Comparing Prepaid iPhone Plans - Straight Talk, Cricket and Virgin Mobile
So you want to ditch the contract plan but still want your cake in the form of iPhone goodness, eh? Wise move on your part! That's why today, we are comparing the 3 Prepaid iPhone options in the US market, the Straight Talk Sim card plan, Virgin Mobile and Cricket.
First things first, Straight Talk does not sell iPhones. What they do sell is a sim card that can be used on either an AT&T locked or carrier unlocked iPhone . This is by far the most flexible and economical way of going prepaid. The Straight Talk sim card will only set you back around 20 bucks and there are many used 3g, 3gs, 4 and 4s models to be had. Remember, Cricket and Virgin are not subsidizing the phones so they will cost a pretty penny. It's flexible because you can always go back to your contract plan with the same phone. As with all things in life, however, there is no free lunch. With the Straight Talk sim card, your voice and data will work right out of the box, however, your MMS (picture messaging/text) will only work out of the box if your phone is of the unlocked variety. That being said, and again as with all things in life, there is a work around this problem! It will take a bit of work on your part to jailbreak the phone and install an app that will let you use MMS. Read all about getting MMS working on Straight Talk.
Straight Talk Sim Card Details
Sim card costs around $20 shipped
Will work with either AT&T locked iPhone or Carrier unlocked iPhone
You can port in your existing number from any carrier.
Can be activated using AT&T or TMobile networks. TMobile will require carrier unlocked iPhone
Any model iPhone will work, either new or used. Find which iPhone is best for you
$45 unlimited voice and "unlimited data", however if AT&T activated, the AT&T 2gig limit will apply on data
Suitable for any budget, low upfront costs, existing iPhones will work, low monthly price, flexibility to leave Straight Talk to another carrier.
MMS takes some work or may not work at all
Virgin Mobile is the new kid here, following closely on the heels of the Cricket iPhone. This is the second best option because Virgin uses the Sprint network. This means your coverage area will be superior to that of Cricket. With Virgin, however, you CANNOT bring your own phone. You MUST buy the phone from Virgin. Since Virgin is a prepaid carrier, they will not subsidize the phone costs, so you will be paying full out of pocket price to the tune of $650, OUCH!! and only the 4s is available. Additionally, the phone will NOT work on AT&T or TMobile because it is a CDMA phone. Despite the price, you will probably get your money back in terms of monthly savings over contract by years end, so it's still a pretty good deal. You will also enjoy more data with Sprint as they say they are "truly unlimited". Another nice thing is that Virgin offers 3 plans, $35, $45 and $55 unlimited.Find out More
Virgin Mobile iPhone Details
$650 up front for cost of phone, only 4s is available
Flexible $35, $45 and $55 calling plans for all budgets
Network service provided by Sprint
Port your current cell phone number from another carrier
Flexible calling plans that will pay you back for the phone in terms of savings, more data by using Sprint
High up font cost, cannot bring your own phone, only 4s model available
The Cricket iPhone plan is last on the list, namely because their calling area is so limited. As such, short of living in a larger city, you will probably not be able to find Cricket locally. Unlike other prepaid providers, Cricket has their own CDMA network so it is somewhat limited. You cannot bring your own iPhone so you will need to purchase one from them. That said, the phones are more affordable and they do have the 4s and 4 available. On the downside, unlike Virgin, they only have 1 calling plan priced at $55.
Cricket iPhone Details
$499 for iPhone 4s and $399 for iPhone 4
$55 unlimited calling plan
Uses Crickets own proprietary network
Port your existing cell phone number from another carrier
More affordable iPhone prices, make up phone price in terms of monthly savings over contract, port your existing number.
High up font cost, cannot bring your own phone, limited calling network