If you’re a Virgin Mobile USA subscriber and are looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest Android device, I have some bad news for you.
The Sprint-powered carrier has decided to go all-in on Apple products. If you want a phone, your only options are the iPhone 6, 6s, 6s Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus. God forbid you want a phone with a headphone jack when you need to upgrade in a couple of years.
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To prove just how serious the company is about this new strategy, Virgin Mobile is offering an ‘unlimited’ data plan for just $1 for an entire year (or six months, after July 31). After the promotional period is up, it then reverts to the standard $50 a month.
The “unlimited” plan, dubbed “Inner Circle,” caps your video to 480p and music to 500 kbps. It also de-prioritizes your data if you’ve consumed more than 23 GB. Those aren’t uncommon caveats nowadays, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to at least temporarily enable HD video if you want to take advantage of your 1080p screen on the larger iPhones.
I’m curious to see how long this strategy will last. I’m sure Virgin was able to secure some special deal with Apple, but I’m struggling to see what benefit it actually provides consumers.
There’s no variety among iPhones other than size. You can’t even bring your own phones, because Virgin is a CDMA network, so if customers ever want to try something different, they’ll have to end up leaving Virgin anyway. That seems like a poor strategy for customer retention.
Apple makes great devices, but customers still deserve some modicum of choice, even on a small prepaid carrier. But then again, I’m an Android guy – what do I know?