For the first time, Apple's top-selling iPhone will soon be available for prepaid service in the U.S., courtesy of Cricket Communications.
The San Diego-based carrier, a subsidiary of Leap Wireless International, will start selling the 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 and 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S starting June 22 for $399 and $499, respectively.
Higher-Priced Phone, Lower Plan
Cricket customers would then pay $55 monthly for unlimited talk, text and data , somewhat lower than plans from Verizon Wireless, AT&T or Sprint Nextel -- and only the latter offers unlimited data for new customers. To keep users from jamming Cricket's data network , a "fair usage policy" kicks in after 2.3 gigabytes. "Once you reach your usage level your speed will be reduced, " reads the small print.
The price of Cricket's iPhone, however, is much higher than the cost of a phone subsidized by the major carriers, which is $99 for the iPhone 4 or $199 for the 4S. The subsidized cost of the 4S may go even lower after Apple releases the next iPhone, which is expected late this summer.
Still, the Cricket iPhone is cheaper than the cost of an unlocked iPhone from Apple, which starts at $549. The unlocked iPhone 4 or 4S only works on GSM networks such as AT&T. Cricket operates on a CDMA network.
Peter Han of Current Analysis told us the iPhone is a breakthrough for the prepaid market.
"Prepaid consumers are usually price sensitive and are not willing to spend too much for a handset," Han said. "However, the iPhone is uniquely desirable. The prepaid iPhone is still subsidized, but not as heavily as the postpaid iPhones from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless."
Cricket's version may be appealing, he said, because the monthly plan is more affordable than postpaid and so the higher upfront cost would be mitigated over time.
"With Apple introducing a prepaid iPhone in the U.S., it does open up the possibility for the iPhone launching at other prepaid carriers," Han said.
Attractive as the plan may be, you won't be able to take an off-contract or unlocked iPhone to Cricket Communications.
"It would need to be purchased from Cricket to work on the Cricket network," spokesman, Greg Lund told us Thursday.
The iPhones will be available at Cricket stores and select dealers in 60 markets and online. The company claims 6.2 million customers in all 50 states. In addition to no contracts, Cricket also boasts that there is no activation fee.
Cricket is the latest carrier to gain access to the world's most popular smartphone after AT&T lost its exclusive distribution rights in February 2011. Several regional carriers also offer the iPhone.
Doug Hutcheson, president and chief executive officer of Leap Wireless, said in a statement that the company was "excited to bring iPhone to our prepaid consumers with an industry leading $55 per-month service plan."
"Launching iPhone is a major milestone for us and we are proud to offer iPhone customers attractive nationwide coverage, a robust 3G data network and a value-packed, no-contract plan," Hutcheson said.
Posted: 2012-06-22 @ 3:38pm PT
You can also get the iPhone with no contract with H2O ( http://www.h2osim.com ) they offer unlimited talk, text and web all with no contract and you can use any AT&T or Verizon iPhone and there is no need to unlock it.
Posted: 2012-06-13 @ 6:40pm PT
Dear "Annoyed with ignorance": I'm annoyed at ignorance too, but the iPhone 4S will NOT support AWS. That's why Cricket is limiting the cities to only those that use "regular" CDMA frequencies.
Posted: 2012-06-01 @ 6:12pm PT
well their stock will be up soon.
Annoyed with ignorance:
Posted: 2012-05-31 @ 9:55pm PT
Ben... Obviously you didn't read the post.. No switching.. The cricket iPhone will be supported on the aws bandwidth .. And incidentally crickets service is quite stellar and a hell of a Lot better than AT&T .. In addition they have agreements with Verizon and sprint for areas that they don't cover..
Posted: 2012-05-31 @ 7:37pm PT
StraightTalk has the "industry-leading" plan at $45 per month. It works with GSM iPhones and should have better coverage than Cricket. I wonder if you can buy the CDMA iPhone from cricket and switch the next month to Verizon for their new $50 per month plan....