We thought we’d seen the best prepaid plans on the market, but Virgin Mobile just came out with something that blows almost all those plans out of the water. They’re offering unlimited data, calling and texting for the next year for $1, but getting the deal won’t be as simple as signing up for it.
The deal is called Inner Circle, and marks Virgin’s unique decision to carry only iPhones as part of a far-reaching deal with Apple. To qualify, you’ll have to buy an iPhone 7 series device, an iPhone 6 series device, or the iPhone SE, although it’s possible to buy those used online through Virgin with a one-year limited warranty from Apple. This won’t be a bring your own device deal, though — getting that $1 service requires the purchase of a phone. Current Virgin customers can still get in on the deal, too, but like everyone else, they’ll need to buy a device first.
Virgin Mobile is also including some perks attached to everything else their parent company is involved in. That will include a round-trip flight to the UK on Virgin Atlantic, one night in a Virgin hotel, $170 off joining the Virgin Wines club, and 20 percent off the Virgin Sport San Francisco Festival of Fitness in October. They’re also including 20 percent off flights on Virgin America, which merged with Alaska Airlines and will soon fly only under the Alaska name. For everyone in the Inner Circle program, Virgin will also donate enough money to buy 10 meals for Feeding America, a non-profit that addresses hunger in the nation. However, aside from the donations, those perks are only valid until September 30.
There are some limitations, and they’ll look very familiar to anyone who has looked a lot into prepaid (or even postpaid) plans. You’ll get 4G LTE data until you hit 23 GB, at which point speeds will be throttled. Videos will be limited to 480p playback, while music will only be streamed at 500 Kbps. The deal also doesn’t include any add-on features like international calling, which will still cost the same as they would normally. It’s also worth remembering that Virgin uses Sprint’s network, which still isn’t a viable choice for some parts of the country.
With the deal, Virgin Mobile is becoming something of a boutique carrier for Apple. Virgin kiosks will be found in more Apple stores, so if you buy an iPhone in an Apple store, you’ll be able to get in on the deal just as easily.
After the first year of service, the cost will go back up to $50 per month. But, Virgin Mobile is saying that if after two years customers buy a new iPhone, they’ll get another six months of service for $1. Then again, two years is a long time, and carriers change their deals pretty frequently — it’ll be interesting to see if they can really stick to that.
Any iPhone ordered through the Inner Circle plan will ship out June 27, which is when the plan will officially begin.