Pre-paid cellular fans rejoice. AT&T GoPhone service is about to get much better for those looking for a contract-free iPhone. GoPhone now officially supports the iPhone, according to MacRumors, including Visual Voicemail and full LTE and HSPA+ data service. Previously, iPhone owners could subscribe to GoPhone for calls, but with no data access.
This means iPhones can be purchased at full retail price and activated on GoPhone, or existing iPhone owners can migrate their devices to the network. Three service plans are available, including a $65 per month plan that comes with 1 GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. Less pricey plans are also an option, coming in at $25 and $50 per month not including data.
Reports first cropped up last summer that pre-paid iPhones were coming to several carriers in the US, starting with Cricket and Boost Mobile. Boost was expected to start sales of the iPhone 4 and 4S models starting in September 2012, however the rumor never came true. Now instead of being the second carrier to offer a pre-paid iPhone, a new report from AppleInsider says Boost may be the fourth in line with sales starting during the third quarter of this year.
One reason why iPhone fans are watching Boost closely is the carrier currently offers an unlimited talk, text and data plan for only $50 per month. If Boost, which utilizes the Sprint network, offers this plan for iPhone owners it would be highly competitive and could save subscribers significant amounts of money over the life of their iPhone.
Prepaid iPhones have arrived at Virgin Mobile, giving those who prefer a contract-free smartphone a new option. Virgin joins Cricket Wireless in offering the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S unsubsidized with month-to-month billing.
Pricing is set at $650 for the 16 GB iPhone 4S, and $550 for the 8 GB iPhone 4, matching Apple's currently listed unlocked iPhone prices. Although this may cost more than Verizon's or AT&T's subsidized devices with a two-year contract, customers can save on data plans with Virgin Mobile.
Cricket Wireless has launched the first pre-paid iPhone in the U.S. this weekend. Circket is offering a 16GB no contract iPhone 4S for $500, and an 8GB iPhone 4 for $400. AT&T, Sprint and Verizon offer the 16GB iPhone 4S for $200 with a two year agreement. A pre-paid Cricket iPhone also comes with a $55 unlimited calling and text messaging plan with 2.3GB of data.
A Cricket representative told CNET that the phone is available at their retail stores and select dealers. The rep also claimed that they are experiencing "brisk" customer activity.
Cricket covers around 60 million Americans compared to AT&T' and Verizon's 300 million.
Sprint is looking to sell as many iPhones as possible thanks to its deal with Apple. Now the company is moving to offer a pre-paid iPhone to customers through its Virgin Mobile brand in the US. The iPhone will be available on the carrier starting on July 1.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of news that carriers Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless will offer pre-paid iPhones starting this summer. Cricket will be the first carrier to sell a pre-paid iPhone with no contract in the US. The company plans to begin offering the device along with a $150 subsidy on June 22.
Wireless carrier Cricket has announced it will be offering two iPhone models pre-paid with no contract starting on June 22. The iPhone 4 or the iPhone 4S will be available subsidized for $400 and $500 respectively. This pricing is $150 cheaper than buying a no-commitment iPhone 4S from Apple.
Besides no contract, Cricket offers the advantage of an unlimited talk, text and data plan for only $55 per month. This undercuts all of the major carriers, although Cricket will throttle data speeds when customers exceed 2.3 GB during the billing period.
If you're looking to save money with your GSM iPhone, Straight Talk provides a pre-paid option without unlocking or jailbreaking. Straight Talk offers iPhone owners an unlimited data, voice and text plan for just $45 per month. This is less than half the price of standard plans from AT&T.
Straight Talk is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), which means the carrier operates using other networks including AT&T and T-Mobile. Once you get a micro-SIM card from Straight Talk for your AT&T iPhone, the device won't know the difference.
Another day, another iPhone rumor... BGR is sticking to their earlier report that a new iPhone will be released this August, but this time their unnamed source also revealed that Apple plans to offer a cheaper prepaid iPhone and their next generation device by the end of this summer.
According to Boy Genius Report, Apple will begin selling the iPhone 3GS for around $350 with no contract. Their "incredibly solid source" could not confirm the iPhone 5 with teardrop design that they announced back in June, but they did confirm that the next generation iPhone will be announced by "late August-ish."
Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore thinks Apple should and will embrace the mid-range/pre-paid mobile phone market in 2011. Two-thirds of the 1.5 billion mobile customers worldwide are pre-paid users, and Whitmore believes Apple will try to reach these customers by releasing an unlocked iPhone priced between $300 and $500. Perhaps the iPhone 4S?
“With Nokia and RIMM struggling,” Whitmore said, “the time is right for Apple to aggressively penetrate the mid range smart-phone market to dramatically expand its market share.”
Whitmore predicts that an affordable iPhone priced around $349 will not negatively impact profitability, and will help give Apple a bigger share of the $70 billion worldwide market.