Virgin Mobile USA will sell only iPhones, offers $1-a-year deal

Virgin Mobile USA announced on Wednesday that it will only carry iPhones in its plans and introduced a new unlimited text, call and data plan for just $1 for the first 12 months.

In an event in San Francisco, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson made the dual announcement to generate buzz around the Sprint-owned carrier, aiming to woo customers through its cheap mobile plans.

“Virgin has always looked to shake things up and challenge the status quo in any sector we go into,” said Branson.

Through its exclusive partnership with Apple, Virgin Mobile USA is dropping all Android phones from its catalog, the first carrier in the United States to do so.

There are, of course, some caveats with the unlimited plan, dubbed Inner Circle.

To sign up for the two-year Inner Circle plan, customers will first need to buy an iPhone from Virgin Mobile USA or Apple. Virgin currently carries iPhone SE, 6, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, and 7 Plus. The oldest model, the SE, starts at $399 at the Apple store.

The $1-a-year deal lasts only for the first 12 months of the plan. For the second year, customers will have to pay $50 a month.

If the plan is renewed after two years, customers can buy a new iPhone model and re-enter the $1 plan — but only for the first 6 months.

And lastly, customers need to sign up by July 31 to get the Inner Circle plan.

Despite its appeal as an inexpensive carrier, Virgin Mobile USA seems to be taking a risk by completely turning its back against cheap and popular Android phones in favor of high-end iPhones.

Virgin Mobile USA’s nearly-free (with plenty of strings attached) deal is the latest chapter in carriers offering bundles and deals to woo mobile users. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint re-adopted unlimited plans in February. AT&T offers DirecTV bundles to go with its new plans, and T-Mobile has been sending out free prizes every Tuesday.

In addition to the Inner Circle perks, Virgin Mobile USA also will provide other Virgin Group-related gifts, such as a round-trip companion ticket to the United Kingdom on a Virgin Atlantic and a one-night stay at Virgin Hotels, among others.

Photo: Lisa Gao compares a new jet black iPhone 7, right, with her iPhone 6 at the Apple Store in Chicago. (Kiichiro Sato/AP)


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