones so why not use every outlet you have to turn them over?

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post #6 of 33

Has anyone else thought of switching their voice plan with a ipad Data plan for their Iphone? I mean $30 mo and you can make call with various VoIP apps.

 

Going back to the offering from Virgin, This is great for off of contract customers but as mentioned before doubt people are willing to sling $650 upfront. 

 

I really hope these smaller companies take stabs at ATT And Verizon, These guys are getting way too greedy

post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by rumpels View Post

Wow, what a leap forward Virgin Mobile. You do the same as AT&T and Verizon, but with a different color. So dumb. What encourages me to want to change from one of those carriers to you? Absolutely nothing.

What? Not being forced into a two-year contract. Not being forced to pay an EFT if  you cancel your service. If I cancelled my AT&T service right now I would have to sell my phone to cover the cost of the EFT. If I were using Virgin Mobile's iPhone I could either keep the phone (expensive iPod touch), reestablish service later or sell the phone. 

 

No matter the carrier, I would rather pay for the phone upfront and then pay less per month since I am not subsidizing the phone. On carriers with a contract does your bill drop in price after your 2-year contract is up? No. This alone makes the Virgin Mobile (and others) a better deal in the long run.

post #8 of 33

Will they lock the GSM internationally?

I'm attending a US university in Fall and I want to buy an iPhone 4S. Here we use GSM and I have a cellphone plan with a local provider.

Where I stay in the US I only get Verizon or CDMA coverage (Bushkill PA). So I want to buy a phone from a CDMA provider in the US, that is GSM unlocked (at least internationally). 

post #9 of 33

I have VM right now and I'll say the network sucks. I don't know if the VM phones are set to a lower priority on towers, if that's even possible, but three different phones on VM network have all sucked for me. I don't mind enough to switch cause of the low monthly payment.  I do think VM phones already cost too much, not because the phones are terrible, but because VM network doesn't allow you to take advantage of them. Paying full price for an iPhone to not work due to signal is going to piss a lot of people off.  I'll probably be one of those people...
 

post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by amador_o View Post

I have VM right now and I'll say the network sucks. I don't know if the VM phones are set to a lower priority on towers, if that's even possible, but three different phones on VM network have all sucked for me. I don't mind enough to switch cause of the low monthly payment.  I do think VM phones already cost too much, not because the phones are terrible, but because VM network doesn't allow you to take advantage of them. Paying full price for an iPhone to not work due to signal is going to piss a lot of people off.  I'll probably be one of those people...
 

If that is the case, avoid Hulk syndrome and don't buy the phone.

post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by amador_o View Post
I have VM right now and I'll say the network sucks. Paying full price for an iPhone to not work due to signal is going to piss a lot of people off.  I'll probably be one of those people...

 

I'd like your location for reference, if that's not too much trouble. Just want to weigh my options.

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post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

So unlike Leap, Virgin iPhone will be unlocked thus the full $649 price?

 

Yes and no. CDMA is not really every unlocked because of the way that they id the phones. It's not a universal coding system like the IMEI for GSM phones. so that part is NOT unlocked or unlockable by nature, outside of the possibility that it can be switched to Sprint since Virgin is just renting service off them. 

 

It's a 4s so it has a sim for global roaming and that part should be unlocked. But that is not confirmed at this point so I'd verify that before buying. 

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post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by rumpels View Post

Wow, what a leap forward Virgin Mobile. You do the same as AT&T and Verizon, but with a different color. So dumb. What encourages me to want to change from one of those carriers to you? Absolutely nothing.

 

So you are dissing them because like the other boys they won't give you unlimited data amounts at full speed. Because that's the only thing they are doing the same. 

 

You get a locked iPhone on ATT and you pay at least 39.99 for voice and $20 for data on a tier of only 300MB with no texting plan. With a two year contract and up to $450 ETF if you break it, including wanting it unlocked. If you buy it unlocked you lose the contract and the ETF but the rates are the same. No cut back because they aren't paying any part of the device for you. 

 


Sprint and Verizon similar deals in terms of rates or no discount for buying full price. 

 

Virgin you buy full price and you pay for your service and nothing else. And a lot less in some respects. Sure your data is throttled but that is universal and for most folks 2.5 GB of cell data is plenty because they aren't planning to tether their computers and torrent 200 GB of stuff every month on cell data because the plan says "unlimited". Even if you don't count the auto payment discount you are paying less with Virgin than ATT's voice plan. Comparable plan with ATT would be 39.99+$30 (for 3gb of data) + $20. yes you are losing 450 voice minutes but these days many folks barely call anymore. It's email and texting. So not really an issue and even if you go up to the heavy voice plan that's still $50 a month, big discount over ATT etc. 

