The iPhone is coming to Virgin Mobile USA — the month-to-month wireless service at Sprint Nextel Corp. — but without a discount on the pricey device.
An iPhone 4S 16GB will carry a $649 price tag to deliver the $35 to $55 a month service, though a $5 service discount is available with an automatic payment plan. An iPhone 4 8GB device will cost $549.
Sprint’s offer, to begin June 29, follows Leap Wireless International’s offer through Cricket Wireless last week.
Cricket announced its offer of an iPhone without a two-year service contract and with about a $150 discount on the iPhone price.
At $55, the unlimited service offer from Virgin is priced the same as Cricket’s. Jeff Auman, vice president of Virgin Mobile, said the $5 discount for automatic payment gave Virgin’s offer an edge.
Cricket also isn’t offering the iPhone in all markets.
Even Cricket’s discounted phone price drew some question about how many customers would pop for an iPhone that, until now, has been available from wireless carriers only under two-year service plans that included a large discount for the phone.
Auman said the monthly service charge on an iPhone from Virgin was lower than the two-year contracts’ charge.
“The tradeoff is you pay more (for the iPhone) than if you had a subsidized price with a contract,” Auman said.
Virgin’s full-price iPhones also will be locked for use only on the Sprint network. Buyers would not be able to move the phone to another carrier despite having paid for it upfront.
Three Virgin iPhone plans offer unlimited data and messaging, with the most expensive also providing unlimited voice minutes. Details are at www.virginmobileusa/iphone.
Virgin said the phones would operate on Sprint’s 3G CDMA network and carry no contract, no activation fees and no roaming charges.
The phones will be available at Virgin online, RadioShack, Best Buy and other retailers.
Sprint shares rose 2 cents Thursday, closing at $2.74.
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