Virgin Mobile becomes the first big U.S. carrier to sell only iPhones

  • Virgin Mobile will sell only iPhones in the U.S.
  • It's launching a new Inner Circle plan that costs $1 for the first 12 months.
  • After that, plans cost $50 per month.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images

Sprint subsidiary Virgin Mobile announced on Wednesday that it will sell only iPhones.

Customers interested in using the service, which operates on Sprint's network, can buy an iPhone at full price directly from Virgin Mobile or Apple. Virgin Mobile is celebrating the partnership by offering a full year of data, text and voice for just $1. After the first year, that price jumps to $50 per month.

Virgin Mobile is tossing in deals associated with other Virgin properties, like discounts on hotels and flights for folks who sign up for its new "Inner Circle" plans.

A little too good to be true

If it sounds too good to be true, that's because it is. The plans only apply to domestic use — that's pretty standard — but any domestic roaming is capped at 800 voice minutes and 100MB of data. In other words, if you find yourself outside of Virgin Mobile's coverage area, you could find yourself paying big for overages.

Also, Virgin cuts video quality down to 480p (not HD) and limits music streaming to 500kbps, which might not always be fast enough for high-quality audio. "Cloud gaming" is also limited to 2Mbps, which isn't very fast.

Just for perspective, most wireless carriers offer speeds well in excess of 20Mbps in most areas, sometimes even exceeding 100Mbps.

Sprint does not break out the number of Virgin Mobile subscribers, but the company reported 12 million U.S. prepaid subscribers at the end of May, which includes Virgin Mobile subscribers.