 

So where exactly is the dumb from the carriers. 

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post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmxing85 View Post

Has anyone else thought of switching their voice plan with a ipad Data plan for their Iphone? I mean $30 mo and you can make call with various VoIP apps.

 

That would conceivably only work with ATT service and might not work for long as they apparently scan their network to check that ICCIDs and IMEIs match up in terms of the type of device the ICCID was activated with and the type it is being used with. And if they catch you then they can charge you for the correct service since you gave them permission when you signed the terms of service. That rumor is probably most true if you have a grandfathered unlimited plan since they really want to get rid of the last of those

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post #15 of 33

Yep.  And, the savings are pretty big!  I have 3 iPhones.  Roughly, if I were to switch from Verizon to Virgin Mobile, I would save $2133 in 2 years and $3027 in 3 years.  Basically, the break even month is 18.  Every month after (and including) the 18th month, I would be saving approximately $110/mo ($1320/yr).

 

Also, Verizon hates their customers.  So, I'd be glad to switch if they have decent coverage.

 

Here's how I worked up the numbers:

 

Monthly Verizon Fee 200
Monthly Virgin Mobile Fee 90
Amount /mo Paying for Hardware 110
   
   
3 iphones at $649 1947
Months to break even 17.7
   
   
Total Verizon 24 months 4800
Total Virgin Mobile 24 months 2667
   
Savings after 24 months 2133
   
   
Total Verizon 36 months 7200
Total Virgin Mobile 36 months 3027
   
Savings after 48 months 4173
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by amador_o View Post

I have VM right now and I'll say the network sucks. I don't know if the VM phones are set to a lower priority on towers, if that's even possible, but three different phones on VM network have all sucked for me. I don't mind enough to switch cause of the low monthly payment.  I do think VM phones already cost too much, not because the phones are terrible, but because VM network doesn't allow you to take advantage of them. Paying full price for an iPhone to not work due to signal is going to piss a lot of people off.  I'll probably be one of those people...
 

Yes, you are definitely kicked off a tower before a Sprint customer would be.

post #17 of 33

To me, this sounds like a great deal. I HATE paying AT&T $109.44 for my iPhone plan. To pay Virgin $30 a month results in a savings of $79.44 each month. At that rate I'll pay for the iPhone's $649 price tag in just over 8 months. My usage easily falls within the Virgin plan limits indicated.
 

post #18 of 33

I come from working at Best Buy Mobile and based on the customers I had purchasing Virgin Mobile (or any pre-paid device for that matter) would absolutely cringe at the idea of paying $650 for a phone. 

Also, in my area the iPhone connectivity speeds were typically god awful on Sprint. I'm not sure if it's just an anomaly, but despite many customers floating in the "ignorance is bliss" category, they all were usually aware of this. 

post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I'd like your location for reference, if that's not too much trouble. Just want to weigh my options.

 

Downtown Chicago, where signal is the worst... and West Suburbs of Chicago (Elmhurst).

post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidness View Post

To me, this sounds like a great deal. I HATE paying AT&T $109.44 for my iPhone plan. To pay Virgin $30 a month results in a savings of $79.44 each month. At that rate I'll pay for the iPhone's $649 price tag in just over 8 months. My usage easily falls within the Virgin plan limits indicated.
 

You should just switch to Straight Talk. It's an MVNO for AT&T (similar to what Virgin Mobile is to Sprint - except Sprint owns VM but AT&T doesn't own Straight Talk). You can use an AT&T locked phone with Straight Talk. It's $45/mo for unlimited voice and text, plus the 2-3GB data (which they call "unlimited"). The only thing you give up is Visual Voicemail, the tethering option, and the option to roam internationally. In all other ways, you are on the AT&T network and get the same coverage and quality.

 

I should point out that, from a pure total cost perspective it makes no sense to ever buy a locked phone. When you incorporate the resale value, it's always cheaper to just buy the phone upfront and not get yourself into a long term contract. Maybe it's a cash flow decision for people who don't want to shell out the money upfront, but from a total cost of ownership you always pay more for a subsidized phone.

post #21 of 33
I have VM and love it. I first had an incredible with Verizon and then paid to cancel my contract so I could be with VM. I signed up when they had their $25 a month plan, and I'm locked in to that plan. I have no problem paying the full price, but I'd much. Rather have the newest iPhone when it comes out.

