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It's only taken five years since the original iPhone went on sale in 2007, but at long last, Apple’s iconic handset finally has a prepaid version available here in the U.S., thanks to Cricket Wireless and a new $55 per month unlimited plan.
Cricket Communications Inc. has announced that its Cricket Wireless division will be the first prepaid carrier in the U.S. to offer the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S to its customers. Starting on June 22, Cricket customers can indulge in a $55 per month, flat-price prepaid plan that includes unlimited talk, text and data.
Needless to say, that should be “unlimited” with an asterisk -- Cricket starts throttling data after 2.3GB, but that’s still a pretty reasonable deal considering what you’d pay one of the big three U.S. carriers on a two-year contract.
There’s just one other catch: Customers will have to pay more for the device up front. An 8GB iPhone 4 will run you $399.99, while you’ll need to cough up $499.99 for an 16GB iPhone 4S. According to Cricket’s sign-up page, those are the only two models that will be available.
That said, the prices are still cheaper than buying an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple, but note that Cricket Wireless runs on a CDMA network, so it’s not like you can buy the device and jump on a competing carrier’s network anyway. (Presumably international GSM roaming might still work, but Cricket’s website has no details as yet.)
"Our customers want the best products available and we are excited to bring iPhone to our pre-paid consumers with an industry leading $55 per-month service plan," said Doug Hutcheson, president and chief executive officer, Leap Wireless International, Inc. "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."
Cricket Wireless is the seventh-largest U.S. carrier according to Wikipedia, and the company’s website claims to have coverage in all 50 states. Prepaid iPhone users will enjoy no contract, zero activation fees, free overnight shipping and a 30-day money-back guarantee on top of their unlimited talk, text and data when it arrives on the network June 22.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter