Apple's flagship product, the iPhone 4S, is about to make its way to another new carrier: Cricket Wireless. The company announced today that it will offer the 16GB iPhone 4S and the 8GB iPhone 4 beginning on June 22. Each will include Cricket's $55 per month unlimited talk, text, and data plan.
While that's an excellent deal any way you slice it, there is a bit of a catch. While most carriers subsidize the cost of the iPhone (and other smartphones), reducing the price of the handset when you sign a two-year contract, Cricket is a prepaid-only carrier. That means there are no contracts. That's great for the customer in terms of flexibility - if you get an iPhone 4S through Cricket and then decide that you want the new iPhone when it launches in October, you can switch without any trouble. Unfortunately, though, no contract means no carrier subsidy, which means you'll pay a lot more for your iPhone than you would by going through one of the other carriers. The iPhone 4S will set you back $499.99, while the iPhone 4 is only $100 cheaper.
The iPhone has come a long way since Apple's exclusivity agreement with AT&T ended in 2010. Within two years, the iPhone had come to the other two largest carriers, Verizon and Sprint. In the last couple months, Apple has struck deals with several other carriers to offer the iPhone. In April the iPhone made its way to five new carriers. Early this month three more carriers announced that they would start offering the iPhone as well. All eight of these carriers are small, local carriers. Several of them primarily serve rural areas. Interestingly, all of them offer the iPhone for $50 less than the Big Three, with voice and data plans that often have distinct advantages (e.g., unlimited texting or unlimited data included).
With Cricket, the iPhone makes its way into the world of prepaid wireless plans as well. The iPhone will be available from Cricket on June 22. For more information you can check out Cricket's iPhone page.