Your Cell Phone Bill Could Cost $1 For One Year — But There's A Catch

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
This article was originally published at 1:35 p.m. EST on June 21, 2017. It has been updated with comments from Virgin Group head Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Mobile CEO Dow Draper.
You might already be familiar with some of the best iPhone hacks, like Speak Screen (having emails read to you), and Optimize Storage (which saves space by storing higher-resolution photos and videos in your iCloud). But the latest iPhone hack — getting unlimited service for one year, for $1 — comes courtesy of Apple and Virgin Mobile.
Starting today, Virgin Mobile USA will be the first iPhone-only carrier and provide a handful of limited-edition perks for customers who sign up by July 31.
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"I go back in history a long way with Apple and I’ve always had enormous respect for them," said Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group Ltd., on a phone call with Refinery29. He emphasized the complementary appeal of the Virgin and Apple brands as part of the explanation for their new venture. "I loved what Steve Jobs did as an entrepreneur, and I think the product’s fantastic. We’re really proud that we’ve got this exclusive arrangement with Apple."
For those who want in, pre-order a new iPhone, or buy one in person at the Apple store, and you'll get unlimited talk, text, and data for 12 months for $1. Additional early-bird benefits include a round-trip companion ticket to the U.K. on Virgin Atlantic, a one-night stay at Virgin Hotels, up to 20% off Virgin America or Alaska Airlines tickets, and more. After the one-year introductory period, customers will have to pay $50 for unlimited talk, text, and data (up to 4G LTE), with the option to take their phones with them to another carrier if they no longer feel like riding the Virgin wave.
Branson said he does not envision expanding Virgin’s carrier relationship to other mobile devices like the Android; however, he believes the offer will still appeal to price-conscious customers. Shopper who want the deal for less can catch a break by purchasing a refurbished phone. Per Branson, Apple "have agreed to renovate thousands of iPhones for us and give a 12-month guarantee." Those phones will sell for about half retail price. Virgin's been mostly known for its prepaid services, but with this move, it ventures into the higher-end monthly plan arena, "elevating the brand," as Virgin Mobile USA's CEO Dow Draper put it.
It's a pretty solid deal. Of course, you'll want to comb through VirginMobile's phone contract terms and conditions, and the finer details of the perks. But per Money's deep-dive into the best phone plans of 2016, Virgin Mobile USA has offered a pretty solid contract for individual users in the past — if they can swing the full cost of buying a phone outright.
Virgin's new deal is valid with iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, or iPhone SE purchases, meaning interested parties will have to shell out at least $319 at the lower end. (The SE usually starts at $399 retail, but Virgin is offering it for $120 less.) Not a bad at all.
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