Virgin Mobile is now allowing customers to bring their own iPhones to its Inner Circle plan and get a year of unlimited talk, messaging and data for one dollar plus taxes. After the first year, the plan costs $50/month, but every time a customer upgrades to a new iPhone they get another six months of service for one dollar.
To qualify for this deal you need to have an iPhone that's compatible with Sprint's network and you also have to port a phone number from another (presumably non-Sprint based) operator. To check your eligibility, enter your iPhone's IMEI serial number, the phone number you want to port and your zipcode on the web form at www.virginmobileusa.com/plans/bring-your-device.html. If you qualify, Virgin Mobile will send you a free SIM along with instructions on setting up your iPhone on Inner Circle.
Virgin Mobile is rather vague about which iPhones qualify, saying only that "most" iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 7 Plus work on Inner Circle. However, non-Sprint iPhones need to be unlocked and the AT&T and T-Mobile versions of the iPhone 5s, 7 and 7 Plus do not support Sprint's CDMA voice network, so they obviously aren't going to work. Plus, Sprint has a history of being extremely picky and inflexible about which non-Sprint phones they will accept.
The Inner Circle plan includes unlimited on-network voice, messaging and high speed data plus unlimited voice, text and data on some of Sprint's roaming partners (labeled as Extended coverage on Virgin's coverage map) and 800 roaming minutes and 100 MB of roaming data on other Sprint roaming partners. Like most "unlimited" high speed data plans, there are some limits; video streaming is limited to 480p quality, audio streams are throttled to 500 kbps and gaming to 2 mbps. Customers using more than 23 GB of data in a month are subject to data de-prioritization when the network is congested. Using your phone as a hotspot costs an extra $10/month.
Unless it's extended, the one year of service offer ends August 31. After that, a dollar will still get you six months of service. The free SIM offer ends Sept 29, after that SIMs will be $25.
If you own an eligible iPhone and have a number to port and have Sprint coverage, this is an outstanding deal. There's no obligation to continue with Virgin after the first 12 months. I can see Inner Circle getting a lot of new customers with this offer, but I have doubts how many they will be able to keep after the first, essentially free year.
Sources: Press Release, Virgin Mobile site