updated 09:47 am EDT, Thu May 31, 2012
Apple takes first step into US prepaid market
Cricket Wireless will start carrying the iPhone on June 22nd, the carrier has announced. The move will make it the first mainland US carrier to offer the iPhone as a prepaid device instead of on contract. An 8GB iPhone 4 will cost $400, while a 16GB iPhone 4S will be $500. A $55 monthly fee will get people "unlimited" voice, texting, and data, though data is throttled after reaching 2.3GB.
Cricket iPhones are locked to the carrier, but still cost significantly less than unlocked models -- an unlocked iPhone 4 is $549. Apple has traditionally resisted making the iPhone available on prepaid plans, both in and outside of the US. An iPhone is substantially more expensive than most prepaid devices; contracts allow carriers to spread the real price over the course of two or more years.
Open Mobile, a carrier that serves only the US territory of Puerto Rico, was the first US-based carrier to offer prepaid iPhones, but Cricket's move on the mainland cements the new frontier. With Cricket onboard, Apple could be ready to secure deals with other American prepaid carriers. Likely candidates include Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, which are both owned by Sprint. Sprint itself began carrying the iPhone for the first time last October.