If your desire has long been to have an iPhone on Virgin Mobile, your wait is over. The Tech Fairy has granted your wish.
The iPhone became available on Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk Plan, a favorite cell phone plan of The Wonder of Tech, on Friday. The Beyond Talk plan offers unlimited data, unlimited text messages, and 300 minutes of talk time for $35/month without a contract. If you sign up for automatic payment of your bill using your credit card, debit card or PayPal, you can reduce that charge to $30/month with your iPhone plan.
Sounds perfect, right? Maybe. There are some important factors to consider before you rush out and grab an iPhone on Virgin Mobile.
1. It’s an iPhone.
2. Beyond Talk is a very inexpensive plan.
3. You get unlimited data, which is hard to come by these days. However, as I note below in the Cons section, Virgin Mobile’s unlimited data isn’t purely unlimited.
4. You don’t have to sign a contract. For those of you who are commitment-phobic or have other reasons for not wanting to sign up for a multi-year plan, Virgin Mobile may be a great fit.
5. Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint and uses the Sprint network. This Sprint coverage map will show you whether that’s actually a Pro or a Con.
6. Virgin Mobile international rates to call foreign countries can be quite low. For example, their rates to call China are 2¢/minute.
7. For $15 extra you can use your iPhone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
1. You have to pay full price for the iPhone. No subsidized pricing for the device.
- $549 for 8 GB iPhone 4
- $649 for 16 GB iPhone 4S
2. No 32 GB or 64 GB iPhones are available (though you can get the iPhone in black or white).
3. Unlimited data isn’t truly unlimited. Your speeds are reduced to 2g/Edge (very slow) after you use 2.5 GB of data in a month, or 3.5 GB of data if you have the mobile Wi-Fi hotspot option. The good news is that you won’t have overage charges if you go above that amount of data.
4. You can’t use Virgin Mobile phones outside the US.
5. Sprint network coverage won’t help you if you’re in Montana, most of Maine, Wyoming, Nevada and many other US states. Virgin Mobile coverage map.
6. Virgin Mobile has a limit of two iPhones per customer.
7. The iPhone has 3G speeds, not 4G.
8. Virgin Mobile is a locked system. Even though you’re paying full price for the phone, your iPhone will be locked to Virgin Mobile. You cannot use the phone on another network nor can you use a non-Virgin Mobile iPhone on the Virgin Mobile network. If you were to pay full price to buy the iPhone from Apple, you would get an unlocked phone that you could use with other networks, though not on Virgin Mobile.
I asked cell phone experts Mickey Papillon and Joey Koppes of The Cell Phone Junkie their opinion about whether paying full price for a locked iPhone from Virgin Mobile was a good deal when you can get it for the same price unlocked from Apple. Their opinion was that the price of the Virgin Mobile plan was such a good deal that it could make up for the fact that the phone is locked to Virgin Mobile. You can hear their insightful, in-depth response to my question on the Episode #317 of The Cell Phone Junkie podcast from June 24 at 58:30- 1:05:22.
Although you have to pay full price for a Virgin Mobile iPhone, the Beyond Talk plan is so much less expensive than other iPhone plans that you will save money in the long run by getting the iPhone on Virgin Mobile. In fact, you can make up the price difference between the iPhone on Virgin Mobile and on the other networks in under a year.
Here is a price comparison chart between the networks:
The savings are significant over two years, even with paying full price for the iPhone. Note that you can get other plans on Virgin Mobile, including unlimited voice minutes for $50/month or 450 minutes for $45/month, which includes unlimited data and text messages and which would still be less expensive than the Verizon and AT&T plans.
I have used the $30/month automatic payment price for Virgin Mobile’s costs. If you did not use that option, the cost for Virgin Mobile’s plan would be $120 higher over two years.
Android Phone Options
If you have to have an iPhone, well, then you have to have an iPhone. But you should know that Virgin Mobile has expanded their selection of phones to include two top-rated Android models, the HTC V Evo and the HTC One V. I have used both the Virgin Mobile Evo and the sister phone to the One V and they are both excellent phones.
The HTC Evo is $299 on Virgin Mobile and comes with 4G speeds and a very cool 3D camera. The phone runs the latest Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich. The screen is 4.3″ with a 540 x 960 pixel resolution, compared to the iPhone’s 3.5″ screen with Retina display. The phone has 8GB of internal memory which you can expand to 32 GB. The Evo has a dual core 1.2 GHz processor and can function as a Wi-Fi hot spot for an extra $15/month. The hotspot option gives you 1 GB of extra data each month, totaling 3.5 GB of data before your speeds are slowed to 2G/Edge speeds.
HTC One V
The HTC One V is $199 on Virgin Mobile and also runs Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich. The phone has a 3.7″ screen with a 480 x 800 pixel resolution for sharp visuals and has Beats Audio™ for high-quality audio. The phone has a 1.0 GHz dual-core processor and 3G speeds. The One V does not have a front-facing camera nor can it double as a Wi-Fi hot spot.
If you want an iPhone, Virgin Mobile has inexpensive rates and unlimited data and text plans that will save you a lot of money in the long run. You will have a larger initial cash outlay, but you will make that up in a few months. Be aware that there are some limitations on using the phone and that there are some worthy Android phones available for much less money. But if you want an iPhone on Virgin Mobile, your dream has come true!
Have you been wanting an iPhone on Virgin Mobile? Are you tempted by the Evo or One S Android phones? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* Tech Fairy image by Gita Rau