Our take: With the economy how it is, businesses are taking risks to give them the edge against their competitors. The latest risk is by Spring who is planning on offering the Apple iPhone on a prepaid contract without data restrictions.
Sprint is testing us. Virgin Mobile, Sprint's prepaid division, just launched a test of the way Americans buy phonesand it could have tremendous implications for the wireless market.
The deal works like this: Pay a higher, unsubsidized up-front price for the iPhone 4 ($549) or iPhone 4S ($649) on Virgin Mobile, instead of just $99 or $199 for the same phones with a two-year contract over on the Sprint mainland. Then, you pay just $30 per month for unlimited data (throttled after 2.5GB), unlimited texting, and 300 minutes. A $40 plan gives you 1,200 minutes, while a $50 plan ratchets voice to unlimited as well. If you want to use the iPhone as a mobile hotspot, it costs an extra $15 per month.
The way the math works, you'll save $750 over the course of two years when purchasing the Virgin Mobile iPhone over the Sprint version, which starts at $80 per month for unlimited data and texting and 450 minutes.