Virgin Mobile goes all-in on iPhone, will no longer offer Android phones

Virgin Mobile, the unconventional MVNO operating on the Sprint network, has announced it's going iPhone-only. That's right, it's a whole mobile carrier that will only sell iPhones and service for them, in a move to hopefully focus on a profit center and distinguish itself from other prepaid carriers.

Virgin Mobile is kicking off the new iPhone exclusivity with a crazy plan that gives you 12 months of unlimited talk, text, and data for just $1 when you buy a new iPhone. Virgin Mobile's "Inner Circle" also gives you access to some "exclusive" perks with partner companies. It all sounds very on-brand for Virgin.

Virgin Mobile wasn't that great of a carrier, and there are plenty more to choose from.

It isn't clear at this point what Virgin Mobile will do in terms of support for the customers it has who currently use Android phones, but we would assume there will be a long sunset period as those devices are phased out. The Virgin Mobile website has already cut out all of its Android devices, leaving you with the choice of a handful of iPhone models to buy. Virgin Mobile is surely hoping to convert many of its current Android customers to new iPhones as they consider switching to a new carrier.

Thankfully there are tons of prepaid carriers available that compete directly with Virgin Mobile, including the Sprint-operated Boost Mobile, and many let you bring your own device with no strings attached. Aside from offering a couple flagships a year, Virgin Mobile was rather selective in what phones it offered, giving you fewer choices than we'd like to see.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • 😂
  • Second that
  • Because prepaid and premium device go hand in hand.
  • Yeah, seems kind of weird to me. I would think a large portion of people going to Virgin are trying to save money. Buying an Apple product is like the polar opposite of saving money.
  • The iPhone SE is also nice too, but I do agree on $280 getting a nice Android with actual size options, unlike how Apple likes to do it.
  • I'd bet 99% of the people that shop at virgin have no idea there are unlocked Android phones less. Or that there are better networks. Could you even bring an unlocked phone to them anyway?
  • They're basically giving away a year of unlimited service for free if you buy an iPhone at full price. If you buy an iPhone 7 for $650, get a year of unlimited service, and then a guaranteed rate of $50/mo after that, I'd say you've gotten yourself a pretty good deal.
  • Hmm, that's a solid point.
  • But you'd not have much signal nor coverage to actually USE that phone.!!! lol
  • Virgin service is fine for the demographic it targets. They don't exactly court rural users.
  • The demographics of this company also uses budget prices phones...
  • Hmm well that's pretty sweet
  • Except it's Sprint :-(
  • Yep.
  • But getting features that android had years after is a great investment
  • You're right, but clearly that's not important to iPhone users.
  • yea including all the lag. Android may have features that iphones are catching up on. but my iphones don't crash and aren't laggy. I tried the pixel the other day after ten minutes I couldn't stand it. Apps crashing, Lag everywhere. You get what you pay for. The apple premium gets your premium hardware and software that is buttery smooth , android phones will put any garbage out there and even the top of the line android phones are still laggy as hell.
  • Cool story, bro.
  • Riiiight..... If you're going to make **** up, don't use the smoothest phone on the market as your example. Maybe if you said, in 2008 my HTC was laggy, then yeah, we'd all agree.
  • Fake News
  • "After 10 mins I couldn't stand it" That is some solid real use case right there. 
  • My Pixel runs fine. It's as snappy and reliable as my iPhone 6s. Users can screw up Android phones. Less of an issue with iPhone.
  • Wanna bet? MY 6s Plus was laggy
  • Well, some Android phones may be buggy, but the iPhone is basically a feature phone. There is just too much that it can't do that my old windows mobile phone from 2007 can. It's pathetic. Why do I NEED to be connecting my smartphone to my computer in 2017? My Palm treos didn't NEED to be even though they could be.
  • If you are saying the iPhone must connect to a computer, that thought is incorrect. For years all updates, apps and OS are OTA.
  • >pixel lagging Pleeeeeeaaaaseeeeee...You should have said something like "my galaxy s6 is crazy laggy, and the battery sucks." In order to make your biased comment slightly believable, the Goole pixel Actually gets quite a bit of mixed opinions with the Android community, but if there is one thing that is known and agreed upon by the whole community is that's it's virtually lagless: the software is just way to lightweight, and the RAM and processors compliment said software.
  • Sure, you used a Pixel. Riiiiiight.
  • In this situation, they kind of do. People realllly want an iPhone like their friends/family/coworkers, but don't have the ability to pony up the $100/mo+ for one of the postpaid carriers.
  • Sounds like Apple paid Virgin a crap load of money to go exclusive. Or cut them a great deal on their phones that they resell to the customers. Either way, removing customer choice is never the way to go. I know people on Virgin, who will never go iOS, so they will likely drop when it's time for new phones.
  • Of they are buying them to start there own network to compete with Project FI??!!??!
  • Distinguish itself from other prepaid carriers...which also sell the iPhone.
  • Thank you! I was like, aren't we missing one important thing about it's competition?
  • They're distinguishing themselves by purportedly being 100% focused on iPhone and therefore offering you a better experience.
  • Boardroom hidden microphone transcript: Exec #1: What can we do to differentiate ourselves to our customer base?
    Exec #2: Only use iPhones in the future?
    Exec #1: Brilliant!
    Exec #3: But won't that alienate our clients who rely on us for a discounted service price?
    Exec #1 & #2: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
  • Wow, who really thought this was a great idea?
  • Some out of touch bean counter.
  • Bingo
  • Not even a BYOD option, but then this is sprint. Likely makes support a lot easier, but hope other mvnos don't follow.
  • Same
  • Virgin Mobile was always pretty closed up in terms of bringing your own device. If you want BYOD, there are literally dozens of better carriers for you than Virgin Mobile.
  • This is Apple testing the MVNO market. If Google can do it, why not Apple?
