June 1, 2012

iPhone To Be Available As Pre-Paid Phone

Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com

Though we may be another 4 or so months away from a new iPhone release, the news and rumor circuits have been ablaze with activity in recent weeks. Normally typical in the weeks before a launch, this year´s leaky faucet of future iPhone news is interesting, and may even hint that Apple has some huge news in store for the world come October. The new iPhone, no matter what it will be called, is expected to have a 4-inch–or 3.999 inches to the overly specific tech site commenters–display at a 16:9 ratio, come equipped with a faster processor and run on 4G LTE networks. It´s also been rumored that the new iPhone will finally be available on China Mobile, the world´s largest mobile phone carrier.

Obviously, such an announcement would be the biggest news Apple could announce whenever the time comes.

Today, smaller, more official news was announced, as the iPhone will finally be available in the U.S. as a part of a prepaid deal.

On June 22, Cricket Wireless–owned by Leap– will be the first prepaid carrier to offer its customers the iPhone, complete with an “unlimited” (note the quotes) plan for $55 a month.

According to their press release, Doug Hutchenson, president and CEO of Leap Wireless said, “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.”

“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.”

While Cricket customers will be able to take advantage of unlimited Talk and Text with their $55 a month plan, their “unlimited” data is offered under a fair usage policy, or 2.3 gigabytes a month.

Leap Wireless´ Cricket boasts 6.2 million customers in the United States. When the iPhone is released to these customers on June 22, these customers will be able to buy a 16 GB iPhone 4S, free of contract, for $500. An 8 GB iPhone 4 will only cost $400, and both phones will be compatible with Cricket´s $55 a month plan.

Cricket Wireless offers data services of the 3G CDMA and 4G LTE variety. Therefore, should the new iPhone be 4G ready, it is likely Cricket will be ready day one to offer the new iPhone to its customers.

Such a move is indicative of Apple´s push (or is it willingness) to get the iPhone into more hands by offering it on smaller, more rural carriers. Earlier this month, California;s Golden State Cellular, Kansas´ Nex-Tech Wireless and Kentucky´s Bluegrass Cellular were all added to Apple´s official list of iPhone carriers.

A month earlier, 5 other carriers were added to the list, selling both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, including Alaska Communications, Appalachian Wireless, Cellcom, CGI and nTelos. Leap Wireless is currently number 7 of the top 10 American wireless providers, behind the Big Three–Verizon, AT&T and Sprint– as well as T-Mobile, Clearwire and MetroPCS. Cricket customers can sign up to be alerted to iPhone´s availability on their network at www.mycricket.com/iPhone.