Virgin Mobile USA Opening Retail Stores in Chicago to Support iPhone Launch

As announced earlier this month, Sprint prepaid subsidiary Virgin Mobile USA is launching the iPhone tomorrow, and the carrier has begun taking orders ahead of the official launch.

virgin mobile iphone banner
As noted by Bloomberg Businessweek, Virgin Mobile is seeking to capitalize on the publicity generated by the iPhone to remake itself as a major player in the market, in part by opening its first ten retail stores in Chicago to coincide with the iPhone launch. Should the stores prove successful, the carrier would seek to expand the initiative nationwide.

The new stores also mark a strategy shift for Virgin, which has previously relied on retailers such as RadioShack Corp. and Best Buy Co. to market its service, said Jeff Auman, a vice president at the carrier.

Pay-as-you-go companies, which let customers get mobile- phone service without credit checks and long-term contracts, are trying to reinvigorate the market by offering the iPhone and other popular smartphones. The industry has seen its growth slow in recent years, hurt by major carriers rolling out better phones and more flexible payment plans.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse indicates that he expects "the iPhone will do very well on Virgin" based on pre-orders of the device so far, and giving customers dedicated retail stores for purchase and support could help extend the brand that has already found a loyal following among prepaid phone users.

Virgin is the second U.S. prepaid carrier to launch the iPhone, following Leap Wireless, which launched the device through its Cricket brand last weekend. Leap has declined to disclose iPhone sales so far, but its move to add the iPhone has certainly brought the carrier significant publicity.

According to today's report, MetroPCS may also add the iPhone to its lineup once Apple launches an LTE-compatible model, which is expected later this year. MetroPCS carrier Tom Keys acknowledge that the carrier has had talks with Apple about the iPhone and would "certainly be interested" once LTE is included.

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Top Rated Comments

iMikeT Avatar
157 months ago
More carriers in the US, the better. I can't wait to get my iPhone off AT&T.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bhop123 Avatar
157 months ago
My contract with ATT just ended, but I am going to hold out and see if Virgin sells 6th gen iPhone when it comes out. If so - I'm jumping. I am sick of paying the 'big boys' for services that should be a lot cheaper.

I recently was in the UK and bought a sim card for my unlocked iP4, $30 for unlimited talk, text, and data for 30 days - plus hotspot! Amazing!!

Had I not experienced that - I'd probably just keep paying out my a$$ to att.

I'm sick of it. My $ is gonna do the talking now. Go Virgin...now if Sprint would improve their coverage, I'd finally feel like I was winning.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LaWally Avatar
157 months ago
Here's hoping T-Mobile will have its network iPhone-ready by the end of 2012 as planned.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zen Cow Avatar
157 months ago
I'm a long-time Virgin Mobile customer and have been generally satisfied with their 300 minute service (grandfathered in at the unbeatable $25/mo).

Their iphone is a poor deal.

You're paying full retail price for the iphone, but from what I understand from Virgin's reps, they're locking the 4S's sim card. Unlike Sprint, which at least unlocks it for international use.

If this is truly the case, it's a severe case of "why bother". Buy a factory unlocked 4S for the same price and put it on straight talk's "unlimited" plan, which is cheaper than Virgin's "unlimited" plan and get faster internet too.

Plus, your virgin-only iphone will have almost no resale value. Unlike a factory unlocked iphone.

As much as I would love to replace my crappy Optimus V with an iphone, this doesn't make much financial sense on Virgin.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aristobrat Avatar
157 months ago
Go Virgin...now if Sprint would improve their coverage, I'd finally feel like I was winning.
You may already know this, but for folks that don't, Sprint coverage and Virgin Mobile coverage are not even close to the same footprint!

When you pay for the more expensive Sprint service, Sprint ponies up and lets you roam (for free) in areas where they don't have their own towers.

With Virgin, you only get coverage from towers that Sprint owns. There is no roaming on other networks.

Left = Sprint's coverage. Right = Virgin's coverage.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
piecloud Avatar
157 months ago
I'm a long-time Virgin Mobile customer and have been generally satisfied with their 300 minute service (grandfathered in at the unbeatable $25/mo).

Their iphone is a poor deal.

You're paying full retail price for the iphone, but from what I understand from Virgin's reps, they're locking the 4S's sim card. Unlike Sprint, which at least unlocks it for international use.

If this is truly the case, it's a severe case of "why bother". Buy a factory unlocked 4S for the same price and put it on straight talk's "unlimited" plan, which is cheaper than Virgin's "unlimited" plan and get faster internet too.

Plus, your virgin-only iphone will have almost no resale value. Unlike a factory unlocked iphone.

As much as I would love to replace my crappy Optimus V with an iphone, this doesn't make much financial sense on Virgin.


This is a serious limitation, considering the fact that they are not subsidizing the device. There is no point of getting a prepaid plan. If I don't like it, I cannot take my $650+ device to another prepaid provider. I hope people who are getting suckered into this plan, understand it.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)