The iPhone is going prepaid. Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) will become the first U.S. prepaid carrier to launch Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.
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Leap will begin selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 on June 22. The iPhone 4S will be available for $499.99 for the 16 GB model and iPhone 4 will be available for $399.99 for the 8 GB model. The 16 GB iPhone 4S is often sold for $650 without a contract and the 8 GB iPhone 4 is often sold for $550 without a contract.
Leap will offer the iPhone with its $55 per-month, all-inclusive unlimited talk, text and data plan, though after customers hit 2.3 GB of data they may have their data speeds throttled. Leap spokesman Greg Lund said that the $55 rate plan is also offered to the company's Android smartphone customers. The company has said it will refresh its plans in the second half of the year.
"We think it really strengthens our competitive position to have [the iPhone]," Lund told FierceWireless. "Customers want it." He said the combination of the rate plan and device price point will give Cricket a strong offering to appeal to budget-conscious consumers, especially when they compare it to other postpaid offerings.
Analysts have long speculated that Apple would eventually launch a prepaid iPhone, and many have argued that doing so will allow Apple to expand its addressable market. Apple has recently expanded the number of U.S. carriers selling the iPhone. Last month a host of regional carriers began selling the device, including nTelos Wireless, Alaska Communications, Matanuska Telephone Association, Appalachian Wireless and Cellcom.
U.S. Cellular has said it was given the chance to sell the iPhone but chose not to offer it because it would not work financially. Lund said Leap thinks the prepaid model for the iPhone is viable and is a long-term strategy the company can sustain.
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