Why a prepaid iPhone is an amazing deal for bargain hunters


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Even though it'll cost you full price for an iPhone on a prepaid carrier, Ask Maggie explains how it will still save you nearly $1,000 by going prepaid for the iPhone.

The Apple iPhone has finally come to the prepaid market in the U.S., but is it really worth paying full price for the device when you can get it cheaper from a carrier that is subsidizing the cost?

The short answer is "yes." In this edition of Ask Maggie I explain why even with a higher upfront cost, a prepaid iPhone is a better deal than buying a subsidized version of the same phone from AT&T or Verizon Wireless. And I lay out why prepaid is still cheaper even for people with discounted family plans.

I also explain why smartphone shoppers interested in the iPhone or a Microsoft Windows Phone may want to wait until the fall before pulling the trigger on a new phone.
How prepaid iPhones can save you a bundle

Dear Maggie,
My teenage son wants an iPhone desperately. He has been begging me to buy him one for years. We are a Verizon Wireless family and I already spend way more than I'd like on our wireless bill. I would let him get an iPhone if the monthly cost wasn't so darn high. (My husband and I also have smartphones, so that's an additional $60 a month right there!)

I saw that a couple of prepaid companies are now offering the iPhone. Do you think these plans offer a better deal? And do you think this would be a good solution to our dilemma? The price of the iPhone looks pretty high, but I'd be willing to split the upfront cost of the device with my son. (He'll have a job this summer.) I just can't afford the extra $30 a month for the data service, plus with the texting and voice service. It all gets to be so much!

Thanks for your advice,

Dear Marie,

It's no secret that you can save a bundle with a prepaid service plan. But in the past, prepaid customers had to sacrifice cool devices in exchange for cheap prices. Now even prepaid customers can get their hands on one of the hottest smartphones on the market, the iPhone 4S. Leap Wireless's Cricket service and Sprint's Virgin Mobile are among the first U.S. prepaid carriers to offer the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Will we see a bigger screen and better camera on the next iPhone?

The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are now available on prepaid providers in the U.S.
(Credit: Apple)

And even though some consumers may experience sticker shock at the upfront cost of buying a brand-new iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, prepaid is still a much better deal if you compare pricing over the length of a two-year contract.

As I mentioned the upfront cost can be difficult for some consumers, but if you and your son can afford to spend the money on the new iPhone, you will be able to save yourself a lot of money over the next couple of years.

How much can you save? Let's compare what it would cost you to own an iPhone 4S on Virgin Mobile for two years versus what it would cost to own the same phone on Verizon Wireless. Even though you have to pay $449 more for the iPhone 4S on Virgin Mobile, you will actually save nearly $1,000 over two years by using the Virgin Mobile prepaid plan over a two-year contract with Verizon when comparing individual plans.

Continue reading at http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57449345-94/why-a-prepaid-iphone-is-an-amazing-deal-for-bargain-hunters/