Report: Virgin Mobile To Offer Prepaid iPhone Service

Days after Leap Wireless announced it would be the first prepaid carrier in the U.S. to offer the iPhone, Sprint’s Virgin Mobile division is set to throw its hat into the iPhone ring.

The Wall Street Journal cites “people familiar with the company’s plans” in its report that Virgin Mobile could start selling iPhones as soon as July 1.

What’s unknown is how much Virgin will charge for the service or for the actual phones. The company currently has a $35/month unlimited data plan (which is actually throttled after 2.5 GB/month), but that would be $20 less expensive than the $55 plan to be offered by Leap.

It’s also not known whether the Virgin iPhones would count toward Sprint’s commitment to purchase $15.5 billion worth of iPhones during the next four years.

Prepaid service has been a growth business for Sprint, which added 489,000 customers to Virgin and Boost Mobile in the first quarter of the year, while Sprint lost 192,000 contract customers.

Virgin has a big leg-up on Leap in the iPhone game, as the latter company’s service can only be purchased by about 20% of the U.S. population, while Virgin has access to Sprint’s network, which covers most more than four times the number of people.

Sprint’s Virgin Mobile to Offer iPhone [WSJ.com]

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  1. Coffee says:

    This is still pretty pricey compared to non-iphone prepaid plans out there…for example, the T-Mobile unlimited data plan, which includes 4GB of non-throttled speeds, 100 minutes of talk, and unlimited texting, is only $30/month. Also, purchasing those iphone without a rebate is going to be an expensive proposition. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t do it, only that it’s an expensive proposition.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, they could be, but it’s unlikely they will offer the latest and greatest iphone, it’s more likely they will offer a much older version which will have a much lower pricetag then current models.

      Done in that way it could be a big plus for Apple as it would give them a solid market for older, some might say obsolete, iphones.

      • Willow16 says:

        The oldest they can offer is the iPhone 4 since that’s the first version made for cdma.

  2. Costner says:

    Anyone have any experience with Virgin Mobile? I’ve actually been contemplating moving from big red (Verizon) over to Sprint just because I’m getting a little tired of the lack of customer service at Verizon… and I’m tired of having to play Agent Roulette every time I have a question. If Virgin is essentially the same as Sprint – maybe a non-contract flat fee plan is the way to go.

    • speaky2k says:

      I have it, and never had a problem with it that I needed to call customer service, so I don’t know how that is. The only thing I will warn you is that their coverage is lacking in some areas. In cities I have never had a problem, sometimes getting better reception then on my AT&T work phone. The issue is if you live or visit an area that is not densely populated you will have little or no service. Check the coverage map and you will see what I mean. Their phones will not roam so you can only use the true Sprint network.

    • calicopaisley says:

      Let me be the one to tell you that Virgin Mobile is ghettooooooo. Think the customer service with Verizon is bad? Just you wait til the barrel-of-monkeys grade fun starts, playing keypad bingo in elevator music limbo. You might get through to a human, eventually, if you press the right combination. I’m with a Virgin pay as you go phone because 1) I detest contracts 2) I hardly ever use my phone, ever 3) as a result of both I can’t afford to pay premium service fees. As someone who’s been coveting an iPhone as much as the next, and, well, the word is “used” to Virgin’s service, this deal is tempting. But if all you’re doing is defecting, I’d say stay where you are.

    • miguelggarcia says:

      I’m on Virgin and love it. However, I’ve never had to talk to any CSR (don’t even know if they have them). Data speed is ok, coverage is very good at an excellent price.

      • framitz says:

        They’re phone support and service are excellent.
        I reported the wrong phone stolen, called and it was corrected within minutes.
        My wife was out of service for about 10 minutes total.

    • ShadowJack says:

      I’ve had a Virgin Mobile phone for about 7 years now and I haven’t had any complaints. Last year I upgraded to an Android phone and got one of their data plans(300 min, unlimited texting and data). My one call to tech support was to move my number from my old phone to my new one. I did get an outsourced tech support who were competent and timely.

    • LionMan says:

      Virgin is run by Sprint, but there is no roaming, so you will definitely want to check out the coverage maps. When you are out of Sprint territory, you will have no more phone service.

    • Belle says:

      My husband and I are both on Virgin Mobile. His experience is perfect. Smooth transition, he has never had to call in. I have had multiple problems with my line (for no discernible reason since we had the exact same phone). If you’re coming over for better customer service, don’t do it. If you want to save money and don’t require customer service, go ahead and switch. The main reason I am with VM is the cost. The plan is perfect for my needs and the service and coverage is good.

