Virgin Mobile escalates iPhone price war

Virgin Mobile escalates iPhone price war

Almost from the start, U.S. wireless carriers and retailers have offered cash cards, discounts and other incentives to get people to buy the new iPhone 5c and 5s. Now Virgin Mobile is stepping it up a notch with the cheapest deal I've seen on an unsubsidized phone.

Virgin Mobile has cut the price of the iPhone 5c to starting at $359.99, while the iPhone 5s starts at $459.99 (both for 16 GB models). That's the lowest unsubsidized price I can recall seeing on Apple's latest phones. As a point of comparison, an unlocked 16 GB iPhone 5c purchased directly from Apple will cost you $549 while an unlocked 16 GB iPhone 5s costs $649.

Virgin Mobile is a prepaid wireless carrier that is owned by Sprint, and the devices they sell are accordingly locked to Sprint's CDMA network. The company offers what it calls "Beyond Talk" plans with unlimited messaging and 2.5 GB of 4G data starting at $35 per month.

You can find Virgin Mobile's products on store shelves at big box retailers like Best Buy, but the deals on iPhones appear to be web exclusives.

Is the low price of a Virgin Mobile iPhone and its monthly rate enough to make you switch? Or is Sprint's network still too spotty in your area? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Virgin Mobile escalates iPhone price war


Totally worth it to stick to a company that actually always (for the most part) works. Sure Verizon is a little pricier, but I always have LTE & service and that's what ultimately counts for a mobile. Even if you're saving a few bucks, what's the point if service is terrible?

Location is everything. Perhaps some people have great reception from Sprint/Virgin wherever they go.

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Agree. Always having LTE and coverage is something not worth giving up for a little bit of savings with sub par service

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In my location, both Sprint and Verizon have good LTE. However, Verizon's LTE is worthless because of the monthly caps. I switched to Sprint from Verizon and am really happy withe their network. BTW, their customer service is also much better than VZW. Once my contract runs out I'll have the option to switch to an MVNO like VM off of Sprint - that's not possible with VZW.

It's been said that Virgin Mobile USA will never unlock any of their iPhones, which sucks because you're never on contract to begin with and you're paying for it outright. Anyone who tells you differently is quoting from the Virgin Mobile Australia website, and their Q&A only pertains to Australian customers.

If you're looking to get an iPhone that *could* be used internationally or other carriers, don't take this shortcut, and just buy it outright (or go to a carrier that will eventually unlock it for you).

I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina where unfortunately the coverage for Sprint and T-Mobile is a little to spotty to switch. However should that change in the future I would definitely switch.