I live in salt lake city, Utah and have great coverage. I never drop calls.
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post
gallery_1_2_9704.jpg

 

Are my eyes going, or was this yellow before?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishyesque View Post
I have VM and love it. I live in salt lake city, Utah and have great coverage. I never drop calls.

 

There we go! That's what I want to see: People's experience with it AND where they live.

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post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by focher View Post

You should just switch to Straight Talk. It's an MVNO for AT&T (similar to what Virgin Mobile is to Sprint - except Sprint owns VM but AT&T doesn't own Straight Talk). You can use an AT&T locked phone with Straight Talk. It's $45/mo for unlimited voice and text, plus the 2-3GB data (which they call "unlimited"). The only thing you give up is Visual Voicemail, the tethering option, and the option to roam internationally. In all other ways, you are on the AT&T network and get the same coverage and quality.

 

I should point out that, from a pure total cost perspective it makes no sense to ever buy a locked phone. When you incorporate the resale value, it's always cheaper to just buy the phone upfront and not get yourself into a long term contract. Maybe it's a cash flow decision for people who don't want to shell out the money upfront, but from a total cost of ownership you always pay more for a subsidized phone.

 

Straight Talk is a discount brand of another discount company, TracFone. Like Straight Talk, TracFone doesn't have their own towers. It is the American subsidiary of America Movil, the Mexican telecommunications giant.

 

There are a few other things Straight Talk customers don't get. There are no amenities like micro-cells or free access to AT&T WiFi hotspots. Also, if you want a twenty-page bill that lists everyone you called or texted, you won't get that from Straight Talk. The customer account section of Straight Talk's website is really only good for managing payment options (e.g., adding refill cards or signing up for auto-pay). They don't provide a log of the numbers you've called/texted. They also don't provide any option to block callers. With Straight Talk you really are renting a dumb pipe.

 

From a total cost perspective, there is no sense to buy a subsidized handset. The sticker shock is apparently a motivator for some people. When comparing similar plans from AT&T and Straight Talk, the break-even point is at month six (early termination fee with AT&T not included).

 

AT&T: $199 subsidized handset, $36 activation/upgrade fee, $120 per month ($70 unlimited talk, $20 unlimited text, $30 cellular data 3GB). Six month out-of-pocket expenses: $955. Two-year out-of-pocket expenses: $3115

 

Straight Talk: $649 retail handset, $15 SIM card (one-time purchase), $45 per month (unlimited talk/text, cellular data 2GB soft cap). Six month out-of-pocket expenses: $934. Two year out-of-pocket expenses: $1744

 

Even if you went with the cheapest plan from the big three carriers, it's barely worth it.

 

AT&T (cheapest option): $199 subsidized handset, $36 activation/upgrade fee, $60 per month ($40 for 450 min. talk, no text plan, $20 cellular data 300MB). Six month out-of-pocket expenses: $595. Two-year out-of-pocket expenses: $1675.

 

So for three dollars more a month, I'm getting unlimited talk/text and an additional 1.7GB of cellular data. No contract, I can walk away at any time and not pay the pro-rated $325 early termination fee. Plus the handset is already unlocked, I can take it overseas and drop in a local SIM.

post #24 of 33

In addition to Straight Talk, there are a number of other AT&T MVNO with different pre-paid options. For example, if you are a light user, you can get a $10/mo plan from AirVoice wireless. 

 

For this reason, if I was to buy a contract iPhone, I would get it with AT&T because you have more options for pre-paid services (that make the switch as easy as inserting a new SIM) once your contract is over. Plus AT&T has great coverage where I live (Southeast Michigan) and has consistently much faster data speeds than Sprint or Verizon.


Edited by huffcw - 6/7/12 at 12:03pm
post #25 of 33

It would take a LOT to improve on THIS VM coverage map: http://www.virginmobileusa.com/check-cell-phone-coverage

 

Lotsa white space

post #26 of 33

Too bad Sprints coverage sucks and their speed is slow as balls.

post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I'd like your location for reference, if that's not too much trouble. Just want to weigh my options.

