The iPhone 4S has found its second no-contract home in just the last week. First announced for Cricket Wireless, this time Apple's flagship device is coming to Virgin Mobile. The plans are plenty affordable, but you'll pay a pretty penny up front. Beginning June 29th, you'll be able to pick up the iPhone 4S on Virgin for $649, while the iPhone 4 will cost $549. So what can you save over the long haul?
Plans start as low as $30 per month, which includes 300 voice minutes, unlimited texts, and unlimited data (which is really 2.5 GB). That's assuming that yousign up for automatic monthly payments either via a credit card, debit card or PayPal account. Otherwise, the cost is still a very reasonable $35 per month. You can step up to 1,200 mintues for $40 and unlimited minutes for $50. By comparison, you would pay $89.99 per month on Verizon Wireless for 450 voice minutes, unlimited texts, and 2GB of data.
If you want to use the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 as a mobile hotspot, that will cost an additional $15 per month.
On the surface, the no-contract iPhone 4S from Cricket would seem to be the better deal. It costs just $499 up front, but the unlimited voice and data plan will run you $55 per month. Over two years that's $1,819, compared to a much cheaper $1,369 for the Virgin version (although with less voice minutes.) If you went the unlimited minute route on Virgin, you would wind up paying $30 more than Cricket over two years.
But Virgin has another advantage. It rides on Sprint's nationwide network, which offers more widespread coverage. So as long as you don't mind forking over extra up front, Virgin's iPhone is a pretty good deal over the long haul.