[credit provider=”Michael Nagle / Getty”]
Starting next month, you’ll be able to buy a new iPhone from a carrier without having to sign a two-year contract.Cricket Communications, a division of Leap Wireless, announced Thursday that it will start offering the iPhone on June 22, making it the first prepaid carrier in the U.S. to sell Apple’s smartphone.
The regional carrier will charge customers a flat monthly fee of $55 to use the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S. That includes unlimited text and talk, and up to 2.3 GB of data per month.
While the monthly fee is certainly cheaper than what the major carriers charge and doesn’t come with a long-term contract, the upfront cost of the phone is significantly more expensive without the carrier subsidies.
Cricket is charging $399 for an 8 GB iPhone 4 and $499 for a 16 GB iPhone 4S. By comparison, if you purchase these phones with a two-year contract from AT&T, it would cost $99 and $199, respectively. That said, the lower monthly rate should offset these upfront costs over time.
This move could potentially help Apple appeal to a different set of consumers who want an iPhone, but are uncomfortable being locked into a long-term contract.