  • No it isn't. Project Fi (which I think you're referring to) is owned and operated by Google, and leases spectrum from T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular. Virgin Mobile does not have any relation with Apple other than selling iPhones. Virgin is owned and operated by Sprint and only uses Sprint's network.
  • In network ownership you're correct, but in practice, it's about the same, Fi only allows what 4 or 5 phone's (officially) on their service?
  • It's But That's (No. Can't think of anything cogent for now)
  • 🤣🤣🤣
  • Maybe Sprint or Apple had some excess stock they needed to dump on the cheap ahead of the next big announcement?
  • They could've done that without ditching sales of all non-Apple devices. This was probably done more to reduce overhead and supply chain costs than anything else. Slimming their sales inventory down to just like half a dozen devices gets rid of a lot of extraneous cost, and if a significant enough majority of their device sales profit was already coming from iPhones (and it probably was), then this could be a really smart move for them.
  • Especially if it makes their owners more attractive pre-merger....
  • What isn't mentioned in the above article is one of the huge benefits you get if you jump on this deal. Virgin is offering a free companion fare for Virgin Atlantic: That's a pretty huge benefit for buying a $279 iPhone SE. Sure you have to port your number over, but if you are like me and use Google Voice the transition can be pretty easy. You lose one of your phone numbers but in exchange you are getting a ticket for $279. Once you go on your trip port your number out of Virgin Mobile and sell the iPhone. I am seriously considering taking advantage of this offer.
  • I swear, sometimes reading US tech sites feels like I'm getting a glimpse of an alternate Earth. I really can't imagine someone pulling a stunt like this anywhere else....
  • Sprint is just trying to force most customers onto their more popular Boost mvno. At&t is doing the same thing. They have butchered GoPhone to migrate everyone to Cricket. Soon GoPhone and Virgin will be no more.
  • Soon Sprint maybe no more.
  • Has anyone ever compared Virgin's plans to Boost or Sprint's plans?
    This was supposed to happen! Take advantage of the vanity of iPhone users because they don't know any better. The only problem with this stunt is eventually Virgin users will have to find a Sprint store to pay there bill, and they will see the rest of the world passing them by.
  • So people who can't afford to be on a regular carrier are going to be able to afford iphones all of a sudden?
  • I guess you have to try something if what ya got ain't working! Good luck Virgin with the I-thing. Way to cut yourself off from 50 % of a potential market.
  • I use Cricket. $30 for everything I need. I can use any unlocked phone, I'm not locked to a fruity phone.
  • How does this go with the merger? I don't know if it does but.....
  • Virgin an English company, and the UK as a nation is in love with the Iphone. So it makes sense that such a corporation might think this is a great idea. It's funny how many people immediately blame a phone they don't use when it functions less efficiently than one they do use. Experience using any phone whether it be an Apple or Android model matters. If you are unfamiliar any problems are far more likely to be due to you using the unfamiliar phone the same way you use your own. All phones have their quirks, and if you don't know them slowness and lagging is the result. Then there is the fact that save for the cheapest phones the connection to the network matters more than anything else. Blaming the phone is just stupid. Though there are cases where it's justifiable. Apple software apparently doesn't as efficiently process antenna signals as android does. I was on a hike with a friend, and had a basic android Stylo 2 phone, he had an Apple 6 of some sort. Both of us used t-mobile. On the hike however he lost all service and could not make any calls, while I was standing right next to him with 3 bars service and decent data throughout the hike. We kept checking, because he just couldn't believe what he was experiencing. It really pissed him off that a phone which cost him $700+ couldn't beat my budget LG phone. I have to agree. I should have been happy to have eaten his dust so to speak in terms of performance considering the reputations of both companies.
  • Virgin mobile USA is owned by Sprint
  • I'm a UKer. I don't recognize the bit about us as a nation being in love with the iPhone.
  • The iPhone se is the United Kingdom's best selling phone in 2016.
  • I would also like to know, if I go into an Apple Store, buy an iPhone unlocked from them, and activate it on Virgin, and get a free or near free year of service? Or is this some kind of locked to Virgin iPhone that's going to be almost impossible to get unlocked after a year?
  • I guess my wife will be done with Virgin then.
  • 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️
  • Makes sense to me. Virgin sucks, crApple sucks, they deserve each other!
  • Well good luck with that
  • Hmmm, here's a thought.... maybe Virgin realizes that they can offer better customer support to a single ecosystem then to 20 different flavors of android from 5 different manufacturers. Look at IBM and their support issues with Apple products compared to Windows. Love or hate Apple, no one can argue that their hardware \ software experience, overall, is better and easier to support than Android. It has to be hell working in customer service trying to help someone with an issue on Android. What version OS are you running, what messenger app are you running, what email app are you running, O ****, you are running 3 of each... well crap!
  • What does that have to do with getting a signal?
  • In other words, Virgin's finally getting f*cked...
  • LMFAO.........
  • Virgin Mobile was literally the worst phone company I have delt with (in Canada) it was good for when I had the LG rumour but as soon as I upgraded into smart phone phone areas it was the worst service ever. Poor lost souls who fall into this trap.
  • Cant wait to see how this bites them in the ass!
  • I'm sure having phone options costs Virgin something. IF the majority of phones they sell are iphones, then it makes sense. They might be saving more then they would be loosing in customer base.
    It's easy to call this a bad idea without knowing the financials.
  • Virgin Mobiles internet is super slow. So get a Top of the line $700 phone to use it on the slowest carrier