    • framitz says:

      I’ve used Virgin for about 3 years and 4 phones.
      Early on there were issues with their web site and paying for service, but it has been polished nicely since then.

      I see no reason to consider going elsewhere, service and coverage are excellent, and the phones are decent.

    • BeamMeUp says:

      I have had smart phones (Optimus V and a Samsung intercept for my son) on Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk plan for years. Been very happy with them, including the replacement phone for my son’s Intercept when one morning he couldn’t hear anyone when he called anymore. :)

    • Riroon13 says:

      Other than some minor set-up problems (easily resolved by VM’s STATESIDE customer service), my experience with Virgin has been excellent. My family has three phones with them — two Optimus (Optimi?) plus an HTC.

      We cut our contract phones about two years ago and never looked back.

    • pamelad says:

      I’ve been using Virgin Mobile for eight+ years. It only costs me $7.21 per month including tax. Suits my needs just fine, but I’m not a cell-phone yakker. I just use the phone for outgoing calls and for occasional incoming calls. I’ve only had one dropped connection, and that includes active connections in airports in several U.S. locations.

      My credits carry on to the next three-month period. Their customer service has been fine.

      • gttim says:

        I did the same for years. What a deal- a bit over $7 a month. Then I went smartphone and let the service go. For regular phone use it was fantastic.

    • Lendon85 says:

      I’ve had Virgin Mobile service for 9 years or so and have only had one problem a few years ago. I went on-line to do my $20 90 day top-up. The next day I realized it didn’t go through. I thought I had made an error and went on-line to try again. This time I received the credit and thought everything was fine. A few days later I was looking at my bank statement and realized that I had two $20+ debits from VM even though they had only given me credit for one. I called VM’s customer service at least 5 times and they refused to admit or acknowledge the mistake and refund my money. They could even have sent me a $20 top up card to use next time, but they wouldn’t do anything and acted like I was the idiot. One rep kept insisting the second charge was just pending and “it would drop off”. I was sitting right there looking at my bank statement! I finally went to my credit union to file a dispute and they refunded the money to me. I thought about cancelling my service with VM but I was too lazy to look for another cell phone carrier and at the time that was pretty much the best deal around.

    • TexasMama37 says:

      I’ve had Virgin Mobile prepaid service for many years. I’ve contacted customer service through the website (e-mail) several times and always get a quick reply that actually answers my question. I’ve called them a couple of times, too, and have been pleased with the service. I left VM a few months ago to try a special deal Metro PCS was offering and I regretted it right away. I’m back with Virgin Mobile now. We have 3 phone lines with them — one for me, one for my dh, and one for my kids to share.

  3. speaky2k says:

    Let’s see… I have a Droid on the $25 ($35 to new customers or when switching phones) plan that is less than a year old that I paid $100 for. If I were to change phones at this point I would just go to a better Droid since I already have my favorite apps and like Droid’s. However this is a nice thing for those people who can’t live without an Apple product but can’t afford the data plans on them. I just wish the coverage was better some times, while other times I am glad I have the excuse of no service especially when I want to get out of populated areas.

    • framitz says:

      I’m grandfathered too, the only reason I don’t go for the new HTC 4g phone is the increase in monthly cost.

  4. Yogambo says:

    How does this work with off contract phones? Can you use one or are you obligated to buy their equipment? To me it’s not quite prepaid when you have to buy their equipment rather than just their service.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      I think that is the natural trade-off.

    • framitz says:

      I would much rather purchase my phone outright with no contract.
      If I was to upgrade every time Virgin offered a new phone it wouldn’t be such a great deal, but keeping a phone and paying monthly is still a bargain in my book.

      My wife is using my phone from two phones back, she loves it, it is rock solid reliable (only been rebooted once in 3 years).

      My 5 year old grand daughter uses my previous Android phone (deactivated) as an excellent and inexpensive game, education, and media machine (via WiFi only).

    • Weekilter says:

      If it’s like Sprint and every other CDMA carrier the answer is no. You must get a phone from them or one with an ESN/MEID that is within the range of phones that are or have been in their system. Even if you get the iPhone 4S which has the radios for both CDMA and GSM the CDMA carriers won’t let you use a phone that they have not sold.

    • Willow16 says:

      Virgin Mobile requires you to buy their phones. Other prepaid phone companies will allow you to bring your own phone. Do your research and find the best service for your situation.

    • KPS2010 says:

      You have to pay $650 for the phone. Who the hell would pay this to be on Sprints slow netowrk and when there’s a new iphone coming in the next yr or so???

