Virgin Mobile Review

Affordable Smart Phones and New Unlimited Plans

Table of Contents

1 - Plan Description

2 - User Reviews & Questions

Virgin Mobile plans offer good deals on no-contract smartphones and good unlimited plans as long as you're within the coverage area provided by Sprint.

Updated August 13, 2017: iPhones Only and First Year Service for $1

For years, Virgin would often give vague answers to questions about having iPhones in their line-up. They did eventually re-introduce them, but now they've gone a step further. Virgin just announced that they will only offer iPhones, and, if you sign up quickly you can get one year of unlimited service for $1.


They used to offer a line-up that featured a selection of phones from different manufacturers, and you may still be able to purchase these devices and airtime cards in retail stores such as Walmart and Target, but as of June 21, their website only features Apple's iPhones. 

Inner Circle: Making Use of the Virgin Brand

Companies with the Virgin brand name are generally known for taking a basic service like air travel or train travel (in the UK) and giving you more than you expect. Sometimes you pay a small premium for that extra level of service, but it can be worth it. We tried and liked their plane service to London and train to Birmingham.There is also an element of fun associated with their brand (probably not a bad place to work if you're looking for a job).

This was an advantage Virgin had that they had never really taken advantage of with their phone business, but now that's changed. Part of their new plan is that you will sign up for the Inner Circle membership and get offers for using their other services such as discounts on hotels and travel.

Really Use Airplane Mode on a Virgin Flight

I know some people put their phones on airplane mode just to save battery while playing video games, but how about using the mode, as intended, when you get on an airplane. As part of the Inner Circle membership you get a 20 percent discount on flights booked directly through Virgin, and you can get your third night free on hotel stays booked in the same manner.

Coverage

Virgin relies on the Sprint network in the U.S. You can now check out street-level coverage here.

Service Plans

They used to have a mix of monthly unlimited and pay as you go plans. However, with their switch to only offering iPhone devices, they now just mention one plan: the Unlimited $50 per month (plus taxes and fees) plan. 

The old plans are probably still available for the devices they used to sell. Until that is clarified, the descriptions will stay here in the archive section below.

New iPhone Plan

The iPhone plan costs $50 per month for unlimited service. That includes unlimited voice, unlimited texts, and unlimited data. However, If you sign up now, you get the first twelve months of service for $1. This offer was supposed to expire on July 31, 2017, but it has been extended. After this offer expires it is supposed to be replaced by an offer of six months of service for that dollar. You do have to sign up for auto-pay to make use of this offer.


Is it Really Unlimited?

Now if you asking is it really unlimited, the answer is mostly yes. For talk, you get unlimited voice minutes in Sprint's network and up to 800 minutes when roaming. For data, the Quality of Service agreement states that you get up to 23GB of data during a billing cycle (30 days). If you go over that, you will be "deprioritized" during times and places where the network is constrained.

Phones

Long Road to the iPhone

After a big introduction, the iPhone was not available from Virgin for a long time. After Apple released the iPhone 6, Virgin Mobile discounted the 5S and previous models. Then they were gone! Other sites speculated about what happened, but the only official response was something along the lines that they have a great selection of Android phones.

Eventually the iPhone was added back to the lineup where it co-existed with the other phones, until the announcement in June 2017 that only iPhones would be available!

iPhone Lineup

Here's the current iPhone lineup. Availability varies

iPhone 7 Plus

Prices:

  • 32GB 769.99
  • 128GB 869.99
  • 256GB 969.99

Colors: Black, Gold, Jet Black, (Pocket) Red, Rose Gold and Silver

iPhone 7

Prices:

  • 32GB 649.99
  • 128GB 749.99
  • 256GB 849.99

Colors: Black, Gold, Jet Black, (Pocket) Red, Rose Gold and Silver

iPhone 6s Plus

Prices:

  • 32GB 649.99
  • 128GB 749.99

Colors: Gold, Gray, Rose Gold, and Silver.

Note the weird pricing.

iPhone 6s

Prices:

  • 32GB 549.99
  • 128GB 649.99

Colors: Gold, Gray, Rose Gold, and Silver.

iPhone 6

Prices:

  • 32GB 319.99

Colors: Space Gray

iPhone SE

Prices:

  • 32GB 279.99
  • 128GB 379.99

Colors: Gold, Gray, Rose Gold, and Silver

Customer Service

As I mentioned at the beginning, Virgin has a reputation for great customer service. I expect that to be same here or at least better than average.

My Virgin Online Account

virgin mobile online account

However, you can manage your virgin mobile account online by setting up how you want to refill your airtime, either manually or via auto-refill. You can also swap your phone online when you're ready to move on to a new handset.

Risks and Rewards?

It seems like such a great deal, but are there any drawbacks? Some commentators have mentioned that this move was Virgin Mobile fight for survival in the U.S as Sprint had also entered the prepaid market. From you perspective there is the possibility that if this doesn't work out, that Virgin could exit the market. If that happened, it isn't clear if you could use your phone with any non-Virgin plan.

