Price drop! Virgin Mobile, which uses Sprint cell towers, offers the Apple iPhone as of June 2012. The plans start at only $30 a month – as outlined below – but you must buy a phone from them. The prices have recently dropped- 8GB iPhone 4 is $349 (from $549) and the 16GB iPhone 4S is now $449 (down from $649). Even though this is a higher upfront cost, your monthly bill can be much, much lower with Virgin which will save you hundreds over the course of a 2-year contract.
Their Beyond Talk plans at just $30 a month will get you 300 voice minutes, unlimited text messages, and unlimited data (throttled after 2.5 GB each month). For $50 a month, you can get unlimited minutes. To get the $5 discount, you must sign up for automatic monthly payment with a credit card, debit card or PayPal account. No contract. Here are all the plans:
The site also suggests that you don’t have to pay those government taxes and fees that amount to ~$5 a month on most postpaid plans, although you may be subject to sales tax:
All of the Beyond Talk Plans are inclusive of taxes and surcharges. However, we collect sales taxes on all Top-Up transactions for all services that we process directly and, in certain states, we collect regulatory fees. Retailers are responsible for collecting sales taxes and, in some states, regulatory fees for Top-Up transactions that they process.
Is this a good deal? Since we’re using the Sprint network, let’s run some numbers:
Cheapest Plan – Total 2-Year Cost
If you went directly with Sprint, the 16GB iPhone 4S would be $99 with 2-year contract. The cheapest plan on their website is 450 anytime minutes + free nights and weekends + free to any mobile + unlimited text and data for $80 a month ($70 + $10 smartphone fee). Thus the total 2-year cost would be $100 + 24 x $80 = $2,020 plus government taxes and fees.
If you did the cheapest Sprint Everything Plus Referral Program (meant for friends of employees) which includes 500 anytime minutes + free nights and weekends + free to any mobile + unlimited text and data, it would cost $70 a month ($60 + $10 smartphone fee). Thus the total 2-year cost would be $100 + 24 x $70 = $1,780 plus government taxes and fees.
AT&T and Verizon charge $60-$80 a month minimum for a basic plan with limited data.
With Virgin Mobile, the total 2-year cost of the 16GB iPhone 4S with the $30 a month plan would be $450 + 24 x $30 = $1,170 + sales taxes. We see that over a 2-year period, Virgin Mobile would be $600-$800 cheaper, although you’d only get 300 minutes with no nights, no weekends, no mobile-to-mobile. (There are several apps where you can make calls using only data or WiFi.)
Unlimited Minutes + Data for $45/month from Straight Talk Prepaid
Want unlimited minutes, data, and text for less? Have a used or out-of-contract iPhone? Check out the Straight Talk SIM with iPhone plan, where you switch SIM cards and bring over your AT&T iPhone and get on their $45 a month prepaid plan which includes unlimited minutes, text, and data. Since it’s prepaid, government taxes and fees are already included! You can find cheap compatible iPhones at Cowboom.com, such as the iPhone 4 AT&T for under $300.
Still in an iPhone contract (any carrier)? Check if you are eligible for a student or employee discount, including possible savings just for being a credit union member. You can apply these for a discount on your current plan, even in the middle of a contract.