  5. framitz says:

    I’m a Virgin Mobile customer, the service is great and inexpensive.

    I’m more interested in the HTC (4G) phone running ICS that they have right now, but I can’t justify upgrading.

    I just can’t work up any interest in an Apple phone.

  6. gedster314 says:

    Great, Sprint’s anemic network is already overload. Coming soon, 50 kbps 3G for everyone.

  7. mbz32190 says:

    I tried ‘threatening’ Sprint to give me a new deal on a phone (not an expensive or overly fancy one, not even 4G, but even with my “upgrade credit” it was still going to cost me $100 out of pocket, then wait for a $50 rebate. The price for new customers…free), or I was jumping to Virgin Mobile…they basically said whatever. Made no sense as I would have to upgrade my plan too to even get an Android, so that was another $120+ a year in their pocket. (Going with T-Mobile prepaid instead for the 4G speed).
    Why do people still sign cell phone contracts?

    • rdaex says:

      soooo… You told a company “Im going to cancel with you if you dont give me a 400 dollar phone for 100 dollars… and if you DONT do this, Im going to go to your prepaid carrier, where I cost you SIGNIFICANTY less on a phone and still pay you money”
      I too am shocked they didnt bend over backwards and lick your boots while doing it

  8. T&J says:

    Virgin Mobile has a great low price. But, depending on where you live, “great” poor quality. In Southern Idaho, the Sprint, Virgin, Boost coverage follows I-84 from East to West. Get a few miles from I-84 and there is no or low signal coverage. From Boise, the signal is almost non-existent North of the city limits until you get to a town 75 miles away.

    I have Virgin Mobile because it is cheap and I rarely get out of town. If I had a 4G Apple iPhone, my “unlimited” 2.5 Gigabyte monthly quota would be devoured in the first day. I probably will not spend $600-700 dollars for a phone that I would only be able to talk on.

  9. incident_man says:

    Let’s see now……$400-$600 iPhones coupled with Sprint’s slow-ass data speeds and sucky coverage (no roaming on Virgin), and Virgin’s abysmal customer service……THAT *wonderful* combination has “FAIL” written ALL over it.

    Hopefully, those who spring for such an “offering” find out that they’re really buying a pig-in-a-poke before their 15-day return period runs out.

    • incident_man says:

      Disclosure: I used to have a Sprint post-paid SERO plan (with roaming) and their coverage and data speeds were so bad even then that it was an easy decision for me to switch to someone else.

      Oftentimes, a low monthly price isn’t worth the limitations or the hassles.

  10. KPS2010 says:

    Why would someone pay $650 for the phone and pray for decent service through Sprint? I’m a current Sprint customer right now and speeds are around .5 megs when not on 4G or wifi. Service has gone to hell since Sprint got the iphones and now add all the Virgin iphones and your $30 a month for unlimited data will blow.

    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/06/07/apples_iphone_coming_to_virgin_mobile_with_30mo_plans_june_29.html

  11. notserpmh says:

    This is confirmed and on their website:

    http://www.virginmobileusa.com/iphone

    It is coming June 29th. All the same plans apply and it looks like they are adding in a $5 discount per month if you auto-pay. From what I have seen, it looks like the phone will be $500 or $550, but that doesn’t seem 100% confirmed yet.

  12. do-it-myself says:

    I was excited about this news until I read that Virgin Mobile runs on Sprint crap of a network. Nothing to see here….literally because seeing 4G coverage on a phone is more of an urban legend, and their 3G makes Dial Up look great! Unfortunately my signal was great from about July 2011-October 2011 (when iPhone became available on Sprint). Fortunately for me HTC Evos are currently getting slightly better speeds than the iPhone4S…but not by much. I’m jumping ship in a year. I “was” a Sprint Premier customer, but they dumped the program. My free 1 year upgrade is good until later this year, but why would I risk signing a shiny 2 two year contract to get it?

  13. do-it-myself says:

    I was excited about this news until I read that Virgin Mobile runs on Sprint crap of a network. Nothing to see here….literally because seeing 4G coverage on a phone is more of an urban legend, and their 3G makes Dial Up look great! Unfortunately my signal was great from about July 2011-October 2011 (when iPhone became available on Sprint). Fortunately for me HTC Evos are currently getting slightly better speeds than the iPhone4S…but not by much. I’m jumping ship in a year. I “was” a Sprint Premier customer, but they dumped the program. My free 1 year upgrade is good until later this year, but why would I risk signing a shiny 2 two year contract to get it?