However, my guess is that they will stick around for at least a year to honor the $1 service for the first year commitment. At a normal price of $50 a month, you would save $600 over the first year. If you purchase an iPhone for $600 or less, it is as if you got it for free.  At that price point, you can get up to an iPhone 6s.

Alternately, you could compare the savings to your current plan or some other (possibly cheaper) unlimited plan and see what your savings are there, though that's not really an apple-to-apples comparison unless you include the cost of the phone under the other plan.

The reward is of course a really unlimited and affordable plan for an iPhone.

Archive Section - Old Plans and Phones

Old Unlimited Smartphone Plans

Formerly known as the "Beyond Talk", these plans offer a mixture of limited and unlimited service in one or more of the talk, text and data usage buckets.

$20 Unlimited Text Plan (No Data)

The $20 plan is a WiFi only plan. You get 300 minutes voice, unlimited texts and NO data. This might work for students who spend most of the time in environments (home, campus, bar etc.) that have WiFi connectivity.

If this sounds appealing, you may also wish to investigate Republic Wireless which offers unlimited talk, text, and no data for $10 a month with the twist that you can also make calls over WiFi when available and over cellular when not.

$35, $45 and $55 Plans

For $35 per month you can get unlimited talk, unlimited text and 250 MB high-speed data (with unlimited low-speed data) or you can opt for just 300 minutes voice, unlimited text and 2.5 GB high-speed data.

For $45 per month you can unlimited voice plus 100 international minutes, unlimited text plus international text, and 1 GB high-speed data.

For $55 per month you get unlimited voice plus 100 minutes international minutes, unlimited text plus international text, and 3 GB high-speed data.

Depending on your habits, one of these plans should work for you.

Old Paylo Pay-By-Minute Talk Plans

You can choose from three PayLo plans that cost $20, $30 and $40 per month. There is also a Basic Rate plan that costs 20 cents per minute with a 90-day service period for refills that is similar to the Tracfone airtime features.

PayLo $20 Talk Plan

The $20 per month plan gives you 400 minutes of voice (5 cents per minute). It was previously called the Talk plan because text messages cost 15 cents extra, and web access costs $1.50 per megabyte.

PayLo $30 Talk n Text Plan

The PayLo $30 a month plan gives you 1500 minutes, 1500 texts and 30 MB of web data. This plan is a good deal and is actually better than the Straight Talk $30 plan.

PayLo $40 Unlimited Plan

The PayLo $40 per month unlimited plan give you unlimited talk and text but stops short at 50 MB of web access. This plan is a kind of mirror image of the Beyond Talk plans that offer unlimited data but limited voice minutes.

Basic Rate Plan 20 Cents Per Minute

This plan is not advertised on the website, but it is still offered as an option when you activate your phone online. As mentioned above, calls cost 20 cents per minutes. Text messages also cost 20 cents each. These rates are expensive, but on the plus side, if you are an infrequent user, the refills last 90 days instead of 30.

Top Up your Account

You can top up your minutes via online via Paypal, or with your debit or credit card. There is an automatic top up option that adds $20 when your account get to below $5. You can also buy airtime cards, called "top-up" cards in stores like Walmart and Target or online at Amazon.com.

Broadband Plans

Virgin Mobile has offered broadband plans for a couple of years now. The plans themselves are great, however you have to watch out for coverage.

$5 Per Day Plan - Mobile Hotspot Add-on as Well

The $5 per day plans offers 250 MB data that's good for "one day". One day is defined not at 24 hours, but as the day you order the service through the end of the next day - so this way you will get at least one full normal day of service and then some.

This $5 plan is the only option you can add to your smartphone plans if you have a phone that can act as a mobile hotspot.

$25 and $55 Monthly Data Plans

For $25 you get 1.5 GB and for $55 you get 6 GB of data per month. Depending on the mobile hotspot device you order, the data can be shared with 5 or ten devices at a time.

Devices available include the Netgear Mingle which allows ten devices to connect and the Overdrive Pro which allow five devices.

Other Smartphones

There is a good choice of phones available. Many Android smart phones are priced at less than $100 and feature phones are available for under $30. Not bad when you consider that there is no long term contract.

If you're in a good coverage area you should take a look at the selection.

Basic Phones

There are also a few basic phones like the Kyocera Kona and QWERTY phones like the Samsung Montage that are eligible for the PayLo plan.

You can purchase their phones from retail stores like Walmart and Best Buy, or directly from Virgin online.

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Related Pages

Here are some more options from other plans you may want to consider.


Straight Talk has a good lineup of smart phones, some of which run on the same network that Virgin uses, namely Sprint.

What if you don't need a smart phone?


The triple minutes feature now makes Tracfone's more suited for people who don't need unlimited voice or texting. They now offer smart phones but not . . .

If you do need unlimited texting, you can seek out the major brands as well as plans from smaller  plans such as Red Pocket and PTel.


If you want entertainment options such as music you can consider the Cricket plans that offer free music and ringtones from popular artists.