iPhone 4, 4S reportedly heads to Virgin Mobile next

(Credit: Apple)

Virgin Mobile USA will soon be the latest pre-paid carrier to get Apple’s iPhone 4S, according to a new report.

Citing people familiar with Sprint’s plans, Dow Jones says that the iPhone will arrive on Virgin Mobile USA — a wholly-owned Sprint subsidiary — as early as next month.

Sprint joined AT&T and Verizon as the third major U.S. carrier to offer the popular handset last October.

The move would follow Apple’s deal with Leap Wireless’s Cricket, which marked a beginning of the iPhone’s jump into the prepaid market. That deal, announced last week, will make Apple’s two latest iPhone models available beginning June 22 with a $55 no-contract plan with unlimited calling and text messages, alongside a chunk of data as long as users pony up for the cost of the phone.

Dow Jones did not provide any idea of how a Virgin Mobile USA plan for the iPhone would stack up, short of noting that the company’s current plans start at $35 a month with a similar data plan that’s throttled after 2.5GB a month.

CNET contacted Apple for comment. We’ll update the story when we get more information. A Virgin Mobile spokeswoman said that the company does not comment on rumor and speculation.

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The report trails one from tech news site TechnoBuffalo last week suggesting Sprint-owned prepaid carrier Boost Mobile will be getting the iPhone in September.

The iPhone began as an exclusive for AT&T in the U.S., something that’s no longer the case. Last year Apple expanded its carrier deals to offer the iPhone 4 on Verizon’s CDMA network, later adding Sprint in October with the iPhone 4S. Apple has since struck deals with numerous regional carriers, with similar moves happening in other countries. All the while, analysts have peppered the company with questions about getting into the prepaid market, something that’s seen as a considerable, but tricky business opportunity in places where people are less inclined to sign up for a multi-year contract.

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