 

I'm in Erie, PA - crossroads of Interstates 90 and 79. 4th largest city in PA. It sucks here too. I switched to Straight Talk and have much, much better service for only $10 more than I was paying on Virgin Mobile. Found a nice iPhone 4 for less than $250 off ebay too.

post #28 of 33

I also have to disagree with this, at least in my area.  While speed obviously isn't always consistent, when I use my phone to hotspot, I can stream mlb.tv games, as well as netflix, with out any issue.

 

It all depends on the area.  The one thing that bothers me is the 2.5 limit before being throttled. Now I can't watch any kind of video until the next month starts.

post #29 of 33

This is exactly what I've been waiting for.  As tempting as the iPhone is, I see little benefit to getting tied to a costly contract with extra minutes and texting that I will never fully use.  To put things into perspective, I use a prepaid AT&T feature phone and refill $25 every 90 days with rollover minutes -- basically an entire year of cell phone service for $100.  At the moment, my prepaid balance is over $60, and in the entire time I've had the phone, I've only refilled the minutes inside of 90 days once.  For iOS apps, I use an iPod touch, which meets my needs most of the time, but I do see the utility in having a mobile data connection. So, I had been looking into ways of popping my SIM card into an unlocked iPhone and adding a data package on an as-needed basis, until AT&T cut off the data plans for its pay-as-you-go prepaid customers last month.  Virgin Mobile's $30/month plan is perfect for light talkers who primarily want the mobile data capability. 

 

The prepaid phone market is the fastest growing cell phone segment, and a major untapped market that Apple has yet to enter.  With the majority of contract customers already having moved over to smartphones, much of the low hanging fruit has already been picked. Despite the high device cost, I see a lot of opportunity for Apple here.
 

post #30 of 33
What virgin should do to reduce the sticker shock is offer to sell the iPhone in installments, like their sister company does over here in Oz. Here you can choose over 12 or 24 months if you don't want to pay it all upfront. So you pay $30 for the service and then an additional monthly amount for the hardware, which would differ depending on the model iPhone (16,32,64 GB). These additional payments cease once the phone is paid off, leaving you with $30/month.

More transparent, makes it easier to purchase.
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post #31 of 33

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

bargain hunters

 

It's horrifying to acknowledge our cost per year with AT&T averages $1134 per phone/per year.

 

Subsidizing phones hides the true cost of devices behind a thin veil and screws us all with high monthly rates. We should calculate, as closely as possible, our true cost over the useful lives of our devices.

 

Our case:

 

We keep our iPhones for about two years. Our actual AT&T bill is $171 (two iPhones, family talk). Assuming they have good coverage here (I'll look into that later), VM will offer service at $30 per month/per phone: the data and minute plans are about equal; VM’s text messaging plan is better (read: non-exploitative).

 

Since taxes account for 17% of our AT&T bill, for the summary below I've assumed the actual VM bill to be ~$36 per month/per phone after taxes. We live in New York, so we're well acquainted with enormous tax percentages and 'special' taxes (i.e. rental cars) inflating bills by shocking amounts.

 

AT&T

 

Two iPhones plus 8.25% sales tax [sic] @ $216.50  = $433

Two years @ $171/m  = $4104

Cost per phone/per year: ~$1134.25 (replacing every two years)

 

Total after two years: ~$4537

 

Virgin Mobile

 

Two iPhones and 8.25% sales tax @ $703.63  = $1407.25

Two years @ $72/m  = $1728

Cost per phone/per year: ~$783.81 (replacing every two years)

 

Total after two years: ~$3135.25

 
Our savings over two years ~$1402.75
Savings per phone/per year ~$350
post #32 of 33
Not worth the hassle. Long time Virgin customer but they seem completely unable to transfer my account to an iPhone. Over 8 hours on a landline with customer service, not counting 2 1/2 hours in a Radio Shack, and still no phone service. I am very tired of resetting phone and having people tell me they will fix it. Not to mention the couple of times I got dropped on hold and then had to go thought the totally worthless virtual assistant "Alex.". I guess you don't get what you pay for, I nw am the proud owner of the world's most expensive iPod Touch. They were even trying to sell me Apple Care after 5 hours of not being able to get the phone to work. Two different phones, no connectivity to Virgin and they act like this is normal. Save yourself from this purgatory and go with another provider.
post #33 of 33
I got the iPhone 4s from virgin mobile and it works great and I live in new York city
I pay $55 for 1200 min unlimited text and data and hot spot. Data speed works great
So I would say it a great deal. 😃
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