Virgin Mobile prepaid brand will begin offering the Apple iPhone starting June 29. Virgin thus becomes the second US carrier, after Leap Wireless' Cricket, to sell the iPhone directly to customers.
While most industry observers expected Virgin to match Cricket's subsidized pricing of $399.99 for the iPhone 4 and $499.99 for the iPhone 4S, an iPhone from Virgin will set you back $549 for the iPhone 4 and $649 for the 4S.
In spite of the higher initial cost, total cost of iPhone ownership is likely to be less with Virgin. Cricket requires a $55/month plan that includes unlimited voice, messaging and data (throttled after 2.3 GB/month). Virgin's unlimited everything plan is also $55/month but there are also plans with unlimited data and messaging but fewer minutes; $45/month for 1200 minutes and $30/month for 300 minutes. Data all three Virgin plans is throttled after 2.5 GB. A $15/month mobile hotspot option will also be available with the Virgin iPhone. It allows using the phone as a wireless WiFi hotspot and increases the un-throttled data allotment to 3.5GB.
Virgin Mobile is making another change that makes it's plans even more affordable. Customers who sign up for automatic monthly payments with a credit or debit card or PayPal get a $5 discount on monthly plans reducing the cost to as little as $30. While this sounds good, Virgin charges state taxes on automatic refills, even in states like California that do not tax prepaid refills. You can avoid the tax by using a refill PIN purchased online or locally. Virgin's announcement doesn't say if the the $5 auto-pay discount applies to all customers or only iPhone users.
Source: Press Release